New Bearded Dragon Check List
New Bearded Dragon Check List
When you think of common pets, bearded dragons aren’t typically the first thing to come to mind. But a bearded dragon can make a surprisingly affectionate pet, with a unique and amusing personality. Of course, caring for a lizard is quite a bit different than caring for a dog, but if you follow these guidelines you should be on your way to a rewarding relationship with your new dragon friend.
Your Dragon’s House
Juvenile beardies do best in glass aquariums, but you should remember that though your new friend is only the size of your pinkie right now, he will grow much larger. Most bearded dragons reached their full length at about 1 year old and can grow to be up to 20 inches long. Invest in the large tank right away, so your dragon can grow without you having to buy multiple cages. Also, make sure the tank has a securely fitted mesh top, as these little guys can jump a bit and are excellent climbers.
Bearded dragons don’t require much. Most of them like a big, flat rock to sun themselves on and a sturdy branch or two to climb. You will need both a shallow water dish and a food dish. Be careful what you line the tank bottom with. I prefer newspaper or paper towels due to their affordability and ease of changing. Avoid anything cloth that a dragon can catch a toenail on, and never use sand or crushed walnut shells with young dragons. They can swallow the loose stuff, impacting their digestive systems and leading to death.
In the wild, reptiles use the sun to warm them, but in a tank they will require heat lamps. Ceramic dome lights are the best choice and should be placed on one side of the enclosure only. Make sure to buy bulbs for desert reptiles, as these will provide the correct amount of heat and UV light. Most of these fixtures will include what they call a “night light”. This provides some heat while emitting a soft red glow that doesn’t interfere with the sleeping patterns of your dragon. I use both lights to ensure the temperature is always within the comfort zone for my bearded buddy. Make sure branches don’t allow the dragon to get too near the light, as they can burn themselves.
Feeding Your Dragon
Baby bearded dragons eat mostly meat. They should be offered crickets 2-3 times a day and allowed to eat their fill within 5-10 minutes. You should dust the crickets with calcium to strengthen growing lizard bones. They should also be offered fresh greens every day, but remember that you should never give them a cricket or chunk of greens larger than the space between their eyes to avoid impaction. A word of caution, though your pet dragon is relatively odorless, crickets are not. But don’t worry, as the dragon matures he will require less meat and you can eventually ditch those smelly crickets for an occasional meal worm.
Bearded dragons require very few visits for vet care, but make sure you have one picked out that handles exotic pets in the case of a torn toenail, impacted digestive tract, or other illness. An occasional wellness check is also suggested as general care.
Things you will need for your baby beardie:
- Glass tank with lid
- food/water dishes
- Heat lamp
- Paper towels for cage lining
- Crickets/Fresh greens
- Calcium dust
Though a bearded dragon might not be the most common pet, you will find they are unique and have their own personality. Follow the advice above and use the checklist to ensure you and your scaly new friend are off to the best possible start!