Bearded Dragon care

Common Name
Bearded Dragon

Scientific name
Pogona vitticeps

Native to
Australia

Size
6 – 24 inches

Life span
5 – 15 years

General appearance
Medium sized lizard with a large triangular shaped bead, flattened body and a tail measuring half the length of the animal. Gray, brown or reddish brown color with small spiny scales covering the body with longer scales from the back of the head. When threatened a bearded dragon will puff out its throat resembling a spiky beard. There are many different designer phases of bearded dragons available that can produce different colouration.

Enclosure
Hatchling bearded dragons can be kept in a 20 gallon vivarium for a few months. Adult bearded dragons will need a 50 gallon vivarium or a larger sized viv if more than one bearded dragon is housed. Branches and rocks are needed for climbing and basking. A screen top is needed for ventilation. Do not house two adult male bearded dragons together.

Heating and Lighting
Incandescent bulbs, ceramic emitter, or heat panels can be used for the basking spot at one end of the viv. Full spectrum lighting should be provided using one of the fluorescent bulbs made for reptiles that produce both UVA and UVB wavelengths. A mercury vapor bulb which provides heat and light may also be used. Twelve hours of daylight can be provided through the use of timers. Temperature gradients should be Day: 80° – 85° F. Night: 68° – 75° F. Basking: 95° – 105° F. and should be regulated by a thermostat (dimming type for bulbs, pulse type for non-light heating).

Substrate
Play sand is cheap, fairly easy to clean and creates a desert looking environment. Newspaper, or paper towels are recommended for hatchlings and young Bearded Dragons as ingestion of sand can cause impaction. Impaction is when substrate is swallowed and causes a blockage in the animals digestive system, and can prove to be fatal. Under no circumstances should calcium sand be used, as this can also cause impaction, even in adults.

Environment
Desert habitat

Diet
Bearded dragons are omnivores. They need both animal and plant material in their diet. Crickets, locusts, cockroaches, mealworms, waxworms, silkworms, butterworms, red worms, earthworms, superworms with an occasional pinky will all be relished by your bearded dragon. You should use caution NOT to feed fireflys as they are toxic to Bearded Dragons. Vegetables that you can offer included greens (turnip, kale, romaine, dandelion, endive, escarole, mustard, and collard), green beans, squash, peas, sweet potato, chicory, watercress, red bell pepper, and cilantro. Fruits can be offered about 1-2 time a week (too much can cause diarrhea) such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, mango, kiwi, and grapes. Commercially made food is also available for your bearded dragon. Fresh water should always be provided. Some bearded dragons like to be misted and lap up the water that way. Powdered vitamin/mineral supplement may be offered 1-2 times a week.

Maintenance
Fresh water should be offered daily. If using newsprint then clean as needed. Wood shavings should be spot cleaned as needed. Periodically, the enclosure should be disinfected. A 5% bleach solution makes an excellent disinfectant. Be sure to rinse the enclosure thoroughly after disinfecting. Never mix bleach with soap products as this can create toxic gases.

Information provided by WNYHS