Are you are looking for a pet lizard to welcome into your home which is commonly docile and gentle?

Then look no further, a bearded dragon is the one for you!

These friendly and relaxed creatures have been known to be good pets amongst family households, even if they consist of children as they are usually quite tolerant to being handled.

In this blog, we discuss how to correctly care for your bearded dragon as well as a little insight into the history and characteristics of them.

In this blog

History of the Bearded Dragon

Found in the sandy desert of South-eastern Australia, these agamid lizards have assimilated well to being household pets. They are usually very active during the day and rest through the night. But if it gets too hot for them, you will often find them burrowing underground to keep cool.

The bearded dragon gets their name from the excess bit of skin under their chin as this can be puffed up and show lots of little spikes, which can resemble thorns, if they feel threatened by a predator as this can scare them away.

In the 1990’s, bearded dragons were introduced to the US. Since then, the popularity of this lizard has rocketed, and they can be easily purchased.

Breed Overview

Average size

15-20 inches

Weight

230-529 grams

Life expectancy

7-12 years

Friendly

Yes

Temperament and Behaviour

Bearded dragons are known to be quite placid and friendly towards their owners and throughout their time together with you, they will become more and more relaxed and may even perch on your shoulder or sprawl out on your chest.

Although they can be tame and enjoy being handled, they will show threatening behaviour if they feel as though they need too. It is very rare to see this sort of behaviour in captivity, but it can still be shown if it comes down to it.

If you ever see this behavioural trait, you may think there is a dinosaur in your enclosure which has eaten your beardie! But no need to worry, it’s just your lizard showing you that they feel threatened.

If you are ever wondering how your bearded dragon is feeling, you can usually tell by the behaviour they are showing. From submission, to dominance, they show behavioural traits through their whole emotional spectrum, so it is best to learn these signs to keep your beardie as happy and healthy as possible.

The Head Bob

You will see your bearded dragon head bobbing in a sign of dominance or when feeling threatened. If they are nodding up and down slowly, this is a sign of asserting dominance. Whereas, if they are nodding in quick succession, this is more threatening and makes themselves look bigger to any threat they believe is around them.

They usually show these signs to other beardies in a form of territorial reasons or being submissive. This is usually performed by males.

Arm Waving

It may seem odd that your dragon can wave, but it is true. This behaviour is usually seen from the younger generation signalling that they are just a baby and not to hurt them. They will do this by standing on three legs and waving their remaining arm in the air in a circular motion.

It is common for them to do it when you’re approaching if they feel threatened, but it is usually seen when they are in proximity to an older beardie in which they don’t know very well yet.

Beard Puffing

The reason bearded dragons are named as they are because of the area where males would have a beard. This can be puffed up and display tiny thorn-like spines underneath, whilst turning black on demand.

If your beardie is showing this behaviour, they are likely to feel pressured, upset, sick, or be trying to show dominance and manliness to their lady friends during mating season!

Glass Surfing

Whilst this may look amusing and comical to watch, this is out of character for your beardie and signals that something is wrong.

Often if they are glass surfing, they will be seen running up and down their glass tank and continuously try to escape by attempting to run up the side of their tank.

This can mean a number of things. It may be that they need a larger enclosure and more time outside, they’ve recently lost their companion, or that something is causing them to be upset or stressed. Usually, a cat sat watching them can do this.

If this continues for any period of time, it can lead to health problems and injuries due to constantly rubbing om the glass

Colour Change

During the course of their life, they are known for their colour to slightly change as they get older. But, if you notice a sudden change in colour, even if it was temporary, this can mean that they are sick, stressed or upset.

This sign should not be ignored and if you are unable to get to the bottom of the root cause, a veterinary trip may be necessary.

Their Home

If you are housing a single bearded dragon, their enclosure should be minimum of 122cm (L) 61cm(H) 61cm (W). For a juvenile, their tank should be 38 inches (L) 18 inches (H) 18 inches (W).

Within their home, they need to have access to heat thanks to their adaptation to the Australian weather. You can source heat from a heat lamp or bulbs if necessary.

You want your vivarium to be around 37C at the warmest end and 26C at the coolest end. Whilst the temperature at night is best at 21C.

Due to their natural habitat being cooler overnight, by creating the same effect in their home, this will help them rest and kick start them in the morning when the heat starts to rise again. Do not let your tank get too cold overnight, however. If your house gets below 10C, your tank will need heat.

Lights for their Home

This light will help mimic the natural rays and UV rays from the sun.  It is very important that they still receive these rays as it helps produce Vitamin D3 which allows for calcium to be absorbed throughout the body.

When you are placing your lamps, they need to be 12 inches from the floor for the UV rays but not too powerful either.

Another light you will need to consider purchasing is a heat lamp. Either a ceramic heat lamp or a mercury vapor bulb. However, there are other heat sources on the market, be aware of what you are purchasing and be sure it is suitable for bearded dragons.

Diet

Their diet should replicate what they would normally eat in the wild. This was mainly meat such as insects. Vegetation is only a small part of their daily diet.

This diet needs to include meat and should also include vegetables and fruit. Meat can include things like crickets, silkworms, cockroaches, and earthworms. These can be fed live.

When it comes to fruit, you should avoid anything too citrussy and only feed fruit on rare occasions. Citrus can upset their stomach and fruit which has too much sugar in it which can lead to obesity. On top of this, they like chomping on a watermelon, kiwi, grapes, and strawberries.

How about feeding something you don’t have to pay for?

They love dandelion cuttings or dead nettles as a snack, but make sure it all comes together to form a balanced diet with all of the nutritional values they need.When you are feeding insects, or any food for that matter, to your lizard you can follow the rule of feeding nothing bigger than the space between their eyes as oftentimes they will struggle to chew and eat it.

Always provide them with easily accessible, fresh clean water.

Health Problems

Providing these reptiles are correctly cared for, fed properly, and loved, they are generally resilient pets to own. But there are some health conditions you may want to take into consideration.

Respiratory Infections

This can be usually seen in bearded dragons that are incorrectly looked after and kept in cold, dark, and stressful conditions. Symptoms of this may include discharge, sneezing a lot, sharp and shallow breaths, and a decreased appetite.

Metabolic Bone Disease

This is probably the most commonly seen health problem within bearded dragons. Whilst it is more than often seen in lizards under the age of 2, it can still be seen in any age.

The reason for this disease is improper diet as they are too high in phosphorus, and low in vitamin D3 or calcium. This can either be from an incorrect feeding plan or a lack of UV rays.

The symptoms to look out for can include swelling in the lower jaw area, legs becoming swollen, and they become so weak, they struggle to stand and walk. As the condition progresses, they can develop seizures, become lethargic, and lose appetite. This is serious and should be addressed straight away if you suspect anything.

Bearded dragons can be great pets for anybody out there. From first time lizard owners to expert reptile carers. They are easy, fun, and tame. What’s more to ask for?

As long as you give your beardie the appropriate care and attention they require, you will be a responsible dragon owner!