These lizards originate in Australia, but are readily captive bred for pets. They come in a variety of colors and even skin types (many are bred to be less spikey, more smooth). They have become one of the most popular reptiles in the pet trade due to their manageable size, amiable nature, and ease of handling.
Average Size and Life Span
Bearded Dragons can range from 12-24 inches and have a life span of up to 14 years, but 8-12 years is average for a well kept animal. 5-8 years old is expected with Dragons whose owners offer regular inadequate care.
Bearded Dragons are omnivores, which means they will eat both plant and animal matter. Baby Beardies need to eat more insects than veggies, but adults will need more veggies than insects.
Offer baby Bearded Dragons a variety of small insects 3 times each day. Place as many in the cage as the lizard can eat in 10-15 minutes, and remove any insects that are not consumed. Adult Beardies only need fed insects one time per day, and, again, only as much as they can eat in 10 minutes. Adults will often learn to accept freeze dried insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and grasshopper. These should not replace live insects, but can be offered once or twice per week when convenience is necessary. Adult dragons will also enjoy the occasional live pinkie mouse as a treat.
Fresh food items can be purchased at most grocery stores. Make sure you thoroughly rinse all fresh items before feeding. Mustard greens, Collard greens, Kale, Dandelion Greens, Endive, and small amounts of Romaine Lettuce are good leafy greens to offer daily. Never offer iceburg lettuce. Shredded carrots, zucchini, squash, bell pepper, artichoke hearts, green beans, and peas can be offered as well. Any fruits should only make up no more than 10% of their diet, and should also not be citrus fruits that are higher in acidity. Try grapes, raisins, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches, and pears are good options. With all of these fresh items, ensure that the pieces are cut up very small so they are easy to eat and digest
There are many freeze dried fruit and veggie mixes that make it very convenient to offer a good variety of items all the time. Simply rehydrate with warm water and drain the excess liquid. Pellet diets are available to Bearded Dragons, and can be kept in a bowl in the cage at all times as an option.
Juveniles require a minimum of a 10-gallon tank; for a full grown male African bullfrog, a 20+ gallon tank is necessary.
Bearded Dragons should always be provided with a Calcium powder supplement with Vitamin D3 at least 4-5 times each week, and a multivitamin powder one time each week. Lightly sprinkle these supplements on fresh food items and on feeder insects.
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Cage Setup and Maintenance
A minimum tank size for a baby Bearded Dragon is a 20 Long. This will allow enough space to allow for proper thermoregulation. A juvenile (10-16 inches) will require at least a 55 gallon or 40 Breeder sized
tank or, ideally, as large as possible. An average adult (16-20 inches) Bearded Dragon will need a 40-75 gallon tank, while a larger than average animal (20+ inches) will need one 75 gallon or larger.
Make sure heat lamps and heating pads are on the hot side, and the rest of the tank is a little cooler, but still warm. Larger tanks will almost surely require a second heat lamp to ensure the ambient temperature of the whole tank is warm enough.
Beardies can be kept on a variety of substrates from sand, bark, ground english walnut shells, or terrarium liners. Reptile calcium based sand is the easiest to clean, the safest for your animal if ingested, and is a great heat conductor. Young Beardies should only be kept on terrarium liners or paper towels to prevent accidental ingestion of their substrate.
Make sure you provide several hides throughout the cage, and a high basking area. Use driftwood, branches, and even some fake plants or cacti in the cage to provide security. These lizards also enjoy Repti-Hammocks, especially under their basking site. Make sure a medium to large water dish is provided, as beardies enjoy soaking in their bowls.
As far as maintenance requirements, these lizards are fairly easy to care for. Remove uneaten food items after 24 hours or less. Spot clean the cage several times each week. Clean cage décor as needed. Empty and fully disinfect the cage with a reptile specific disinfectant every one or two months.
Notes and Comments
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