Posted by on 6/11/2019 to Bearded Dragon Care
Bearded Dragon Care(Pogona Vitticeps)
The bearded dragon, or Pogona Vitticeps, is arguably one of the best types of lizards to have as a pet. Like humans, bearded dragons are awake during the day and sleep during the night, making it easy to interact with them. Bearded dragons are very alert and playful, demonstrating great enthusiasm over feeding time and especially chasing around crickets. They are very docile and friendly towards humans and other household pets and quickly become accustomed to being handled and petted by their owner. Bearded dragons get their name from the row of spiky scales beneath their head that resembles a beard when puffed up.
Originating from the deserts of Australia, bearded dragons come in a wide variety of different colors. You can find them in colors ranging from darker browns and reds to lighter yellows and shades of white. They have triangular shaped heads and muscular flat bodies with rows of spikes down each side of their abdomens. Unlike other lizards, bearded dragons do not lose their tail when threatened, and if they do happen to lose their tail, it doesn’t grow back.
Behaviors of Bearded Dragons
Arm WavingSometimes a bearded dragon will stand on three legs and wave its other leg in a circular motion in the air. This could signify recognition, much like when humans wave. It can also indicate submission to a larger bearded dragon. In the case of male and female dragons, it means the female is submitting to the male.
Head BobbingUsually an action performed by males, a bearded dragon will raise its head up and down to show dominance, either territorially towards another male or to a female during breeding. The faster the dragon bobs its head, the more threatening it is trying to be.
Beard FluffingBoth male and female bearded dragons will sometimes puff out their beards. Usually, it is a defense mechanism to make them seem more prominent when they are threatened. However, sometimes they expand their beards just to stretch.
DiggingYour bearded dragon may dig a hole in its tank. It may just be trying to make a comfortable area to rest. Females may dig to create a place to lay their eggs. Older dragons may dig a spot to brumate, which means to enter a state of partial hibernation. This typically happens when temperatures are lower than preferred, and it helps the bearded dragon to thermoregulate.
Mouth GapingWhen bearded dragons are basking under their heat lamp, you may notice their mouth wide open. This is another form of thermoregulation and is used when the dragon reaches the perfect body temperature and doesn't want to get any warmer.
Tail TwitchingBearded dragons occasionally twitch their tails like a cat while hunting crickets. They may also twitch their tails if they are annoyed, for example, if they don’t want to be played with anymore.
Average Size and Life ExpectancyBaby bearded dragons are about four inches long when they hatch from their eggs. Full grown adult bearded dragons can develop up to two feet long, from their heads to the tips of their tails. Male dragons typically grow larger than females. With the proper diet and living environment, domesticated bearded dragons can live until they are six to ten years old. However, there have been stories of some bearded dragons living significantly longer. Generally, bearded dragons are full grown and sexually matured by 12 months of age.
Housing Your Bearded DragonWhile your bearded dragon is still a baby, you will want a smaller-sized terrarium so that it can easily hunt for food, provided that the decorations are kept simple. A 20-gallon terrarium is sufficient for dragons up to two months old and under ten inches long. However, once the bearded dragons get bigger, you will need to upgrade to a larger terrarium. Keep in mind, adults prefer to live alone, so stick to one dragon per cage. For adult bearded dragons, terrariums should be 50 to 75 gallons and have a screened lid. An enclosure that is too small can be stressful for the lizards and can limit their growth potential. Bearded dragons love to climb, so be sure to provide them some strong branches, rocks or driftwood to play on and hide in. In the warmer months of the year, bearded dragons can be lodged in outdoor cages – where they can get access to the healthy UV rays from the sun. When using an outdoor enclosure, be sure there are both sunny and shady areas for the dragons to relax in.
Substrate in TerrariumSome people prefer to use reptile carpet, which is also fine, just avoid loose threads or loops that could catch on the long dragon toenails. Young bearded dragons may have issues with ingesting sand, so while they are babies, you can use newspaper or paper towels on the floor. Remember to frequently scoop out waste – at least once a week – and change the bedding monthly.
Temperature Inside TerrariumAs desert dwellers by nature, bearded dragons prefer their habitat to be hot and dry. However, they are also ectotherms, meaning they need to have both warm and cool places in the terrarium to regulate their temperatures properly. This is called thermoregulating. Because of this quality, it is critical to have a basking area with a basking lamp to provide sufficient heat for your bearded dragon. You should have two thermometers, one on either side of the terrarium, to ensure the temperature ranges are adequate for your bearded dragon. The basking area should be on one side of the terrarium and should be between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It should have a piece of driftwood, a branch or a rock underneath the basking lamp so the bearded dragon can climb as close to the heat as it likes. The other cooler end of the terrarium should be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit so that the dragon can cool down. At night, turn off the basking lamp to signify the sun going down in nature. Nighttime temperatures should stay between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If needed, use a ceramic heat emitter or night heat lamp to maintain those temperatures.
Bearded Dragon LightingLike humans, bearded dragons are very active during the day and sleep at night. While in captivity, reptiles rely on lighting and temperature to regulate their circadian rhythm, which helps them know when to sleep and eat. To imitate the sun, you will need to provide your bearded dragon with a full spectrum UVB light that runs the length of the terrarium. Bearded dragons like to bask about 12 hours a day. Basking in the glow keeps bearded dragons healthy and prevents metabolic bone disease. UVB light is necessary for indoor bearded dragons to synthesize the critical vitamin D that boosts calcium absorption. There’s quite a variety of different lighting solutions available. Do some research before you shop, or talk to employees at stores, to determine the best solution for your particular setup.
HumidityBearded dragons flourish the most at humidity levels between 20 and 30 percent. You should invest in a hydrometer, which is a device that measures humidity. If the humidity level drops below 20 percent, give the terrarium a light misting once a day with a spray bottle.
WaterBearded dragons like to drink water by licking the water droplets off the walls and accessories inside their terrarium. Misting the terrarium with a spray bottle full of filtered water once a day will provide sufficient water droplets. In addition, you should provide your bearded dragons with a water dish full of fresh water every day. A fun activity to do with your bearded dragon is to give it a bath. Bearded dragons love a nice warm soak every once in a while, and bathing is essential to maintain proper hygiene. The bathing water should be between 85 and 90 degrees, and you can let your bearded dragon soak for 15 to 20 minutes. This will keep the dragon clean as well as help it shed its skin.
Bearded Dragon FoodBearded dragons really love to eat, and they sure eat passionately! It’s quite a fun activity to watch. They are omnivores, meaning they eat plants in addition to insects and small rodents. You should feed your bearded dragons two to three times a day. Young dragons prefer to eat mostly small dubia roaches, but as they grow, they will eat more greens, fruits and vegetables. When feeding your bearded dragon insects, the insects need to be dusted with a vitamin and mineral supplement with calcium to ensure the best health. Place the insects in a bag with the powder and shake lightly to coat them. Here are some foods that are safe to feed your bearded dragon.
- Dubia roaches
- Mangos lastin
- Dark leafy greens
- Pinky mice