Bearded Dragon Pet Guide – A Complete Guide to Keeping Beardies

bearded-dragon-guide

The bearded dragon is a unique name in the world of reptiles, known for its unique behavior and temperament. These bearded dragons are considered to be a pet that can be handled easily. However, because of the different requirements of the beardie, some newbies have trouble handling them and taking care of them. So, before getting a bearded pet dragon, you must have complete knowledge about these reptiles.

Bearded dragons are also very sociable, which means they like to interact with their owner. Being an inhabitant of Australia, these animals are grown in hot temperatures and live on trees and high places. Furthermore, they are considered friendly because of their famous “Smiles.” Despite these traits, the bearded dragon can give you a tough time because of its stubbornness. 

Following is a complete guide about bearded dragons that will help you understand this species clearly and help you decide whether or not you should buy a bearded dragon.

What are bearded dragons?

Bearded dragons are from the family of Agamidae lizards that are naturally found in Australia. They have a flat body with a triangular-shaped head and thorn-like scales on their jaws and torsos. The gular pouch on their throat swells up and looks comparatively larger, and its color changes into blackish-purple. This gives the gular pouch an appearance of a beard, and hence the name of the bearded dragons comes from this.

Appearance and Origin

These reptiles have scales on their bodies and beautiful and fascinating colors and patterns. They have spikes around their throat which they puff up to intimidate other bearded dragons, giving it an appearance of a beard. With the scientific name of Pogona Vitticeps, they belong to the class Reptilia and the group Pogona Genus. 

They were first discovered in 1990 in Australia, and since then it has been very famous not only in reptiles but in other pets too, becoming the most popular one in 2008. All the eight species of bearded dragons are from Australia; however, a very famous one is the Inland bearded dragon. In 2017 bearded dragons became the fourth most popular pet around the globe.

The place where bearded dragons live varies from species to species; they can be found in different climates, including woodland, tropical lands. These cold-blooded reptiles are from the hot climates of Australia and therefore need the same temperature to live in captivity. Being cold-blooded, they cannot maintain the body temperature during the cold weather and brumate in this weather.

In the wild, the bearded dragons live on bushes and high branches of trees as they love to climb and bask in the sun freely. Furthermore, they hide inside a hole to cool down to a specific temperature and keep away from predators. Bearded dragons eat both veggies and insects, which makes them omnivorous reptiles. 

One unique trait of bearded dragons is that they can’t recognize still water, and some species do not even recognize stagnant food or insects presented to them for eating. So water is provided in mist or dew drops which enables them to see and drink it.

Gender differences and mating

The bearded dragons enjoy solitary and are very possessive about their territory. Male bearded dragons do not allow any other male in their near surroundings; if they find any, they’ll fight for dominance. They are capable of running fast to catch their food and save their lives from predators or hunters. 

At the age of one year or more, the male bearded dragon becomes ready to mate. To find a female for mating, they need to fight all the other bearded dragons in the vicinity. Furthermore, they can mate with one or multiple female bearded dragons at times.

When ready to lay eggs, female bearded dragons dig a tunnel in the ground and lay eggs inside the hole. She can lay up to two dozen eggs, which incubate inside the ground where the female lays them. The egg hatches in about two months, with a baby bearded dragon of weight about 2 grams. Female inland bearded dragons are smaller than the male adult inland bearded dragon.

Bearded dragons after the 1960s have been found by breeders only in the western world, as there’s a ban on exporting them from Australia. This has helped form hybrid species of bearded dragons by the breeders, who experiment with the mating of different species to create a hybrid breed.

Why do bearded dragons make good pets?

Bearded dragons are gaining popularity as a pet around the globe because of their thick skin and easy maintenance. If they are getting the suitable parameters in captivity they desire, they will prove great and cute entertainers. Some reasons behind their popularity as good pets are listed below.

