Beyond The Care Sheets with Kam's Reptiles & Emzotic | Bearded Dragon Care | S2E2
Hey, what's up Zen Friends, it’s Em and today it's another brand-new season two episode two of Beyond the Care Sheets. Today we have such a special guest, Kam of Kam's reptiles has just very graciously taken time out of her busy schedule to jump on and tell us all about bearded dragons and bearded dragon care. Now, if you are joining us for the first time, Beyond the Care Sheets is a series where we bring on a different expert who knows so much about different kinds of reptiles. Today is all about bearded dragons. I am so excited because I love bearded dragons. I've got Norbert, who has joined behind me. Hello, Kam. Thank you so much for joining us. Now, I think, first of all, congratulations are in order because a little beardie told me that you just got married.
I did. Wow.
Congratulations. All of us here at the Zen family wish you and your partner every success and love and luck for the duration of your marriage forever and ever. So, I'm really, really excited for you. But today, we're going to talk about bearded dragons. Now, Kam of Kam's reptiles, what first got you started with bearded dragons? Because you have a couple of different species that you keep, including but not limited to rat snakes, leopard geckos. But what is it that drew you to bearded dragons? And what's so special about them?
So he was my first. He was very much an impulse decision. And that's something that I talk about, like, don't. Obviously. But he was definitely my first. And I don't know, I had been like, honestly, they were on TikTok forever. And I was like, Oh my God, these guys are so cute and they're so cool. Like, you get to feed them bugs. So that's, I don't know, they're just they're very cool and they're very they have a big personality.
I completely agree and I think you might agree with me that that might be one of the reasons why they captivate us so much, because for a relatively small lizard, they do have a massive personality. They do, definitely. Yes. And I'm guessing is this Smaug guy right here? Yes, he is. Hi Smaug! He’s beautiful. Now, we do have one of your fans who has asked a specific question later because they are a huge fan of Smaug. So hopefully they will join us. And speaking of joining us, thank you so much to everybody who is joining in today on today's Season two episode two of Beyond the Care Sheets with Kam's reptiles. If you have a specific bearded dragon question, feel free to drop it down below and hopefully we can answer all of your questions. Now, my second question is how does the care of bearded dragons differ from other reptiles that you keep.
In comparison to all the other ones that I keep? He's definitely more, they're more hands on, like you've got to be a little more attentive with them than all the other ones. Like, like all the other reptiles. Like you don't necessarily need you to hold them all the time or pay attention to them all the time. And these guys, weirdly enough, they do, like they're just, they enjoy being around you, so you need to spend a lot of time with them. But their care is a little more complex than something like a leopard gecko or a crested gecko. Um, but yeah, they also take a bunch of your time, but in a good way.
Oh, for sure. I think it's very safe to say that whilst a lot of reptiles will tolerate handling, some bearded dragons really do crave it.
Yeah, for sure. He's- He's constantly wanting out, like, just like. Like crawling outside and like, like free roam and be out.
That’s so cute. Now, we just had a great question here in the comment section from Zen Friend 1. They said, what could it be to cause when a bearded dragon is not eating and why do they always...
Blackbeard? Always blackbearding isn't necessarily the most fantastic sign. Usually they only do that when they're upset or they're scared of something or wanting to intimidate another bearded dragon or another reptile. So if they're always blackbearding, that's definitely not a fantastic sign, especially partnering that with not eating, that would definitely be something that you'd want to probably talk to a vet about because yeah, not eating and like constantly blackbearding those aren't fantastic signs.
No, for sure. For me, what immediately comes to mind is if you have your bearded dragon set up in an all-glass enclosure, then they might be seeing a lot of their reflection and that could cause them to feel territorial and threatened. So if that is the case from the person who asked the question, maybe putting some cardboard around three sides for now might be a good idea. And then perhaps, maybe considering our four-by-two-by-two Zen Habitat wood panel enclosure, which is a best seller for a reason. It's definitely the number one bestseller because it's really great for just making a bearded dragon feel calm and Zen. Now, there's no such thing as a beginner reptile. But why do you think bearded dragons are so popular with first time reptile owners?
Honestly, I'm not sure why they're so popular with first timers, because their care is kind of difficult for a first timer, I would say. Especially since he was my first. I had to, I had to learn a lot and I had to pretty much build from the ground up from that ridiculous setup that they sell in pet stores that’s like the kits. You know what I'm talking about? Yes. So honestly, no idea why people gravitate toward them so much for beginner reptiles, but because they're everywhere, they're on TikTok, they're on Instagram and they're so adorable and people put cute little wings on them, and cute little outfits. So I'm sure that they're just, they're gravitated towards because of that. And their personalities are fantastic and everybody wants a reptile that they can at least feel like loves them, you know?
