All Women's Talk

10 Tips on Caring for a Bearded Dragon ...

By Melanie

I love bearded dragons. I have one named Grendel. I remember getting him when he was a little baby and would fit in the palm of my hand. Today, he is 5 years old and needless to say, he no longer fits in the palm of my hand. I know that many get these creatures without knowing what to do for them. They also get iguanas, which definitely are not for the beginners. Since I have owned many lizards, each week, I will try to write a blog on how to care for them. I have had tegus, iguanas, monitors, bearded dragons, snakes and many more animals. If you would like to see a blog on a particular animal, then just tell me. Now, before you get a beardie, you need to learn how to care for them or you will end up killing them. Let me continue my blog on 10 tips on caring for a bearded dragon…

10 The Size of the Enclosure

The Size of the EnclosurePhoto Credit: hannes2002

Many individuals just run out and grab a 10 gallon tank. NO WAY. This is not going to work for that beardie. Sure, maybe for the first year, but I think it should be bigger. For a solitary one, 29 gallons may be enough, but the ideal one should be 55 gallons. It is important that you make the enclosure big enough to have at least two separate cooling and basking zones. Therefore, a 70 gallon tank or a custom wooden cage would be great.

9 The Basking Area

The Basking AreaPhoto Credit: mohammadali

The bearded dragon will need to have a basking area. Typically, it should allow him to raise his internal temperatures to ninety five degrees. The cool area should allow him to lower the temperature to seventy degrees. If you have a one hundred watt incandescent bulb, then you should make it so that the dragon is able to get ten inches from the bulb, but no closer than this.

8 Say No to Heat Rocks

Say No to Heat RocksPhoto Credit: jasfitz

So many beginners allow their lizards to sit on heat rocks. I don’t even know why they are still selling these things. The lizards sit on there and burn themselves without even realizing it. It’s not because they’re stupid, they just draw to heat. So, do not put a heat rock in your aquarium/cage. Any lizard expert will tell you this one.

7 Make Sure the Dragon Cannot Get to the Heat Source

Make Sure the Dragon Cannot Get to the Heat SourcePhoto Credit: Lette Moloney

When you have the lamp on, make sure the dragon is not able to get up to it, because if they can, they will. This will result in a serious burn. You should also make sure the fixture is the correct one. It is dangerous to put a 200-watt high output reptile bulb in a lamp that is not rated for more than a one hundred watt house bulb. Get a fixture that has a ceramic base.

6 The Substrate

The SubstratePhoto Credit: Linda Cronin

Personally, for Grendel, I always use reptile sand. Take note that this is not recommended for those young beardies. Some use indoor carpet. You should get the type that can be washed and trim all of those frayed edges. This is great for babies and adults. Some also choose to use crimped oats. Crimped oats look nice, they’re cheaper than rabbit pellets and are good for juveniles to adults. Make sure you change the substrate often.

5 Things to Climb on

Things to Climb onPhoto Credit: s56b

I have found that bearded dragons are active lizards. They love to climb around. Make sure you put some sturdy branches or grapewood in the enclosure so that they can climb around and explore. Make sure the branches are stable so the dragon does not get any injuries from falling.

4 Sunlight

SunlightPhoto Credit: ricko

Your dragon will need to have sunlight so that they can digest their food properly. It is essential for calcium metabolism. Incandescent bulbs are not able to give the adequate UVB. Unless you are able to give your lizard daily access to real, unfiltered sunlight, you will need to get a florescent bulb that has been specially-made for reptiles. You can find these in the pet store. Make sure you change it every six to ten months.

3 Make Sure the Cage is Closed

Make Sure the Cage is ClosedPhoto Credit: fishsuckeggs

But don’t seal it. You should have a top on it that has ventilation. If you have other animals in the home, such as cats, dogs, ferrets and other reptiles, you need to make sure the cage is out of their reach. Even if they are not able to get into the cage, it can cause the lizard to go through stress.

2 They Need Little Water

They Need Little WaterPhoto Credit: Megan Lorenz

Since they live in the desert, they do not get much water, so they need very little water. However, they still need to have water. Invest in a spray bottle just for your bearded dragon. You can mist him every day and keep a small water bottle where he can get to it. You can also mist their food with water. I always put my beardie in the sink, make it where it lightly drips and he drinks it. He loves his water play time.

1 Foods Bearded Dragons Eat

Foods Bearded Dragons EatPhoto Credit: fotoJENica a/k/a Jenny Romney

My dragon likes live food, such as crickets, mealworms, wax worms, superworms and from time to time, he eats a little baby mouse called a pinkie mouse. I don’t like to feed him frozen food, it just isn’t the same. Make sure he does NOT eat lightening bugs, because those will kill the dragon. Some food you can feed him includes collard greens, Escarole, Mustard Greens, Carrots, Green Peas, Parsley, Squash, Hibiscus flowers, Dandilion Greens, Blueberries and green beans. All of these can be served raw. Make sure you cut it up for your beardie. It should be no bigger than the top of his head.

There you have 10 tips for caring for a bearded dragon. If you get a bearded dragon, make sure you are ready to take care of him or her. They also make great pets for kids, but make sure they are responsible and taking care of the pet. So, do you have a bearded dragon?

Top Photo Credit: MelanieFitzpatrick

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