Calm behavior

These reptiles are docile and are very famous for their friendly, sociable, and calm nature. As the reptile is very sociable, it loves to interact with its owner and would love to be handled by the owner. It’s easy to build a relationship with this oddly cute reptile, making it an excellent and easy-to-handle pet.

Easy to maintain

The low maintenance of bearded dragons is also one of the reasons why they make a good pet. They don’t have a special or expensive diet to go with, nor do they require extra effort for their terrarium’s cleanliness and maintenance.

Unique appearance

With a Gular pouch on the throat resembling a beard, the bearded dragons have a unique appearance. They have that wide-mouthed smile that makes them appear quite friendly, just like a “Tiny Friendly Reptile.” They come in fascinating colors, attracting the spectators and keeping them looking at how amazing they are.

Small Size

Bearded dragons are dragons by name but just like a small prototype. The bearded dragons are tiny in size, starting from eight inches and going up to 24 inches till adulthood. They look very attractive because of their small size, and this physique makes it easy for the owners to handle and house them. 

Long Lifespan

The bearded dragons have very thick skin, and the word “thick skin” here refers to their thick skin and their resistance to diseases and sickness. If taken care of properly, they can survive up to 15 years in captivity. They are more resistant to diseases as compared to other reptiles.

15 fun facts about bearded dragons

  1. Bearded dragons can enjoy the colors of nature just as humans do.
  2. They have a unique quality to sleep while standing by locking their knees.
  3. An adult or wild bearded dragon can stay alive even after spending weeks without food. They do this by using the fats stored inside their bodies to gain energy and stay active.
  4. There’s a partially developed third eye on the forehead of this reptile, which senses shadows and movement above them, making them aware of any predators ready to catch the beardie from above.
  5. Bearded dragons have a unique way of collecting and absorbing water, for which they use the scales and bumps on the skin. Bearded dragon bends down its head to allow water to move to its back and the tongue. 
  6. During the fight over dominance, the smaller ones wave their hands in circles to show submission. 
  7. The stiff scales around their throat get hard and stiff for protection during a fight or a grim situation.
  8. Bearded dragons use the organ on top of their inner mouth for tasting and smelling.
  9. The color of the bearded dragon is the same as the soil of the area that they come from. However, bearded dragons bred in captivity can have multiple colors.
  10. Bearded dragons can run at very high speeds, which makes them rise and run like bipeds. This high speed can even affect and shift their center of gravity, as it becomes hard to maintain balance.
  11. The front teeth of the bearded dragons can fall and regrow; however, their back teeth are permanent.
  12. Bearded dragons, when significantly dehydrated, pass out dry urine for water conservation inside the body.
  13. The skin color and pattern of bearded dragons are often observed to change after skin shedding.
  14. The bearded dragons in captivity, when placed with another dragon, the bearded dragons in captivity gain dominance over the others by lying on top of them to hinder the UVB light from approaching.
  15. Their limbs and tail do not regrow once these are removed or cut by any mean.

The cost for caring and raising a bearded dragon.

The cost of bearded dragons seems to be a pretty big deal; however, once you have arranged the setup, the cost of caring and raising the beardie is pretty low. The overall cost and maintenance charges of bearded dragons are divided into various factors, listed below.

Necessary supplies for a bearded dragon

  1. Enclosure
  2. Lighting setup
  3. Heating system 
  4. Mesh top
  5. Substrate
  6. Hiding spot
  7. Digital thermometers
  8. Heating pad
  9. Food items
  10. Decor and luxuries
  11. Rocks for perch

Cage setup

The whole setup for the bearded dragon’s cage can range from 150$ to 500$ or even more sometimes, depending on the type of supplies you can afford and buy for your bearded dragon. The first thing that you need for your bearded dragon is an enclosure used as its habitat in captivity. It’s better to buy a glass terrarium with a mesh top to allow ventilation and humidity inside the enclosure. 