Oh, for sure. And I completely agree with you there. We had another impromptu question come in which actually had a later on my notes, but we'll just cover it right now- in the first few days of having your pet, so we'll say it's a pet bearded dragon. What things can you do to make the transition less stressful for them?
So when you first get a bearded dragon, what I like to tell people is, for the most part, leave them alone for a good week or so until they start eating properly. And you you've seen evidence of them pooping in their tank. You know, they're not, they're living properly. And then then you can start spending time with them and start handling. But generally, for the most part, definitely leave them alone for the first week or so that you have them and then you can start off with like slow handling, like you could do 5 minutes every day until you feel that your bearded dragon is not stressed out or is comfortable enough with you so you can move it up to 10 minutes and 20 minutes and hang out with them all the time.
Oh, I love that. So that's really great advice. I would say leaving them alone for like two weeks would be a really great way to bring them into the home and just not interacting with them too much in those two weeks. And then eventually, as Kam just said, bringing them out for like increasingly longer intervals to get them used to being around you and interacting with you and your lifestyle. Em Now, speaking of new bearded dragons, where would you recommend a newbie owner goes to source a bearded dragon? Because there's so many, you can see them in the large chain pet stores. There's of course rescues in so many different places. What would be your recommendation?
Not a pet store is my recommendation, because generally they don't take fantastic care of them, at least like the bigger chains pet stores don't take the best care of them, and sometimes you'll end up with a bearded dragon that's a little sick and you might not notice it until you get home. So definitely if you have a better local pet store, you could definitely get them from there. But I always recommend like online with a reputable breeder like Morphmarket.com has a bunch of breeders and if you just check out the reviews and you talk to them and you make sure that they know everything about the reptile that they're trying to sell to you, that's fantastic. Amazing place to get it. Expos are good too, for the most part, as long as the seller knows what they're talking about.
It's always a challenge to find somebody who can talk the talk and walk the walk. That's definitely for sure. Now, we just had a little bit of a hint from the person who asked the question about their bearded dragon that's constantly blackbearding and not eating. They said, my bearded dragon came from Petco and he's missing toes and part of his tail. So I would say that that is a definite vet visit right there because we just we know he obviously hasn't gotten off to the best start and he's not set up for success given that background. So I would highly recommend that you take him to a vet as soon as you can and an exotic vet at that. Now, speaking of bearded dragons and bringing them home and sourcing them, is there a difference in care between juveniles or babies and adults?
Generally speaking, there's not a huge amount of difference, at least that I have seen and experienced. But there is a little bit of heating difference when they're younger. You want a little bit of higher temperatures and when they're older you lower them down a tiny bit. But it's not like a huge difference. It's probably like ten degrees. But the big change from a juvenile to an adult would be their diet. When you have a juvenile, you want about 70% of their diet or 80%. There's mixed things online about that. But either 70 to 80% being bugs and then the other 30 20% to be veggies, and then that switches when they become an adult, like 20% being bugs and the 80% being the veggies is the big change. I'm pretty sure.
Now I just know that like most bearded dragons out there would want to discredit that and just be like, just give me all the bugs and a really common question that we got asked. Probably the top question was how do you get a bearded dragon to eat more of their grains? Because so many better dragons just don't seem to want to eat their greens?
Yeah, I had that problem for a very, very long time as well. And honestly, it wasn't until recently when he started going crazy over his greens. So part of it could be an age thing too, where they just don't want it until, you know, a certain time, but something that you can do, you can test a few things. But flavored calcium I've seen works for a lot of people adding bee pollen on top of the salads. That works apparently really well. He likes bee pollen a lot, too, mixing up the veggies like if you found that they don't touch any of the veggies that you've put in there, they might just not like the specific green that you've chosen to put in there. So if you picked collard greens, try out mustard greens, like there could be this crazy taste difference that only they're going to notice and you never know, they might start eating the salads and different toppings. There's like bearded dragon toppings that you can get at pet stores just to enhance the flavor for them. And different veggies and fruits and stuff like that. There's a bunch of stuff you can do, but those are a few of them.
