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Bearded Dragon

Pogona vitticeps

  • 13 - 24 inches in adult size

  • Lives 8 - 12 years

  • Adult needs 50 gallon terrarium

  • Kept at 80° to 85° F

  • Need basking spot of 100° to 110° F

  • UV lighting is necessary

  • Eats insects and vegetables

  • Docile and easy to handle

  • Diurnal (awake during the day)

  • Interesting social behaviours

Pogona vitticeps

General

Bearded dragons are one of the most docile species of reptile available in the pet trade. Though these animals originate in the deserts and semi-arid scrub lands of southeastern Australia, they have been bred in captivity for many years, producing an abundance of healthy dragons that have become one of the most popular and commonly kept exotic pets. These fairly easy to maintain reptiles make the perfect pet for beginners and are also great for children due to their gentle disposition. Adult Bearded dragons can grow to be approximately 13 to 24 inches (33 to 61 cm) in size from their head to the tip of their tail and may live for 8 - 12 years. Their unique social behaviours make them a fascinating pet to watch, especially when kept in pairs or groups. Unlike many other reptiles, Bearded dragons are diurnal.

Temperament

Bearded dragons are known for their calm and gentle nature. Hatchlings can be a bit skittish, but most are easily tamed and will eventually tolerate as much touching and handling as you want to give them. They often act as if they enjoy being handled, sometimes climbing onto an offered hand or arm unprompted and falling asleep while being held. Regular handling seems beneficial in keeping these lizards tame. Their skin is rough and dry to the touch and though their sides are covered in a row of soft spikes, these are not sharp or prickly to the touch. While it is rare for dragons to exhibit aggression towards their keepers, it can happen occasionally. Each animal has its own personality and reasons for behaving the way it does.

Housing

Ground space is more important than height in a Bearded dragon enclosure. Custom built terrariums or glass aquariums both work well for housing your pet, but be sure that any enclosure you decide to use has a tight fitting screen top. All reptiles can and will escape if given the opportunity. Hatchlings do well in a small, 10 gallon aquarium, but as your dragon grows, it's home needs to grow as well. Juveniles can be kept in a 20 gallon aquarium and adults should be housed in a space approximately the same size as a 50 gallon aquarium (36" x 18" x 18") or larger. Pairs of dragons will need an even larger space, but be sure to never keep two males in the same enclosure, no matter how friendly they might seem. Substrate can be sand, granulated cork bark, crushed walnut or a similar substrate. This will need to be spot cleaned frequently. Rocks and driftwood are recommended for interior decor.

Heating & Lighting

Bearded dragons are desert animals which require UV lighting to absorb vitamin D and make use of the other minerals and vitamins in their diet. A 10% UVB fluorescent bulb is recommended. Your pet will also need a basking spot provided by some rocks or driftwood placed under a heat lamp. The temperature of the warmest part of the enclosure should reach between 100° - 110° Fahrenheit and the cooler end should be approximately 80° - 85°. All lights can be turned off at night provided the enclosure temperature does not drop below 70°.

Feeding

A common rule with Bearded dragons is to never feed them anything larger than the space between their eyes, so you should always be sure to feed your dragon foods appropriate to its size. Dragons are omnivores, with plant foods making up approximately 20% of their diet. Hatchling dragons will feed on very small crickets and finely chopped greens such as kale and romaine lettuce daily while larger dragons will enjoy a wide variety of insects and vegetables 3 - 4 times per week. Crickets, mealworms, super worms, and wax worms, cockroaches and appropriately sized mice will be readily accepted along with chopped up leafy greens, squash, raspberries, mango and grated carrots. Be sure to sprinkle foods with vitamin and calcium powders. Water can be provided in a shallow dish which your dragon my sometimes soak in. However, not all dragons will see standing water and need to be misted or sprayed with water to avoid dehydration.

Additional Information

Dragons are very social animals which do well in pairs and groups. Many interesting behaviours can be observed if you watch your pet closely. This lizards name comes from its ability to puff out its "beard" when threatened or agitated. Other behaviours may include stacking on top of one another, tasting their environment with their tongue, head bobbing, tail raising and arm waving. These actions are perfectly normal forms of communication and nothing to be concerned about.

Similar Species

Rankin's Bearded Dragon (Pogona henrylawsoni), Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata), Western Bearded Dragon (Pogona minor), Mountain Horned Dragon (Acanthosaura species), Frilled Dragon (Chlamydosaurus kingii), Sailfin Lizard (Hydrosaurus amboinensis), Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus), Saharan Spiny-Tailed Lizard (Uromastyx geyri)


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