A bearded dragon is a fine introduction to the world of exotic pets. Relatively hardy, the bearded dragon can resist changes in temperature and variations in its routine much better than some other types of domestic lizards. However, this doesn’t mean that the bearded dragon is cautious, shy or dull. In fact, they are very energetic creatures that are a delight to watch. They also often bond with their owners and can be quite tame when handled. Check out this introduction to keeping a pet bearded dragon to find out everything you need to know about these cute and intriguing critters.
Getting a Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are bred widely in captivity, which means they are available at many larger pet stores. You can also buy your bearded dragon from a breeder, but it is recommended that you check the breeder’s credentials before going through with a transaction. Some breeders also have bearded dragons available in unusual or unique colors or patters, but these often cost more than regular dragons.
Caging a Bearded Dragon
Young bearded dragons can temporarily live in 25-gallon aquarium, but adults should be caged in at least a 75-gallon aquarium. Two bearded dragons can generally live together, especially if they are a breeding pair. Avoid using sand in the bottom of the cage since the bearded dragon can become sick if it accidentally eats some. Use newspaper, towers or reptile carpeting as litter instead. Make sure that the top of the tank is adequately ventilated with a screen, and contains several large branches or toys to climb on.
Lighting and Temperature for a Bearded Dragon
During warm weather, bearded dragons can be kept outside. Make sure they have an area that gets direct sunlight as well as a shaded area where they can retreat from the heat. When caging your dragon inside, make sure to keep their enclosure warm. This can be accomplished either by installing a spotlight over the dragon’s basking area or by placing heat emitters at strategic locations around the cage.
Feeding and Watering a Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are omnivorous and not picky about their food. It is recommended that you feed them a mixture of fresh fruits or vegetables as well as mealworms, crickets or other insect protein. Any food you give your bearded dragon should be dusted with a calcium supplement powder, available from your pet store. You can use a spray bottle to give water to your bearded dragon. Simply lightly mist the inside of the cage or some of the structures inside.
Handling a Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are generally quite docile and receptive to being held. Some like to perch on their owner’s shoulder and climb on them. While there may be the occasional exception, most bearded dragons that are bred in captivity do not bite and are quite curious about people.
Bearded dragons can be very rewarding pets, but like most exotic animals they require specialized care. Be sure to follow these tips and any special instructions from your pet store to ensure that your dragon lives a long and healthy life.