Bearded Dragon (Lizard): Habitat, Diet, and Care

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Bearded Dragons originate in Australia. The most common species in the pet industry is the Inland Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps, which was previously called Amphibolurus vitticeps. The Inland Bearded Dragon is in some cases referred to as the Central, or Yellow-headed Bearded Dragon. Other members of the Pogona genus consist of:

Bearded Dragon Care Tips

  • Pogona barbata – Common Bearded.
  • P. henrylawsoni – Rankin’s.
  • P. minima – Western.
  • P. small – Dwarf.
  • P. mitchelli – Northwest Bearded.
  • P. nullarbor – Nullarbor.
  • P. microlepitoda.
Quick Stats:   Bearded Dragon
Family: Agamidae
Origin: Australia
Size: Adult males up to 2 feet in length (consisting of tail).
Diet: Omnivorous: Chopped meat, crickets, pinky mice, earthworms, leafy greens, squash; may want separate feeding tank.
Water: Water dish, beads, misting.
Terrarium: 10-15 gallon fish tank for hatchlings; minimum of 55-60 gallon for grownups.
Substrate: Indoor/outdoor carpet, newspaper.
Design: Hidebox; supply rocks and branches for climbing and basking.
Lighting: Fluorescent complete spectrum lighting with UVB.
Temperatures: 78-88 ° F; basking area of 95-100 ° F; night time temperatures in the 70’s.
Compatibility: Typically social; bearded dragons of similar size can be housed together, however must be kept track of; appear to take pleasure in interaction with people.
Sexing: Males have larger heads, darker beards, and enlarged femoral pores.
Life span: 10 years.

Natural environment

The Inland Bearded Dragon lives in the arid woodlands and deserts of main Australia. It invests much of its waking hours in bushes and trees, and is also found basking on rocks. When it is exceptionally hot, the bearded dragon will burrow underground. The bearded dragon is diurnal and an omnivore. It forages for food such as insects, small lizards and mammals, fruit, flowers, and other plant material throughout the day time.

Physical characteristics

The Bearded Dragon is tan to yellow in color. It is called “bearded” since of the dragon’s ability to flare out the skin in the throat region when it is threatened or territorial. Its body has a flattened appearance, which ends up being a lot more pronounced if the dragon is alarmed. There are spinal columns on the throat, sides of the head, and sides of the body. The head is wedge-shaped, and the Bearded Dragon has a tail that is almost as long as the body.
It is tough to identify males from women amongst hatchlings and juveniles. When they become adults, sexual differences end up being more obvious. The males usually have bigger heads and larger, darker beards. The femoral pores of males also help to differentiate them from females.

Habitat

Enclosure:

Cages need to be protected with tight-fitting lids. The sides should be smooth to prevent abrasions of the nose. Wire cages do not retain heat and also can result in foot and nose trauma. Having a correct substrate in the cage (see listed below), making certain the cage is big enough, and utilizing plastic covered wire mesh can minimize the possibility of injury.

Cages must be easy in style to facilitate cleansing. Cages made of wood should be sealed with polyurethane or a comparable waterproofing representative and joints caulked to permit cleansing and disinfection. Fresh polyurethane needs to be allowed to dry several days and the cage thoroughly aired out prior to placing a reptile in it or toxicity may result.

Aquariums can be used to house Bearded Dragons. Hatchlings may be kept in a 10-15 gallon aquarium; grownups need a minimum of at least a 55-60 gallon aquarium.

Substrate:

The substrate is what lines the bottom of the cage. A perfect substrate is one that is inexpensive, visually pleasing, easily cleaned, absorbent, and digestible if swallowed. Substrate can be flat paper, sheets of brown covering paper (the kind that can be found in rolls), AstroTurf, or indoor/outdoor carpet. Do NOT use cedar shavings, gravel, crushed corn cob, cat litter, wood shavings, or potting soil which contains vermiculite, pesticides, fertilizer, or wetting agents.

Landscaping and ‘Furniture’:

Branches for climbing up and basking under the secondary heat source should be secure. These branches must be of numerous sizes and not exude pitch or have a sticky sap; oak works extremely well. The branches ought to be as large as the width of the Bearded Dragon. Boards covered with indoor/outdoor carpet likewise make great climbing posts. Flat-bottomed, smooth rocks are a good addition to the environment, and can assist use down the toe nails, which in captivity, need to be clipped typically.

Reptiles like a place where they can conceal. This might be an empty cardboard box, cardboard tube, or flower pot. The hiding location should provide a tight fit and must be high in the enclosure. If your Bearded Dragon does not use its hiding location, try a different one or move it to a different location.

