When you own a bearded dragon it is very important to make sure that your pet is healthy and happy. That is to say, you need to provide the utmost care for your beardie. This care includes the home you provide for it, the food it eats, the attention you give, and the way you handle it.
A bearded dragon naturally lives in a desert. Therefore, special care with strict consideration for the environment needs to be provided for it to survive in other habitats. However, this animal from the lizard family is seen as the most docile among its species.
Here are the things you should do to adequately care for your beardie:
- – Set Up A Suitable Habitat
- – Feed Your Beardie Accordingly
- – Handle Your Beardie With Care
- – Wash The Body Regularly
- – Keep The Tank Clean
In this article, we have detailed the steps you should follow to properly perform the listed activities. Moreover, this is a step-by-step guide to keep your bearded dragon pet healthy and happy always.
Set Up A Suitable Habitat
Follow these steps to set up a near-natural habitat for your Beardie. This is the most important part of keeping a bearded dragon as a pet. Also, note that it is not advisable to keep two beardies in the same enclosure. This is so to avoid unnecessary aggression between them.
Determine The Best Enclosure For Your Beardie
Choosing a tank for your bearded dragon is a task left for you. However, most people prefer a glass tank for their beardies. While considering getting a glass tank, it is advisable to get a vivarium with a transparent glass only on one side. That is to say, the three other sides should be made with solid walls such as wood and treated with waterproof material. This helps to maintain a high temperature at a low cost. Moreover, you can build an enclosure yourself, however, remember to keep it ventilated, and easy to maintain a high temperature.
Make Sure Your Tank Is Of Appropriate Size
A tank of 75 to 120 gallon will comfortably house your beardie from young to adulthood. However, you can get a tank of 20 gallons for your young beardie and upgrade to a larger one while it grows.
While you construct an enclosure yourself, make sure you do not go below a dimension of 60 inches (long) × 30 inches (wide) × 21 inches (high). This size will be enough when your beardie is still young but will need to increase as it grows.
Cover your tank with a screen lid
A wire mesh lid will allow air to circulate within the tank and prevent humidity from being trapped inside. In addition, it will let your lighting and heat source function effectively. Avoid using solid wood or glass as the cover of your tank.
Add a safe substrate
Choose a material such as newspapers, reptile carpets, and butcher papers. These are safe for your beardie and poses no threat to its health. On the same note, they are cheap and easily cleaned. However, avoid sand and other beddings made of small particles. This is because your beardies can ingest these small particles which may lead to blockage of intestines and possible death.
Add Some Accessories
These accessories will help to decorate your bearded dragon’s tank making it appear like the beardie’s natural habitat. Here are some accessories you should add to the tank:
– Climbing Branches: Provide branches for your beardie to climb. Moreover, ensure that the branch is wider than your beardie to give it comfort. An oak will make a great climbing branch.
– Basking Rocks: Keep some smooth rocks in the tank for your beardie to use when basking and wearing down nails.
– A Hiding Place: This is a place where your beardie can seclude itself especially when it needs to go out of the light. You can use an empty vase, cardboard box, or a rock den for this purpose.
– Backgrounds: You can add a desert background to your tank to make it appear similar to the natural habitat of your beardie.
Note: Branches and rocks from nature should be treated, washed, and dried before placing them in the tank. As a result, you will prevent any parasite from being added to the tank. On the other hand, you can purchase already sterile accessories from a pet store.
Place A Source Of Heat
Your beardie is likely to feel more comfortable within the temperature range of 25°C to 31°C (78F to 88F) during the day. However, at night the temperature is better reduced to 21°C to 26°C (70F to 79F). As a result, you need to provide a source of heat that can maintain these temperatures.
You may use a special incandescent light bulb for reptiles. This will generate heat providing less visible light. But they are quite expensive. On the other hand, you can place above the cage a series of standard incandescent lights. Remember to always turn them off at nights.
Also, there is a need to provide a heating pad placed under the tank. This will serve as a heat source for your beardie at night when you turn off your incandescent lights.
