Bearded Dragon Tips from Zen Habitats Animal Care Manager
Animal Care Manager Kasey lists the beardie as one of her five favorite reptiles.
The Wonderful Beardie
“They are wonderful pets for a family,” says Kasey. “They are easy to care for and have a very chilled out persona. There are always exceptions in personalities.”
Kasey points out other characteristics of most beardies that make them great pets:
- they are easily habituated to handling
- take to tong feeding regularly
- they love to interact with their people
She stresses the importance of learning the correct way to interact with the beardie. “You need to know how to approach and handle beardies and any animal in your care.
Accidents can happen and animal interactions should always be supervised for the safety of the animal and the child,” she explains.
First things first, a Home
The size of your enclosure, the environment you create, and accessories you include are extremely important for your beardie. Roughly 85% of illness in exotic animals is from poor husbandry.
“If your beardie is a baby, you should section your enclosure using cardboard or create a temporary habitat in a smaller enclosure until they mature,” she says. “The reason to do this is because it can be difficult for young beardies to catch their food in an enclosure that is too large for them.”
Beardies are endemic to the deserts of Australia, so you should mimic that environment as best as possible. To do this, your beardie needs:
- Proper temperatures: There should be three separate zones within their enclosure, a cool side (75-80°F), a warm side (90-95°F) and a place to bask (95-100°F). You should have two thermometers to ensure the temperatures are in the correct range. An infrared surface thermometer can be used to monitor the temperature as well.
- Season-specific lighting: Your light cycle, including UVB/UVA, should vary with the change in seasons. Beardies need 14-16 hours of daylight in the summer and 10-12 hours in the winter.
- Healthy humidity: Beardies like their humidity on the lower side, about 20-40% and that can be measured using a hygrometer.
- a large basking ledge
- a cave to hide
- a piece of driftwood to climb on
- a hammock for lounging
- a shallow food bowl
- artificial or safe plants to transform the enclosure’s appearance
Feeding Your Beardie
Beardies, says Kasey, are amazing because their diet can be created using a wide variety of ingredients.
“In the wild they are omnivores and will typically eat an assortment of vertebrates and invertebrates, as well a large range of plant material,” she says.
Beardies have different diet needs based on their age.
- Juvenile beardies: Their diet should consist of 80% protein and 20% fresh produce. Once they reach around 12 months of age you will want to start increasing the amount of produce given and decrease the amount of protein.
- Mature beardies: Around 18 months of age they should be eating 80% produce and 20% protein.
Kasey recommends these commercially available high-protein sources:
- Dubia Roaches
- Super Worms
- Silk Worms
She cautions, “You should never feed insects that you have caught outside, and all insects should be gut loaded. This means the insect should be fed a diet packed with calcium and nutrients to fill their gastrointestinal tract.”
As for plant sources, Kasey says you can feed them produce you have in the house. “I use produce I have bought for myself for the week, focusing more on fresh veggies and leafy greens with a little fruit as a treat,” she says.
Vitamins and minerals also need to be provided, including:
- powdered Calcium/D3 to sprinkle on over the produce 2-3 times a week
- a multivitamin once a week
She also says it’s important to have a good relationship with reptile specialist. “Bring your new pet to an exotics veterinarian within a week and establish a good relationship with routine wellness visits.”
Cool Beardie Facts
- They get their name from the spines that protrude off their throat that resemble a man’s beard. The “beard” will puff out and possibly turn black when they are threatened or excited.
- They come in a wide variety of colors, which make it really cool to pick out your new companion. The most common colors are tan, yellow, olive, and red with loads of variations in patterns.
- A full-grown beardie will be about 16”-24” long.
- Their tail is about the length of their body (snout to vent).
- They are a stocky and flat bodied with distinct spines on their throats, sides of head and sides of body.
- Their typical lifespan is 10-15 years.
Zen Habitats offers a variety of enclosures and accessories to suit your reptile, no matter the species. We would love to help you select the right enclosure setup for you and your pet! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-755-8008.