Bearded dragons are some of the most sought-after pets. This is because they are not only usually easy to care for but are very affectionate as well. Each one has its own personality which makes them a fun pet to have. However, while they have easy care, there are many things you need to keep in mind if you’re a beginning pet owner.
If you’re a new bearded dragon owner, you need to make sure they have the correct habitat, diet, and quality time with you.
This article will explore more behind how to properly care for your bearded dragon. You’ll find helpful tips you can use to ensure that your new pet stays happy and healthy.
Bearded dragons have a specific habitat they need.
A Large and Durable Cage
A bearded dragon needs to have a large and durable cage. This way, they’ll be able to move around freely. However, you want to make sure this cage has a tight-fitted lid, ideally with a screen. This will allow your pet to breathe freely and encourage air circulation, but prevent them from escaping.
A bearded dragon’s cage should also be made of glass. This is a smooth surface they can “glass surf” on. Glass is also very durable and absorbs heat well.
These reptiles come from tropical destinations and need to have an adequate amount of heat. Ideally, their tank should be anywhere from 95-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, while it needs to be warm, you also need to make sure there is a cool side where they can relax. This cool side should be no warmer or cooler than 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can provide this necessary heat with the help of a heating lamp. Each lamp comes with its own wattage which will determine how hot it will get. You’ll want to consider the amount based on the size of the cage. If you have a small tank, you’ll want to look at a 50-watt heat lamp. On the other hand, for larger tanks, you should consider a 150-watt one.
If you find that your bearded dragon is sitting in their cage with their mouth open, it’s too hot. They are panting and trying to cool their bodies. You’ll want to make sure to quickly cool the tank down to help provide them with relief.
A substrate is necessary to put on the bottom of their cage. This helps to keep their cage clean while also providing comfort to your reptile.
Sand is often a popular substrate to use in a bearded dragon’s cage for many reasons. This is because it resembles their natural habitat in the wild. It’s also easy for your pet to move around in. The sand helps to absorb heat well which means it can keep your bearded dragon warm.
The one downside with sand though is that many fear it could cause gut impaction. This is when the bearded dragon eats the sand. It can later cause their stomach to not only feel heavy, but be blocked as well. This can eventually cause their intestinal tract to not function correctly.
If you prefer to give your pet sand, consider using a non-silica option. This type will quickly move through the stomach rather than impact it such as with regular sand. There are also some calcium-rich sand options. This way, if your pet consumes the sand, their body will convert it into calcium.
Keep in mind though that if you have a baby bearded dragon, it’s best to not put sand in their habitat. This is because if they happen to consume the sand, it will cause major problems immediately unlike an adult one.
A reptile carpet is usually made of synthetic fibers. You’ll be able to buy the carpet in different sizes so you can make sure it fits perfectly in their tank. While generally safe to use, some carpets might have loose fibers. Because of this, it could end up causing your pet’s feet to get stuck in it. To prevent this, it’s ideal to make sure the reptile carpet is sewn tightly together.
Newspapers are a very affordable option to use as a substrate. While they might not be as aesthetically pleasing as other options, it’s easy to maintain. It also helps to prevent gut impaction. However, you’ll need to make sure to change it out often, usually daily.
This substrate is a little more expensive, but is durable and usually very comfortable and safe for your pet. You can use any type of ceramic tile and then install it into their tank. It not only helps to prevent gut impaction but is very easy to clean.
Reptiles enjoy climbing on things which is why it’s important to give them accessories in their cage they can do so on. You’ll find plenty of unique tank furniture items you can put in their cage. This includes chairs, rocks, and branches. Bearded dragons also enjoy hiding, so you can put tunnels or pots with holes inside the cage they can hide in.
Make Sure There is Water
You always want to make sure there is a source of water in their cage. This will help them to stay hydrated. It’s important to make sure that this water is clean and fresh. You should replace it at least once a day. Another thing to ensure you do is to filter the water. This way, their water supply won’t have chlorine or other harmful chemicals in it.
There are a few ways you can help to give your bearded dragon water. One of the best options is in a water bowl. At most pet stores, you’ll find bowls designed specifically for these reptiles. These bowls tend to be shallow to help prevent your pet from accidentally drowning.
You should also make sure to clean their water bowl out daily. This will help to remove food particles, dirt, and grime. It will also prevent bacteria and mildew from forming.
If you’re a new bearded dragon owner, you’ll find that you might need to teach your pet how to drink out of a water bowl. If this is the case, you can do so by adding a touch of fruit juice to the water. Your pet will smell the fruit and walk over to the water to try to get it. Eventually, they will try to “get” the fruit by drinking the water.
For pet owners who find that their bearded dragon might not be getting enough water, you can mist them. You can do so by gently misting water over their body to help refresh it. You’ll want to do this several times per day to help ensure they stay hydrated.
These reptiles have a strict diet that needs to be followed. Below is more behind their feeding requirements and some food to give them.
Bearded dragons need to consume quite a bit of vegetables. In fact, their diet should consist of about 90% of vegetables. Many of these vegetables should also be very dark and colorful as they often contain more nutrients in them. However, there are some that you need to watch out for, like avocados and spinach. Below are some options that are safe to give to your pet.
Collard greens are a great leafy green to give your pet. They not only are high in calcium but Vitamins C and K as well.
Packed with plenty of Vitamin A, bok choy is often a favorite of bearded dragons. Before you give it to them though, make sure to tear it up into small pieces. This will help them to digest it better.
