Caring for a Bearded Dragon as a newbie could be daunting. Bearded Dragon Care For Rookies will make it easier to overcome the challenges of changing into a reptile keeper. And just remember to get off to a terrific begin along with your new pet.
On this complete article, you will discover a bearded dragon care directions which you can observe step-by-step. We’ll make it easier to put together your bearded dragon setup correctly to welcome your new pet! And also you’ll be taught what veterinarians and reptile specialists advocate for bearded dragon care.
A bit in regards to the bearded dragon
Studying tips on how to look after a bearded dragon actually begins with understanding how these small, good lizards have developed to stay within the wild.
The bearded dragon, or Pogona spp., hails from the land down beneath – Australia. Of their native homeland, there are seven totally different bearded dragon species. Exterior of Australia, Pogona vitticeps, the inland species, is the dragon mostly stored as a pet.
The bearded dragon’s native habitat is often dry all through many of the 12 months and might get fairly scorching! Dragons, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded animals and can’t self-regulate their very own physique temperature.
To heat up, a wild bearded dragon will bask within the daylight. To chill off, the dragon will retreat beneath a shady rock or burrow into the earth. Clearly your dragon received’t have these choices so that you’ll must guarantee that the temperature and humidity in your tank stays on the proper stage always
Bearded dragons take their frequent identify from the spiny pouch on the underside of the neck.
Each men and women have this pouch, or beard. They use it to speak with different lizards and different animals. The beard could be inflated and alter colour.
Pet bearded dragons are sometimes known as “beardies.”
Measurement and Lifespan
Bearded dragon hatchlings are actually tiny! They solely weigh about 2 grams every – rather less than the load of a single paper clip.
However younger beardies develop up quick and will likely be able to have hatchlings of their very own earlier than they’re two years outdated.
A totally grown bearded dragon could attain 18 to 22 inches (45 cm to 56 cm) from the nostril to the tail tip. Typical grownup weight ranges from 0.62 to 1.1 kilos. (0.28 kg to 0.49 kg). Grownup male beardies are typically bigger and heavier than grownup females.
Within the wild, bearded dragons can have a shorter lifespan because of meals scarcity, predation and different elements.
Pet bearded dragons, in distinction, can stay from 7 to 12 years or longer with correct husbandry, a nutritious diet, and common entry to preventative veterinary care.
Discovering A Reptile Vet
As with every new talent, studying tips on how to take care of a bearded dragon comes with a studying curve.
Don’t fear – bearded dragon care will not be tough. However it’s exacting, in that beardies have very particular care necessities to thrive in captivity!
As a newbie who’s studying tips on how to look after a bearded dragon, the very first step you need to take earlier than you even carry your new pet house is to find a veterinarian that’s skilled to deal with unique pets like reptiles.
If that is your first-ever reptile pet, it’s possible you’ll not notice that not all vets can deal with unique animals.
Most vets are what known as “basic observe,” they usually have been skilled to deal with canines, cats, and generally livestock.
However bearded dragons have totally different care necessities. You’ll must know the place to take your beardie in case she turns into in poor health or you have got an emergency.
Find the closest unique veterinarian and name to make an appointment to take your new beardie in for an preliminary “nicely pet” checkup.
This can set up a baseline set of well being information that may assist your veterinarian later ought to your bearded dragon grow to be in poor health or injured.
Now you might be prepared for step two: on the brink of welcome your new pet!
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Bearded dragon tank
The best habitat setup in your bearded dragon will likely be an enclosure that’s safe, holds warmth nicely and is straightforward to scrub and sanitize.
Grownup beardies sometimes have to be housed alone to keep away from territorial aggression. That is true for 2 females in addition to for 2 males housed collectively.
A bearded dragon stored in a too-small habitat will modify his progress primarily based on the accessible area. This can lead to stunted progress and in behavioral or well being points.
Captive bearded dragons want a stunning quantity of area for his or her small dimension whilst infants – a hatchling beardie wants a full 20-gallon tank!
An grownup bearded dragon of common dimension (as much as 15 inches lengthy) wants a 40-gallon tank.
Dragons longer than 15 inches will want a further 10 gallons of area for every two inches of size.
Don’t neglect to shut your beardie’s new tank with a breathable, securely becoming lid! Ideally, you need a mesh lid that encourages air flow and permits humidity escape.
Bearded dragon lighting
Getting your new pet’s lighting excellent might be going to be the largest problem you face in bearded dragon care.
Bearded dragons, like folks, are diurnal. Which suggests they’re awake throughout the sunlight hours and relaxation throughout the night time.
You will want to offer correct lighting on a 12-hour cycle for day and night time.
Day: UVA/UVB mild
Bearded dragons want mild to stimulate their urge for food and preserve a wholesome temper and conduct.
Most significantly, they want each day 12-hour entry to UVA/UVB mild to develop robust bones.
The lighting you select ought to present:
- Ultraviolet A (UVA): 320-400nm.
- Ultraviolet B (UVB) 290–320nm.
