Bearded Dragon FAQ | FAQ on Bearded Dragons
Bearded Dragon FAQ
If you have come here looking for bearded dragon FAQ information because you are thinking of purchasing a bearded dragon I congratulate you for doing your research before jumping in on an impulse buy. OR if you already have one and want to brush up on your beardie knowledge you have come to the right place. It is always good to refresh yourself on the care of your pets and please don’t stop here, there are many wonderful sites on the net with great information. And I feel it is always best to get more than one or two points of view.
All the information on this page may not be true for every bearded dragon. It contains everything I have learnt through books, the internet, and my own personal experience with beardies. Keep in mind that I am a new bearded dragon owner and do not have the years experience that some keepers and breeders have. However, I do my homework and I have done my best to make sure everything on this page is acceptable to experience beardie owners and breeders. Now, onto the bearded dragon FAQ
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Origin
The Inland Bearded Dragon (Pogona Vitticeps) originates from Australia. This is the bearded dragon most commonly found in pet stores.
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Is A Bearded Dragon For You?
If you are looking for a reptile that is very docile, friendly, and handleable, a bearded dragon may be the reptile for you. They are medium sized lizards which makes it easy for even young children to handle so long as there is the right supervision. Hatchling dragons should be fed pin head- 3/8 crickets 2-3 times a day, juveniles and sub adults can be fed crickets no bigger than the size of the space between their eyes every day to every other day, and as adults they need only be fed crickets a couple times a week if feeding bearded dragon pellets and salad as well. IF you are afraid of bugs DO NOT GET A BEARDED DRAGON! They should be offered fresh salad every day at each stage of their lives. Insects must be dusted with calcium powder one feeding a day for hatchlings and juveniles and one to two feedings a week for sub adults or adults. Note: You should never kiss your dragon or any other lizard and make sure to wash your hands after every handling to be safe of any salmonella type sicknesses. This is rare in beardies but safety is always best.
Bearded Dragon FAQ - Housing a Bearded Dragon
A hatchling or juvenile bearded dragon can be housed in a 15-20 gallon tank. This enables them to run around but not run too far to catch their food. The tank is fairly easy to set up. An adult bearded dragon should be housed in no smaller than a 40 gallon breeder or long tank. Bigger is ALWAYS better. For two it is recommended to go not smaller than a 65 gallon but myself I recommend at least a 75 gallon. I use a hollowed out log or turned over rubbermaid rectangle container with a door cut out of it for a hide box and something to climb on. A piece of driftwood for a basking perch, a rock shaped pond for water (you can use a small dish instead), and a couple fake plants. For hatchlings right up to about 6 months paper towel or newspaper (white if you can get it) makes the best substrate. This prevents them from eating their substrate when feeding and causing impaction. I feed my beardies young and old in a separate feeding tank but still use paper towel as a substrate till 6 months to be safe. Once over 6 months of age you can use washed play sand ( the kind for kids sand boxes). You will need a thermometer to measure the heat on the cool side (should be in low 80′s), the warm side (should be between 88-95), and the basking spot (should be between 95-115). You will also need a humidity gauge to measure the humidity as it shouldn’t get higher than 40-45 (30 -35 is best) as bearded dragons are desert dwelling lizards. For the basking spot you can use an under tank heater (make sure it is a reptile heater not a human heating pad) and a basking light (heat light) on the top of the tank. Set up your basking rock (NOT A HEAT ROCK, THEY BURN AND KILL) or log, or anything the dragon will be laying on under the heat light about 6 or 7 inches under the bulb. Your beardie will also need uvb light. I like REPTI- SUN 5.0 the best as it is full spectrum and I have read that it is better for beardies than any other light including the iguana 5.0 as repti-sun 5.0 is for desert lizards and iguana 5.0 is for rain forest lizards. There is still debate on this one and many people use iguana 5.0 with no problems. You should also invest in a timer so that the lights will be turned on and off each day at the same time. This helps lesson the stress on the lizard as it simulates sunrise and sunset each day. More detailed information as to what you need is on my bearded dragon enclosure pages.
