Also known as Beardies and Pogona
The Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata) is native to eastern and southeastern Australia. They can live 8 - 12 Years and grow to 20 - 24 Inches. Their conservation statis is Least Concern (LC).
The Basics for Bearded Dragons
- 24"W x18"D x 12"H
- Reptile Carpet
- UVA/UVB Lighting
- 80 - 85 ° F
- 30% - 40%
- crickets, hornworms, leafy greens & more.
Bearded Dragon Pet Care
Bearded Dragons make great pets, even with children. They are very calm, friendly and relatively easy to care for. As adults, they may grow up to 2 feet (typically 16 – 24 inches). Dry woodlands are the preferred areas in which bearded dragons like to spend their time. As pets, however, you’ll want to invest in a nice terrarium somewhere between 24 – 36 inches in length, 18 inches deep and 12 inches in height. The exo terra low glass terrarium is one the best available and reasonably priced.
Temperature & Lighting
As mentioned above in the quick habitat guide, you’ll want to keep your terrarium between 80 – 85 ° F but you should also include a basking area with temperatures between 95 – 115 ° F. I suggest trying an under tank heat pad with a thermometer to keep the ambient temperature where you need it. For the basking area, many bearded dragon owners recommend a 75w heat lamp. I’ve found the bulbs on amazon but wasn’t able to find a stand. Be sure you place the bulb a short distance above your pet’s enclosure to keep from burning or melting the terrarium!
The UVA/UVB lighting is very important. Your bearded dragon needs UVB exposure to absorb Vitamin D3! Check your local pet store for some nice light hoods and use some UVB bulbs or even combo light sets for heating + UVB lights.
Choose the right substrate for your bearded dragon might be difficult. It will also vary depending on who you ask. Beardies tend to struggle with sands because it the fine grains can get stuck in their nostrils and mouth. Barks can hold moisture content better than other substrates but that can be a bad thing. If your humidity gets too bad, it can be harmful to your pet. Which brings us to reptile carpet. The reason many owners use reptile carpet is that it is easy to use, doesn’t retain much moisture and won’t be harmful to your bearded dragon. You can also cut the carpet to fit your terrarium and shape it however you need it.
Feeding your Bearded Dragon
These lizards are fairly easy to provide food for. Their diet typically consists of crickets, grasshoppers, locusts, and hornworms. Vegetables and other leafy greens provide excellent nutrition for their diet; Non-citrus fruits are also acceptable.
Baby or young bearded dragons require a few more insects than the older ones. It’s strongly encouraged that, while your pet is young, you increase their insect to plant ratio. As they grow older they will require fewer insects.
Understanding your bearded dragon’s behavior is a great way to provide better care for your pet. With over 70 different behavior patterns it gets tricky figuring out what they’re doing. We will break down some of the more common behaviors to help you better understand what they’re doing.
- Head Bobbing is considered an act of dominance. This often occurs when dragons are housed together and are generally performed by males but can happen with females as well.
- Arm Waving or Swimming is known as an act of submission. This mostly happens with female bearded dragons when caged with a male. It can happen after the male displays a head-bobbing behavior and even sometimes after feeding your dragon. Many owners consider this a “thanks for feeding me” type behavior.
- Beard Flaring or Bloating is a sign of aggression. They’re “warning” you that they don’t like what is going on. Remember that bearded dragons are calm by nature so you wont see this behavior very often and even if you do, chances are its a bluff. Regardless, you should handle with caution.
- Opening their mouth or “Mouth Gaping” can mean different things; One of the most common is the bearded dragon is attempting to cool down. If this happens very often there is a good chance that your cage is a bit too warm for your lizard.
- Color Changing on your bearded dragon displays their mood. If he/she is lighter than normal there is a good chance it is cold or stressed. If the color around their beard is darker than normal it may be feeling distress or aggression.
- Raised Tail indicates that your lizard is on the alert. It often does this before feeding or when prey is near.
- Eye Bulging is one of those behaviors that we haven’t quite figured out yet. It can scare owners the first time they see this but it is a behavior exhibited quite often. If your bearded dragon continues doing this for long periods of time it may be a good idea to take your pet to the vet.
- Piling is a dominance behavior. When multiple bearded dragons are housed together sometimes they display this behavior by laying on top of each other. The lizard on top (the dominate lizard) receives more UVB radiation than the lizard on the bottom. Owners should be cautious of this behavior as it could potentially be harmful for the lizard on the bottom.