Change the bulb each six months to maintain the UV output robust.
Place the bulb because the producer directs or roughly 18 inches away from the spot the place your dragon spends probably the most time basking to make sure full mild supply.
The kind of UVA/UVB bulb you select ought to match the dimensions and form of your tank. Listed below are some choices for bulbs and fixtures for various tank setups.
Exo Terra Photo voltaic-Glo Excessive Depth Lamp
This vapor bulb* is nice in case you are utilizing a single mild fixture in your tank.
It is available in 125w and 160w variations. Use the previous if you happen to stay in a hotter local weather.
The latter could also be needed if you happen to stay in a chilly local weather or expertise excessive winter climate.
Fluker’s Solar Dome Lamp Fixture
That is an applicable, secure holder for housing the Exo Terra Photo voltaic-Glo bulb* or one much like it.
Zoo Med ReptiSun UVB
This bulb* is a good selection for hooded aquarium-style tanks.
It is available in totally different lengths to fit your wants.
ReptiSun Fluorescent Hood
That is an instance of the hood you’d use* with the Zoo Med ReptiSun UVB.
Remember to get the appropriate dimension hood in your bulb and tank size!
Evening: Nocturnal warmth lamp
For night time time, the tank ought to keep between 70 and 80 levels Fahrenheit.
For those who stay in a colder local weather or expertise excessive winter climate, it’s possible you’ll want so as to add a nocturnal reptile warmth lamp with applicable dome to assist stabilize nighttime temperatures.
Listed below are two choices so as to add nighttime warmth.
Zoo Med Nocturnal Infrared Incandescent Warmth Lamp 75 Watts*: This bulb is available in 75w, 100w and 125w.
Reptile Warmth Lamp Bulb – 60W*: This bulb is available in a number of totally different wattages.
Bearded dragon temperature
After lighting, the subsequent largest problem to deal with in your new pet proprietor record is temperature.
Your bearded dragon will want a temperature vary that mirrors what she would expertise in a wild setting – no simple feat in some climates!
Heat aspect/cool aspect: Bearded dragons want a daytime heat space that stays persistently between 85 to 95 levels Fahrenheit (29.44 to 35 levels Celsius) and a daytime cool space that stays persistently round 70 levels Fahrenheit (21.11 levels Celsius).
Basking spot: Your beardie can even want a basking spot that stays persistently between 95 and 105 levels Fahrenheit (35 and 40.55 levels Celsius).
This Exo Terra Intense Basking Spot Lamp* is available in a wide range of wattages – make sure to check the temperature on the basking spot to keep away from overheating your dragon!
Bearded dragon humidity
Some of the vital sides of bearded dragon care is humidity.
Wild dragons stay in desert-like situations that needs to be replicated inside your pet dragon’s enclosure.
Intention for a humidity stage that stays between 35 and 40 % persistently.
It would be best to put money into a thermometer and humidity gauge (hygrometer) to observe humidity ranges contained in the enclosure.
This Zoo Med Labs Digital Thermometer Humidity Gauge* is very rated and may also help you monitor the setting inside your beardie’s tank constantly.
Bearded dragon bedding
The bedding, or substrate, you select in your bearded dragon can actually make the distinction between life and loss of life from impaction. (See the well being part for extra on this.)
Skilled beardie house owners advocate stable substrates comparable to ceramic tile, paper, reptile carpet or paper towels, particularly in case you are caring for a hatchling or juvenile dragon.
Like folks, beardies are omnivores, which suggests they’ve developed to eat each animal protein comparable to bugs and their larvae, and plant matter.
Younger bearded dragons are rising quick they usually want protein to gas that progress, so your child beardie will likely be extra carnivorous than an grownup. Mealworms and crickets are in style sources of protein for bearded dragons and could be bought from pet shops and even ordered from on-line retailers comparable to Amazon.
Feed your child dragon morning and night. As soon as they’re grownup as soon as a day is okay
As your beardie turns into mature, they are going to grow to be extra herbivorous and their want for protein will not be so nice. You’ll nonetheless want to offer some bugs or mealworms however you’ll additionally want to extend the vegetable a part of their food regimen.
In terms of the herbivorous aspect of your dragon’s food regimen, the bottom line is to make sure that that is at the very least 80% leaves or greens and that fruit is barely an occasional deal with and not more than 10% of their food regimen
Some secure meals for bearded dragons
This isn’t an exhaustive record, however you need to be capable to get a few of these from both the mall, or your again yard!
- Bok choy
- Swiss chard
Go simple on the swiss chard and kale and provide a spread of various vegetation quite than feeding the identical ones time and again. This helps you keep away from nutrient deficiencies or a construct up of minerals which can be ample in some vegetation.
Remember to take steerage out of your unique veterinarian on one of the best food regimen for every stage of your bearded dragon’s life cycle. An excellent reptile specialist retailer can even have specialists which you can speak to about your beardie’s food regimen
Bearded dragons must shed their pores and skin as they develop.