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Diet of a Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are omnivores. Meat and greens are both needed for healthy dragons. This means feeding your dragon requires the handling of bugs. If you don’t feel you can do this do not invest in a bearded dragon. The size of the food should be smaller than the width between (across) the dragons eyes. The insects are the staple food for young beardies (namely crickets). Hard shelled bugs should only be given once the dragon reaches about 12 inches in length. I prefer to stay away from them till the beardie is around 16 inches or 1 year old, but others have used them without problems. NOTE: Make sure to feed them between one hour after lights on and two hours before lights out to enable them to digest their food. Insects: Crickets, meal worms, silkworms, wax worms, grasshoppers, and earthworms. Make sure that the earthworms were raised in a compost with healthy food if you decide to use them. Some worm breeders use liquid soap formulas to collect their worms that can cause damage to your beardie if they digest these worms. Try to stay away from wild insects as these can carry parasites (pesticides or herbicides) to your reptiles. NOTE: For best results gut load your insect. This means feeding them a good cricket food provided by most pet stores, or bearded dragon pellets (as this is really good for your beardies, and or fresh fruit and veggies every day and at least 12 hours before feeding to your reptiles. Fruits and veggies: (should be available every day) Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, corn (cooked), peas, sweet potatoes, zucchini, green peppers, chard’s, apples, plums, bananas, halved grapes, slices of any type of melons. Leafy greens (such as mustard, collard, turnip, radish, and carrot tops, also a bit of romaine lettuce but NO OTHER TYPES OF LETTUCE.), cucumbers, carrots (shredded only in moderation), squash of any type (a favorite of most beardies), and cantaloupe. NOTE: Some people say not to dust the salad with supplements and some people say you can. I personally do it once in a while but this is entirely your decision. But remember too much calcium is just as bad as not enough. Edible Plants: Dandelions (flower head and leaves), ficus (leaves), baby’s tears, carnations (pedals), roses (petals), dahlia (flower head), day lilies (flowers), geranium (flowers and leaves), blue hibiscus (leaves), mulberry (leaves), pansies (flowers), petunia, phlox, spider plant (leaves), and squash/zucchini (flowers). Supplements: Bearded dragons must have a calcium supplement with their diet. Miner all or rep-cal phosphorous free with vit. D3 are the best. Make sure you do not get a calcium supplement with Vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can cause death to your bearded dragon. You can put the crickets in a baggie and do what we call the “shake and bake, without the bake” to them. lol. Crickets should be dusted once a day for hatchlings and young juveniles, older juvies to adults should be dusted once or twice a week. Water: Bearded dragons will not drink out of a water dish (although, some have been known to, most wont.) so babies should be misted once a day or you can use a siring without the needle and put droplets of water on your dragons nose and he will lick it off. Juveniles should be misted every day or two and adults a few times a week. Keep in mind when misting your dragon that a bearded dragon’s cage should be kept dry. So don’t spray too much, it is even recommended to spray them outside their enclosure. They will also get most of the water needed off their washed veggies when they start eating salads. You can also do what I like to do and give them a bath instead of a mist. My dragons get a bath every day to every other day.
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Bearded Dragon’s Character
As said before bearded dragons are very docile and almost never bite. Although it has happened once to me with my juvenile (but I was at fault). They are a bit skittish as hatchlings and juveniles but tame down very nicely as sub adults and adults. They almost seem to like to be handled and to be around humans. Some people describe their character like a loyal dog , but don’t take that the wrong way, they are nothing like a dog except for maybe their friendliness. And although my big boy had tried to bite while being removed from his enclosure once he was out he couldn’t be more friendly. He has now become even more calm and relaxed when removed in his older age. Some Behaviors include: Beard Display: This is usually when they feel threatened. Also seen in dominant males. The dragon will puff out his skin under the chin and it will turn almost black. This is also where the bearded dragon got it’s name. Head Bobbing: This is a dominance display usually done by males especially in breeding season. Dragons will also do this when given new territory to explore. Arm Waving: This is a submissive gesture usually by females giving in to a dominant male. bowing: This is a submissive gesture usually by females giving in to a dominant male. It looks like slow head bobbing or push ups. Neck biting: This is done by males to females when they are breeding or introduced. It is a natural behavior and usually does not result in hurting the female, but if you ever feel your male is too aggressive don’t hesitate to separate them. Raised Tail: This is seen in the breeding season to signify acceptance and alertness. Also seen in hatchlings and juveniles when stalking their prey or being very aware of their surroundings.
