Bearded dragons are desert reptiles. In nature they live in a hot dry environment, so you will need to mimic their natural habitat to keep them happy and healthy. This section will cover exactly what you need to do to make sure your bearded dragon’s home is not only an attractive addition to your room, but is also the ideal living environment for any beardie.Behavior
- Social animals in captivity; usually adapt well to human caretakers
- Diurnal (active during the day) but in the wild, spend hottest part of the day in cool burrows
Bearded dragons are omnivores, which mean they will eat both insects and vegetables. Your bearded dragon’s diet will depend on his/her age. Younger bearded dragons will eat 80% insects and 20% vegetables, while adult bearded dragons will eat 20% insects and 80% vegetables. When you feed your bearded dragon you will need to make sure that none of the food is wider than the gap between his/her eyes. If an insect or vegetable is wider than the gap between your beardies eyes, then there is a high risk of him/her choking and/or getting injured. So before feeding your bearded dragon you will need to verify the vegetables or fruit are cut into small enough pieces and none of the insects are too large.Environment
- Well-ventilated, screen-topped tank that closes securely: 10-gallon tank for animals less than 1 year and up to 48x24x24 in (122x61x61 cm) enclosure for adults
- Maintain a temperature gradient from 75-85ºF (23.8-29.4°C) in the coolest area and up to 90-100ºF (32.2-37.7°C) in a basking area. Use infrared lamps and ceramic heat emitters rather than hot rocks.
- Provide ultraviolet (UV) light in the UVB spectrum. Lack of UVB radiation can cause vitamin D deficiency, inhibit calcium absorption, and result in metabolic bone disease.
- UVB bulbs come in two forms: fluorescent and mercury vapor. Prices for these lights range from $30 to $75. Replace fluorescent bulbs every 6 to 9 months as UVB bulbs lose UV output over time even though they continue to produce visible light. Mercury vapor UVB bulbs continue to produce UVB radiation and need to be replaced only when they stop producing light.
- Place UVB lights within 12-18 in (30.5-45.7 cm) of the dragon’s basking area. The bulb should not be blocked by glass or plastic, which will filter out beneficial rays.
- Reptile carpet, newspaper, or paper towels as bedding (Avoid shavings, sand, corncob, and fiber pellets, which can irritate the respiratory tract and cause intestinal blockage if ingested.)
- Branches or rocks for climbing and basking, and a hollow log or other “hide box”
- Fresh water in a large pan for soaking (Change the water daily and when soiled.)
- Separate housing for hatchlings; hatchlings may nip at each other, and some adults will eat young
- Complete physical examination every 6 to 12 months
- Consult a veterinarian with experience treating reptiles if you have any questions or concerns about your bearded dragon’s health.
- Annual fecal examination for parasites
- Blood tests as recommended by your veterinarian
- Egg binding in females
- Intestinal parasites
- Metabolic bone disease
- Traumatic wounds
- Skin and jaw infections