Bearded Dragons are social reptiles and are easy to tame (and can be toilet trained!), they enjoy being handled and will quite happily hang out on your shoulder or lap or anywhere near you for that matter.
While they enjoy being handled and fed by you they are in fact very territorial when it comes to other bearded dragons and is best to keep just one inside an enclosure unless for breeding purposes).
Every beardie has its own personality and quirks which means that sometimes you may get a dragon that has more of an attitude but for the most part bearded dragons are quite docile and chilled.
Beardies are also intelligent and will come to recognize your face and also the specific container that has their food in it! When they see you, they will run up to the side of the enclosure to greet you.
Bearded Dragons or Beardies are almost the opposite of a traditional pet which is what makes them so fascinating and when people see that you have one they are instantly captivated.
In this article, you’ll learn about this amazing animal and get a glimpse into what it takes to own one.
What is a bearded dragon?
Pogona Vitticeps is the scientific name but more commonly referred to as the bearded dragon which hails from the dry arid outback of Australia.
Why are they called bearded dragons?
Bearded dragons have a flap of skin beneath their chin which is covered in conical scales which gives it that “hipster” or bearded look.
When a bearded dragon is scared, agitated or excited his beard will turn black it’s just one of the ways that your dragon is communicating with you, other body language cues are head bobbing (asserting dominance) and arm waving (submissive gesturing).
Bearded dragons have been bred into wonderful colors including bright oranges, fiery reds, stunning yellows, deep greens, snow whites, and mixtures.
How Easy Are Bearded Dragons To Care For?
Bearded dragons are actually one of the easiest species of reptile to care for once you understand how to create the right environment (tank enclosure) and are consistent with the daily routine.
If you’ve never owned a reptile before then it is important to keep in mind that they have very specific requirements the greatest of which is their enclosure, here are some of the items you’ll need:
- Tank enclosure
- Tank cover (preferably one that allows for ample ventilation)
- Tank background
- Tank decor (wood, rocks, hammock, etc.)
- Substrate (this is the flooring e.g. paper towels)
- Food bowl
- Water bowl
- Fluorescent fixture
- Fluorescent UVB bulbs (full spectrum)
- Basking light bulb
- Hide (somewhere for them to cool down, hide or sleep)
Bearded dragons require an enclosure that has a temperature gradient.
Basking spot 100 – 110 F (37 – 43 C) for babies and 105 F (40 C) for adults
Enclosure 90 F (32 C)
Cool spot 70 – 85 F (21 – 29 C)
Because they’re cold-blooded and require the environment around them to thermoregulate they need to have areas inside the enclosure that are hot (for basking) warm (the main temperature of the tank) and cool areas which are typically a little cave that can help them cool down if need be.
One of the reasons why heat is important is because it helps them to properly digest their food.
Ultraviolet Rays Are Essential
Because bearded dragons evolved to sit out in the sun all day long they actually need ultraviolet rays to help their body maintain important metabolic processes, in fact, they use UV rays to create Vitamin D3 which helps them to properly make use of calcium to keep their bones healthy.
Keeping a nice flow of air inside your beardies enclosure is also important as it helps to manage humidity and potential bacterial issues from getting out of control.
Because beardies are so intelligent you can’t just stick them in a box as this will most likely negatively impact their mood and cause anxiety and an unhappy dragon which will lead to a shorter lifespan.
Most dragon owners will use a glass terrarium with one of the sides featuring a backdrop that looks similar to what they would see in their natural habitat.
The glass sides give them a little more security so they can see what’s going on around them.
The featured wall is stimulating to them mentally.
Also having things for them to climb onto, some dragon owners have bearded dragon hammocks, they love them!
Probably the most rewarding part of owning a bearded dragon is feeding time!
Watching them run around the enclosure chasing and gobbling up live insects is a blast for kids and adults it truly never gets old.
Bearded dragons are omnivores which means they eat plants, vegetables, fruit and live prey including worms, crickets, roaches.
Here’s a bearded dragon stalking a cricket
In the wild, they have an incredibly wide diet and so as a beardie owner you will need to create a similar diet in terms of nutrition.
When feeding a dragon there are some things to keep in mind like never feeding them anything larger than the space between their eyes anything too large is likely to choke them or get stuck in their digestive tract causing impaction.
There are also specific nutrients that they must have like calcium and vitamin D3 that will keep them healthy.
Can You Pick Up And Handle A Bearded Dragon?
Yes! Beardies will love the opportunity to hang out with you, let them out of their enclosure, watch TV together and let them run around.
Take them outside in the sun and just hang out, the UV rays are important to their health so the more you can spend time together in the sun the better!
Because bearded dragons can succumb to things like impaction (blockage inside the intestines) from eating food or items that can’t be digested you need to take certain precautions when taking them outside the enclosure.