The stars of the new pet store are unquestionably bearded dragons. The popularity of these fascinating creatures is soaring, but sadly, too many adopters are ill-informed about how to provide proper care for them. This is why we have compiled everything you need to know about common bearded dragons in a single post, including their environment and diet requirements, as well as what you should never do. We have much to say, so let’s get started!
Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
Although these little reptiles are quite tame, they are still quite intelligent and friendly. They can reach a height of 24 inches (60cm) and can live for up to ten years! Are you prepared for a lifelong companion animal? If so, here are the best ways to care for him.
Choose a tank that is wide and low to provide the maximum amount of floor space, as they must be “active” to be happy and healthy. Bearded dragon hatchlings can be kept in 20-gallon containers, but as they mature, they will require at least a 40-gallon container.
Best is to go for a large size straight away, so you don’t have to change sizes throughout his life, which could be upsetting.
Note that it is not recommended to house multiple dragons in a single tank. Males are solitary, women are more sociable but can still struggle with issues of dominance, and males and females together… No diagram is required to comprehend what will occur.
Many recommend sand as a substrate, but keep in mind that it can be harmful if your reptile consumes too much of it with its food, which is likely if you simply place the food at the bottom of the tank. In addition, the majority of substrates sold in pet stores are unsuitable.
Initially, when they are still infants, the optimal solution would be to use newspaper, paper towels, outdoor carpeting, or reptile carpet, and frequently replace it in order to maintain a healthy environment.
Once they reach adulthood, you may consider more permanent materials, such as ceramic or slate tiles, because they are so simple to clean (you must scoop the feces daily!). Regarding this, never use chemicals, no more than a 10 percent bleach solution.
Find An Exotic Pet Veterinary
When you adopt a bearded dragon, one of the first things you need to do is find an exotic pet veterinarian, as dragons are sensitive to a variety of parasites that can be fatal to them. Taking a fecal sample is the cheapest way to solve this problem, and some veterinarians will do so without seeing the animal and without charging for an appointment.
Salmonella is naturally carried by the majority of reptiles; therefore, you should always wash your hands after petting them and use separate dishes and towels than you use for yourself.
Bearded dragons love:
- laying on your back: make sure to utilize the spaces above you with furniture that is easy to grasp.
- being warm: rocks are ideal for this because they warm up when exposed to light.
- Reptiles seem to enjoy ponytail palms, snake plants, jade, and pothos, whether they are natural or artificial. Just ensure they are chemical-free and be prepared to replace them, as your bearded dragon may consume them!
- Hiding is unquestionably the bearded dragon’s favorite pastime. Provide numerous hiding places, such as logs and upside-down flower pots.
If you provide your bearded dragon with all of these items, he will likely live a happy life. However, keep in mind that they grow quickly and require space to move, so don’t overcrowd the cage!
Lightning and Heating
Lightning is essential to the survival of bearded dragons. In the summer, they should be on for 10-14 hours, and in the winter, they should be on for 10-12 hours. You will require two types of lighting.
In order for your dragon to produce vitamin D3 and calcium, a UVB light that simulates the sun is essential. In its absence, most reptiles develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
Unique reptile fluorescent bulbs, such as the Reptisun 5.0 or the Reptisun 10.0, are required: they must be placed within 12 inches (30 cm) of the basking area and must be replaced every six months as the UVB level decreases.
You must provide your pet with a source of heat lighting, such as regular household bulbs, reptile basking bulbs, or regular spotlights. Bearded dragons require heat to digest their food, so it is imperative that you monitor the temperature daily with a thermometer. The optimal temperature is approximately 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit), a bit higher for infants.
Given the size of your aquarium, a 100-watt light bulb should suffice. If you need more, home improvement stores may carry 150-200 watt bulbs. Ensure that the heating light is placed above the basking area and on the same side of the cage as the basking area.
The opposite side of the bed, where your pet will not sleep, can be cooler (no less than 25°C or 75°F).
If the nighttime temperature does not fall below 18°C (65°F), your bearded dragon should not require heat lightning.
Some pet stores may recommend a new type of light that combines UVB and heat in a single bulb, but we do not recommend it because it is costly and is known to break easily. Also, we cannot be certain of their safety.
Bearded dragons must consume leafy greens daily. Be sure to properly wash them before feeding them to your pet, and try to vary their diet. Know that lettuce lacks nutritional value and should not be consumed in abundance.
Remember to remove large stems and rotten portions, then tear the greens into pieces roughly the size of the dragon’s head. You can also wet the greens before feeding them to your dragon in order to provide it with additional water.
Other grated vegetables, such as winter squash, green beans, parsnips, carrots, and sweet potato, can be added to the salad. Dragons cannot chew large pieces, and it will be difficult for them to digest them. You may also give him small amounts of fruits such as berries, mango, papaya, and grapes.
Dragons’ favorite food is insects, but as with children and sweets, you shouldn’t give them too much: 2 or 3 times a day for babies, pregnant dragons, or after brumation, and no more than once a day for adults. If not, your lizard may be susceptible to kidney disease.
Ensure that you give your child greens before insects in order to encourage vegetable consumption.
It is acceptable to feed them crickets, super worms, roaches, phoenix worms, hornworms, and silkworms, but never mealworms or pinky mice due to the risk of parasites. If you feed them crickets, give them as many as they can consume in 5 to 10 minutes; baby dragons can consume up to 50 crickets at once!
Important details include:
- Never leave crickets in the cage overnight, as they can severely injure baby lizards by eating them. Feeding your pet in a separate cage is one possible solution.
- Never give infant dragons large crickets, and never give dragons anything larger than the distance between their eyes.
- Fireflies are TOXIC to bearded dragons and can cause DEATH within hours if they are fed to them.
We do not recommend providing a water dish for your dragon because he will either defecate in it or crickets will drown in it, neither of which is healthy for the environment. Spraying your animal’s vegetables with spring or filtered water (to avoid the chemicals added to tap water) is the best way to hydrate it.
In addition, the majority of beardies appear to enjoy bathing and swimming, although they cannot swim for extended periods. We recommend placing them in the tub once per week under constant supervision.
Before placing them back in their cage, ensure that they can still stand easily and that they are completely dry; excessive moisture or dampness can cause fungal diseases.
This is the proper way to care for a common bearded dragon. In a subsequent post, we will discuss specifics such as brumation symptoms, the shedding process, and special care for pregnant dragons. Stay in touch!