Care of Bearded Dragons

Care of Bearded Dragons

They love to bask in the sun but like most desert dwellers, beardies spend the hottest part of the day in caves or burrows and are well adapted to the cool desert nights.

They are relatively easy to keep as long as the husbandry is correct, particularly with attention to calcium intake and hydration.  These lovely little lizards do not grow very big and are really quite charming!

Tai Wai Small Animal and Exotic Hospital recommends this species as a pet.

Diet

These lizards are omnivores, which mean they will eat mostly anything – they are greedy eaters of invertebrates and small vertebrates. They will also eat soft plant matter, including greens, fruits, and flowers when they are hungry.

As youngsters they should be fed on tiny crickets, or tiny worms, and be fed every day. A good guide is that the food stuff should be smaller than the distance between their eyes!

Every insect meal should be dusted with calcium supplement, and the insects should always be “gut loaded“ which means fed on a well-balanced food stuff such as dog biscuits, or commercially available preparations. (Oats are not well balanced!)

As they grow up the diet should be expanded to include more types of insects- such as grasshoppers, king mealworms, beetles and roaches. Insects should either be purpose bred, home or park captures are not recommended as there may be pesticide exposure.

Vegetables such as green leaves and carrots should be given, and a small percentage of fruit.

Water should always be available in a shallow dish and young dragons should either be soaked every day or have their heads gently misted twice a day.

Lizards should never be fed on anything that might stick to the food (like sand) as this can lead to impacted (or blocked) guts. If you choose to keep them on sand you must feed them in a separate enclosure.

TEMPERATURE

The temperature gradient during the day should range from 76 F (24 C) on the cool side to 86 F (30 C) on the warm side, with a basking area of 90-100 F (32-37.7 C). The night time temperature should drop no lower than the low to mid 70s (21 C) on the cool side.

ENCLOSURE

 A large aquarium is ideal, with an open top for good ventilation.  It must be long enough to allow for a temperature gradient, which means warm at one side and cool at the other.  It is very important to have a cool end so they can get away from the heat if they need to. Your dragon should also be provided with branches and rocks to climb on and caves to hide in.

We prefer that paper be used in the base of the tank and this is a MUST for young dragons. Many owners like to use sand for older dragons as it looks more natural however care should be taken as some foolish dragons may eat this and develop a blocked (or impacted) gut..

Cat litter pellets, wood shavings, and other beddings are not recommended, as they may block the gut, dry out the environment and irritate the eyes.

LIGHT

Most lizards, including Bearded dragons need daily access to a UVB source, either direct sunlight (i.e. not through glass or plastic)  or with UVB producing fluorescent lights            ( mercury vapour UVB producing bulbs can be useful for a large enclosure but are too strong for a small tank)

The UV tube should be around 30 cm (12 inches) away from the lizard, and there must be no glass, plastic or screen between them.

The tank should be bright, like sunlight, and an incandescent bulb can be used to supply this bright light and heat. The clinic offers a range of bulbs from ExoTerra that are suitable. The fluorescent tubes need to be changed roughly every 6 months and we do have a meter that we can test your bulbs to check the UVB output.

SAFETY 

Many reptiles carry the Salmonella bacteria naturally. This does not harm them but can cause serious health problems to humans, especially those with weakened immune systems such as the young (particularly those under 6) the elderly and anyone who may be immunosuppressed.  Hygiene and common sense are needed to protect your family.

Pet Care Info