Moreover, make sure to buy a big enclosure even if your bearded dragon is small as it will continue to grow, and buying a small enclosure will soon become problematic. You may get 40 gallons tank for the starter, as it will work fine till the bearded dragon is 15 months. Whereas for adults, the tank size should be around 100 gallons for its everyday activities and may cost 100-500$ for the enclosure setup.

Check our list of recommended tanks for bearded dragons.

After you’re done with choosing the suitable terrarium for your bearded dragon, the next thing is buying other accessories, which may cost you another 100$. Additional accessories required for the bearded dragon cage are thermometer (digital) UVB light setup, heating pads, basking area, water dish, supplements, humidity controllers. 

Cohabitation

Bearded dragons do not share their territory with anyone and are very solitary reptiles. Placing two bearded dragons in one cage will disrupt both, making them fight for dominance. If one bearded dragon is bigger than the other one, it will deprive the smaller one of the actual amount of food that it requires.

The cost of small bearded dragons is significantly less than the bright colored rare bearded dragon, which a breeder may sell up to 250$. 

Medical cost

This is an additional cost that you must pay to have your pet checked for sickness and diseases. However, if you’re doing enough to take care of your dragon’s health and hygiene, then there are scarce chances of a trip to the vet.

What kind of home does my bearded dragon need?

Before bringing your bearded dragon home, you need to set up its home to make the movement seamless. The question arises, which sort of cage or home would be best for your bearded dragon.

Tank/ Vivarium

Are you looking for a home for your bearded dragon? The best option is to get a glass terrarium or enclosure with a mesh top to allow ventilation. Furthermore, the glass will provide a view of the world outside the terrarium, making the bearded dragon aware of its surroundings. The glass gives the illusion of greater space to the bearded dragon. 

Do not buy a small terrarium for your bearded dragon, even if it is young or small in size. As the bearded dragon will grow rapidly and you’ll have to buy a new one after a short time. Purchasing a 40 gallons tank would work for dragons of age 8-15 months. For bearded dragons older and larger than this, you can buy a tank of 75 gallons. Read our post on bearded dragon tanks.

Substrate

Before going ahead with explaining the right type of substrate for your bearded dragon, you first need to understand what a substrate is. A substrate is a floor or the ground of the terrarium which the bearded dragons move. In nature, the substrates are sand, soil, pebbles, etc.; however, it is suggested not to use these substrates in captivity as your bearded dragon might end up chewing it down the throat, which may result in impaction.

You can use newspaper, reptile carpet, etc., for the substrate, as it is safe for your bearded dragon to use. Lay these on the enclosure floor and allow your bearded dragon to walk in the enclosure freely. Ensure the substrate is laid straight without any bulges, as it may keep the food of beardie out of his sight.

Check our post on recommended substrates for bearded dragons.

Humidity heating and lighting

As the bearded dragons have their origin in Australia, they are accustomed to heat and warmth. So, in captivity, they require the same amount of heat and warmth to stay healthy and happy. Full-spectrum UVB light is used for this purpose, for providing the heat and regulating the day and night cycle for the bearded dragon. 

The warmth produced by bearded dragons helps in the digestion of the food that your bearded dragon consumes. Furthermore, it elevates the mood and improves the appetite of the bearded dragon. UVB is a source of D3, which helps in the absorption of calcium in a bearded dragon’s body. Without enough UVB light, the beardie will have weak bones, and his growth will be affected badly.

The bearded dragons enjoy a good long time while basking in the sun when they are in the wild. However, in captivity, the heating pads, basking area, and heating lamps are required to provide the desired level of warmth. The mercury vapor bulbs are used to provide heat; however, they are powerful and can sometimes burn the bodies of bearded dragons. Introduce a hiding spot in the enclosure; this will help the bearded dragon cool down slightly.

The maximum temperature required for the bearded dragon is 95-105 Fahrenheit, and it should not get colder than 85 Fahrenheit. At night, the temperature can drop to 75 Fahrenheit; however, if your house is colder than 18 degrees Celsius, you need to have a ceramic heat emitter. More on bearded dragon heating and lighting requirements.

