What Should I Know Before Getting a Bearded Dragon?
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
What Should I Know Before Getting a Bearded Dragon? Great question! Let's jump in:
Bearded Dragons like to live alone. In fact, they need to live alone. Beardies should not be placed with other beardies or any other animals. Bearded Dragons are very territorial and can get stressed/aggressive when they're with other animals in an enclosed space.
Bearded Dragons use outside sources to regulate their body temperature. Because of this, they will need warm basking areas (95-110 degrees; accomplished with a basking lamp), and a cooler area of the tank (75-85 degrees).
They Eat Live Food
Roughly 80% of Bearded Dragons' diet consists of protein via live insects. These insects can include but are not limited to silkworms, roaches, and/or crickets.
They Have a Long Lifespan
Healthy Bearded Dragons can live between 10-15 years, so be ready to care for them for a long time!
They Need a Large Enclosure
Bearded Dragons can grow up to two feet long. Their ideal enclosure size is approximately 2' X 2' X 4'. Vivariums can be found in this size but they're somewhat expensive which leads us to...
Your dragon, the proper enclosure, vivarium decor, food, a reptile vet checkup, and other unexpected costs can run between $500-$1000. Buyers should be ready to commit to this cost in order to provide a healthy habitat for a Bearded Dragon.
Lighting And Temperature is Extremely Important
You will have to set up the habitat before you bring your bearded dragon home. You should set the required temperature dial before you introduce your beardie to his or her habitat. If you do not set the proper temperature then the basking spot will end up too hot and the cool area will end up too cold. Your UV light could be too close to the basking area. To avoid making mistakes, you should properly set up the whole habitat before introducing your beardie to it. If you set the temperature after you bring home your dragon then that can be an issue. It will be much easier for you if you set everything up properly before bringing your new friend home.
You Will Need A Temperature Gun
Many people depend on wall-mounted thermometers and do not use temperature guns but as a dragon owner, you need a temperature gun. It is a necessity. A temperature gun provides an accurate reading of the basking area. It is also useful when you are preparing your beardie's bathwater since you can use it to check the temperature of the water. You will end up using your temperature gun every day to make sure everything is good in your beardie's habitat. A few degrees high or low does not make a lot of difference to humans but it highly affects bearded dragons. Hence, you must buy a temperature gun. You do not have to buy super expensive guns, all you need is a reasonably priced effective gun for your beardie.
You Will Have To Clean The Tank Regularly
You must replace the substrates and disinfect the walls while disinfecting and scrubbing everything the dragon hides under, climbs on, and crawls across. The water and food bowls must be cleaned and disinfected as well along with the feeding bin and bathtub. The insect carrier must be cleaned out as well. Everything you use for your dragon must be regularly cleaned. They can carry many parasites and salmonella, hence cleaning is essential. Even the feeder insects can carry diseases, hence hygiene is a must when you are a bearded dragon owner.
You should clean once a week lightly and you can deep clean the cage once every three months. You must remove and clean anything that has feces on it immediately. The water and food bowls must be cleaned weekly and wiped down every day. You must clean the insect enclosure every time you get a new feeder batch. Whenever you change the substrate you can disinfect and wipe down the tank. Substrates are usually replaced every three months but depend on the kind of substrate you use. If your beardie is unwell then you need to follow a different cleaning schedule. You should clean their cage completely and then ask your vet for cleaning instructions.
Many people believe once they bring their bearded dragon home and set up the cage they are done. But there is a lot of maintenance involved when it comes to bearded dragons.
You Require A Habitat For Feeder Insects
Whether you select roaches or crickets you will require a place for these insects to live. This means a place that is dry and at room temperature. You also need to provide them with food and water. They should be gut loaded which means they should be fed things that are good for your bearded dragon. You can feed them anything and keep them hydrated as well. When you are a beardie owner, you will basically also keep a container of insects as your pets. Bearded dragons eat live insects hence you need to think about keeping them and feeding them as well. It is a huge part of being a beardie owner.
You Will Have To Spend Time With The Bearded Dragon
Many owners assume they will buy a beardie and keep it in an enclosure and look at it occasionally but not have to spend a lot of time with it. While it is true that bearded dragons do not need a lot of time but they do need you to give them attention twice a day every day. It may not be what you may expect from reptiles as pets, but they require feeding and food prep every day with regular baths and social time as well. You have to check their habitat regularly and clean the cage along with other things. They do not need a lot of time but they will take around 30 minutes of your time every day. It may not seem as much but a lot of reptile owners do not expect to give any time. However, beardies are very cute and you will end up enjoying your time with them.
They Require Regular Care
Like other pets, beardies also require regular care. That should be expected as a pet parent, however, what you may not expect is that regular care includes feeding, baths, playtime, and vet visits.
Bearded Dragons Need Baths
Many people are unaware that lizards also require baths. Dog owners often wash their dogs but only give them baths when they stink and it is not a regular thing. But with beardies, they require regular baths. You will have to bathe your bearded dragon a few times every week. Sometimes your dragon will enjoy it and other times it will be a hassle for them.
Bearded Dragons Require Nail Trimming
Bearded dragons do not need a manicure but they do need their nails trimmed. In their natural environment, dragons live on rocks, trees, and sand, and dirt. These materials are rough and end up filing down their nails but cages are not like that. Over time, your beardie's nails will grow into razor-sharp and long talons. These sharp nails can hurt you badly if you do not manage them. Hence, every now and then as needed, you will have to trim their fingernails into manageable sharpness and length. Trimming their nails is not difficult. You can start playing with their toes whenever you handle them so they are used to you touching their nails. You do not even need special trimmers. You can use your regular human nail trimmers just make sure to buy a separate pair for them.
Bearded Dragons Require Regular Doctor Visits
You do not just have to take your beardie to a vet when they are sick. You should visit a vet too soon instead of going late. Beardies require yearly vet visits along with proper care. Bearded dragon owners must understand that since it adds to further ownership costs. You must find a good quality vet before you bring home your beardie. Most vets usually treat dogs and cats and do not know how to care for dragons neither do they have the right equipment. You need herp vets or exotic vets for your dragon. If you do not find a vet beforehand you will end up scrambling for a vet when your beardie does fall sick. Hence you must be prepared beforehand and you should keep a vet in hand for your beardie when you buy one.
Bearded Dragons Have An Interesting Personality
Some bearded dragons give a stink eye to their owners at times. That is their way of letting their owners know they do not wish to be handled. They will climb up the wall or stay in their hammock all day at times. Some days beardies just want to be left alone. Other days, they will jump off their rock and run to the cage wall excited to see their owner. They will love being held and sit on your shoulder. Dragons can be extremely social. Some days they will soak in the bathtub until you drag them out and on other days, they will jump in and out of the water. Some days when you pick them they will not move at all whereas on other days they will run around and move all over the place.
Bearded dragons have as many moods as other pets. You will love getting to know all their moods and slowly you will start recognizing them as well. It is fascinating to understand their moods and determine what they require and when. Bearded dragons have a lot of character and it will become your favorite thing about your beardie.
Beardies Like Attention
Bearded dragons need regular attention. Some people believe beardies are solitary reptiles and prefer to be left alone but that is not true. If you think you can become a bearded dragon owner and rarely handle them then that cannot work. Beardies love being handled and they will enjoy it if you take them out every day to spend time with them. The more you handle your beardie, the happier he or she will be. You can hold your beardie firmly in your hand without hurting them.
Overall, Bearded Dragons are great pets, but the above information is important to know before making a decision!