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Keeping Bearded Dragons as Pets

keeping bearded dragons as pets

The hobby of keeping bearded dragons as pets has become more and more popular as these lizards are fairly easy to care for and they’re highly interactive too.

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When properly cared for, bearded dragons can live for as long as seven to ten years and taking the time to properly look after your pet bearded dragon can really pay off. But you need to invest the time to learn about these creatures and what is involved in making sure they are comfortable, happy and healthy house pets.

The Beard

Bearded dragons, similar to chameleons, are able to change the color of their skin to black on their necks. It’s interesting to note, too, that male beardies tend to show off their beards more regularly than their female counterparts. This color change is associated with courtship behaviors, territorial displays, agitation and also temperature variations.

Housing a Bearded Dragon

If you are thinking of keeping bearded dragons as pets you should take special care when it comes to your Beardies environment. Dragons need to be kept in spacious aquariums and as they are excellent climbers they need loads of wide branches as well as a wire-top cage. You need to keep in mind that these creatures can and will escape given half a chance.

You can use a variety of materials to line the cage including paper towels, plain newspaper and specially made bedding. You’ll need to avoid using sand, though, which can be easily ingested causing intestinal impaction. Place the tank somewhere that’s sunny so they can bask and place things in the tank that they can hide under too.

If you plan on buying cheap bearded dragons, do be sure to invest time and money learning about baby bearded dragon care to make sure your new pet grows up to be strong and healthy.

UVB Lighting for the Tank

One of the leading causes of disease for bearded dragons is a lack of Vitamin D3 which can lead to metabolic bone disease (MBD). You need to ensure you only purchase lights that have “UVB” marked on them. Although they’re costly, they will keep keep your pet bearded dragon healthy and warm.

Be sure to change the UVB bulbs at least every six months – whether or not they’re still in working order. Since the light should be kept burning for about 12 hours every day, it’s a good idea to get an automatic light timer to ensure consistency.

Remember, even if you acquire bearded dragons for free, you will still need to be prepared to spend money in order to make sure that you care for them properly.

Temperature of the TankBearded Dragon Tank

Aim to keep the cage between 75-80 degrees during the day and ensure there is a focal spot for your beardie to bask in that should reach close to 100 degrees during the day and in the low to mid 70s by night.

Get a thermometer so that you can properly measure the temperature in the tank and take your readings in the spots your bearded dragon spends most of its time. You’ll find that some UVB lights act as basking lights but you will still need a separate basking lamp. A nighttime heat source is also necessary, be it ceramic heat or a blue or red light. Stay away from hot rocks that can burn the beardie.

It’s good to remember that all these heaters and lamps are potential hazards, so do buy light fixtures that are rated for the bulb’s wattage and be careful of overloading your electrical outlets. Always keep flammable objects far away from the lamps. It’s lazy lizard ownership that causes a house fire.

Breeding Bearded Dragons As Pets

If you already have one lizard and are offered a second free bearded dragon – think carefully. These pets are better off being kept alone unless you plan on keeping them in groups of a single male and a few females or a breeding pair.

Breeding these pets requires a great deal or special attention, knowledge, substrates and heating requirements. If this is the route you want to go, you need to do some serious homework. Only take advice from an expert and make the decision to invest in the correct information that will ensure you breed strong health Beardies.

Feeding Bearded Dragons

bearded dragons as petsThese lizards are omnivorous so they rely on plants as they grow up. You need to offer them a choice of greens every day (think kale, endive, collard, romaine, red leaf, mustard, parsley, green leaf and bokchoy). You can also include a small quantity of fruits and vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, beans, berries, kiwi, apple, mangos, squash, melon and pears. But remember that fruit is not a huge part of their diet, it shouldn’t make up more than 10% and should only be fed a couple of times a week.

You can also feed your beardie crickets a couple of times per week. The crickets should be gut-loaded which is healthier for the dragon and humane to the crickets. Place the crickets in a small, well-vented container with toilet paper rolls or an egg crate and feed them crushed dragon pellets of even dog or cat food as well as water. You can feed water via wet paper towels. After a few days of doing this the crickets will be ready to feed to your pet bearded dragon. You can even dust the crickets with a vitamin D3 and Calcium supplement.

Water

A large, shallow dish of water should be placed in the tank. It should be big enough for the dragon to fit most of its body into and the water should be changed on a daily basis.

You’ll also have to soak your dragon once or twice a week. You can do this by placing them in a high-sided container with warm water filled to their chest. Soak them for about 15 minutes to promote drinking and water absorption which helps maintain their skin.

Keeping Bearded Dragons As Pets – Health Concerns 

All types of reptiles can potentially carry a form of salmonella in their bodies. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after you’ve handled your dragon and be mindful of contaminating the materials in the lizard’s enclosure.

It takes a great deal of commitment to keep bearded dragons as pets and there’s a lot the pet shops won’t tell you. If you make sure you are well informed you will find that these lizards can offer a lot in return as household pets.