Note: Keep a thermometer that will help you keep track of the temperature changes within the tank.
Provide A Source Of UV lighting
Place a fluorescent bulb or a mercury vapor bulb about 10 to 15 inches above the tank covered with a wire mesh. And, remember to replace the fluorescent bulb after about 6 months because the UV output will get weak as time goes by.
The UV lights help your beardie to produce vitamin D that aids the absorption of Calcium. As a result, your beardie should be exposed to UV light for about 14 hours each day.
Note: The UV rays do not pass through solid materials such as glass. Therefore, use a lid made of wire mesh for the top of your beardie’s tank.
Feed Your Beardie Accordingly
To keep your beardie healthy always, you need to feed your pet nutritiously. Here are the things you need to bear in mind while feeding your beardie to keep him healthy.
1. Bearded Dragons Prefer Variety In Their Diets
Your beardie is an omnivorous animal. Consequently, it eats both plants and animal substance. Your beardie will prefer a mix of insects, worms, and greens.
Examples of safe animals diets for your beardie include pinhead crickets and worms of various kinds.
Examples of safe green diets for your beardie include collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, endive, acorn squash, butternut squash, green bell peppers, green beans, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. Always remember to microwave squashes to soften before you feed them to your beardie.
Examples of safe diet supplements for your beardie include carrots, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, chard, cucumber, zucchini, corn, and sprouts. Too much of these in the meals of your beardie may end up becoming harmful to your pet. As a result, you should moderate the amount of these food materials you provide for your beardie.
Examples of occasional diet treats you can provide for your beardie include fruits of various types such as banana, apple, mango, orange, apricot, tomato, grape, papaya, plum, pear, and peaches.
2. The Young Beardies Need Mostly Insect Diet
When your beardie is still very young, you should feed it with small insects such as pinhead crickets and tiny worms. On the same note, offer these small preys until your beardie stops eating. Feed your beardie 2 to 3 times a day. On the other hand, your young beardie is likely to eat between 10 to 20 pinhead crickets per each feeding.
3. Your Adult Beardie Will Need More Of Greens
About 65 percent of the food you offer your adult beardie should consist of plant materials. And, the remaining percentage should be of insects and preys. Use the various plants to make a salad for your beardie.
4. Give Your Beardie A Calcium Supplement
Dust powdered calcium supplements that are free from phosphate on the insects or greens you want to feed your beardie. Feed your young beardie under 2 years of age with a calcium supplement once per day. However, for adult beardie, you can do it 1 or 2 times a week. In addition, you may consider visiting your vet for professional directives. This is to avoid overdosing your beardie with calcium which can be toxic to it.
5. Always Provide A Fresh Clean Water
Provide a shallow bowl of clean water for your beardie. You may have to create ripples on the surface of the water to get the attention of your beardie. However, keep in mind that your beardie may not drink from the water bowl. In this case, you will need a spray bottle or dropper to gently mist your beardie with water. Just like in the wild, they are more likely to lick water droplets from their body. As a result, continue the process until your beardie stops drinking.
6. Give Your Beardie The Appropriate Size Of Food
The right size of food materials you offer to your beardie should not be bigger than the distance of the space between its eyes. Food materials larger than this will lead to choking and possible death.
7. Your Beardie May Not Eat At Certain Times
Keep in mind that your beardie may not eat at all or as usual whenever he is about to shed or undergoing brumation. Therefore, do not panic if you notice your beardie is not eating due to any of these. However, if you are not sure of what is going on, then you should book an appointment with your vet. Your beardie may as well be sick.
Handle Your Beardie With Care
It is important to handle your beardie at least once a day. This will help your pet get used to human beings. Moreover, your beardie may tend to be skittish especially the young ones. However, when they finally get used to humans, they enjoy their company.
Here are steps on how to handle your beardie:
Wash Your Hands/Wear A Clean Glove
Keep your hands clean to avoid transferring germs to your pet. Most importantly, consider putting on gloves to avoid scratches from your beardie.
