• Beardie Bliss

Are Bearded Dragons Hard to Care For?

Updated: Aug 19, 2021




Are Bearded Dragons Hard to Care For? Great question! Let's jump in:



Bearded Dragons are not hard to care for. In fact, they're one of the easiest reptile pets to keep! Bearded Dragons are incredibly docile, friendly, laid back, and low maintenance. This makes them an excellent choice for families with young children or beginner reptile keepers.



Once you have a terrarium setup, proper food, and a reptile veterinarian checkup for your new beardie, it is pretty smooth sailing from there.



Just a few minutes of care and maintenance every day can keep your bearded dragon happy and healthy for up to 15 years! This maintenance includes cleaning the tank of any debris or waste.



Feeding your Bearded Dragon a diet rich in insect protein, veggies and fruits is also a crucial part of beardie care. It's important to supplement these foods with calcium and vitamins.



Another important aspect of Bearded Dragon husbandry is to handle/bond with your dragon and help them get exercise. Taking them out of their tank every few days and letting them explore a safe environment is a great way to entertain your beardie!



Lastly, it's also a good idea to bathe your bearded dragon in a supervised environment. Letting your beardie soak in water can help them hydrate and shed. Bathing can be done once a week, twice a month, or even just around shedding time to help loosen old skin.



Overall, bearded dragons are very easy to care for and make a great first pet!



Bearded dragons are medium-sized geckos from Australia. They are available in many colors but the most common appearance is a light tan or brown color with a thick and long tail and a beard-like spiky collar around its neck. They are considered amazing pets even for beginners but they do have complex environmental and nutritional needs. You have to dedicate some time and buy special equipment to care for your bearded dragon. They are however simple to tame and social reptiles who showcase a range of behaviors that makes them fun to watch.



Bearded Dragon Temperament and Behavior


Bearded dragons have received their name from the spines that are around their necks. These spines are mostly flat but if the dragon is scared then its throat expands and the spines stand up. As pets, dragons are mostly docile, and hence owners very rarely witness aggressive displays from their dragon. Dragons are usually active during the daytime and learn to tolerate the owner handling them. Many dragons love perching on their owner's shoulders as well. However, male dragons should be placed in separate cages as they can get territorial.



Housing the Dragon


If you have one adult dragon, then a 55 to 75-gallon tank with a screen top is perfect. A smaller cage can be utilized for juvenile dragons but they will outgrow them fast. Dragons usually dwell in trees and like to perch off the ground. Hence, you can offer them half logs, sturdy rocks, and branches to provide them something they can climb on and you can place these in the basking spot of the tank. You should also provide them with hiding areas like hollow logs so your dragon feels comfortable.



Heat


The right tank temperature is very important. Just like other reptiles, you should offer a temperature gradient along with a basking spot to your dragon. The gradient must be 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the cool spot and 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit in the basking area. The temperature can be 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during nighttime. You can offer heat via ceramic heaters, incandescent light, or mercury bulbs in a reflector dome hood. You may have to experiment with the distance and the wattage to determine the right temperature. You can use thermometers inside the tank to observe the basking spot temperature and the thermal gradient on both sides of the tank. You should not depend on estimates. If you require, you can also use under-the-tank heaters to provide additional heat if the temperature gets too low during the night.



Light


Exposure to UV light is quite important to pet dragons. You can buy unique fluorescent bulbs from pet stores that can be used for UV light. Your dragon should be able to get within at least 12 inches of the light to get benefitted from the UV light being emitted from the bulb. You must follow the bulb's instructions and the light must be directed from the top screen instead of the glass since glass can filter out UV rays. You must maintain a regular day to night cycle by offering around 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light every day. You can even place the light on a timer. It can be beneficial if you expose your dragon to sunlight. If you are taking them outside then you should also offer shelter and shade so they can thermoregulate. You should never just put the glass cage outside since that can overheat quickly in sunlight.



Humidity


Bearded dragons need a humidity level that is between 35 percent to 40 percent. This is similar to their natural environment. This humidity level is easy to maintain unless you live in an area that has a lot of humidity. If you are unable to raise the level of humidity then you can mist your dragon. You must observe the humidity in the tank by using a hydrometer.