Those are such great tips. Thank you, Kam. I found with Norbert the only real way I can get him to eat his greens- He's just like poking out from behind the screen. That is, to hide his insects in his greens and trick him into eating them. And once he's had a couple of mouthfuls, he's like, well, I guess this isn't too bad though. Funnily enough, he's very anti anything orange. He seems to have a distaste for anything orange, so carrots are just never going to happen with him. I've just had to deal with that. But certainly just sort of tricking them into eating it has been a really great tip for me. I love the bee pollen that you mentioned and actually we have some good friends over at celestialexotics.net, which is Tyler Rugge and Maddie Smith. I know that they sell little bags of bee pollen, so that's a really great place to source it if anybody's interested. Now, we had another question on my body just came out of a short brumation, three weeks. How quickly do they get back into regular eating? She's slowly starting to eat some bugs, very few greens, she's a year old and very healthy.
It honestly depends on, like each bearded dragon. They're going to have different experiences. So it may take a few weeks, it might take a few days. Honestly, it just it varies from bearded dragon to bearded dragon. I mean, mine personally, he took like two weeks to start to get to eating normal, but it wasn't a huge concern as long as they're at a good weight and they're hydrated and all that good stuff, sometimes it just takes a little longer and some of them snap right back into it.
Completely agree with you. Norbert has not yet brumated with me but my last bearded dragon Bad Idea once brumated for seven months which was incredible. And it took them forever to start eating again. So really, as long as you're, as Kam said, your bearded dragon is maintaining a good body weight and a good body condition. I wouldn't worry too much. You could buy some scales and weigh them every week just to make sure they're okay and just let them take their time. You know, they definitely move at their own pace and also, you mentioned something about hydration. Kam, that we have another question in the comments down here, which is by Zen Friend 2 how often should a bearded dragon be drinking water and how can we get them to drink more?
So that's something I also struggled with for a very long time. He did not want to drink water for anything, but some bearded dragons don't actually drink water if it's just sitting there. Some of them, they say you can only see moving water. I'm sure they can see it, but something about the moving of the water, it makes them want to drink it. So I always just put mine in a bathtub with just water and just let the water run. And he would drink out of it that way. But definitely always having it accessible to them as long as the humidity in the enclosure isn't too high. Definitely have a water bowl in there and they can drink out of that if they need to. Generally, they know what they need, but if you're worried about it, you can like obviously put them in a in a in a bath and have them drink that way. If it gets to a point where they're not drinking at all and they're very concerned and they're dehydrated, sometimes a plastic syringe thing and just feeding it to feeding them water that way, that works. Obviously, if you get to a point where they're very dehydrated, a vet is the way to go.
But oh, for sure now, I was just looking for one of my questions, which seems to have disappeared, but something that was also asked by one of your fans, Kam, was is it better to hydrate them separately in a tub or to leave water in an enclosure? Is there a benefit or detriment to either of those?
So I would say generally no, you could do either one. But as I as I said a little bit before, it's the humidity in your area is crazy high or the humidity in the tank even is just way too high for a bearded dragon, then you shouldn't be keeping a water bowl in there and then you would want to take them out to hydrate them that way. But if you have no humidity problems, then you can keep a water bowl in there and there's no difference.
Amazing. Now, we did have another question, which is simply how to hydrate a dragon. And I'm just going to jump in here really quickly to say if you have a specifically dehydrated dragon and it's not healthy, what you're going to have to do is take them to the vet for ringer solution and that will hydrate them. So if you are in an emergency situation, simply putting them in water won't always help. You should definitely get them off to a vet. But otherwise what Kam mentioned about soaking them in some water and letting them hydrate that way is a really great way to go just for regular maintenance. And I wouldn't worry too much if your dragon specifically won't drink from a dropper. Again, every beardie has its quirks and its differences, so I would certainly just keep an eye on it. And if you see any changes from what's regular, then that's a time to start keeping notes and thinking about going for a vet visit. And we had a really cool question here, which is about morphs, and one of your fans asked, how does Kam feel about morphs like Leatherback?
So I had had a I have an inkling that this question is something related to like some breeders breed things that are unethical. Like certain morphs of like snakes are no go like don't buy those because they have neurological issues. But I am honestly not aware of anything like that for leatherbacks. So my opinion on them, I think they're cool. They feel really cool. They're the same as a regular bearded dragon. They just don't have like spiky scales. They're pretty smooth. I think they're cool. And if there's something I'm missing, I definitely would love to hear it.
No, that sounds great to me. And I fully support everything that you just said there that we should definitely be cognizant of the kinds of morphs that we're breeding. And if there's no neurological issues such as, say, in spider ball pythons, I'm just personally not a fan of supporting that. But we have another great question by Zen Friend 3, and I'm sorry if I just butchered your name. Where do you get your dirt substrate for your bearded dragons? And Kam, I'm actually going to hand this off to you. What is your preferred substrate for bearded dragons?
