Does your child have a natural proclivity for animals? Or, would you like to introduce a pet to your family but aren’t sure where to begin?
A bearded dragon can be the perfect way to start. They’re easy to care for and make wonderful companions. Keep reading to learn more about this friendly reptile.
What is a Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are sold throughout the United States, but their original home is in the deserts of Australia.
The name “bearded dragon” does sound a bit intimidating, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to these lizards.
Their triangle-shaped heads have little spikes both on top and on the bottom. When bearded dragons puff up their throats, these spikes resemble a beard. And that’s where their fairy-tale name comes from. PS: Here’s an incredible article of more than 20 different bearded dragon types. Wow!
How Big is the Bearded Dragon?
These little reptiles can be anywhere from 4 to 24 inches in length. It depends on the species, as well as other factors, such as tank size, diet and gender.
This four-legged creature has a tale that’s about half the length of his body. And unlike other lizards, the tale and other body parts will not regrow and regenerate if they’re broken or injured.
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live?
The more love and attention you give to your little reptile, the longer it can live.
In the wild, bearded dragons usually don’t live much longer than 8 years, but if you give it a healthy, balanced diet and an appropriately sized tank, it can live anywhere between 8 to 14 years.
How to Feed a Bearded Dragon
These lizards are omnivores, so they require a well-balanced diet to grow and be healthy.
In general, bearded dragons enjoy fresh vegetables, non-citrus fruits and insects. Easy-to-find vegetables, like romaine lettuce, carrots, squash and cucumbers can make up their daily fare.
Insects and small animals, such as wax worms, mealworms, crickets and small mice are suitable, too.
Dietary Guidelines for Baby Bearded Dragons
Their diet will vary depending on their age. Baby and adult diets differ slightly.
For example, baby dragons should consume more insects than vegetables to help them grow and develop. It’s recommended that you feed them insects three times per day, and allow them to gobble up as many as they can in a 10 to 15-minute time span.
After that, remove any remaining insects and save them for the next feeding.
Dietary Guidelines for Adult Bearded Dragons
While baby dragons need their daily fill of insects, too many insects can make your adult dragon become overweight!
Instead of feeding them insects three times each day, adult bearded dragons only need one insect feeding per day.
The same rule applies to adults: let them eat as many insects as they can within a 10 to 15-minute time span. Then, take away any remaining insects and wait until tomorrow for the next insect feeding.
Here’s a list of insects that are appropriate for both baby and adult bearded dragons:
- Black Soldier Fly Larvae
- Dubia Roaches
- Superworms (Special treats for adults)
- Butterworms (Special treats for adults)
Some of these insects may be easy to find around your home and yard, but avoid feeding your bearded dragon these. That’s because these insects may contain parasites that can be detrimental to their health.
Instead, purchase all insects from your local pet supply store, or from online retailers.
Where Should Your Bearded Dragon Live?
The simplest and easiest tank to use for your new lizard is glass aquarium. Otherwise, you can opt for melamine, vision or PVC cages. These last three options offer different advantages, depending on materials (wood or plastic) as well as lighting.
It might be tempting to go all out and buy a professional, vision cage. However, it might be wiser to stick with a glass tank and save your money for other expenses, like food, tank interiors, light bulbs, etc.
How Big Should My Tank Be?
The size of your tank depends on the size and age of your bearded dragon. Just remember that they need space because they like to run!
- Baby dragons can easily get by with a 20-gallon tank.
- Dragons that grow to be 10 to 16 inches should be alright in a 40-gallon tank.
- And if you have a 16 to 24-inch dragon, you’ll probably need a 50 to 75-gallon tank.
The interesting thing about bearded dragons is that the bigger the tank, the happier they are. And the happier they are, the more they’ll grow.
Now, that doesn’t mean that if you put your bearded dragon in a 100 gallon tank, it will grow to larger-than-life proportions. But it does mean that if your dragon is kept in a tank that’s too small, it will not grow to its full potential.
One last thing when it comes to tank size. You don’t have to purchase three different sizes to accompany your reptile’s developmental stages.
So, if you know that your bearded dragon species will grow to be 18 inches, you can purchase a 50 to 75-gallon tank, and let them happily roam free.
Why You’ll Love a Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are actually very interactive and social, not only with people, but with other bearded dragons, too.
For example, a bearded dragon can actually wave one of its legs to show that he’s aware of another bearded dragon. It’s like saying “Hello!”. They can also wave to fellow dragons as a way to be submissive.
Head bobbing is another popular behavior, and it usually signifies male dominance. Male bearded dragons bob their heads during mating, or to fend off a competitor, or to protect his territory.
They rarely show aggression to humans, and a little scratch is usually accidental on their parts.
Instead, they like to hang out on your shoulders and watch what you do. If you teach your children how to properly pet them and handle them, bearded dragons can be a very safe and enjoyable pet for your children to care for.
Why Children Love Bearded Dragons
These little lizards are a wonderful way for children to learn pet responsibility. Plus, bearded dragons enjoy getting picked up and petted. They’re also a great way for children to observe animal behaviors and to get curious about countless other reptiles throughout the animal kingdom, too.
If you’d like to introduce your family to a fascinating, friendly and easy-to-care-for pet, the bearded dragon could be a wonderful addition to your family.