Bearded dragons are among the most popular reptiles chosen to be pets for children for good reason. Of all the reptiles commonly sold in the pet trade, none is as easy to care for, pleasant to know, or as ideal for a kid’s pet as the bearded dragon.
Learn why bearded dragons are such favorites among children and their parents and whether a dragon is a good choice for you. If you are looking for a pet reptile that is a great size for kids, has a charming personality, and is a great learning opportunity for your child, look no further than the bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons are a perfect size for kids: small enough to be easy to handle but large enough to be sturdy. They come in a range of beautiful colors that have been fired for in captivity, and the wild coloration is lovely as well.
Dragons have endearing personalities and are interesting in different ways throughout their lifetime. Finally, dragons are not difficult to care for and live a good amount of time in captivity, but not too long.
Size and Color
Bearded dragons are a great size for kids. They start out small and active so they are fun to watch within the terrarium. They grow large enough to be impressive pets to hold without getting so large that they are difficult to handle or maintain.
These sturdy lizards are intuitive to hold. Most kids don’t tend to squeeze them since they are happy to sit on your hand. Since the bulk of the dragon’s body is not nearly as long as the tail, the dragon can be held with one hand or perched on a child’s shoulder conveniently.
The wild color of the central bearded dragon is very attractive. It has yellow undertones and darker markings. There have, however, been many other colors developed within the pet trade. Your child can choose the color morph that she likes best, increasing her interest in choosing a new pet.
Bearded dragons have fun, distinct personalities. It is not at all uncommon for bearded dragons to learn to recognize their caregiver and come running when their favorite person enters the room. It isn’t necessary to explain how endearing this can be to a child. Dragons can learn to come when they are called for a treat. They seem sincerely seem happy just hanging out with their person.
Because dragons tend to be quite passive, they are very easy to tame. Many dragons never seem to even fear people at all. Generally, a dragon will react to a child reaching towards them by doing nothing. They usually let the child touch them, unlike many other lizards and reptiles which will dart away. That said, a dragon is a lot more interactive when you hold it than some other reptiles like snakes. Your dragon will look at you and possibly even react to being pet with apparent enjoyment.
Dragons are extremely unlikely to bite. They do lots to express their displeasure if necessary, including puffing out their beards and hissing. If for some reason your dragon does not want to interact with your child, your dragon will be able to tell you that without resorting to biting.
Since female dragons can be housed together, if you have several children who want a pet reptile you can get one large setup for both pets.
It is likely that your interest in getting a pet reptile for your child is educational as well as fun. Your child can learn a lot from caring for a reptile. Reptiles like bearded dragons have specific needs regarding lighting, heat, and diet. Learning how to take care of a bearded dragon properly can instill an interest in science that will stick with your child throughout life.
Have fun teaching your child about UVA and UVB light. Explain why a full spectrum light is important for your dragon’s digestion. You can even make it into an experiment. Place plants at different distances from the full spectrum light. Show your child how plants without sufficient light do not thrive. You can explain that a bearded dragon is the same way, so full spectrum light that is replaced regularly is essential for her health.
Baby bearded dragons eat mostly insects and are extremely active. Older dragons eat a diet of primary vegetables and tend to be more sedentary. Your child will love seeing the change in your dragon. You almost get a new pet as your dragon gets older and changes behavior. It will be fun for your child to see how your dragon changes from a scampering, insect chasing little lizard to a hefty dragon.
Your child can craft an interesting playground for your little dragon to run around in her cage when she is small. She will also have fun creating environments for your dragon to play with outside of the cage when she is an adult.
Learning about death is an important part of having a pet. That said, you probably don’t want your child’s new pet to have a very short lifetime. Neither do you want to buy a pet for your child that can live as long as your child. Bearded dragons have a good lifespan in captivity, around 8 to 10 years. This is long enough for your child to have a good experience with her dragon and time to bond. You won’t have the responsibility when your child goes off to college though.
Ease of Care
As with all diurnal reptiles, full spectrum light must be provided for bearded dragons to be healthy. Dragons also require a heat source and a temperature range from cooler to hotter. Bearded dragons do require a varied and specific diet. It is not difficult, however, to provide this diet in captivity. This is true especially since dragons tend not to be finicky eaters.
Getting your new dragon and proper setup for her is a significant investment. Once everything is set up, care is primarily a matter of providing the proper food and keeping the cage clean. Most of the care that your bearded dragon will need can be provided by your child. Monitor carefully, especially at first, to be sure that all tasks are being completed competently. You don’t want your child accidentally letting crickets loose in your house.
Like all reptiles, bearded dragons can carry disease. This means they are not good for young children who may put them in their mouth. Make sure that your child is responsible enough for bearded dragon ownership before bringing one into your home.
Keep in mind that when your dragon is a baby it will be much more delicate and skittish. Your child may not be able to hold it until it has gotten older. Some reptiles, like snakes, can go long periods without eating. Turtles can be supplied with live fish to munch on while you are gone. Bearded dragons, however, must be fed fresh food every day. Dragons also need live insects. If you are looking for an extremely low maintenance pet, a dragon is probably not right for you.
If your kid is obsessed with reptiles and has been begging you for a pet of her own, a bearded dragon may be the perfect solution for you. Speak seriously with your child about the responsibility of owning a bearded dragon, including the need to feed your dragon every day, clean the cage regularly, and perform other care like regular soaking.
Even if your child says that she is up for taking care of the dragon completely by herself, it is really your responsibility. Make sure that the bearded dragon that you bring into your home is cared for well and given a good life.