Basking accessories

Bearded dragons enjoy their time basking in the sun and spend most of their time basking under the sun. In captivity, the bearded dragons bask under the UVB light provided by the owners. Arrange a perch or basking platform for the bearded dragon to allow them to bask under the UVB light freely. Do not put wild branches without proper cleaning, as they might contain parasites and insects that can harm your bearded dragon.

At high temperatures, bearded dragons usually hide underground or in some other hole to cool down a bit when they are in the wild. However, you must introduce hiding points or spots inside the enclosure in captivity, just if your bearded dragon gets overheated.

Dishes and Bowls

You have to place a dish in the enclosure for placing bearded dragon’s food and water. The dimensions of the dish should be enough that it doesn’t spill water or food outside while the beardie can enjoy its meal comfortably.

Placing a bowl of water is also recommended, although not all bearded dragons drink from it because of their inability to detect still water. However, while walking or moving around the cage, if the bearded dragon gets inside the bowl, it’ll enjoy a bath inside the bowl of water.

What do bearded dragons eat?

The food of bearded dragons involves supplements, veggies, insects, which cost only a few dollars. The bearded dragons need calcium and vitamin D3 to grow and for the proper functioning of their bones. The calcium is provided either by dusting the food that you’re going to present your beardie. Furthermore, bearded dragons need a balanced amount of insects and veggies in their diet.

Protein

Bearded dragons are omnivorous, and so they eat both animals and plants. For meat, they usually consume crickets, which are readily available in the market. Avoid feeding insects that you have caught live running around the house to your bearded dragon, as it might carry bacteria inside your bearded dragon that will build parasites and make your bearded dragon sick.

Another source of protein for the bearded dragon is mealworms, waxworms, super worms, roaches. 

Veggies and fruits

Bearded dragons consume a considerable amount of veggies to maintain a balance in the diet that they are taking in. They like to consume greens with leaves such as listed below

  • Dandelion
  • Kale
  • Mustard
  • watercress
  • Alfalfa
  • Arugula
  •  Carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Acorn 
  • Butternut 

Do not feed cucumber, zucchini, spinach, and swiss chard frequently; it can be provided as a treat at times. 

Furthermore, avoid feeding lettuce and celery as they can cause problems in digestion because of their high water content.

You can provide fruits by mixing them into veggies and turning the whole meal into a salad. You can feed melon, tomatoes, peaches, berries, grapes, bananas, kiwis, and dates to the bearded dragon as they are rich in calcium.

Avoid eating Avocado to the bearded dragon, as it is poisonous for them. Furthermore, do not include citrus fruits in the diet of the bearded dragons as it will weaken their digestion.

Water

Water is an essential element of life for every living being. Similarly, the bearded dragons have their requirements for water. They are unable to recognize still water and hence need a unique system for getting water. Water can be provided to the bearded dragon by using a misting system and hand spray bottle to fulfill the need for water.

It’s essential to keep your bearded dragon hydrated enough for the normal regulation of body functions. A dehydrated bearded dragon may encounter trouble in skin shedding compaction. You can bathe your bearded dragon with warm water whenever you think it needs to be hydrated or cleaned.

Dietary supplements

Providing a balanced diet that contains the right amount and type of fruits, vegetables, and insects will be enough to provide all required nutrients to your bearded dragon. However, bearded dragons tend to avoid a particular food, which can cause a deficiency of some nutrients in the bearded dragon’s body.

Calcium deficiency can affect the health of the bearded dragon’s bones, so this nutrient could be added to the beardie’s diet by dusting it on the food being presented to the bearded dragon. However, there is a twist to this; the bearded dragon cannot digest calcium without vitamin D3. You can use the Mercury vapor bulb to produce enough UVB light to help the bearded dragon absorb the required amount of calcium.

