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Bearded Dragon Care

How to Take Care of Your Pet Bearded Dragon

Every living thing deserves a little care, and the bearded dragon is no exception. This article provides some basic caring tips that will help.
PetPonder Staff
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2018
Lettuce field
What they Are

Bearded dragons are lizards that are found in the arid and rocky regions of Australia. They have flat bodies, large, triangular heads, and are adept climbers.

When to consider getting one as a pet?

These lizards make good pets because they do not get too large, and eat a variety of foods. Apart from this, they are gentle animals that are active during the day. They also have limited requirements that are readily available.

How to choose one?

It is advisable to observe the animal carefully to ensure that it has bright and alert eyes. Also remember to check its length, and make sure that it does not have any sores, deformities, or burns.

Housing
The enclosure should be large, with the minimum size for an adult being a 50-gallon terrarium. When housing a group of adult dragons, ensure that they are housed in a large enclosure and provided with plenty of logs for basking. You could use glass, because this material allows for optimum brightness as well as vision. Take care not to house young females and males together, as they might mate and then run into complications concerned with egg binding.

Cage Decor
You can use wheat bran for dragons that are above 6 months of age. To prevent problems with impaction, use newspaper or paper towels. While using this, replace the old paper every night to remove hidden crickets, as they can harm a young dragon. You could also opt for basking logs to allow your pet to feel secure and thermoregulate. You can add the right amount of color and decoration using fake plants and decorative rocks.

Food
Since these lizards are omnivorous, they can be fed proteins as well as vegetation. Remember not to feed too large a prey item. Crickets, mealworms, and superworms that are ½ to ¾th the size of the space between your dragon's eyes should suffice. If you are planning to feed it crickets, remember to check that they are clean. If you have a female dragon, try feeding her pinky rats/mice during the breeding season.

It also requires a variety of greens, so you could feed it collard greens, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, mustard greens, turnip greens, and dandelion greens. Apart from those mentioned above, you could also feed your pet carrots, squash, peas, corn, and sweet potatoes.

Supplements
Some of the supplements that this lizard requires are Calcium, D3, and Vitamins. It is important to remember that the supplementation depends on the bulbs you use, the amount of natural light it receives, and what you feed it. Keeping all this in mind, it is advisable to meet your vet to find a schedule that suits the needs of your dragon.

The Heating and Lighting
While setting the temperature, ensure that the enclosure is provided with a temperature gradient which moves from a hot basking zone to one that is cooler. Keep the basking temperature to over 100 degrees and the cooler zone temperature around 85 degrees. Dragons love bright light, so use active UV/heat or mercury vapor bulbs. Apart from a UV light, you can also take your dragon outside in an outdoor basking enclosure, as the more natural light it has access to, the less supplements it will require. Do not take your young dragon outside because it might become stressed. It is noteworthy to wait till it is older.

Water Intake
Provide your pet with water in a shallow bowl that has been disinfected once a week. If it does not like drinking from the bowl, allow the water to drip slowly into its snout. You could also try wiggling your finger in the water to catch its attention as this lizard loves things that move.

Bathing Routine
It is advisable to bathe your pet once a week as this not only keeps it clean, but also helps in keeping it hydrated and helping it in shedding. Ensure that the bath water you use is just-warm and only as deep as your dragon's chest. While bathing, remember to always be present and never leave it unattended.

How to disinfect the cage, accessories, and bathing tub?

To disinfect the above, you could use ¼th cup of bleach mixed with a gallon of water in an old and clean milk container. After you have mixed the contents, transfer it to a spray bottle and cover the entire surface you plan to clean until it is soaked. Once that is done, let it sit for 15 minutes and then scrub the surface with a rag, ensuring that all feces and old food is removed. Once that is done, rinse the surface many times until the smell of bleach is no longer present.

How to maintain hygiene?

To take care of hygiene, wash your hands before and after you have handled your pet. Washing your hands before handling it ensures that you do not pass anything on to it, while washing it after that reduces the risk of you contracting salmonella. Though the risk of getting it is pretty slim, it is better to be safe than sorry.