General > The Care of Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps...
The Care of Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps) Other species that require similar care; Crevice lizards, Star Agamas, Desert Iguanas, Atlas/Rankins Dragons
By Kevin Stevens, Coast to Coast Exotics, Darlington
This care sheet is designed and used at Coast to Coast Exotics at the time of purchase. It may be copied and re-used as long as it is credited to Coast to Coast Exotics.
The Care of Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps)
Other species that require similar care; Crevice lizards, Star Agamas, Desert Iguanas, Atlas/Rankins Dragons
Bearded Dragons are not particularly arboreal, this means they do not require a tall vivarium. We suggest a 36" wide and 24" tall vivarium for hatchling and juveniles and a minimum of 48" wide and 24" tall vivarium for adults. It is of course possible to get the larger vivarium to begin with and partition it down the smaller size. Do not be tempted to use the larger size for juveniles, this will certainly lead to stress and lack of eating. Many of the smaller species listed above will be fine in an adult vivarium of 36” long.
Use a ceramic heater fastened to the roof of the vivarium. Remember to mount it at one end to create a "hot end" and a cooler end. Ceramic heaters must be wired with heat resistant cable, fitted with all the correct reflectors and holders and the output controlled by a thermostat. The Lucky Reptile holder is pre-wired. The choice of thermostat is down to the customer, but we at least recommend a Habistat Pulse Proportional stat. As this species needs a drop at night a Pulse Proportional with a night time drop is a good idea. Daytime basking temperatures should be 32°C under the ceramic dropping to around 22°C at night. Some authors suggest much higher temperatures, but we have found this makes the Beardies uncomfortable.
Lighting is vitally important. The most important aspect is to provide 5% UVB. Not all reptile tubes are designed to give off this amount of UVB. We recommend Zoo-med's Reptisun 5.0. or Exo-terra Repti Glo 5.0. This tube should be fastened to the vivarium so the dragons are no further than six inches away from it for the majority of the day. Do not mount it in the roof of the vivarium - this is far to far away! Recent research suggests that a higher power tube further away from the animal may do the same job. This tube must be replaced every six to nine months, even if still glowing - after this time it stops giving off the correct levels of UVB. Without UVB a disease known as Metabolic Bone Disease is common. A full spectrum lighting tube can also be provided, we recommend Reptisun 2.0. This can be mounted to the roof and is designed to give off similar colours to the sun. Although not as important as UVB it can help the dragons feel happier and thus they may feed better. Plus the dull glow given off by the UVB may make the vivarium too dimly lit for your own taste. Leave the lights on for around 12 hours in the day
Use beech chip as floor covering, this is a very drying substrate which suits desert species well. All floor coverings have their down sides, beech chip can be accidentally eaten and can cause blockages, but this is not a common problem. Provide lots of hides maybe one or two branches and a small water bowl to allow drinking. Some individuals will not drink from a bowl, especially as babies. Give them a light spraying with tepid water once a day.
As babies feed twice daily, adults are fine just once a day. A varied mixture of Quiet crickets, Black crickets,
waxworms, locust hoppers and the occasional mealworm (appropriate to their size – don’t use food items bigger than the distance between the Beardies eyes) are ideal. Aim to use crickets for the bulk of the diet, with mealworms, waxworms and locust hoppers as treat foods maybe three times a week. We do not encourage the use of mealworms though - once they are large enough to eat Giant mealworms these are a much better source of food. Some will take a mixture of salads, vegetables and - fruits. Foodstuffs should be dusted with a 50/50 mixture of Calypso Cricket dust and Nutrobal Multi-vitamin powders. We recommend dusting every meal for youngsters, except for when feeding at weekends, feed but do not powder for these two days. As adults use these powders around four times a week. Do not forget to gut load your live food also. A special food called bug grub and a special water substitute (called water bites) should be fed to the insects. Once inside the insect and this is eaten the goodness is passed to the dragon. Also looking after and feeding the insects means less insect mortality and thus you save money!
Daily spot clean the vivarium removing all faecal matter and any shed skin., always use a reptile disinfectant. Change water daily. Complete a full strip down every four weeks replacing all substrates and thoroughly cleaning all the vivarium and bowls etc. There is a small risk of catching salmonella from lizards (as with all animals), so ensure vivarium and your own personal hygiene is good. Always wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap after handling.
Finally and very importantly is a mention about over handling. If you do this, especially to a baby it may cause him to become so stressed out that he may refuse to eat. Give him time to settle in and establish himself and then slowly introduce yourself to him. This may be as long as three months after your purchase. Beardies are a naturally tame species and should not require lots of handling to quiet them down. Remember dragons are long lived, so do not rush into it and you will enjoy him longer!
This care sheet is designed to help you with the future care of your new reptilian purchase. Reptiles can be very difficult to maintain if not provided for correctly. If you follow the advice given by your Coast to Coast consultant you and your dragon should have plenty of happy years together. Even though we take great care in educating all purchasers, there is no substitute for further reading. If you are unsure about any aspect please speak up - we do not mind!
It is vitally important that you have considered the following points;
1. Some species can be long lived, around 20 years – please ask for further details should this worry you.
2. You will need to keep crickets, and they often escape and end up roaming the house!
3. It is unfair not to appreciate other family members fears of reptiles – do not purchase if there is a risk of having to return it to us due to someone’s phobia.
4. They are escape artists - there are no easy solutions to finding an escaped lizard - don't lose them in the first place!
5. All animals can bite. Although they can bite hard, it should be no more severe then a hamster.
6. Bearded Dragons can grow to around 18 inches long, most other similar species are smaller – ask for further details on ultimate size should this concern you.
7. We can help with boarding should you wish to go on holiday. We can help with reptiles ill health.
About Coast to Coast. the advice you have been given and our legal obligations
Coast to Coast is owned and staffed by herpetologists and hobbyists like yourself. Although the staff have varying degrees of experience they are all trained to the same standards. The advice you have been given is based upon years of hands on experience, both with captive animals and in the field. All advice given is of our opinion and is given in good faith. We cannot accept liability for any damages, however they may have been caused. Likewise we cannot pass comment on other advice you may have been given by other animal dealers, other than we agree or disagree that it is correct.
We guarantee all animals purchased are healthy and feeding (all snakes come complete with feeding records) unless noted at the time of sale. As we cannot be held responsible for their husbandry requirements once they have left us, we only continue this guarantee for 24 hours after purchase. This is in line with all other exotic animal dealers. To deter impulse buying we will not give full refunds I exchanges for animals returned for non-health related problems, We reserve the right to charge up to 50% of the purchase price as a handling fee. Please note; this does not mean we will leave you high and dry! We will do our best to help whatever the circumstances. May we also remind you that legal ownership belongs to Coast to Coast Exotics until payment is made in full.
Due to licensing laws we are obliged to make a record of your name and address. We may also contact you from time to time with news and special offers. Please tick this box if you do not wish this to happen . We may also share this information with third parties that may also contact you – please tick this box should you not want this to happen :
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I understand that any purchase of animals made at Coast to Coast is with the full understanding of the above and that I have been fully informed of the correct husbandry requirements for the species chosen. I have been given a copy of this care sheet.
Coast to Coast Exotics, 124 North Road, Darlington, County Durham, DL1 2EJ. Tel 01325 283756 Fax 01325 255060.
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