Bearded dragons (Pogona) are characterized by a unique personality and are extremely friendly to people. They’re intelligent enough to recognize their owner and respond if you call their name. They’re mild in nature and easily accustomed to handling.
So, do bearded dragons make good pets? The short answer is yes, they make amazing pets! In this article, I’ll talk about why they make such great pets, as well as a care guide that will help you better understand these fascinating creatures.
Bearded Dragons are one of the most peaceful lizards. They’re curious, relaxed creatures that enjoy the company of their owner.
Bearded Dragon Body Language
Bearded Dragons have a complexion of skin under their chin, full of barbed growths. They can inflate that fold when they feel intimidated, or when they’re scared. Fast-paced head movements express dominance.
When they show obedience or desire to mate, they gently shake their heads. They can darken their beards intensely when aggressive, and sometimes even before mating.
Accommodation and Care
A relatively desolate terrarium is a great choice for your beardie, there are no strict definitions. It’s recommended that you cover the terrarium, not to prevent the animal from escaping, but to protect it from children or other pets.
The minimum terrarium dimensions for an adult bearded dragon are d100 x w50 x v50cm. Juveniles ones can be placed in smaller terrariums until they outgrow them. For the youngsters, a terrarium measuring 50 x 40 x 30cm is highly recommended.
It’s advisable to provide some places for hiding juvenile bearded dragons in the form of a cave made of stone, or a log. Make sure that these items can’t fall and hurt them. When they’re larger they generally don’t need shelter, as they’ll sleep wherever they like. It’s funny watching them play around in the sand and then fall asleep right there.
The terrarium should also have good ventilation, whether that’s on the side or on the top, so that excess temperature can go out.
You can use several types of substrate such as newspapers, paper, linoleum, slab stones, or fine sand. Sand and slab stones are the most natural substrates. Hygiene and maintenance of the substrate must also be kept in mind.
Regular newspaper can be used if the dragon is quarantined, or even for temporary accommodation.
Bearded dragons are classified as a semi-arboreal species, so that the basking area shouldn’t be on the terrarium floor itself, but on a small elevation large enough to accommodate the lizard. For example, a large wooden branch. If using stones, be sure to seal it with non-toxic heat resistant silicone to prevent the stones from breaking and injuring your pet.
You should create a temperature gradient by heating only one part of the terrarium with a light bulb. The temperature in the warmer side, below the bulb, should be around 30-38 ° C, while in the cooler side it can be 24-28 ° C.
Always use a spot bulb which has a concentrated beam of light, and is heated directly below. The bulb shouldn’t be placed too close to the substrate so that the beardie can reach it and burn itself. It’s a good idea to place a stone under the bulb that would further heat up and maintain the temperature, even after the bulb is turned off.
If your beardie needs heating, it will lie on the stone and leech the heat. At night the bulb turns off and so the temperature will drop to room temperature of about 20 degrees.
Adult bearded dragons like to bask on branches and rocks under a sun lamp. The sunbathing area shouldn’t be on the very floor of the terrarium, but on a small elevation large enough to accommodate the dragon, such as a large wooden branch. If stacked stones are used, they should be glued with non-toxic silicone (heat resistant) to prevent the stones from breaking and injuring your pet.
A basking light is required to maintain the day and night cycles, as well as to heat up the basking area to a constant 30-38 ° C. On the cooler side of your terrarium, a temperature of 24-28 ° C should be maintained. A source of UVB light is also necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D3, which helps the intestines to absorb calcium from their diet.
UVB light is a neon tube with UVA and UVB radiation. They’re mostly used with 10% or 12% of UVB radiation and are changed once a year because they have a declining effect. During the night, much like their natural habitat, all lights are turned off so that your dragon can sleep peacefully.
The humidity in their terrarium should be 30 – 60%. Because they come from dry Australian desert environments, bearded dragons don’t need high humidity. All the moisture that they need can be achieved by bathing them once a week in warm water.
Just pour a couple of inches of water into the basin and let the lizard bathe for 5 minutes. When you dry them after their bath, it will also help to remove old dead skin.
Food and Water
Bearded dragons are mostly insectivorous, but you need to also remember to occasionally provide leafy greens, such as freshly harvested lettuce, hibiscus (especially hibiscus flower), some herbs, and mango or other fruit as a rare treat.
While they’re a juvenile, they reject plant foods for the first few months, and some dragons prefer a particular species, and never eat other types of herbs. Care should be taken not to eat sour fruits, cabbage, and other hard-to-digest vegetables.
Most often they’re given carrots, zucchini, various types of lettuce, pumpkin, apple, dandelion, hibiscus. Juveniles are fed twice per day for the first 2 months. Then when they grow up they can just be fed once per day. Of course, they may not eat every day, especially in winter.
It’s best to offer a wide variety of food, from crickets, flour worms, and lots of insects from your yard. Mineral vitamin preparations should also be added to their main diet.
The Amount and Type of Diet Depends on the Age of the Lizard;
- 1 Month Old: feed 2-3x / day; crickets (1 week old, spray once a day)
- 1 to 4 Months Old: feed 2x / day; (2 weeks old, spray 1x / day)
- 4 Months Old to Adulthood: feed 1-2x / day; crickets, worms, and other insects, lettuce every other day, you can also offer raw meat in smaller quantities once a week (dusting 2 feeds a week).
- Adults: feed every 1-2 days; crickets, all types of worms and insects (except beetles). raw meat and vegetables every other day, (spray 2 feeds a week).
Don’t forget to change their water daily, and if necessary disinfect the container as bacteria will grow inside the water dish which can make them ill.
Diseases and Health Problems
These are one of the more resistant lizards, tolerating changes in temperature, and humidity. Generally, reptiles are difficult to treat unless there is a veterinarian with the experience and equipment needed.
The best remedy is prevention, so always read and educate yourself about keeping a particular species safe and then when you’re sure you can provide it all and take some time to look for it.
Like other reptiles, bearded dragons can have internal parasites. This is generally not the case if the animal is taken from a reputable breeder, and you’re sure that it’s from captivity. However, if they’re caught from the wild, they will most likely have internal parasites.
Parasites of this type can only be detected by laboratory examination of feces, which must be done if the animal is from the wild.
A healthy beardie must be active and vibrant, with a good appetite. Their eyes need to be clear and respond well to environmental stimuli.
The Most Common Diseases Are:
- Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) as a result of Vitamin D3 deficiency, with symptoms of bone decalcification and consequent physical malformations and fractures of the extremities
- Digestive obstruction, most commonly caused by ingestion of the substrate or feeding too much
- Tail rot – caused by too little humidity in the terrarium and injuries
- Internal and external parasites
- Inflammation of the respiratory tract caused by bacteria and affected by the cold environment
Common Questions Regarding Bearded Dragons
How to Treat a Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are generally non-aggressive and very easy to handle. Like most animals, they can become aggressive if they’re scared or threatened. With a little patience and love, your new pet will soon become quite tame and friendly.
Do Bearded Dragons like the Company?
As a rule, bearded dragons should be kept alone in their terrarium.
How Big Bearded Dragon Get?
When fully grown, beardies can reach anywhere from 18 – 21 inches. It usually takes around 12 months for them to reach this size. As for tank size, a 6-month-old beardie will need a terrarium of 60 liters, and for a full-size dragon, you will need a terrarium of at least 100 liters.