Pet Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
Size: 16 inches
Food: Mealworms or Crickets and Vegetables
Owner Experience: Beginner
The Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps) gets its name from the
black beard that the animals can extend as their moods require. Both males and females are able to do this, and the displays are generally in response to social interactions.
The dragon is a native of Australia. As Australia limits the
exportation of their wildlife, you can be confident that the bearded dragon you buy has been hatched in captivity. They are a popular pet due to the fact that they are very docile, a reasonable size and do not generally have health problems. There are, however, a few important points to keep in mind in their care.
A single adult bearded dragon pet can live in a 20 or 29 gallon tank. Because they are active during the day, they will require a UV light
source. This can be accomplished by an artificail reptile light, such as a Reptisun fluorescent bulb. It is usually helpful to have the light on for 12 hours per day. As dragons generally come from arid regions, the tank should not have a high humidity. This is best accomplished with a screen top to the tank, which will also allow the UV rays from the bulb to reach your dragon.
Bearded dragons also require high heat. You can use a heat light or ceramic heater above the tank. Make sure the warm end of the tank has a basking spot about 100 degrees F - a bit higher for baby dragons.
This can be turned off at night and the cage permitted to come to room
temperature. This basking area is important, and the dragons will take advantage of the heat. If you have a rock below the heat source, the dragons will also take advantage of the heat on the surface of the rock. Do not use heat rocks, however. They do not provide enough heat to warm the cage and the heat cannot be controlled. Heat rocks often cause reptiles to burn themselves. you can best control the heat for your dragons if you place a thermometer in the cage under the heat source.
Pet bearded dragons eat both insects and vegetables. The size of the food item is important to the dragon's health. If a prey item is eaten that is too large, often this will cause impaction, or the paralysis of the
rear end of the dragon. If this occurs, it will require veterinary intervention. If feeding crickets or mealworms, it is best to dust the insects with a calcium/D3 powder. The most popular powder for
this use is Rep-Cal. A weekly vitamin supplement, such as Osteoform or Herptivite, is also required, and can be dusted onto the insects.
Dragons will eat virtually any vegetable. Any of the green, leafy vegetables except lettuce are good for the dragon. Dandelion and wild
mustard are OK, as long as you are certain that they do not contain any pesticides. The dragons appear to be especially fond of yellow colored vegetables, and dandelion or mustard flowers can be used as well. You may also include yellow squash and sweet potato, but not too many carrots, due to their high vitamin A content. The dragons also require fresh water at all times, and an occasional spray, especially when they are shedding, is helpful.