Keeping a dog is pretty straight forward. Cats are pretty low maintenance too. What about lizards? Lizards are interesting and exotic but can be quite tricky to keep. Among the easier lizards to keep as a pet is the bearded dragon. So with that in mind here is a handy guide to keeping a “beardy”.
Home sweet home
Firstly your bearded dragon is going to need somewhere to live. You can keep them in an aquarium but actually, the easiest home for them is probably a vivarium. While they are good climbers it isn’t something they need to do to stay happy. Therefore a long vivarium is more important than a tall one. A 4-foot viv. should do the trick but if you have room for a five foot then treat the little fella/lass.
The lights are on
Not only are lights in a vivarium useful because they make it so you can see your pet, they serve another vital function. Beardy’s require UV rays in order to help them develop healthily. As they are not regularly exposed to sunlight the light tubes that come with a vivarium are vital.
They also need a heat lamp at one end of the viv. This heats it up. They are naturally found in the deserts of Australia so they are used to a high temperature. The lamp gives the tank a heat gradient so it will be very warm at one end and cooler at the other. At the hot end, you want it at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit and at the cooler end around 70-80. Although if you have a young beardy they require more heat.
These claws were made for walking
Their claws have to be maintained otherwise they grow out of control. You can simply clip their claws, or if you are uncomfortable with it you can get a vet to do it. However, you can manage their claws by having a rough substrate or an area with sandpaper. This is not cruel, they are used to coarse surfaces in their natural environment.
Food glorious food
And drink. They don’t drink in a conventional way. Instead, they absorb water through their body. Therefore you need to have a water bowl big enough for your pet to get into.
In terms of diet, this varies with age. From birth up until about 5 months, they are considered babies. At this age, they need lots of nutrients. If you are feeding them “prey” food it is important it is not bigger than their head as this could cause them series injuries.
You can feed them the smallest wax worms available, small fruit flies, and pinhead crickets. Avoid mealworms at this stage as they will be too hard to digest. You should offer them insects three to four times a day and finely chopped veggies once per day.
This is between 5 months and roughly 18 months. At this stage, you need to start offering more vegetables and less protein. Offer insects once per day (mealworms are okay at this age too) and veggies once a day.
The veggies to insect ratio should be weighted far more towards veggies now and you can feed them every other day if required. You can also give them things like pinkie mice and small lizards as an occasional treat. However no more than once a month.
While bearded Dragons are not fussy eaters there are some foods to avoid. Avoid giving them bugs you have caught yourself, in the garden for instance. Also avoid the following: Iceberg lettuce, spinach, beetroot, rhubarb and avocado.
In order to keep them healthy, there are certain vitamins needed. You can buy this from your pet store.