Avoid using supplements with Vitamin A in it, as it is toxic for the bearded dragon. You can use beta carotene instead, which extracts the required nutrients from Vitamin A 

Feeding a baby bearded dragon

A baby bearded dragon is still in the process of growing rapidly, for which they require a good amount of food 2-3 times a day. They need a good amount of food and nutrients for good health and growth. There should be a balanced amount of veggies, fruits, and insects in the diet of the baby beardie. 

The overall diet of a baby bearded dragon should consist of 70 to 80 percent insects and 30 to 40 percent of the veggies, fruits, and other greens. The size of the bearded dragon’s meal shouldn’t be more than the space between its eyes. You must avoid feeding mealworms to the bearded dragon, as they have a hard shell and can be trouble for the baby to digest easily. 

Big crickets can be problematic, too, because their hind legs can get stuck in the stomach of the baby beardie and can harm its digestive system. Read our post on how often to feed baby bearded dragons at any age.

Vegetable guide for baby bearded dragons

Providing veggies to your baby bearded dragon is essential for its healthy growth. However, ensure to chop down the veggies to make it easy for the bearded dragon to swallow. You can feed your bearded dragon vegetables as listed below. 

  • Watercress
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Collards
  • Mustard greens
  • Endive
  • Dandelion
  • Yellow Squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Turnip Greens
  • Green Peas
  • Escarole

Fruit feeding guide for bearded dragons

It is best to mix the vegetables with the fruits and present the mix in the form of salad to your baby bearded dragon so that, in the hunt of fruits, the bearded dragon munches down some essential greens too. Following is a list of fruits that can be added to the diet of a baby bearded dragon.

  • Chopped pineapples
  • Chopped apples
  • Orange chunks
  • Pears
  • Seedless grapes

Feeding a juvenile bearded dragon

A juvenile bearded dragon is around 5-18 months old and requires a good and balanced amount of nutrients in the diet. At this stage, the number of fruits should be increased in the diet, and insects should be decreased. You may play with the number and size of insects to provide enough protein for the juvenile bearded dragon.

The ratio of insects to fruits and veggies should be 2:3, respectively, which means you can add up to 40 percent of insects in the diet of a bearded dragon, and the remaining portion of food will consist of vegetables and fruits.

The list of insects that you can feed your juvenile beardie is below.

  • Super worms
  • Roaches
  • Crickets
  • Fruit flies
  • Mealworms
  • Waxworms

The number of supplements could be reduced at this stage of the bearded dragon’s life. 

Feeding an Adult bearded dragon

As they have crossed the age of growth, providing more insects can produce fats inside their body which is not recommended. The eating routine of adult beardies must consist of only 20 percent of the insects, and 80 percent should be veggies as their protein requirement is pretty lower than the baby and juvenile bearded dragons.

Dust the food of adult bearded dragons once a week to provide needed vitamins and minerals.

Vegetable feeding guide for adult bearded dragons

Following veggies could be added to the diet of an adult bearded dragon. 

Bell pepperRed cabbageGreen beansKaleArugula
Collard greensGreen peasEscaroleEndiveSquash
Parsley Alfalfa sproutWatercressDandelionsCarrots
Okra    

Fruit feeding guide for adult bearded dragons

Following fruits could be fed to the adult bearded dragon.

  • Apple
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberry
  • Grapes
  • Orange slices
  • Pears
  • Papaya

Where can I buy my bearded dragon?

As mentioned earlier, exporting bearded dragons was banned in 1990; the bearded dragons are bred by different breeders and then sold in the market or pet shops for the customers to buy them. The places where you can look for a bearded dragon are listed below.

Pet Stores

You can buy the bearded dragon from general pet stores, which might provide you with a complete setup of the bearded dragon. This can save you the trouble of searching for all the requirements of the bearded dragon at one place or another.

The bearded dragons that you can get from the pet stores are generic beardie’s from the lands of Australia, so they are comparatively affordable compared to the species of bearded dragons which professionals breed, and have fascinating colors and appearance. 

