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Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps


Bearded dragonIntroduction Bearded Dragons are distributed throughout the central deserts of Australia. They are decent sized lizards, with the largest topping off at approximatly 22 inches. It is a heavy bodied lizard with a broad triangular head. They are very docile and inquisitive lizards which makes them among the most popular pet reptile in the United States. For this reason, there are tons of captive bred babies available in all different color morphs.

Acclimation and Quarantine Quarantine or acclimation enclosures need not be elaborate, instead they should be sterile and easy to clean. Plastic storage bins are often used for such enclosures as they are easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes, and most provide the security needed for a freshly acquired Bearded Dragon. Paper towels, newspapers, or other easily cleaned materials may be used as the substrate. A hide box should be provided for additional security. A shallow ceramic water dish should be used as the water bowl as they ten to tip over anything plastic. Excessive spilt water in a plastic enclosure can lead to many ailments. This setup should be used until the dragon is feeding regularly and appears to be in good health.

Housing We recommend that you house a single adult Bearded Dragon in cage with a footprint of at least 18" x 48". Babies and small juveniles can be kept in a 20 gal. tank. Be sure to provide branches and/or rocks to climb on as it allows them to bask and get closer to the benificial UVB. Provide a hide box as well so they can escape the heat and get some solitude. We recommend using paper towels, newspaper, packing paper, shelf liner, cage carpet, etc. for your hatchlings and juveniles. This will help you avoid impaction due to consumption of sand. Adults can be kept on Calci-sand and sifted clean as needed.

Heating & Lighting Provide a basking spot for Bearded Dragons that is between 95-105 degrees F, as they need to get their bodies around 95 degrees to digest their food. Bearded Dragons also need an area to cool down when they get too warm. The opposite end of the tank should be 75-85 degrees. Night time temps should not be allowed to drop below 65 degrees. Incandescent lights may also be used as a heat source. They are available in a wide selection of wattages, so the right level of heat for the basking spot can usually be found and then controlled with a thermostat as required. One may also choose to utilize ceramic heat emitters for larger enclosures. They can be used at night without emitting light that would otherwise disrupt the dragon's photoperiod. Bearded Dragons need UVB exposure from a quality light! Bearded Dragons synthesize vitamin D3 when exposed to UVB, Vitamin D3 is necessary for calcium to be metabolized. Animals that are not exposed to UVB can develop Metabolic Bone Disease. If MBD isn't treated in a timely fashion, skeletal deformities, kidney failure, seizures, and eventually death will occur.

Humidity Bearded Dragons are found in the central deserts of Austrailia and the humidity levels should reflect that of a desert. Aim to keep your humidity levels between 20% - 30%. You can mist your Bearded Dragons occasionally, but avoid getting the substrate to moist.

Feeding Hatchlings and juveniles should be fed crickets as fast as the dragon will consume them a few minute time span. Feed them 2-3 times daily appropriately sized crickets, no larger than the width between the eyes of the dragon. Dusting crickets with a calcium supplement is essentinal to the rapid growth of baby bearded dragons. Dust your crickets every day or every other day. A vitamin supplement is important as well. Provide vitamins once or twice a week. Crickets should be gut-loaded to make them more nutritious. There are a lot of gut load products on the market or you can feed your crickets fresh vegetable and fruits. They will actually eat anything you give them such as cat, dog and fish food. Other bugs for your dragon include but are not limited to Silk Worms, Phoenix Worms, Roaches, Super Worms. Give your Bearded Dragon greens that are high in calcium. Mustard and watercress are excellent, as are turnip greens, endive, escarole, collards and dandelion.

Water You can give your dragon a shallow water dish, but you must keep it clean. You can mist your dragon, they will lap up the water, and it will help with shedding.

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