Bearded dragon is a common term used for the seven species of lizards native to the central Australian desert, which are typically characterized by spiny scales on their throat and the back of their head. Their habitat spans the arid dry regions of the Australian continent―a place that these lizards have successfully made their home, owing to their superior adaptability.
Bearded dragons can grow to a length of 16 - 22 inches, from their head to tail, and weigh approximately 15 - 20 pounds. The spiny scales located in rows over their body play a crucial role when it comes to self defense. These lizards expand the scales on their throat in order to threaten their enemy. They are also known to change their color like the chameleons, especially during mating, or in response to change in temperature.
These lizards inhabit the rocky semi-desert regions and arid woodlands of Australia. They have adapted themselves very well to this region despite the scarcity of food. Being omnivorous, they feed on a large variety of insects and plant matter. These diurnal lizards are normally seen basking on the rocks in the early morning and late afternoon. When it becomes unbearable, they burrow in the ground. They are exceptional climbers and hence, are mostly seen on branches of trees, in bushes, and even on fence posts. These cold-blooded creatures prefer temperatures of around 80°F during the day and 70°F at night.
Habitat in Captivity
Compared to other lizards, bearded dragons are friendly and calm in nature and are thus, believed to make great pets, especially among hobbyists. Several species of this lizard are caught and bred by people; the most popular among which is the Pogona vitticeps species. In captivity, these lizards feed on green leafy vegetables, as well as insects, like crickets and silkworms. Young ones require more insects in their diet, owing to the greater nutrition requirement of their growing bodies.
You can use aquariums to house them. The size of a bearded dragon habitat is the most important aspect to consider when you keep them as pets. An adult dragon will require a 50 - 60-gallon aquarium, while a 10 - 15-gallon aquarium will be more than enough for a young dragon. You can use newspapers, brown paper, or indoor carpet as the substrate. Never use soil as substrate, as it may contain pesticides or fertilizers. You can also provide your pet reptile a place to hide in the aquarium. If you are thinking of adding some plants to the enclosure, Dracaena and hibiscus are good options, as these plants will not only provide your pet shade and a place to hide, but will also help in maintaining necessary humidity in the enclosure.
The species requires heat for proper digestion of food and hence, you will have to provide your pet a supplemental source of heat. For this, you can use readily available accessories such as incandescent lights, heating pad, infrared heat emitters, etc. They will also require temperature in the range of 90°F when it comes to basking. Maintaining proper humidity is another crucial factor when it comes to basic care. And lastly, shallow pool of water is yet another important component of bearded dragon cages.
Being highly territorial, two male bearded dragons are bound to fight and harm each other when caged together. However, a male and female can be kept together. If you are planning to keep these lizards as pets, you will also have to ensure that the hygiene of their habitat is given due importance.