So I think that the easiest by far and the cheapest is to go for like a 50/50 mix of play sand and topsoil is incredibly cheap. You can get both of those things for like 3 or $4 and it's very safe. It's easy for them to dig in. That's definitely probably my overall choice for a substrate for a bearded dragon. But there are, there are a ton. I personally use Terra Sahara mixed with natural Australian desert sand and that's a really cool substrate. I like how the sand is most similar to where they're from. And then mix some dirt in there to make it a little more digging friendly so its not falling every time they try to dig for sure. But yeah, there's, there's a ton of substrate options as far as like loose substrates go. If you want to do something sterile because you're not quite ready for that, tile is good, and non adhesive shelf liners really great too.
Oh for sure. And if anybody's looking for like a really good easy to clean option as well, I personally use the Zen mat back here, which I love. It offers traction, it's so easy to remove and clean, so definitely go and check out the Zen mat, which is I think the second best seller that we have at Zen Habitats for of course a reason.
And what you said about traction, that's really important. Definitely don't get a tile that's like slippery, that can cause joint issues. So the Zen mat has traction, that's amazing. That won't cause them to slip and put like unnecessary pressure on their joints to the point where one day they'll just be crippled.
Exactly. Yes. Giving them the ability to build those muscles is so important. So that's actually one of the reasons I really love the four by two by four enclosure, which I have back here. I know that it's just gone on preorder for the Meridian style, which is the one that just pops up and it's, you know, expandable and collapsible. It's just so great that gives them the ability to have some height to build even more muscles. So that's great for really active bearded dragons. Now can you share your tips for proper UVB and humidity?
So I know that humidity is a completely different thing for each person, especially where you live. So in my experience, I don't have any issues with humidity other than keeping it higher. I have garbage humidity in my house. It's like 10%. So I personally keep a water bowl in there. So if you have trouble keeping it up, definitely water bowl helps. And also misting substrate a little bit helps too. I don't like misting the whole enclosure because that can cause respiratory issues. I don't have any advice for keeping it down because I have to experience it. And I, I don't have I don't have any experience with keeping it at a low level if you're having trouble with it being too high. As for UVB, I I'm pretty sure this is up to date, but a UVB strip as like half the length of your enclosure, it should be like if you have a four by two by two, for instance, should be like 24 inches long. And the reason that you want a tube light in comparison to those light bulb coils, is those light bulbs and coils don't put off nearly as much UVB as they need and they most likely will end up with metabolic bone disorder disease. I would get it mixed up.
Metabolic bone disease.
But yeah, definitely go for a tube UVB because that will completely avoid that. You'll they will have enough UVB from the tube lighting in comparison to just the tiny little coil UVB. And depending on what kind you get, I believe six months to a year is when you need to replace them.
That's such a great tip, because a lot of people think if the light is on, it's working. And it actually doesn't mean that at all. So certainly replacing them, as Kam said, every couple of months is a really, really good idea. We just had another great question by Zen Friend 4. Do the nails need clipping?
Need? I don't know. Is it convenient for you? Probably, yes, but I do personally, just because if you're handling them off, you don't really want to be scratched and clawed to bits. But also it depends on like what kind of things you have in the enclosure, they could naturally file down the nails for you. So if you have like slate tile in there, that's really amazing for just filing them down and you don't have to do anything. Yeah, but yeah, definitely depends on what's in the enclosure and if they can file it down, but you can do it yourself as well.
Amazing. Thank you so much for that. And that was another question that came in from one of your fans who follows you on Instagram. Oh my God, it's Kam. I love Kam so much. I love Smaug, my male beardie has huge pores. I've seen some people squeeze them like blackheads. Kam should I do this or should I make of that appointment?
That's a big no. Definitely do not squeeze them like blackheads. A thing that you can do at home, Not squeezing them, I’ve seen people just give them a warm bath and use a very soft bristle toothbrush and just sort of like just scrub them a little bit, but it's not going to get rid of them completely. And if they have an actual issue, then yes, a vet appointment is definitely where you'd want to or you'd want to go.