The pet store owners or workers cannot provide you enough information about the bearded dragon to get that information from a reptile guide or other sources. Furthermore, the health of the beardies that you get from a pet store is not as good as the one you can get from breeders; the reason is that they are shipped and not taken care of properly. At the same time, the breeders take good care of their bearded dragons.

Breeders

Suppose you’re looking for a fascinating and colorful bearded dragon with a specific pattern on its body. In that case, you must look for breeders online and in different groups on social media. Breeder. The breeders take care of different bearded dragons’ species, providing them the right amount of heat, light, food, and nutrients to grow them into healthy beardies. 

Furthermore, they are known to experiment and develop hybrid bearded dragons of exotic colors and physical features. Keep an open eye for reptile or pet shows or exhibitions in your surrounding, where you can meet the breeders and find the bearded dragon of your choice. Interview the breeder, check the bearded dragon thoroughly, or get it checked by a vet to get the right one.

Classified Ads/Facebook groups

Before taking any step towards owning a bearded dragon, ensure proper research on this unique reptile. You can find ads about bearded dragons in the paper, magazines, or Facebook groups. In each case, do check the bearded dragon’s health and well-being; otherwise, you might end up worrying about the beardie all the time.

Reptile Rescues

This is not an ideal place to look for a bearded dragon, as the reptiles that come in the reptile rescue are neglected or going through some physical sickness, yet it can be considered an option. 

Reptile rescues have a specialized staff to check the overall health of the bearded dragon before handing it over to a new owner. Reptiles with normal and healthy behavior are considered available for adoption.

To adopt a bearded dragon from the reptile rescue, you first need to have a complete setup for his living. Furthermore, the reptile rescues have you sign a contract that you assure not to sell the bearded dragon on a high profit that you have bought at a low price from the reptile rescue; this petition is called “no flipping.” 

How do I choose the right, bearded dragon?

As mentioned above, the bearded dragon can be found in pet shops, breeders, or reptile rescues. However, when you’re planning to buy a bearded dragon, you want to get one that is more inclined towards you. It might take you some time to decide which one likes you. You can identify the right one for you by putting your hand in the tank and slowly approaching the bearded dragons to touch them. The one that responds to your touch is the right one for you.

Furthermore, you must check the health parameters of the bearded dragon before bringing it home, as you would not want to get a sick bearded dragon home.

How to Spot a Healthy Dragon

You need to perform several checks to spot a healthy bearded dragon and bring it home. Examine it before taking a final decision to bring the beardie home.

Observe the habitat

As most bearded dragons are found in the pet shop, you need to examine their habitat before making a decision to buy one. The habitat must be clean and clear of any rubbish or fecal material. Check if the pet store has provided the bearded dragons enough UVB light and a basking area to bask and move around.

Finally, check how many bearded dragons they have contained in one gallon. If there are many bearded dragons together, the habitat is overcrowded, causing injuries to the bearded dragons, where they might have experienced a broken toe or tail.

Observe the bearded dragon

After checking the habitat now, you need to perform a vigilant check of the bearded dragon to ensure it’s healthy and good for adopting. Check out the skin for bruises and clarity; a clear skin is a sign that beardie has been given a bath regularly and is adequately hydrated. Bruises on the skin are indications of lousy shed or dehydration.

Observe the tail and toes of the bearded dragon if any of it is missing. The bearded dragon must be alert and active, as a lethargic bearded dragon must be going through some physical sickness.

Bearded dragon health checklist

Following is a checklist that you may observe to check the health of a bearded dragon.