Approach Your Beardie In A Slow Manner
Do not startle your beardie, no one likes that. However, Approach slowly and be calm. This will make your beardie feel safe. On the other hand, avoid halting your beardie’s sleep or feeding because you want to handle him.
Pat Your Beardie Gently
While your beardie is still, pat him gently. This will make him get familiar with the feel of your touch.
Check For A Positive Cue
When your beardie blinks or closes his eyes, then he is comfortable and you can pick him up. But, when you notice a black beard then he is probably stressed out or angry. Therefore, you need to let him be at the moment.
Place Your Palms Gently Under Your Beardie’s Belly And Scoop Him Up
Allow your beardie to relax on your palms while you gently lift him off the ground. Also, make sure all of your beardie’s legs have support. In addition, let him feel relaxed and stroke him along his scales and never against it. Feel free to let him rest on any part of your body you feel comfortable with.
Take Your Beardie Outside For Fun
During warm weather, consider taking your beardie outside for a natural sunlight experience. Also, you can get a reptile carrier to easily carry your beardie along.
Gently Keep Down Your Beardie
When you are done with your beardie, keep it back in its tank. Still, keep your palms under his belly and gently drop him. Just in the same manner, you picked him up.
Note: While picking up your beardie, do not reach him from above. And, avoid wiggling your finger at him. He may assume your finger to be a worm and the outcome might be bad. Above all, remember to wash your hands after handling your beardie to avoid germs.
Wash The Body Regularly
There is a need to bathe your beardie regularly to keep him clean and healthy. Follow these steps to wash your beardie’s body effectively.
Provide A Plastic Container
A plastic container with sides high enough to prevent your beardie from jumping out is just perfect. Also, a mini bathtub can still do the job.
Pour Water In The Container
Let the level of water be shallow and never higher than the joint of your beardie’s legs and the body.
Check The Temperature Of The Water
The bathing water of your beardie should be between 85F to 100F. Also, keep checking the temperature and add warm water to keep the temperature stable as your beardie bathe.
Add A Conditioner To The Water
Purchase a good conditioner for reptiles and add to the water to make it safe for your beardie.
Put Your Beardie In The Shallow Water
Once you place your pet in the water, use a cup to pour water along his back. On the other hand, there is no need for scrubbing his body. The water is just enough.
Dry His Body And Put Him Back To His Tank
When you are done bathing your beardie, use a soft towel to gently dry him up. Subsequently, put him in his habitat for him to bask and warm up.
Note: Do not use soap while bathing your beardie because he will likely drink out of the bathing water. Above all, soaps and other cleaning agents may cause damage to his skin. Also, you can let your beardie soak in the water for up to 30 minutes as long as you maintain the temperature of the water.
Keep The Tank Clean
It is important to clean up your beardie’s habitat in a daily, weekly, and monthly routine. Daily cleaning should include taking out your beardie’s fecal matter and food remnants. Weekly cleaning involves disinfecting hard surfaces and accessories with a bleach solution. Also, use water and soap to wash and rinse till the smell of the bleach fades. Meanwhile, monthly cleaning is the full habitat cleaning which you can do following these steps.
Take Your Beardie Out of His Habitat
Keep him in a temporary enclosure or let someone hold him.
Soak All The Accessories In A Bleach Solution
Bring out all the accessories and soak in a 1:10 solution of bleach and water. Also, scrub them thoroughly and rinse
Vacuum-clean The Tank
Use this process to remove any remaining particles of food, fecal matter, or any other material.
Clean The Tank With A Bleach Solution
Scrub the entire surface of the tank with the bleach solution. Also, rinse with water till the bleach smell is gone.
Put Back The Accessories And Substrates
Once you are done cleaning and drying your beardie’s habitat, you can place back the cleaned substrates and accessories. And, put your beardie back in its habitat when it dry and warm.
Your beardie will live healthily and happily keep you company when you care for him enough. In addition, it will likely live longer. Therefore, follow this guide to effectively care for your beardie.