Reptiles can seem like unconventional pets for many people. However, these animals can be awesome pets! If you are looking to keep a pet reptile, you may want to consider looking into bearded dragons. These lizards look awesome, and they are easy to keep.
They are great pets, and they can be conversation starters if you happen to have a visitor at home. Beardies also work great if you want pets that just chill right in the corner where you place their enclosure.
Beardies are gentle and they are diurnal, which means they are active during daytime. If you want to own a bearded dragon or you are looking for more information about these types of lizards, we got you covered! We will be discussing beardies and the things you would need if you ever wanted to own one of them.
The bearded dragon belongs to the Pogona genus of reptiles. There are nine species of lizards that belong to the Pogona genus, all of which share similarities in appearance that classify them as bearded dragons. The most common type to keep as a pet is the P. Vitticeps or Central Bearded Dragon. As this is the most commonly kept Bearded Dragon, the remainder of this article will focus on keeping this species.
Bearded dragons or beardies can have different sizes ranging from 18-22 inches. They can weigh up to 18 oz or slightly more than a pound. Their small size and light weight make them ideal pets even in homes with limited spaces.
You might be wondering why these lizards are called bearded dragons. They do not breathe fire, but these pets look like dragons. Their bodies are covered with scales comparable to that of medieval dragons. For the “bearded” part, spikes are growing from under their chins that look like beards. Their name is a good match for their appearance.
In the wild, beardies are usually earth-colored, ranging from brown to gray tones. In captivity, they can range from red, orange, yellow, white, or purple.
A lot of bearded dragons can be found in Australia. These reptiles prefer to stay in warm and arid areas such as deserts, subtropical woodlands, savannas, and scrublands. They need to be in warm habitats because they are cold-blooded creatures, therefore, they rely on their environment to reach their bodies’ needed temperature.
The export of wild bearded dragons was made illegal in Australia during the 1960s, however captive breeds have been bred by American pet traders for decades. They now come in a variety of color “morphs” that are unlikely to be seen in the wild.
Pogona Vitticeps (Central/Inland Bearded Dragon) are probably the most commonly found Bearded dragon in the pet trade outside of Australia and have become increasingly popular over the last two decades.The Inland Bearded Dragon is the source of almost all color morphs and variations.
If they need to increase their bodies’ heat, they walk through bushes and trees or bask in rocks to expose themselves to the sun. If it gets too hot or they need to avoid their predators, beardies can also burrow underground.
What they eat
Another advantage of picking beardies as pets is that they are not picky eaters. They eat a wide range of foods making it easy to replicate what they eat in the wild.
Bearded dragons are omnivores, and they can eat insects, leaves, flowers, fruit, and sometimes, even small lizards or rodents. If you are looking for the best insects to feed your beardie, you can choose from crickets, king worms, earthworms, and cockroaches among many others.
If you find it more convenient, you can opt to feed your pets with vegetables. Beardies can eat peas and green beans. You can also slice carrots, zucchini, and sweet potatoes for your bearded dragon. They can also be given bell peppers and beet greens. If you still need more options, you can feed them cabbages, watercress, parsnips, and collard greens.
Sometimes, you can also feed fruits to your bearded dragon. This should not be done daily because the sugar content coming from the fruit can make your beardie obese. However, if you want to expound on your pet’s meal options, you can slice apples, pears, or peaches and cut apricots. Beardies can also eat blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, plum, dates, raisins, grapes, raisins, and figs. Similarly, you can prepare guava, kiwi, and mango in small chunks. If you still need more fruit options, you can include papayas and watermelon in your pet’s diet.
They also do not need to be fed too frequently. Young beardies are supposed to be fed multiple times during the day. However, as they grow into healthy adults, they will be fine with being fed once a day.
How long do they live
Bearded dragons live relatively short in the wild. Their lives usually span between five to eight years. This is because of certain challenges that exist in their natural habitat.
One of the main reasons that wild bearded dragons live shortly is their natural predators. In the wild, they can fall victim to bigger animals such as birds, feral cats, foxes, dingoes, or bigger lizards like goannas.
Finding food can be difficult in the arid regions of Australia where they are native, particularly during times of drought. The life expectancy of bearded dragons is 3 to 6 years shorter in the wild than it is in captivity due to the lack of vegetation and the presence of predators.
Beardies in captivity can be a long-time commitment. If you take proper care of your pet, it can last so much longer than their counterparts in the wild. Beardies in captivity can live for about 15 years or more. One recorded beardie named Sebastian lived for 18 years and 237 days.
They live longer in captivity because they avoid common bearded dragon problems in the wild. Since they are your pets, you can provide them with the protection, food, and other necessary treatments that they need.
Type of enclosure
Choosing an optimal enclosure is a vital part of owning beardies as pets. It is important to replicate their natural habitat to ensure their comfort at the same time, the selected enclosure sure also be suited to your home.
The size of the enclosure is important. It might be tempting to purchase a 20-gallon tank if you intend to buy a baby beardie. However, it is common for dragon keepers to choose a 40-gallon tank even for a newborn to avoid having to purchase another one so soon after.
The tank can be purchased online or at your local pet shop. You can also opt to create a DIY tank for your pet. For the materials, you can choose from glass, PVC, or screen among many others.
Glass terrariums are a common choice because they are reliable and easily accessible, and they can have a screen lid that enhances airflow and controls the low humidity beardies need.
Instead of a terrarium made entirely of glass, a lot of bearded dragon owners choose a wood and glass terrarium. This typically means that there is only one side made of glass and the rest is made of wood. If you live in a colder climate, a wood terrarium might be a better choice for you. It can give you more assurance so that you won’t have to stress as much about your dragon’s heat.
PVC plastic is also a great choice. It is generally available in a wide range of colors and is quite lightweight. If you intend to adopt more than one dragon, stackable PVC enclosures are the best option. Poor airflow is a common problem with PVC terrariums, so you need to be a little more watchful with the humidity levels than you would be with other cages. If you make it a habit to regularly check the humidity, this shouldn’t be a problem.
It is also important to choose the perfect spot for your enclosure. Choose a place that does not place your enclosure to direct sunlight. Heat can be trapped in enclosures easily and it can be deadly for your pet.
As part of the courtship ritual, male bearded dragons will engage in the pounding of its feet into the ground, waving its arms, and bobbing its head repeatedly. During mating, the male chases the female and will bite the back of its neck to hold her in place whilst mating.
Like many reptiles, female bearded dragons have an impressive ability to store sperm, which allows them to go on and produce two clutches of around 11 to 30 eggs following a single mating.
Similar to other reptiles, the temperature at which the eggs are incubated at can alter/determine the sex of bearded dragon embryos. When exposed to high temperatures, the developing young are normally male, and cooler temperatures normally result in females instead.
Owning any pets can be a huge responsibility but the whole experience is fun. Because they are typically calm and nice reptiles, beardies make good pets. If you are looking for a chill pet that you can interact with, you should delve deeper into the world of bearded dragons.
They tend to be passive, and they usually become calmer as they get older. Unlike other reptiles, beardies enjoy interacting with their owners. You can remove your bearded dragon from its enclosure and let it roam around your house with your supervision. You can even take it for walks outside if you have the proper leash.