Yes. I think if you're really concerned with the length of the pores, then definitely just having a vet as a second opinion would be a great option. And I do remember earlier on in the chat someone said, Would you recommend going to a vet? And something I will always tell people who keep exotic pets is- try and find an exotic specific vet. So when you're actually calling to make your appointment, let them know that you're specifically looking for your bearded dragon or whichever species of reptile you keep, you're looking to have them examined, and do you have a vet who is knowledgeable? If not, could you point me in the right direction? That's a really, really great way to go about making a vet appointment. Zen Friend 5 I'm so sorry if I just butchered your name. Is there going to be a recap for all this info? Yes. You'll be able to find this entire live instantly after the session over on the Zen Habitat's Instagram account, which is what we're on. So make sure that you're following. You'll be able to come back and go back through all of these amazing answers. Now, here's a really great question as well. What are some indicators that your bearded dragon might be sick.
Generally really good indicators are if they're constantly dark. They're not like brightening up like if you see them when they're cold and they're trying to bask and they get dark, it's because they're trying to soak up the heat. But generally, if they're always dark, that's not a fantastic sign. If they won't eat, if they are very lethargic, like very like sleeping all the time, very slow moving, just generally lazy. And that's not what you normally see out of them. It's not a fantastic sign either. They're probably a lot more. A good indicator for like a respiratory problem would be their breathing if they're like very heavily breathing or either very, very slowly breathing, those are both not fantastic signs. There's a lot of issues that bearded dragons can have depending on the type of care that's given to them. So there are a lot of different signs for many different sicknesses. Definitely just recommend researching those things. A simple Google search is amazing- Why is my bearded dragon doing this? Chances are you will find the answer.
That's such a great answer. Thank you so much for that, Kam. Zen Friend 5, said How much does the setup cost if you do it properly? And I'm just because we're running out of time. Hey, can I mention that over on the Zen Habitat's website, we do actually offer a bearded dragon kit, which has a lot of the things you're going to need to start getting started. So right now it doesn't include lighting, but you will have the base set up. So definitely go and check out on the Zen Habitat's website the Bearded Dragon kits. Now we got to wrap up because you've already given us so much of your time, Kam. Thank you so much for that. Is there anything else that you would love people to know about Bearded dragons either before getting them or if they already have them?
I think the biggest thing is don't trust every single thing that you read or that you hear, especially if it's outdated things, especially in the reptile world. We are constantly, constantly learning new things about how to improve our enclosures and how to improve our lighting and improve our general care for these guys. So if you see something that's outdated or just doesn't sound right to you, definitely do the research and find something that's a little more up to date so that we can provide the best life for them. Just because you've had a bearded dragon for five years and this was right five years ago, doesn't mean it's right today. So definitely continue to improve for these guys because they're in captivity, all of it is up to us.
That is so wonderful. Thank you so much for that. And finally, could you tell us a bit more about where everybody can find you? Because I'm a huge fan of your reels here on Instagram, but where else can people find out more and follow you along on your adventures?
So I’m on TikTok, same username. (Kam’s Reptiles) I recently changed it to the same username as here just Kam’s Reptiles, Kam’s Reptiles everywhere. I'm here, on Tik Tok, on YouTube, and on Twitter. And I also have a website Bearded Dragon Care guide. Pretty much everything that I've just shared here. I have a bearded dragon care guide. I have a crested gecko care guide soon to be added.
That is so fantastic. Thank you so much. And everybody be sure to go and thank Kam over on her Instagram with her TikTok and check out her website for just being so giving with her time and her knowledge and just her vast experience. So thank you so much for that. Kam. It was such a pleasure having you on. And thank you all so much for joining in on today's very special series. Now, a couple of little housekeeping things. Tune in next week for another guest. We'll be focusing on another species, which you will have to find out about closer to the time. It's going to be really, really epic. We've also just launched Meridian Zen’s in the UK, so be sure to go to zenhabitats.co.uk and go and grab your new meridian in the UK. Be among the first to have Meridian in the UK, which is just so exciting. And be sure to go on the US site and sign up for SMS marketing because we are soon going to be having a massive restock. So you do not want to miss that. We've also just launched the Meridian, which is the Folding Extendable stackable version of Zen Habitats and two new sizes right behind me, the two by two by two in Meridian as well as a two by four by two, both available for preorder right now. So be sure to go and grab those on a preorder. I also want to just thank the team over its Zen Habitats, in particular Joanne, for her amazing organizational personal skills, Kaylee, Justin and Doug for making beyond the care sheets a possibility. So, thank you so much for that. Again, to Georgia, who is Heidi's niece. Good luck with your new bearded dragon in the summer. I hope that you learned something new from this live. And thank you all for joining in on today’s live. We'll see you again next week. But until then, stay Zen!
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