A Beginner’s Guide for keeping a Bearded Dragon

keeping-a-bearded-dragon

Bearded dragons are excellent pets! They are gregarious, curious, and intriguing to observe. There are several species, each with its distinct size and behavior. They are easily identifiable by their characteristic beard, which they show when enraged.

Bearded dragons inhabit Australia’s dry woods and deserts in large numbers. They have gained popularity in captivity throughout the years owing to their tranquil temperament and resilience.

Their life expectancy is typically between 9 and 12 years, during which they may reach lengths of 30-50 cm, with some individuals surviving longer and reaching a length of up to 60 cm. They typically attain sexual maturity between the ages of 8 and 12 months.

Food and Nutrition

The majority of bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they consume both plants and insects. They should be given a range of insects (crickets, Dubia Roaches, silkworms, moths, beetles, and larvae of the black army fly) that are alternated during their feeding schedule.

Additionally, you can provide a variety of leafy greens or vegetables, such as dandelion, endive, romaine, spring mix, mustard greens, microgreens, Asian greens, beetroot tops, collard greens, parsley, carrots, basil, zucchini, and squash with no or a small amount of fruit, such as blueberries or raspberries occasionally.

Feeding Hatchlings

Hatchlings under the age of two months must be fed a few insects twice or three times daily and supplied a finely chopped variety of the leaves and vegetables indicated above. They may or may not consume this, but a substantial number will.

Feeding Juveniles

Juveniles under the age of four months should be fed 70% insects (the insect’s size should be smaller than the breadth of the dragon’s head) and 30% chopped vegetables.

Feeding Adults

Bearded Dragons may be given mixed plant material every day and assorted insects 1-2 times a week from the age of four months to maturity (maximum 10-15). For those dragons that are picky,  prepared diets are available to complement their diet. These should account for no more than 50% of the total diet. It is advisable to serve the meal in the mornings to allow digestion to take place during the day’s hottest half. Once every two weeks, sprinkle the multivitamin powder over the veggies.

Handling Techniques

Overhandling may be harmful to your dragon, but it will be more of a concern if your dragon has become used to being handled. Be sure to support the complete body from beneath while caring for bearded dragons. A general rule of thumb is to provide support for the frontal and hind limbs. Squeezing them or grasping them too tightly should be avoided.

Enclosure Guidelines

When you have properly prepared your enclosure and made certain that all of the prerequisites are in place, then you may choose to adopt a bearded dragon.

Ideal Housing Environment

The dragon’s size and age determine the cage design. Newspapers, recycled papers, cat litter, artificial grass, sand, and certain commercially created reptile bedding are viable substrate alternatives. Each of these solutions has several advantages and disadvantages, and the choice often depends on personal preference.

Cleaning the enclosure and substrate must be done regularly, with ‘spot’ cleaning as needed. Cleaning any cage with a safe substance like diluted F10 (disinfectant) is recommended.

Adult bearded dragons may be kept inside in an enclosure of at least 1.2-1.8 meters in length and 0.6-0.9 meters in height, although bigger is preferable.

Proper ventilation is critical for air circulation, temperature control, and humidity management. They may be housed outside in pit habitats with accessibility to natural daylight and temperature changes in some climates.

It is critical to separate bearded dragons (if you have any other bearded dragons) since they may inflict significant injury on one another, resulting in limb loss and even death. While some argue that numerous females may be housed together, this is not a safe procedure and is best avoided.

Substrates

There are several acceptable substrates (floor coverings), each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Newspaper, butcher’s paper, or paper towels are simple to clean and provide little blockage concern; nevertheless, they prevent digging and enriching and appear strange.

A specially made reptile carpet is an excellent choice, though it may be difficult to clean. Astroturf or synthetic grasses may shred, produce obstructions, or get twisted around fingertips, causing harm. Hence, they should be handled with care.

Vermiculite is often used as a breeding/incubation medium without the use of chemicals or fertilizers. Nonetheless, it may be utilized as a general substrate due to its minimal danger, high smell control, ease of cleaning, and inexpensive cost.

It is recommended to avoid using calcium-sand, corncob, crushed walnut, pea gravel, and pine or cedar shavings in the enclosure.

Lighting Conditions

While it is advised that you provide a day-night cycle of 12 hours for your bearded dragon, changing this cycle to fit natural cycles is indeed feasible and may result in more natural behavior. Additionally, this day-night cycle is necessary for maintaining good mental health.

Bearded dragons have stringent needs for UVB light supplementation since they depend on UVB light to synthesize appropriate vitamin D3 in their skin. Vitamin D3 is required to correct calcium metabolism in dragons and prevent secondary nutritional hyperparathyroidism, sometimes referred to as metabolic bone disease.

While artificial ‘UV-lights’ may deliver UVB light, there is no alternative for natural, unfiltered sunshine, and it is suggested that dragons get sunshine for 20-30 minutes at least twice each week.

When doing this task, make sure the dragon is contained in an escape-proof cage. No glass or plastic should be used to block sunlight since they will filter UVB radiation. Assure that the dragon has accessibility to shade and is not allowed to overheat. Reptiles that cannot easily flee the heat are in danger of hyperthermia or organ failure, which may be fatal.

The majority of artificial UV sources for reptiles must be located at a minimum distance from the reptile receiving the light. Most manufacturers provide a list of these criteria on their packages or websites. Additionally, the efficient UVB emission longevity of these lamps is typically between 6 and 12 months. Thus, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s requirements.

Conclusion

Petting a bearded dragon demands a high level of trust and determination. You must approach the cage with caution and prevent making any sudden movements. Use as minimal pressure as possible while petting your bearded dragon to prevent harming it. Finally, never pick the bearded dragon by the legs or tail; always hold it by the belly.