Bearded Dragons
Common Name: Bearded Dragon
Latin name: Pogona vitticeps
Locality: South, Central Australia
Size: Hatchling bearded dragons are about 3-4 inches in length. Adult bearded dragons reach a size of 14-24 inches, about half of which is tail.
Life span: Approximately 10 - 15 years

Introduction
Bearded dragons are quickly becoming one of the most popular pet lizards. They reach a moderate size and are very mellow, enjoying interaction with people. They are hearty animals that are relatively simple to care for, and are active during the day. Their gestures, such as head tilting, arm waving and head bobbing, make them entertaining to watch.

Housing
Bearded dragons need plenty of room to move around. They enjoy climbing and running. Hatchling bearded dragons can live comfortably in a 10 gallon tank. Juveniles should be kept in a 25-30 gallon tank, and adults should have a 55-80 gallon tank. The cage should have perches at different heights, because bearded dragons like to climb and bask.
Bearded dragons are desert animals and, as such, they require warm, dry temperatures. They need to have a warm end around 80-85 degrees with a basking spot that reaches 90-95 degrees. This can be attained through the use of an under tank heater and an incandescent basking light both on the warm end of the cage. The cooler end of the cage should be around 75 degrees with no source of heat on the cool end. At night, the tank can be allowed to fall to room temperature, as low as 60 degrees.
Bearded dragons require full spectrum lighting. You can buy the special reptile bulbs, but make sure that you read the package. Most full spectrum lights are only effective up to 12 inches from the bulb and must not be filtered by glass or screen as these materials filter out the helpful UV rays. You can also take your bearded dragon out to sit in the sun. They will enjoy that, but make sure you keep a close eye on them.
For substrate, we recommend paper towel for young bearded dragons. We keep juveniles and adults on play sand. Rabbit pellets (alfalfa pellets) are also acceptable as substrate, but they are prone to mold when they become moist and must be changed regularly. We recommend you not use crushed walnut shells. They are also prone to mold, and they have rough edges that can actually cut the digestive tract on the way through.
Cage cleaning is important to the health of your bearded dragon. You should spot clean the cage daily and change the entire cage at least every 2 weeks, sooner if needed.

Feeding
Bearded dragons are rarely picky eaters if they have the proper heat and enclosure. They are omnivores, eating both insects and vegetables. The primary diet of a hatchling bearded dragon will be crickets. You must be careful to ensure that you offer your bearded dragon the proper size crickets. A good judge of food size is that you should not offer your pet anything larger than the distance between their eyes. Hatchling bearded dragons should be fed 1/4" crickets, and as they grow you can increase the size crickets offered accordingly. If the beardie eats a food item that is too large, it can cause paralysis and often death, so if you are not sure, it's better to feed them something too small than too big. They should also be offered some greens, torn into small pieces (we recommend red leaf lettuce). As the animal grows, they will begin to eat more vegetables and fewer crickets. You can also offer them superworms or wax worms or silk worms for variety, but the primary diet should be crickets. Also, be careful to NOT allow your bearded dragon to eat lightning bugs, as this will kill them very quickly.
Crickets should be dusted with calcium powder before being fed to your bearded dragon. You should use a calcium powder with low or no phosphorous. This should be done 3 times each week, or every other day. You should also mist your bearded dragon with water daily, as they often will not drink from a water dish.

Common Problems
The most common problem with bearded dragons is paralysis of the back legs. This happens when the beardie eats something that is too big. It gets stuck in the animal's throat and causes paralysis. Although it is difficult to bring a bearded dragon back from this condition, we recommend putting the bearded dragon in a container with warm shallow water, making sure to not let it drown. As it moves around, slowly increase the water level until the bearded dragon is swimming. Often the movement of swimming clears the obstruction. However, the best cure for this situation is to avoid it by being careful to feed it the appropriate sized food.

Handling
Bearded dragons are very social animals and take well to handling. When picking up your bearded dragon, be sure to use both hands and support the animal's body and all four legs. They will often be a little quick when you first pick them up, so be prepared to catch them. However, once they become comfortable in your hand, they will often sit and enjoy your warmth. They will enjoy climbing on your shoulder and sitting, but make sure to always have a hand ready in case they fall or jump. With the proper care and nutrition, your bearded dragon will be a pet that the whole family can enjoy for many years.
More Bearded Dragon Pictures