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Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
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Bearded Dragon

Pogona Vittaceps

 

 

Housing & Substrate:

A minimum size enclosure for one adult Bearded Dragon is a forty-five gallon tank but the ideal size is seventy-five gallons. They are ground dwelling lizards and do not require a lot of climbing space but should still have a screen lid. Many people build custom enclosures for their Bearded Dragons so they can build in shelving and basking areas.

Although they are desert lizards they should not be kept on a sand substrate. Avoid play sand, “Calci-sand”, “Repti-sand”, or any other sand. Some packages will say “Digestible” on it but most pet stores just want to make a buck. If your animal eats sand it will harden with the fluid in their stomach and wont pass through the intestines causing impaction. This can be fatal if not caught early enough. Young dragons are more perceptible to this then adults are. Adults’ digestive system can handle larger items then juveniles or babies.

Sand can be ok if you watch carefully and feed in a separate enclosure. They can accidentally snap up sand if they go after a yummy cricket! Safe substrates include but are not limited to: Reptile carpet, Shelf liner, Tile, Linoleum flooring, paper towels, newspaper, or outdoor/indoor carpet (be sure to melt the edges down so the frays don’t come loose or harm your Bearded Dragon)

 

Humidity & Water:

The humidity doesn’t need to be high. They live in a pretty dry environment. No misting is needed. But they should be given baths regularly. Most people give baths to their Bearded Dragons once a week to keep them hydrated and it helps with shedding as well. Because they don’t have humidity you need to give them a small dish of water that is replaced with fresh water every day. Some hobbyist will tell you that they don’t need a water dish and get all the water they need from the vegetables they eat. But I eat vegetables and still need my daily water. Think about it.

 

Temperature & Lighting:

The enclosure needs to be kept between 75˙F (24˙C) and 85˙F (30˙C) on the cool side of the tank during the day and between 70˙F (22˙C) and 80˙F (27˙C) at night and a basking temperature (near the heat light) of 100˙F (38˙C).  They need temperatures of at least 95˙F (35˙C) in order to digest food. Like with all other diurnal (awake during the day) lizards. They will need a UVB producing light. This light needs to be on for 10-12 hours a day. During this time, the light will provide enough UV rays for proper digestion and release appropriate amounts of vitamin D3 to allow for calcium absorption. Without a UVB light it is extremely likely for your pet to get a medical condition called MBD. This stands for Metabolic Bone Disease which is fatal if not caught early enough.

 

Feeding and Supplements:

Juveniles and adults can eat a staple of crickets (no bigger then the space between their eyes!) with a variety of, butter worms, super worms, silk worms, and earth worms. They are omnivorous and can also eat, collared greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, yellow squash, sweet potato, and an occasional fruit treat.  The adults should be fed every day to every other day and juveniles daily. Dust the insects with a calcium/multivitamin supplement. This is crucial to your pet’s health and needs to be done to all food items every other feeding. Dust the insects with a calcium/D3 supplement at least once a month.

 

Gender:

You will be able to tell the gender of your Bearded Dragon once he/she is six months old. Before this time they all appear female. Lay your Bearded Dragon on a flat surface such as a table or a hard surfaced floor. Lay him/her out facind opposite of you with their tail towards you. Gently lift their tail upwards and look at the base underneath. Males will have two bumps called hemipenes and their will be a dimple in the middle. Females will have one bump and sometimes you wont notice any bumps. Males are usually larger then females. If you have any doubt or are unsure of your Bearded Dragon’s gender an experienced veterinarian will be able to tell you. Or you cal email me a picture of your dragon with his tail up with the underneath of the base facing the camera.

 

Shopping List / Minimum Requirements:

 

  • You will need a somewhat large enclosure (see above for size)
  • Plenty of fake plants (real plants hold humidity which isn’t good for your Bearded Dragon) and branches, logs and items to climb on.
  • A UVB producing fluorescent light
  • A heat light or ceramic heat emitter (this basking light should be outside so the pet does not get burnt)
  • A digital Thermometer (the stick on plastic dials can be up to 20 degrees inaccurate )
  • A shallow water dish and food dish
  • Substrate (above)
  • A nocturnal/red heat bulb if you are not using a ceramic heat emitter to maintain night time temperatures

 

Not Appropriate:

There are many items that Bearded Dragons should not have in their enclosure. Heat Rocks and Heat Caves can severely burn your lizard’s stomach and feet and should be avoided for all lizards. Do not use any Sand, Gravel, Walnut Shells, Wood Chips or Repti-Bark substrates.  Do not feed mealworms, their hard exoskeleton can easily cause impaction they are also very low in nutrients and aren’t healthy.

 

Other Information:

Two males should never be housed together, they can and will fight to the death. Any new reptiles should be taken to the vet before bringing him home to ensure that he or she is fully healthy and if they aren’t they can get the treatment they need. They do tolerate being handled I wouldn’t say that they enjoy it but they will tolerate it. They are docile but some males can be aggressive. The adults tolerate it much more then the juveniles. Especially if they are used to being held sense they were young.

For more information on Bearded Dragons check out the sites below:

Beautiful Dragons Web Page