This course of known as “ecdysis” and it’s an vital and wholesome a part of your dragon’s life.
Bearded dragons don’t shed entire like snakes do – they shed in sections and will look fairly patchy for every week or few!
Shedding will occur extra steadily throughout the first 12 months or two of life whereas your dragon is rising quickly.
You possibly can assist by offering a pleasant sandstone in your beardie to rub up in opposition to and a heat shallow bathtub to soak in.
Don’t attempt to “assist” the pores and skin by pulling at it – it will simply damage your dragon!
Usually, simply earlier than and through shedding, your beardie’s pores and skin will look duller and it’s possible you’ll discover extra lethargy, much less urge for food and eye bulging.
That is regular, however at all times ask your unique veterinarian in case you are involved!
Bearded dragon character and temperament
Bearded dragons haven’t grow to be so in style by being standoffish!
Pet beardies are very mild, calm and pleasant.
They’ll simply be taught to acknowledge you and appear to take pleasure in being touched and dealt with.
Your beardie additionally received’t hesitate to beg for treats and to stare at you if you happen to don’t instantly get the message!
Bearded dragon dealing with
It is very important be taught immediately tips on how to choose up your beardie and deal with her correctly.
All the time use a flat palm and slide it beneath your dragon’s physique.
Scoop up your pet in your flat palm, supporting the complete physique as you accomplish that. Cup your hand so she will be able to’t wriggle out and fall.
As soon as your dragon is safe in your palm, you may then open up your palm and provide the opposite hand so your dragon can stroll from hand handy safely.
It’s simple to discover ways to pet a bearded dragon.
Use two fingers to softly stroke your beardie’s head and neck on prime and across the sides.
This quick video provides you a very good instance to observe.
Bearded dragon well being
Bearded dragons can endure from a wide range of well being situations.
Like all animals, your beardie goes to do his finest to look wholesome and robust even when he feels horrible!
That is an innate survival intuition no quantity of secure captive residing can ever breed out of those reptiles.
This implies you need to be taught to identify the early warning indicators of illness, an infection or sickness and get your pet to your unique vet pronto!
Let’s check out a few of the most typical well being points bearded dragons can have.
Metabolic bone illness (MBD)
In case your beardie wants each day 12-hour entry to full-spectrum UVA/UVB mild, ample warmth to stimulate metabolism, and a wholesome balanced food regimen.
In any other case, she will be able to’t take in calcium and manufacture Vitamin D3 to make robust, wholesome bones.
This will result in a really critical and pressing medical situation known as metabolic bone illness, or secondary hypothyroidism.
Warning indicators embody frequent bone breakage, jaw swelling, bumps or swelling alongside the again and the legs, sudden spasms/twitches/tremors, issue strolling and lethargy.
Respiratory an infection
Respiratory an infection sometimes happens when habitat husbandry (mild, warmth and humidity) is missing.
If the tank is simply too chilly, scorching, humid, or a mixture of those, usually the primary indicators of this will likely be respiratory.
Warning indicators embody mucus effervescent up across the nostril and mouth, struggles to breathe, swelling across the throat and physique, and mouth gaping.
Mouth rot (infectious stomatitis) is a bacterial an infection that may trigger jaw swelling, extra mucus and free enamel.
Warning indicators embody yellow mouth, swollen gums with dots of pink, jaw swelling, and extra mouth mucus.
Parasites can occur at any time, though not all parasites are dangerous.
Mites and ticks are worrisome and these can usually be noticed in your dragon’s pores and skin.
Warning indicators of parasites can embody weight reduction, urge for food loss, lethargy, and diarrhea.
Wild bearded dragons will generally eat dust. That is known as geophagy.
Whereas analysis on this conduct is sparse, it’s thought wild beardies could do that to assist digest insect exoskeletons.
In captivity, nonetheless, utilizing the improper substrate or improper feeding strategies could cause rather more dust or sand ingestion and result in gastrointestinal impaction.
That is life-threatening and requires rapid vet care!
Urge for food loss/lethargy
When all different potential causes are dominated out, the commonest set off for torpid conduct and lack of urge for food is an enclosure that’s too chilly or too scorching.
At each temperature extremes, your dragon could enter a state much like hibernation.
Bearded dragon care
We hope this in depth article about bearded dragon care has given you the data you have to start your journey. Earlier than you go, don’t miss a few of our different beardie assets:
Are you caring for a bearded dragon? Tell us the way it’s going within the feedback!
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Axelson, R., “Bearded Dragons – Proudly owning,” VCA Animal Hospital, 2016.
Lightfoot, T., “Bearded Dragon Husbandry and Care,” BluePearl Vet, 2018.
Mitchell, M., “Biology and drugs of bearded dragons (proceedings),” Veterinary Medication 360, 2008.
Fox, S., “How Do Lizards Cool Off?,” Stay Science, 2010.
Carney, R. et al, “The Bearded Dragon Information II: Care & Husbandry,” PenderVet, 2016.