About Keeping Bearded Dragons as Pets

Written December 21st, 2012 by
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Bearded dragons are a desert lizard that live in Australia. They have fast become a popular exotic pet. Lizards are particularly good pets for people who have allergies to furry pets, or who just do not have time for a different pet.

Although small and cute when you buy them, bearded dragons can grow to 24 inches (60 cm) and as such anyone considering getting them as a pet must be mindful of the fact they will eventually need a 40 gallon tank or larger.

People interested in getting a bearded dragon as a pet must also consider that lizards do have special requirements and although once set up correctly they are easy, the initial set up is quite specific for each lizard type.

Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragon via Wikimedia commons

In the case of a bearded dragon a desert set up is required. The tank itself should be long. For young bearded dragons it is common to line the tank only with newspaper as they can swallow the sand that is used for older dragons; whose cage should be filled at least 4 inches (10 cm) deep with calcium sand for reptiles.

They require a rock for basking as lizards need to be warm to digest their food. There are electric heated rocks for this or by putting a heat lamp (which you should have anyhow) above a raised rock you can provide a basking place. A cool down area is also important and this can be a shaded area as provided by adding a log to the tank. The temperature should be maintained at 75 – 80 F in the day and just below 70 F at night.
Bearded dragons also need a UVA/UBA light which should be on for 12 hours a day, and not longer than 14. The humidity should be maintained at 20 % to 30%.

In the wild a bearded dragon gets its water when dew collects overnight on its head. It licks this off. As such some are not use to drinking out of a water bowl. While you should still provide them with a water bowl if you notice your pet is not drinking you may want to mist its head every morning and can even mist its food too!

Speaking of food, bearded dragons have a diet that changes over their lifetime. When they are young they need more insects than when they are mature. As such a young bearded dragon may need about 75% of its diet to consist of insects, while a mature one might only need about 50% of its diet to be insects.

Gut loaded crickets are one of the most common insects to feed a pet bearded dragon, but they can eat meal worms and wax worms too. Some prepared diets are available for bearded dragons. As for the plant matter, pet bearded dragons can have kale, spinach, pears, zucchini, shredded carrots, and even dandelion leaves providing they have not been treated with any chemicals.

The lifespan of a well cared for bearded dragon can be over 10 years.  They are egg layers but breeding too much can shorten a female’s lifespan.

It is best to keep only one bearded dragon unless you have a very large space.  Two males will often fight.

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I have worked with pets for many years, been to college to study horses, worked in an animal shelter, kept pets, owned my own pet supply store, and currently live on a hobby farm in Alberta. I have sheep, a donkey, llama, have kept chickens, pheasants, and pigeons, as well as lots of other critters. I am also interested in travel and science. I am not a veterinarian but have a lot of pet and animal knowledge.

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