With bearded dragons becoming more and more popular as pets, it is important to be aware of the correct equipment you will need; this includes aspects such as a tank, ventilation system, feeding equipment, and a UVB light, amongst other things.
Introduction to What Do I Need To Keep A Bearded Dragon?
The bearded dragon is a relatively straightforward animal to take care of, provided that you have the right equipment for the job. For this reason, anyone who is looking to begin caring for reptiles might begin with one of these lizards. However, whilst they are quite easy to look after, that doesn’t mean that they do not require special care and attention.
When you first adopt your bearded dragon, you will need to make sure that you have all of the correct equipment, doing this will ensure that your pet has everything she needs to thrive and you will be able to replicate her natural habitat as closely as possible.
In this article, we are going to give you a rundown of all the things you will need to take care of your new beardie, giving her a healthy, happy, and safe life in your home.
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Bearded Dragon Basics
When we think of pets that have a unique personality, our minds often wander to animals that are more commonly deemed to be intelligent. Not many people would associate a bearded dragon with this trait, but these reptiles are surprisingly smart and are known to come to recognize their owners. This means that you can develop quite a bond with your new pet and get to know the unique traits that make him who he is.
Beardies live for between ten and twelve years in captivity, but as with any animal, this can vary greatly depending on their health, the individual animal, and of course, how well they are cared for. They can grow quite large, in some cases reaching around 60cm, and this includes the tail, so it isn’t difficult to see that they would need a generous enclosure.
Their diet consists of insects, preferably live ones, vegetables, and fruits as a treat from time to time. But we will look at this in a little more detail later on.
What Do I Need To Keep A Bearded Dragon?
Getting started with your new pet will be quite an expensive venture, so it is worth keeping this in mind – many people, unfortunately, decide to take on a pet without properly understanding the cost of the investment and ongoing costs of care. To give your bearded dragon the best life, you must ensure that you are able to afford to keep him.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a list of items you will need to set up a comfortable and suitable home for your new friend.
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As we mentioned, bearded dragons eat insects and meat as the main part of their diet, but it is known that as they get older, they may develop a penchant for plant-based foods too, so it is worth keeping some of these in. This can include things such as leafy greens and fruit as a treat – too much fruit may not be good for your pet.
The staple foods that you should offer include live insects such as crickets, beetles, spiders, and worms; all of which can be found at most pet supply stores across the world. It is important to source these foods from a reputable supplier and not gather them from the wild as these might contain harmful bacteria that could cause health problems for your pet.
You can also offer your beardie things like chicken liver and heart; again, you can purchase these from the pet store, and they are an excellent source of protein and nutrition for the bearded dragon.
Of course, you should always ensure that your pet has access to an ample supply of clean, freshwater; this should be changed daily or more frequently if the animal uses all of it. However, since bearded dragons are reptiles and not amphibians, they are unable to breathe underwater, so you must be sure that the water bowl is shallow to prevent drowning.
You will, of course, need somewhere safe and secure for your bearded dragon to live. The best type of enclosure for this animal is a tank, and you must ensure that it is big enough that your pet is comfortable. Owing to the large size that these creatures can reach, a tank should be at least one meter in length; more if you have the space to accommodate this. Don’t forget that in the wild, these animals have unlimited space, so it is important to mimic this as best as you can.
You will need the following items for the most basic and essential setup:
- UVB lamp
- Ventilated lid
- A rock for basking
- Somewhere for the lizard to hide
- Heat lamp
- Food and water bowls
The tank must be lined with a base of either soil, sand, or recycled paper; if you prefer you can use a mixture of any of these, as long as you ensure that the substrate is no shallower than four inches; a depth of six inches is ideal. You will also need to make sure that you place a variety of branches as this will give your bearded dragon somewhere to climb. A large rock will also make a great place for him when he is basking.
It is also essential that you provide your beardie with somewhere to hideaway. You can create one of these yourself using rocks and other items, or you can purchase one from your local pet store.
Perhaps the most important aspect of setting up your bearded dragon’s enclosure is maintaining the light and heat that he will need to thrive. You can place the tank in direct sunlight; however, it is important to also install a UVB light, regardless of the location of the tank. You will need to ensure that the temperature of the tank provides the animal with one cool end and one warm end. The warm end should be between 35º and 40º, whereas the cooler end of the tank should be around 28º.
Depending on where you are in the world you may need to apply for a license in order to legally house a bearded dragon; this might feel like an added inconvenience, but it will prevent you from receiving a penalty and potentially having your pet taken away.
In their native country of Australia, bearded dragons can only be kept as pets if owners apply for the proper license. The rules and regulations are slightly different depending on what state you live in, so you should check your local government’s website for further information.
Similarly, in the USA, anyone wanting to keep a bearded dragon as a pet will need to apply for a license. You will only be eligible to apply if you are 16 years or older. Children younger than this would need their parents to apply and care for the dragon on their behalf.
In the United Kingdom, no license is needed for keeping reptiles or any other type of animal unless they are an endangered species.
One of the most important aspects of keeping any animal is that you must ensure that they are always healthy. Bearded dragons tend to fall victim to parasites, so it is important to keep on top of preventative treatments and get any problems tended to right away. Furthermore, they are known to develop skin conditions which may not sound terrible, but if they are not treated, these could prove to be fatal.
Take your pet for regular check-ups and ensure that you feed her a balanced and healthy diet; these are both excellent ways to stay on top of her health needs. You should also be sure to keep an eye on her appetite and report and issues to your vet.
When your bearded dragon is growing, it is a good idea to weigh them weekly to ensure that they are putting on the correct amount of weight and developing as they should be. Obesity is not uncommon in these animals, and another great way to prevent this is frequent exercise.
You can let your pet out of the enclosure so that they can exercise around the home. Not only is this good for their health but handling them and interacting with them outside of the tank is an excellent way to promote a healthy bond between owner and pet; time is one of the most critical things you will need to keep a bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons are one of the more simple reptiles to keep, and they do not require any sort of specific or unique care. That isn’t to say, however, that you can simply adopt one and let it be. There are several important pieces of equipment and food items that you will need to successfully keep one of these animals.
However, since these are intelligent creatures that can easily develop a tight bond with their owners, having enough time to dedicate to their care is one of the most important considerations.