Suitable plants in the enclosure can offer humidity, shade, and a complacency. They also add an aesthetic quality to the enclosure. Make certain they are nontoxic. Dracaena, Ficus benjamina, and hibiscus are good choices. Be sure the plants have actually not been treated with pesticides and the potting soil does not contain vermiculite, pesticides, fertilizer, or wetting agents. Washing the plant with a water spray and watering it completely numerous times to the point where water runs out of the bottom of the pot, need to help remove hazardous chemicals, which may have been used. Keeping purchased plants in a various part of your house for a while prior to putting them in the enclosure will likewise be handy.

Temperature

Bearded Dragons are cold-blooded animals from arid woodland and desert environments, and need additional heat for appropriate digestion. They choose 78-88 ° F throughout the day and temperature levels in the 70’s in the evening. If a reptile is cold, it can not properly absorb its food and is most likely to end up being ill. Lizards like a temperature gradient so if they are cold, they can relocate to a warmer part of the cage and vice versa. Location an excellent quality thermometer in the cage at the level the Bearded Dragon invests the majority of its time so you can monitor the temperature.

Main heat source:

A primary heat source is necessary to keep the temperature of the entire cage within the proper range. A series of incandescent lights over the cage is among the best heat sources. During the night, these lights will need to be shut off and another heat source might be needed depending upon the ambient temperature. A heating pad positioned under the cage, ceramic infrared heat emitters or panels, or more costly nocturnal reptile incandescent light bulbs which produce heat, but little noticeable light, can be used. For larger enclosures, an area heater or separate room thermostat can be used to keep the room at the proper temperature. Smoke alarm should be positioned in rooms where lights or other heat sources are used.

Secondary heat source:

A secondary heat source develops more heat in specific areas of the cage to supply a temperature gradient. To best supply this gradient, the secondary heat source should cover only 25-30% of the surface area of the enclosure. For adults, the secondary heat source might be a 30-75 watt incandescent bulb in a ceramic base, firmly mounted where the animal can not touch it. There are likewise unique ‘basking lights’ available. Either kind of light ought to shine down on a specific basking area from outside the cage. The temperature under the light in the area in which the Bearded Dragon would be basking must be 95-100 ° F. Hatchlings housed in smaller sized fish tanks will need lights of lower wattage, or the fish tank temperature may end up being too warm very quickly. DO NOT USE HOT ROCKS AS HEAT SOURCES.

Light

Noticeable white light:

In addition to heat, incandescent bulbs likewise provide noticeable white light. A mix of fluorescent and incandescent light fixtures can be used to supply noticeable light to all areas of the enclosure.

Ultraviolet light:

  • In addition to heat and white light, Bearded Dragons must have access to natural sunlight for great health. This is due to the fact that they require a specific spectrum of ultraviolet (UV) light called UVB. UVB is essential for the Bearded Dragon to make Vitamin D. No artificial light is as good as sun in providing UVB, so when the outside temperature on a sunny day is over 70 ° F, location your Bearded Dragon outside in a protected screen or wire cage with a locking door. Supply some shade and a hiding location within the enclosure. UV rays do not penetrate window glass so Bearded Dragons put in a warm window are not receiving UV light.
  • If a Bearded Dragon does not have access to brilliant sunshine, unique black lights are used to provide the UVB light. These black lights for reptiles are NOT the black light tubes used for lighting fluorescent minerals, posters, and psychedelic stuff (typically called BLB lights). Fish/aquarium and plant ‘grow’ lights, either incandescent or fluorescent, do NOT produce UVB. You require a black light which produces light in the 290-320 nanometer variety. Lights producing just UVB, and lights which produce a mix of UVB and white lights are available. ZooMed’s reptile or iguana lights, and Durotest’s Vita-Lite are two excellent products. These UVB source of lights ought to be changed every 6 months.
  • Bear in mind that UV light can not permeate glass, so when overhead UVB source of lights are used, the top of the enclosure need to be a wire mesh that is not too great. It is recommended that the UVB source of light should be less than 18 inches from where the Bearded Dragon spends the majority of its time; 10-12 inches is ideal.
  • The areas brightened by the incandescent basking light and the UV light should overlap. If the Bearded Dragon invests almost all his time basking under the incandescent light, and the UV light is at the other end of the cage, he is not going to get any benefit from it.

Water and humidity

Although Bearded Dragons receive the majority of their water requirement from the food they eat, fresh drinking water should be available at all times in a shallow bowl that can not be toppled. Correct humidity is essential for correct shedding. Especially during the cold weather when the humidity is low, mist the Bearded Dragon with water several times a week. Some Bearded Dragons appear to enjoy soaking in a tub of water. Be sure the Bearded Dragon has the ability to get in and from the container easily. You will have to clean the container and replace the water routinely, because the dragon might urinate or defecate in the water. In fact, water generally stimulates them to eliminate, so immersing them in water belongs of the treatment for constipation.