Bearded dragons love bell peppers, especially red ones. They not only have a sweet taste, but provide their body with plenty of vitamins and minerals. To give this vegetable to your pet, make sure to wash it off first and then cut them up into small pieces. You also want to ensure there are no seeds on the bell pepper pieces.
Squash will provide your pet with magnesium, fiber, potassium, and Vitamin A. This makes it a great choice to give them. As with most fruits and vegetables, make sure to peel the squash and remove any seeds. You might also want to cut the squash up into small pieces.
Cucumber is full of water which will help to hydrate your pet. It also has plenty of antioxidants which can help your pet stay healthy. However, make sure to remove the seeds before you give it to them.
You can give your pet a cooked and mashed-up sweet potato. This vegetable not only contains calcium but iron and beta-carotene as well.
Carrots are packed with vitamins and minerals making them a good choice to give your pet. However, they contain high levels of Vitamin A. Because of this, if you’re feeding your bearded dragon Vitamin A supplements, you might want to consider skipping carrots. Otherwise, too much Vitamin A could cause their body to malfunction.
If you decide to give your bearded dragon carrots, make sure to wash and peel them. You might also want to chop them up into small pieces. This way, your pet can easily digest it.
Apples are a good sweet treat for a bearded dragon. They not only have many vitamins and minerals, but can help your pet stay safe from various illnesses. You should wash and peel the apples before you give it to your pet. Make sure to also cut the slices up into small pieces for better digestion.
You can give bananas to your bearded dragon, but only about once or twice a month. Bananas are full of healthy vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, and zinc. However, they also contain phosphorus. If you give too much banana to them, it could cause their body to have a lot of phosphorus in it which could lead to metabolic bone disease. Because of this, it’s best to limit their intake of this fruit.
Mango contains high levels of Vitamin A and calcium. However, because of the high sugar amounts in it, you’ll want to give mango to them every so often.
Kiwi is another good fruit to give your pet, but only occasionally. It not only tastes delicious but has plenty of Vitamin C in it. This will help to ensure their bones stay strong and healthy.
If you have a young bearded dragon, or a pet who has trouble chewing, you could cut the fruit up into small pieces. You should also make sure to peel the skin and try to remove as many seeds as possible.
Fresh strawberries are a great treat to give your bearded dragon. They feature many antioxidants which can help your pet stay healthy. Ideally, strawberries should be fresh to ensure your pet gets all the vitamins and minerals they offer. You’ll also want to make sure to wash the fruit and cut it up into small pieces before you give it to them.
Grasshoppers are a favorite crunchy treat for bearded dragons. However, you need to make sure to give them grasshoppers from pet stores. Wild grasshoppers could carry diseases which could hurt your pet. You also want to make sure that the insects aren’t too large for your reptile. Otherwise, it might be difficult for them to chew and digest the insect.
Because of this, it’s good to remove the grasshopper’s legs and hard shell. This is especially so if you have a young bearded dragon.
Crickets are another good source of protein for bearded dragons. Your pet should have about 10-20 of them per day depending on their age and size. As with grasshoppers, make sure to only give your pet crickets from a reputable pet store.
Earthworms are a tasty treat for these reptiles. They are full of calcium which can help to ensure your pet stays healthy and strong. However, you need to make sure to only give fresh earthworms from a pet store, not bait worms. Bait worms are full of fat and provide no nutritional value to your pet.
Butterworms are small so even young bearded dragons can enjoy them. This worm is full of protein and calcium. The worm is a bit fatty, but it’s generally safe to give your pet.
Give Them Affection
Believe it or not, bearded dragons are extremely affectionate. In fact, they often enjoy being held and cuddled with.
However, you need to be careful when doing so. By quickly moving toward them or handling them roughly, it could hurt both you and your pet. If you and your pet are still getting to know one another, start slow. This can involve you moving your hand near them so they get used to you being around them.
Eventually, you can start to pet your bearded dragon. Once you feel that they are calm, carefully lift them up. You can do this by sliding your hand under their stomach to give them full support. However, keep in mind that some baby bearded dragons might be a little squirmish. Because of this, make sure you have them secure. Otherwise, they might fall.
After you pick them up, hold them close to your body. You can pet them or speak quietly to them. Once they get used to you, you could also let them start to move around on your hands and arms.
It’s very important not to force your pet to be held. Some signs that you shouldn’t hold your pet include:
- They puff out their beard
- Their tail twitches
- They hiss at you
- Their head bobs at you
- They open their mouth at you
If you find your pet is doing this, don’t force them to be held. Instead, work on trying to gain their trust. This can be done by spending more time near them and hand-feeding them treats.
Signs Your Pet is Sick
Sometimes your bearded dragon might get to be a little sick. This could be because they ate something bad or from an underlying medical condition. Below are some signs that your pet might be sick.
- They are hiding more than often
- They aren’t eating and drinking
- Their skin is starting to discolor or shed
- They have discharge out of their eyes, mouth, and nose
- Their feces is runny
As mentioned above, these signs could be due to a medical condition. Some common illnesses that bearded dragons suffer from include:
- Mouth rot
- Respiratory infections
- Tail rot
- Yellow fungus
If not treated, these illnesses could be deadly. Because of this, it’s important to make sure to keep an eye out for symptoms.
Bearded dragons can be a wonderful addition to your family. However, if you’re a beginner, you need to make sure to keep a few things in mind. This includes making sure they have an adequate habitat, proper diet, and bonding time with you. This will help to keep them not only healthy, but happy as well.