  1. Your bearded dragon should be at least 4 inches long
  2. Check the eyes; clear and alert eyes are a sign of the healthy bearded dragon
  3. Ensure that the bearded dragon is active. A lethargic bearded dragon is going through some physical sickness
  4. Check whether the anal region is clear or not
  5. There shouldn’t be any lacerations on the skin
  6. It must have a complete tail
  7. The jaw and face should be fit and tight, with no sagging
  8. No discoloration or bruised areas on the body.
  9. Full and round belly
  10. Check if there is any discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth
  11. Check its movement to be smooth; it shouldn’t be shaking
  12. Bright and clear skin

Any of this symptom in a bearded dragon indicates an unhealthy and sick beardie, which you must not adopt or purchase. While opting for an adult bearded dragon, you need to check whether your bearded dragon is aggressive or not. Do not for an aggressive bearded dragon. 

How do I keep my bearded dragon healthy

If you brought a bearded dragon home recently, you must not hold it for a few days. Give him some time to adjust in the new environment, as he would already be trying to cope up with that. Have your bearded dragon checked by the vet on a set schedule, and in case of any symptoms of sickness do visit the vet to treat the bearded dragon.

If your bearded dragon is doing any of the following things, then there is certainly something bothering it, and you need to have it checked by the vet.

  1. Swollen body joints
  2. Loss of appetite and weight loss
  3. Loose droppings or less dropping
  4. Discoloration and bruises on the skin
  5. Discharge from eyes, nose or mouth
  6. Hiding time more than usual
  7. Not basking in the UVB light
  8. Lethargic behavior
  9. Sunken eyes

How Do I Take Care of My Bearded Dragon?

Daily Feeding and Cleaning Routine

You need to feed your bearded dragon according to the age of the beardie; however, given the fact that bearded dragons need heat to digest their food, do not give them meals early in the morning. Let them heat up and boost their metabolism, then give them the required nutrients for them. Do not provide any meal in the absence of UVB light, as it will be difficult for them to digest it, and will cause compaction.

The ratio of veggies to insects differ in the different stages of bearded dragon’s life. The baby and juvenile bearded dragons need more protein as compared to the adult one, because they are still in the stage of growing. Remember to chop the food into small pieces; a rule of thumb is to keep the food just the size of the gap between the eyes of the bearded dragon.

Do not feed big crickets to the baby bearded dragon, as it may get stuck in the bearded dragon’s stomach, tearing its small and tender stomach and damaging the digestion. Feed baby and juvenile bearded dragons 2-3 times a day, as they need it for growing effectively.

Gut load the insects before feeding them to the bearded dragon, this will pass down the required nutrients to your bearded dragon seamlessly. Mix the fruits and vegetables to make a salad, which your bearded dragon would definitely enjoy.

Handling and Bonding

Make a bond with your bearded dragon, by taking it out occasionally and handling them. If you’re dealing with a baby or juvenile be sure not to drop it, as this might kill the bearded dragon. The adult bearded dragons are however tough in any of these circumstances.

The bearded dragons are sociable and enjoy interacting with their owners once they get used to the voice and touch of their owner. However, you must check the environment before bringing your bearded dragon out of the cage for a walk or any other activity. Monitor your bearded dragon when it’s out of the cage, do not leave it alone.

Finally, to maintain the hygiene of your bearded dragon and yourself, wash the hands properly to avoid bacteria from reaching them or yourself as the bearded dragon may carry Salmonella.

Shedding

Bearded dragons shed their skin every once in a while to get rid of their old skin. The skin of the bearded dragon becomes dark and dull when it’s close to shedding. During the process of shedding your bearded dragon might get lethargic, with sunken eyes, these are symptoms of shedding.

The complete shedding procedure is about a couple of days or several weeks. Keep your bearded dragon well hydrated, as that will help in a smooth shedding of skin. If you find pieces of skin stuck on the body of a bearded dragon, give it a warm bath; this will help in an easy removal of the skin.

Bathing

Bearded dragons need warm baths to stay hydrated and clean. The bearded dragons roam in their own waste which makes the chance of getting sick very high. Furthermore, bathing is proven to be helpful in shedding, making it easy for the skin to come off.

