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Beardie Bob's Bearded Dragon

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Australian central bearded dragons, or Pogona Vitticeps, make wonderful pets as they are naturally tame to humans and just very calm in general. There are however a few things that you should know about them before you decide to make one your new pet.



First you can NEVER house 2 males together once they start getting close to sexual maturity, at around 8 months old, since they will fight and your pets will be injured. Females can be housed together and they will establish a hierarchy within the dwelling. You must make sure that the less dominant female is getting enough food and basking time.



Second bearded dragons eat a lot for a reptile, one bearded dragon can easily consume over a hundred crickets a week. They also eat greens, and you have to be aware of what greens are acceptable for a bearded dragon. Some good staple greens are collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, squash, mango and turnip greens. NEVER feed your dragon avocato (toxic), rhubarb (toxic), iceberg lettuce, looseleaf lettuce or spinach as they are in no way good for your lizard or just plain toxic.



You must also have a suitable habitat for your lizard and that consists of 5 main parts:



1 - Enclosure - You need a minimum of a 40 gallon breeder tank for a single bearded dragon. For 2 or 3 dragons you should have a 4'x2' enclosure minimum. For the first 6 months a dragon will be fine in a 20 gallon breeder.



2 - Heat source - You need a good heat source since dragons need a surface temp of 110 - 115 degrees to digest their food. A 8.5" clamp lamp and a 100 - 150 watt spotlight will do well in most enclosures. A infrared temperature gauge is a good way to check for surface temps and can be found for about $15 at your local sears or hardware store.



3 - UVA/UVB light - Bearded dragons require UVB light in order to metabolize calcium. If they do not have this they can develop MBD, metabolic bone disease. I recommend the reptisun 10.0 UVB light. It is a little more expensive but the increased UVB that it outputs has made our dragons much happier and kept there appetites up. NOTE - it has been reported that the coil type UVB florescent lights can sereously harm your dragons and should probably not be used until they are further tested. You can get a florescent light fixture at any hardware store for about $15 (you need a T12 fixture for the reptisun 10.0), you can get tehm in 2', 3' or 4' though 2 and 4 are much more common and easier to get. a 2' fixture is enough UVB light for and enclosure. The reptisun 10.0 bulbs are about $20-30 online and should be replaced every 6 months.



4 - Basking area - you need to have a place for your dragons to soak up the UVB and a spot to soak in heat. The heat basking area should soak up the heat so concrete or stone work well. The UVB basking area can be anything but the reptile needs to be within 12" of the florescent fixture (20" if using reptisun 10.0). Something as simple as a brick or a landscaping stone will work well for a basking area. If you want to be a bit more creative you can make some very nice basking areas by following the instructions at http://www.beardeddragon.org/articles/falserock/



5 - Substrate - Newborn dragons should be raised on paper towel until they are at least 6 weeks old. After that you can chose, I myself have not had any problems with sand but some people stay away from it due to a small chance at impaction. I find that a semi-rough ceramic tile works very well and is esthetically pleasing. You can also use indoor outdoor carpet.



If you can supply your new pet all of this then you are ready to own a wonderful Australian bearded dragon!

Here are some links that might help you with creating a suitable environment for your bearded dragon:

Very nice enclosure plans

Double tank breeder habitat plans

Good prices here for light bulbs and other supplies

Good prices that include shipping on crickets and superworms

Beardie Bob's Bearded Dragons, Pittsburgh, PA, beardiebob@yahoo.com