Bearded Dragons

 

 

 

Description

Bearded Dragons are a medium-sized (<18”) desert-living lizard, originally from Australia.

 

Vivarium requirements

A 10-12% UVB bulb for 14-15 hours a day, provided by a fluorescent tube &  reflector mounted within 6” of the basking spot. This must be changed every 6-12 months, depending on the brand.

 

A  basking area for 14-15 hours a day, provided by a bright, reflective spot bulb, reaching minimum temperatures of 45°C (110°F) in the hot spot and no colder than 30°C (85°F) at the cool end during the day. The ambient night-time temperature should not drop below 21°C (70°F).

 

A minimum vivarium length of 3ft x 18” x 18”. Vivarium sizes can exceed this for larger adults/groups as long as the above temperatures are still met.

 

Suitable substrate such as Aspen, NOT sand or beech chips as both can lead to problems if ingested.

 

Suitable décor which provides a raised basking spot that is also near to the UVB tube.

 

We prefer wooden 3ft long vivariums for our Beardies as these keep the correct temperatures much better than other enclosures, such as those made from glass. Wooden vivariums also allow the UVB tube to be positioned at the correct height on the back wall. For larger vivariums or for cooler houses, we recommend a high-powered, ceiling-mounted heat mat (25-40w) at the cooler end to provide an additional background heat source to maintain the correct temperatures. We also recommend Aspen as a safe & absorbent substrate for the floor of the enclosure and have been using this, problem-free for over 10 years.

 

Feeding

Bearded Dragons require NO WATER in their enclosure. This is because they should have a hot, dry environment & water of any kind would increase the humidity. Instead, they obtain all their moisture requirements from a daily bowl of salad leaves. Salad should be fed every morning & should consist of mixed salad leaves – we recommend and use Florette Crispy salad. Most mixed salad bags are safe provided they do not contain spinach or kale, which prevents calcium being properly metabolised. Fruit should be avoided, as should Spinach and anything from the brassica family (cabbages, cauliflower, etc.).  Flowers from dandelion plants & nasturtium flowers and leaves are a favourite.  Plants such as British watercress, rocket and pea shoots are also readily accepted.

Bearded Dragons also require insects in their diet, particularly as juveniles when the insects provide the necessary protein needed for growth. All insects should be gut-loaded with a good quality gut-load formula (such as Repashy Bug Burger) and also dusted with calcium & vitamin

supplements (these must include fresh Vitamin A which needs renewing every 2 months). We recommend a variety of bugs including crickets, mealworms, calciworms, pachnoda grubs & locusts as staple foods.

Insects should only be fed once the Bearded Dragon has warmed up, ideally in the afternoon, and after he has eaten a large portion of his salad leaves. Expect a juvenile Beardie to eat around 5-8 bugs a

day, 5 days a week. Try and have a couple of bug-free days. This will be approx 2-3 tubs of food per fortnight on average. Once the dragon becomes adult at around 2 years, insects should be fed more sparingly to prevent him becoming obese! Locusts are great at this stage as they are not very fatty, yet they jump around meaning the Beardie has to chase and hunt them.

 

Handling

You should handle your Bearded Dragon every day. They get most exercise by being out of the cage and, when adult, they like to explore outside of their enclosure – they crave your attention! The ideal position for a vivarium is in a communal room downstairs - such as a living room, kitchen or den - somewhere your lizard can watch everything going on around him, feeling part of the family. We try to encourage as many family members as possible to interact with their dragon ensuring plenty of opportunity for exercise & variety.

 

Sometimes your Beardie may poo in his viv and walk through it, getting himself a bit dirty or smelly. You can give him a warm bath about once a week by filling a sink with warm water, deep enough to cover his back but not so that he has to swim, and then use an old toothbrush to gently scrub him clean. Let him enjoy the bath for a good 15-20mins but don’t let the water go cold. He will probably have a little drink and then do a big poo if the water is warm enough.  This is a good sign! However, too many baths may mean your Beardie won’t eat much of his essential salad, so a bath once or twice a week is plenty for a healthy lizard.

 

Maintenance

DAILY – every morning make sure the LIGHTS are on (we recommend using a timer), pick out any left-over dried salad  and put some fresh SALAD in his food bowl. If there is mess, PICK OUT THE POO in a small handful of substrate and throw it away. (This is less smelly if you wait for it to dry out a bit!) In the afternoon, if he has eaten most of his salad, treat him to a few dusted bugs if he’s due some. EXERCISE  him during the day, once he’s warmed up and active. If he falls asleep when he’s out, he has probably cooled down a bit and needs to go back into his cage to warm up.

 

WEEKLY – Replace/top up any substrate if necessary

 

4-6 WEEKS – Take out the décor and sweep out the substrate and discard. Wash any soiled areas of the vivarium with warm soapy water or reptile disinfectant and then dry. Wash any dirty logs, bowls or décor with warm water and an old washing up brush. Refill the floor of the cage with fresh substrate & décor then return your Beardie to his nice, clean enclosure!

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