Some bearded dragons do not like to bathe, in this case you can mist the cage 2-3 times a day to provide a good deal of water for your beardie to drink and stay hydrated. The size of the bowl, in which you are planning to bathe your bearded dragon, must be just the size of your bearded dragon. The water level should not be above the head of the bearded dragon, otherwise the water might get into the body of the bearded dragon, harming the respiratory system.

Supervise the bath time of your bearded dragon, let it soak in for 10-15 minutes and enjoy the warmth. Avoid putting small bath toys inside the tub, as your beardie might end up chewing it down and harming his digestion. After a bath, dry your bearded dragon with a cloth or a paper towel, and move him back to the UVB light for warming up.

Brumation

The bearded dragons are cold blooded reptiles, so they do not have the ability to tolerate cold weather conditions. In cold weather, the bearded dragons start slowing down as they are preparing for a hibernation. During this time the bearded dragons use the fats stored in its body for keeping alive. More on bearded dragon brumation.

Cleaning the Habitat

Clean the enclosure of your bearded dragon regularly, to remove bacteria from the enclosure. Check for the leftover food and remove it, to avoid your bearded dragon munching down old and rotten food accidentally.

Rinse the substrate if it’s a carpet; in case of newspaper, change the newspaper every now and then to keep the environment clean inside the enclosure.

Physical/Behavioral Health Symptoms

As you are dealing with a bearded dragon, you must deal with the health issues that arise with time. There are some conditions that bearded dragons might experience at some point in time, the reasons and treatments to each are explained below.

#1: Dehydration

There are a lot of things that a bearded dragon misses out on in captivity, which he can easily get hold of in the wild. One of those things is water, which are essential for the life and body functions of the bearded dragon. However, the method of providing water is so tricky that some owners fail to provide adequate amounts of water to the bearded dragons.

This may result in dehydration of the bearded dragon. The symptoms of dehydration are sunken eyes, dull and wrinkly skin, and inactivity. In case of dehydration, mist the enclosure frequently providing enough water for the bearded dragon. You may even try bathing it to cover up the deficiency of water in the body.

#2: Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a medical condition where the bearded dragon starts loose droppings. The reason behind diarrhea might be a change in diet, some specific fruit or veggie. It might also be an indication of parasites in the bearded dragon, which must be treated at the earliest.

#3: Impaction

In contrast to diarrhea, impaction is a medical condition of less droppings by your bearded dragon. If your bearded dragon is excreting less than usual or after days on end, then it’s definitely going through impaction.

Overfeeding is a consequence of feeding an indigestible or overly large food to your bearded dragon, which blocks the digestive tract. In some cases, the condition worsens up causing a displacement of the spinal column as it’s pushed by the blocked items, which may cause paralysis to the bearded dragon. More on bearded dragon impaction.

How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live For?

Bearded dragons, if taken care of properly, can live up to 15 years in captivity. The tough and thick skin nature of these reptiles and their resistance towards diseases prolongs their life span, except for a few cases when there are some potentially harmful ailments to them.

They might experience metabolic bone diseases if they aren’t provided with enough calcium supplements. Furthermore, dehydration may result in impaction, which as mentioned above can be fatal to life.

Conclusion

Bearded dragon is a friendly and sociable reptile, and definitely recommended for beginners. They have a wide friendly smile, which makes them appear harmless and friendlier. The spikes on their throat give the appearance of a beard, which they have been named after.

These reptiles can be found from breeders, pet shops, or reptile rescue. The best recommended place is the breeders, as they take care of the bearded dragons sufficiently. Before bringing the bearded dragon home, you need to set up the enclosure for it, by arranging a basking lamp, a perch, thermometers to regulate the temperature of the enclosure, arranging hiding spots, and misting systems for the bearded dragon’s daily needs.

Finally, check the bearded dragon thoroughly before bringing it home for any diseases or sickness. Get the beardie checked by a vet regularly, give him a balanced diet and voila!! You’re good to go with a new friend to pass your time.