Saturday, December 22, 2012

Do Bearded Dragons Make Good Pets?

In recent years Bearded Dragons have become popular pets. I have never owned one myself but have met my share of happy owners, disappointed owners, and people who had their pet die within a few weeks of getting it.  This is often because they did not understand how to care for their pet correctly.  Others owners were not prepared for the size that their beardie grew.

How Big Do Bearded Dragons Get?

Bearded dragons originated in Australia. They typically measure about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) when first purchased, but owners must be prepared for their Beardie to grow to 20 – 24 inches (50 – 60 cm), with females being slightly smaller. In most cases this means the vivarium (reptile enclosure) for a small bearded dragon will not be big enough for when they are mature.

What Kind of Enclosure  is Needed for a Pet Bearded Dragon?

A young bearded dragon may be kept in a 20 gallon enclosure, while a mature one will need at least a 40 gallon enclosure. The tank selected should be one that is made for lizards and is therefore long rather than tall, allowing for more floor space.

Young bearded dragons can be kept in groups but as they mature bearded dragons should be kept individually. It is possible to keep a male and female together, or two females, if the enclosure is large enough, but two males will fight.

Bearded Dragons are desert lizards their vivarium needs to be created to resemble a desert habitat. When young its best just to use newspaper to line their enclosure with, but later they can have 4 inches (10 cm) deep of calcium sand. They should have rocks, and in particular a raised “basking rock” on which to warm themselves for digestion, you can even buy electric heated rocks. They also need a shaded area in which to cool down.

The tank will need to be cleaned weekly. The lid must be well ventilated with proper lighting (a heat lamp and UVA/UVB light).

Humidity should be maintained at 20% to 30% and there are special humidity gauges to help you monitor the conditions of the tank. The tank must be kept warm in the day, and slightly cooler at night.

They should have a food dish and water dish. Some bearded dragons are reluctant to drink from the water dish so should be misted in the morning (in the wild they get water by licking the dew off their head), or have water sprayed on their food.

photo source

What do Bearded Dragons Eat?

Bearded dragons are omnivores, they need a variety of food. When they are younger they need a balance of 75% insects to 25% plants, but as they mature this becomes more of a 50/50 thing. The insects can be live gut loaded crickets, meal worms, or wax worms. You can also buy dried crickets, or prepared foods and see if your beardie will eat them. The plant matter can be kale, collard greens, spinach, dandelion leaves (assuming no chemicals sprays were applied), shredded carrots, pears, and chopped up zucchini.

Additional Information on Keeping a Pet Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons can be picked up and held but care should always be taken that they are not dropped. If not use to being held they may puff up but over time they can become “tame”. People need to wash their hands before and after handling their pet. Soap should not be used before handling the pet (just wash with water) but should be used afterwards. Bearded dragons are considered one of the more relaxed types of lizards as pets.

A bearded dragon can live for 10 to 12 years, so it is important for an owner to decide if they can provide a lifetime of care for their pet.

Note that as they get larger bearded dragons are not as “cute” as when they are small, and for some people (kids in particular) that can be an issue. Again it is very important to consider the mature size of a bearded dragon before getting too committed to getting one as a pet.

If you are serious about getting a bearded dragon as a pet you may want to get some supplies and set up your vivarium first.

Pet Warehouse has a Reptile section with proper lighting supplies, sands, accessories, grooming aids, medication, thermometers, food, and so forth.  Check to see their huge range of Reptile Supplies

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