Substrate


What is a substrate? It is the thing you place on the tank's floor. It helps in maintaining the cage's humidity and also offers a natural feel and look to the tank. For juvenile dragons, you cannot use loose substrates like sand. They can digest these out of curiosity or accidentally which can lead to intestinal impaction. You can use reptile carpets or paper towels for juvenile dragons.



For adult dragons, you can use washed sand and not silica sand but reptile carpet and paper towels work for adult dragons as well. You should not use corn cob, wood shaving, walnut shells, and other substrates since they can be troublesome if your dragon swallows them. If you use sand then you can scoop out the feces using a cat litter scoop. Sand also lets dragons burrow and dig which they like.



Water and Food


In their natural habitat, beardies are omnivores, they eat a combination of vertebrate and invertebrate prey including small animals, insects, and plant material. As pets, they must be fed a mixture of vegetables and insects. Bearded dragons must be fed a minimum of once every day based on their age. Baby dragons need to be fed thrice a day. You can discuss the right food quantity based on your dragon's size with your veterinarian.



If you are feeding crickets to your dragon then they must not be too big especially if you are feeding them to baby dragons. None of the food items should be larger than the distance between the dragon's eyes. For adult beardies, you can provide a huge range of bugs such as silkworms, waxworms, red worms, butter worms, molted mealworms, earthworms, and super worms. You can also offer pinkie mice occasionally to an adult dragon. You must gut load insects that is feed them nutritious food before feeding them to your pet. You must dust them with calcium lightly and vitamin D as well to avoid metabolic bone issues. You can dust with a multivitamin once every week as well.



Along with insects, you must feed a combination of vegetables and fruits and leafy greens to your bearded dragon. You can mix and chop them together to create a salad and feed them in a bowl. You can even clip leafy greens to the enclosure's side. You must offer water to your beardie in a shallow bowl. If your pet dragon likes to soak in water then you can provide a big dish where he or she can climb into sometimes.



Behavior and Common Health Problems


One of the most threatening ailments that affect dragons is a metabolic bone illness. This happens because of an imbalanced calcium to phosphorus ratio. It causes bones to soften which makes them prone to fractures. Just like other reptiles, dragons are also susceptible to respiratory problems. Their symptoms usually include a lot of mucus around the mouth and nose or wheezing. Bearded dragons are also susceptible to the digestive system's impaction because of some insects in their diet. This usually happens because of crunchy bugs like mealworms. Hence you should feed them in limited quantities especially to juvenile dragons.



Choosing A Bearded Dragon


Mostly all dragons that are available as pets are bred in captivity which is great since it can be tough to tame wild animals when they are kept in captivity. You can buy bearded dragons from rescue organizations or reputable breeders. Baby dragons often cost around $50 while adult dragons cost around $100. You must choose a dragon that has a healthy appearance and is active. Dragons that have a discharge around their nose, eyes, or mouth, have swollen joints, runny droppings, or discolored skin may be sick.



Bearded dragons are easy to care for reptiles. They make for great pets if you can fulfill their care requirements. Some benefits of owning Bearded dragons are-


Dragons Are Friendly


Beardies respond to and recognize their keeper's touch and voices and are even-tempered. They can be amazing pets for anyone that wants a reptile that likes being outside the cage and handled. They are easy to handle if their flat and wide bodies are supported from underneath and they are allowed to walk from one hand to another as they move. Even children can handle dragons under adult supervision. If you are handling a dragon, then you must wash your hand's afterward since reptiles carry salmonella bacteria.



Dragons Will Not Keep You Awake All Night


Lizards are active during the night but dragons are awake during day time. They like to sit on logs and climb branches while basking in the sunlight. They make amazing pets for people who like pets that interact during the daytime.



Dragons Have a Long Lifespan


A bearded dragon's average lifespan is 5 to 8 years but some dragons even live for 12 to 13 years if they are cared for properly. Hence, you must be ready for your beardie to live for many years as your pet.

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