Hygiene

The cage and food and water bowls should be cleaned up regularly with a 1:10 dilution of family bleach. Wash the products well after cleansing. Bearded Dragons can harbor the bacteria Salmonella. Make certain to clean your hands after dealing with the Bearded Dragon or its cage.

If you have more than one

Reptiles are territorial and might combat when caged together. A male and female Bearded Dragon can normally be kept together, nevertheless, the male may end up being too aggressive during the reproducing season and have to be removed. Larger Bearded Dragons might keep smaller sized cage mates away from food and heat sources, and may even see them as an appetizer. If housing Bearded Dragons together, a larger cage will reduce the possibility of aggression; however, keep track of the Dragons carefully.

Personality and handling

Bearded Dragons tend to be mellow and docile, even in the wild. Although hatchlings and juveniles may be skittish, the grownups will often appear to take pleasure in human company, making Bearded Dragons one of the much better reptilian animals. Bearded Dragons have the tendency to wonder, and will take pleasure in exploring, so if you can, supply a safe, larger enclosure.

To pick up a Bearded Dragon, location your hand under its abdomen and gently scoop it up. As the dragon lays on your palm, gently curve your fingers around its abdomen.

Habits and body movement

To better associate with your Bearded Dragon, you need to understand what numerous habits and body positions imply. During breeding season, to show supremacy, or if stunned or threatened, a dragon might puff out its beard. Both males and women will display this habits. To appear much more enormous, the Bearded Dragon might also “gape,” or open his mouth really large. This can certainly make him look more aggressive, since his mouth is quite big. Another method Dragons show dominance, is to bob their heads. To reveal submission, a dragon will hold up one front leg and might gradually wave it.

Recreation

Bearded Dragons reach sexual maturity and begin to breed in between 8 and 18 months. The female will generally lay 20 eggs in a clutch. If fertile, the eggs will hatch in 55-75 days. Unmated females might likewise lay eggs.

Bearded Dragon’s Diet

Due to the fact that Bearded Dragons are omnivores, they need a well balanced diet of meat and veggie matter. Hatchlings eat primarily small bugs. As they grow, they will begin to eat more veggie matter. The diet of a juvenile dragon (2-4 months of age) will include roughly 80% pests and 20% greens. Young dragons need to be fed 2-3 times daily. If insufficient food is fed, young beardeds might nip at the tails and toes of their cage mates.

Meat:

Meat can consist of pinky mice (for grownups) and insects such as:

  • Crickets; pinhead crickets for juveniles
  • Mealworms
  • Wax worms – high in fat, so feed moderately
  • King worms
  • Earthworms
  • Cockroaches

Preparing bugs for food: Freshly molted insects are much easier for the Bearded Dragon to digest. Feeder bugs need to be covered with calcium supplement (powdered calcium carbonate or calcium gluconate) 3-5 times weekly for grownups; every day for juveniles. The insects need to likewise be “gut-loaded,” which means the insects are fed nutritious and vitamin-rich foods prior to they are provided to the Dragon. Excellent foods to feed the insects consist of ground beans, corn meal, carrots, sweet potatoes, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, apples, oranges, cereals, and rolled oats. There are also business items abundant in calcium and vitamins which can be fed to the bugs. Bugs might be bought or wild-caught (without making use of pesticides).

The bugs need to be fed by positioning them in a small bowl. After feeding, check that none of the bugs got away and fouled the water supply in the cage. To improve health, some owners prefer to have a separate cage for feeding the meat-based part of the diet.

Food particle size: For Bearded Dragons, it is extremely important that the size of food be proportional to the size of the animal. Malnourishment, seizures, and digestive tract blockages can happen if hatchlings and juveniles are fed insects that are too large for them to catch or absorb.

Plant life

Plant matter in the diet must comprise roughly 20% of the diet and ought to consist generally of green leafy vegetables. Other vegetables can be included. Fruit should make up the smallest portion of the diet. The veggies and fruits ought to be shredded or torn into small pieces and mixed together to motivate the Dragon to eat all that is used, and not just pick out his preferred foods.

Greens Vegetables Fruit
  • dandelion greens
  • clover
  • escarole
  • turnip greens
  • mustard greens
  • kale
  • collards
  • parsley
  • zucchini
  • sweet potato
  • broccoli
  • squash
  • frozen mixed vegetables
  • bell pepper
  • grated carrots
  • okra
  • green beans
  • peas
  • dates
  • grapes
  • kiwi
  • apple
  • strawberries (seeds removed)
  • plums
  • figs
  • apricots
  • bananas (peeled)
  • peaches
  • melon
  • papaya
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