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Life Span and Size
A bearded dragon can live anywhere from 6 to 10 years in captivity. Females are usually smaller than males. Adult sizes range from 16″ to 24″. Coloration also varies from normal (tan, brown, beige or gray) to a variety of color phases such as sand fire (yellow or red), black, red, blue or green phases, sunburst, snow (nearly white) and flame tiger. I’m sure there are more but these are the only ones I can think of at the moment.
Bearded Dragon FAQ - One or More?
This all depends on the room you have for your dragon(s). A hatchling up to 6 months or 12-13 inches can live in a 20 gallon terrarium. But an adult dragon must have more room. A 50 gallon would be the minimum for one bearded dragon. Bigger is always better. I have read that two can be housed in a 60 but I personally wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than a 75 gallon enclosure. Three can be housed in a 125 gallon minimum. Two males cannot be housed together without occasional fights, stress of the less dominant male, and possibly death of one or both dragons especially if housed in a smaller tank. So if you decided for two make sure to get two females or one of each sex. If one of each sex a female should not be housed with a male until she is ready to be bread and this is at about 18 months. Beardies do well on their own so don’t purchase a second one just so the first will have “company”.
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Male or Female?
This is entirely up to you. Although in many cases if you purchase from the pet store you have to wait to find out the sex of your beardie because they often don’t have anything other than hatchlings. Both males and females make exceptional pets. There is the one problem I have heard about with females though, on occasion they can have complications in breeding season if they are not mated with a male. This does not always happen but it is quite possible so you may think of this when purchasing females. But other than that males and females are both great pets. Males do not get as aggressive like iguanas in breeding season. Some will never get aggressive at all.
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Young or Old?
I feel it is definitely better to get an older bearded dragon, especially if you are a first time owner. 3-6 months is a great age to get your beardie. They will be stable and hardy at this age if properly cared for and they will have a ready routine for feeding as well as not needing as much care, attention, and food as a hatchling. However if you are purchasing from a pet store it is often difficult to find a beardie over 2 months old. Here, just try to get the oldest, largest, healthiest, and most alert looking beardie. Try to see them feed and pick the one that is most aggressive at feeding, this way you are ensured he will be the hardiest one of the bunch. Make sure that your beardie has all his digits (toes) and the tip of the tail is not missing.
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Should you Breed?
This too is entirely up to you. But if you decide you want to breed please look into it more and read all that you can on it. You will also need to think of all the room you will need to house your babies, an incubator to hatch them in, and the fact that you will be keeping them if no one wants to buy them or take them off your hands. A female can lay a clutch of 15-25 eggs. All these babies need constant supervision for the first few days and should not be given to new owners until they are at least 2 months old.
Bearded Dragon FAQ - Where to Purchase a Bearded Dragon
I suggest if you can find a good, reputable breeder that is the best place to purchase a bearded dragon and this way you will know that it will be healthy. Some breeders even give a health guarantee with the reptile. If this is not possible find a well known, clean pet store, possibly get a breeder to recommend one to you. Make sure that the reptiles are cared for properly (right temps and lighting, dusted crickets and so on) Check out all their babies and pick the best looking (all digits, full tail, no marks or scratches on the body), largest, most active one. I got mine from a pet store and they gave me a 4 week health guarantee. This also shows that you are dealing with a good pet store if they are willing to guarantee the animal for some time.
Bearded Dragon FAQ – Conclusion
If you have decided to go ahead and purchase a bearded dragon then I wish you all the best of luck. They are wonderful pets.
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