Reptiles - Bearded Dragon

 

Bearded Dragon Care sheet
Bearded Dragons are native to Australia but are now becoming wildly popular worldwide due to their gentle nature and willingness to breed in captivity. Bearded Dragons make for a wonderful pet for both beginners and advanced reptile keepers. They owe their name to the distinctive series of lateral spines found under their lower jaw.


General When deciding to purchase a Bearded Dragon, whether from a breeder or pet store, look it over very carefully. Some things you should notice right away is how alert and active the Dragon is, you don't want a specimen that cannot lift it's head or one that appears lethargic. Bearded Dragons have broad triangular heads and flattened bodies, with adults reaching approximately 20 inches (50 cm) head-to-tail.
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Housing Initially, hatchlings can be housed in a 10 gallon tank. Juveniles should be transitioned to adult quarters when they reach about 6 months old. Adults, while much smaller than iguanas, need significantly more space with a 40 gallon tank being a minimum and 55 gallons or more needed for a pair. A minimal decorating scheme will work, with one elevated basking area, a hiding area, and paper towels as a substrate. Put the basking area closer to the heat source. A proper heat gradient is from 100 degrees F down to the mid 70s. Bearded Dragons require UVB lighting. Without it they will die of Metabolic Bone Disease. The UVB is what allows them to metabolize calcium in their diet. There are several ways to provide UVB such as unfiltered sunlight, florescent UV tubes, and mercury vapor bulbs.
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Diet Bearded Dragons are omnivorous, are not completely carnivorous as some would have you think, nor are they vegetarians by any stretch of the imagination. They eat a wide variety of things both in the wild and in captivity. Bearded Dragons will eat mostly insects if you let them, however, is not the best diet for them. The best thing you can do for a juvenile or baby Dragon is to make them eat their veggies every day BEFORE you put in the live insects. Crickets and superworms should be the main food source. When they are really hungry they will eat the greens and other veggies. If you should feed the insects first they will surely fill up on them and eat hardly any vegetable material.
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Cleaning Remove any faeces and wash out the water bowl daily. Paper towels or newspaper should be changed every few days or as needed. Washable floor coverings should be soaked weekly in a water/bleach solution, then thoroughly rinsed and dried. For convenience, buy two pieces of floor covering and rotate them.
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Health Locate an experienced reptile veterinarian before you have an emergency. Be observant and consult the vet of you notice any unusual behaviour or signs.

Should your Dragon be found bleeding from a wound or internally (bloody vomit, or blood in the faeces or urine), paralysed, or has abnormal swellings on any part of its body, get it to a herp vet right away.
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Warnings Bearded Dragons MUST HAVE CONTINUAL DAYTIME ACCESS TO UVB LIGHTING! Without UVB light they WILL DIE! Also, NEVER feed your Dragon iceberg or head lettuce! It is mostly water and has nearly no nutrients. Romaine lettuce can be used occasionally or in a pinch but should not be a main source of food.
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Fertility Adults become sexually mature as early as 8 months. Dragons have active courtship rituals and reproduce very well in captivity.