Guide for Bearded Dragon Care
The bearded dragon is arguably one of the most stunning creatures that you can care for within a home.
Native to Australia, these beautiful reptiles are from the Pogona genus and often feature small spikes across the body and also on their chins. The latter of course may be a big reason why the creatures acquired the name by which they are commonly known today.
In this guide, we are going to examine the key basics that you need to know about bearded dragon care, including how you can create a perfect habitat for ‘beardies’ and the different things you need to remember about bearded dragon needs.
Bearded Dragon Types
The bearded dragon lizard comes in several different varieties and it is not uncommon to see them boast different colours, body shapes and sizes.
Some of the key ones to look out for include:
- Standard Bearded Dragon
- Hypomelanistic Bearded Dragon
- Leatherback Bearded Dragon
- Micro scale Bearded Dragon
- Silkback Bearded Dragon
- Translucent Bearded Dragon
- German Giant Bearded Dragon
- Paradox Morph
- Wero Morph
- Witblits Morph
- Zero Morph
- Dunner Morph
How Big Do Bearded Dragons Get?
The size of bearded dragon pets can vary, but you may see yours grow to around a couple of feet long. Of course, a fair proportion of that will be as a result of the lizard’s long and impressive tail.
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live?
It is widely accepted that these dragon lizards can live up to around a decade. However, don’t be surprised if yours lives even longer, as the creatures have been known to enjoy a lifespan of 15 years or even beyond. As such, you should have plenty of time to enjoy their beauty.
Bearded Dragon Behavior
As with any pet, a key part of bearded dragon care 101 is to understand the different behaviors or movements that the creatures display.
After all, this is vital if you are going to ensure you are meeting its needs and keeping the animal both happy and healthy. Here are just a few traits to look out for:
- Brumation: If your pet has slowed down in colder months, the chances are it has embraced this form of semi-hibernation. This often involves the creatures taking longer naps.
- Head bob: This is a sign of aggression or dominance and you may see it if you keep more than one bearded dragon.
- Beard puff: Another sign of aggression, this sees the creatures expand their ‘beard’ if they are concerned by something.
- Digging: Your bearded dragon may dig in order to create a place to lay eggs or simply just to get more comfortable in a specific spot.
- Color changes: These may signify that your pet is under stress or unwell.
- Waving: Bearded dragons are known to wave at others to show they are aware of their presence or when a larger animal approaches.
Bearded Dragon Habitat
Creating the right bearded dragon habitat is a vital part of bearded dragon care and you should begin with sourcing a secure, well-ventilated vivarium. In terms of size, you could start small if buying a young bearded dragon or alternatively you could simply get a large one in anticipation of its growth.
You should also add some landscaping to make your new pet feel at home and this could be a combination of rocks, branches or other items. Creating some spots where the bearded dragon can hide would also be useful.
Experts widely agree that a vivarium designed for bearded dragon care should include both a warm and a cool side. The former could reach around the 100°F mark, while you may wish to set the latter in the region of 80°F.
If you’re concerned about how to keep on top of the issue of temperature, a low-cost option for tracking conditions in the vivarium may be to add thermometers to either side of it.
You should make every effort to reflect your bearded dragon’s habitat when it comes to lighting, so you will need to ensure full spectrum light is on offer for up to 14 hours each day.
A UV tube light should prove useful in this regard, as it should also help to prevent your pet from developing metabolic bone disease.
A basking light is also an important part of bearded dragon lighting too, as this handy piece of equipment ensures that your pet is getting plenty of heat.
Bearded dragons often like to try and get close to these lights too, so you may wish to design your habitat so that the pet has the opportunity to reach new heights as it looks to keep warm.
What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Another fundamental issue which has to be covered off in a bearded dragon care guide is what you should feed them. Fortunately, their diet is fairly varied and they are known to eat a range of insects and vegetables. Such is the complexity of diet for these creatures, and many other relatively rare pets, that it’s essential to get solid exotic pet insurance for your bearded dragon.
Some of the insects you should be able to feed them include:
- Butter worms
- Phoenix worms
In addition, vegetables that you may want your bearded dragon to try could include:
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potato
- Turnip greens
- Mustard greens
You should ensure that any food is always the right size when you are taking care of a bearded dragon, which means that vegetables should be cut into small pieces.
How Do I Pick Up a Bearded Dragon?
We all like to show our pets some attention and affection now and again, but a key part of bearded dragon care is knowing how to pick the animals up without causing them any distress.
First of all, you should wash your hands thoroughly to ensure you’re free of any bacteria or germs that could ultimately make your pet ill. Then you should approach the bearded dragon slowly and also pet it to get it comfortable to your touch. Finally, you can then scoop the creature up by placing your hand under its belly.
Throughout all of this, bear in mind the behavior issues highlighted above – after all, the last thing you want to do is cause your pet any stress.
Bearded Dragon Illness
Another fundamental issue related to bearded dragon care that you need to be aware of are any signs of illness. Put simply, you need to be able to react and seek advice if something does not seem right about your pet.
We have already mentioned how brumation is normal, while you can also expect young bearded dragons to shed as they grow.
However, issues which may be a cause for concern include:
- Mouth rot: This yellow substance around the mouth may lead to swelling and could reduce your pet’s appetite.
- Metabolic bone disease: This can be caused by a lack of calcium and Vitamin D and may lead to weakened bones. Signs of the illness include jerky movements or spasms.
- Respiratory illness: An open mouth or breathing difficulties may be a sign of infection, so get your bearded dragon checked out.
- Dehydration: Sunken eyes and wrinkled skin may suggest that you need to try and get your bearded dragon pet drinking more fluids.