Tails Blog

Keeping Bearded Dragons

Steve Coppell - Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The Beaded Dragon, it's not everybody's idea of the ideal  pet. But what a spectacular addition to any household. 

These fascinating creatures are cold blooded, so they need to regulate their body temperature. They do this moving about their habitat to find a balance in the temperature available to them.  Dragons can be trained from a young age to become use to being handled, and love to sit on their keepers knees, arms torso, basically anywhere that offers body warmth they can absorb.

Two species of Bearded Dragon are often kept as pets. The Eastern Bearded Dragon and the Central or Inland Bearded Dragon. They both originate from Australia.Their name offers clues about where they might be found in their natural habitat.



Housing
If your serious about taking on one of these for a pet, consider their housing needs. Glass tanks work well. The size of the terrarium needs to be big enough to allow for  growth and development in later years, and dragons need to be able move to and from their source of heat as it is required. 

Lighting
There are three important light features your dragon requires for it's on going health and well being. Dragons like to laze about in the sun like the rest of us do, but they do it because the suns rays provide UVA, UVC and UVB. 
UVA is the visible light range, and is responsible for feeding and normal active behaviour. UVB can't be seen but it is important for synthesis of vitamin D3, which helps process calcium and prevents metabolic bone disease.
Purchase a purpose designed bulb that offers light with high UVB output! Your garden variety light bulb just doesn't do it for your pet dragon. Use one of these and health issues will quickly become apparent. Also take care to replace that bulb as the manufacturer requires because as time goes on the UV levels the bulb emits reduces.
How much light does my Dragon need? 
As a rule turn the light on when you get up in the morning  and off again at night when you go to bed.

Heating

Optimum temperature in your dragons terrarium ranges between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius. Set up your heat source at one end of the habitat and your dragon will move to and from it as required. 
You can use Infrared Bulbs or Ceramic Heat Emitters to heat the habitat. You must use a probe thermostat with either of these to regulate the heat and avoid overheating the terrarium or your dragon. Also the heat source needs to be housed inside a mesh cage to prevent serious burns to you or your pet if it gets to close.



Inside your terrarium

Place a basking rock close to the heat source. Dragons like to climb so it' s a good idea to provide a branch for them to climb. You can purchase ledges that stick to the side of your glass enclosure using strong magnets. Also plastic plants that stand up to the test of time and hungry Bearded Dragons. 



Feeding
Make enough fresh vegetable salad for three days. Toss Reptile Calcium Powder sparingly through the salad and spray Liquid vitamin for Reptiles. These are great supplements to consider using, and keep it in a sealed container in the fridge. Provide fresh water and fresh vegetable salad in the morning (throw out the leftovers). 
During the day you can leave a dish with freeze dried crickets or Flukers Bearded Dragon Diet and in the evenings feed gourmet foods and put any live food inside the enclosure for them to hunt.