The Bearded Dragon is fast becoming popular amongst pet owners because of their friendly and affectionate nature. They are also referred to as “Beardy” or “Beardie”. Due to their size and temperament, Bearded Dragons are incredibly easy to care for. All they need is a healthy diet, basking areas, fresh water, sunlight, and clean vivarium. Their gentle and docile disposition paired with their manageable size makes them a great pet.
Where do bearded dragons come from?
The Bearded Dragon is also known as Pogona, which originated from Australia. They are commonly found in balmy and dry places such as savannahs, deserts, scrublands, and subtropical woodlands. Various types of Bearded Dragons include the Pogona Barbata, Pogona Minor Minima, Pogona Vitticeps, and Pogona Minor Minima.
Amongst all the Bearded Dragon varieties, the Pogona Vitticeps is the most popular breed that is kept as a pet. The Bearded Dragon was believed to have spread outside Australia due to Pogona trading in the past, but in the 1960s, exporting Pogonas was banned in the country. The Bearded Dragons we see now are believed to be the descendants of Australia’s Pogonas.
Are you interested in keeping a Bearded Dragon as your pet? Find your perfect match in our For Sale and Rehoming page.
Bearded Dragon Appearance
What does a Bearded Dragon look like?
The Bearded Dragon got its name from his habit of expanding his throat when threatened or being territorial. These exotic reptiles have a wedge-shaped head with rows of spikes.
Beneath the head are rows of spiky scales that resemble a beard when all puffed up. The Beardies’ scales can change colours from tan to orange.
Their flat bodies are well-muscled and supported by four stout legs. Their tails are usually half the length of their bodies. Adult Pogonas weigh 0.3 to 0.5 kg and grow approximately 46 cm to 56 cm.
To know a Pogona’s gender, you need to wait until they mature. It takes approximately 15 to 18 months for a Bearded Dragon to reach adulthood. When they are fully-grown, it is easy to tell if they are male or female.
In general, male Pogonas possess bigger, wider heads and darker, larger beards than females. They have longer bodies too. Meanwhile, female Pogonas have slimmer physiques and thinner tails compared to males.
How big do bearded dragons get?
The average length of a fully matured Bearded Dragon is between 46 cm and 56 cm. They can weigh up to 0.5 kg. Male Beardy tend to be larger than their female counterparts.
The size of their environment or enclosure contributes to their growth. So, if they are kept inside a small tank, they may not reach the standard size for the breed when fully grown.
Do Bearded Dragons shed?
Bearded Dragons do shed their skin. It often comes off in large pieces and the frequency of the shedding may vary. However, younger Pogonas are observed to shed more often than adult Bearded Dragons. One of the most recognisable signs that a Pogona is about to shed is when their old skin turns dry.
The old skin will peel off on its own after a day or two. Thus, never attempt to remove it since it can damage the new skin underneath. If there are a few old skins still stuck on your beardy’s body, bathe him in shallow, lukewarm water for about 5 minutes to soften it. Make sure that he is in an environment that has proper hydration and humidity to prevent poor shedding which can lead to infections.
What is the appropriate cage size for a bearded dragon?
The Bearded Dragon is composed of eight main species and they have grown in different sizes. Below is the list of these breeds with their expected height when they mature:
- Pogona Microlepidota – 3 to 15 cm
- Pogona Henrylawsoni – 30 cm
- Pogona Minor Minima – 30 cm
- Pogona Nullabor – 36 cm
- Pogona Minor – 36 to 46 cm
- Pogona Minor Mitchelli – 46 cm
- Pogona Vitticeps – 61 cm
- Pogona Barbata – 61 cm
The minimum cage size for a single Bearded Dragon is a 55 or 75-gallon tank. Pogonas that may grow over 61 cm require a bigger tank which has a capacity of 75 to 120 gallons. However, providing a bigger home for your Bearded Dragon is always better as it gives him more space to explore.
Bearded Dragon Care
How to look after a Bearded Dragon?
Remember that the natural habitat of the Bearded Dragon is warm and humid. Thus, you need to replicate that temperature in his tank. A ceramic heater, incandescent, or mercury vapour bulb placed in a dome reflector hood can be used to provide heat. Trial and error may be required to get the appropriate tank temperature.
There should be a temperature gradient and a basking spot for your Pogona. The gradient’s cool side should increase from 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, it should gradually go up to a basking temperature of approximately 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
When it’s night time, adjust the temperature to about 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity level of the tank should be around 35 to 40 per cent. Use a hydrometer to monitor the enclosure’s humidity
Your Bearded Dragon’s tank requires a substrate. It is a material that you place in the enclosure to preserve the humidity in the environment. The substrate also adds a natural feel to the tank.
If you have a juvenile Pogona, avoid using loose substrates like sand as he may accidentally eat it. Opt for reptile carpet or paper towels instead.
The recommended substrate for full-grown Bearded Dragons are reptile carpet, washed play sand, and paper towels. Stay away from walnut shells, wood shaving, and corn cob as they are harmful to your Pogona if ingested. You may also use sand since it gives the beardy the chance to dig and burrow.
Provide UV lighting to your Bearded Dragon. You can find pet stores that sell special florescent bulbs with UV light. Ensure that your Pogona can get 12 inches to these lights to catch the diffused UV. The glass filters of the tank may screen the UV light rendering it useless, so it’s best to direct the light through the screen top instead of the glass.
Bearded Dragon Temperament
Are Bearded Dragons good pets?
The Bearded Dragon is a mild-natured animal that can quickly share a strong bond with his owner. Generally, he doesn’t attack even when threatened. The beardy just freezes, puffs his throat, and sometimes changes his colours.
Although he is a friendly pet, he can be antsy and timid in his new home. Do not hold him during his first few weeks with you. Allow him to explore his tank and adjust to his surroundings.
Even though you need to refrain from touching your Bearded Dragon, you can start making your presence known. Visit him every day and talk to him in a soothing voice. Once he gets used to you, he will feel safe and comfortable when you are around. When he is used to your presence, you can try touching him.
Some Pogonas may hiss and puff their throats at first but it is a normal reaction. Do not force him into your arms straight away; instead, talk to him calmly and offer him food.
You may need to do this again and again for a few days until your beardy allows you to hold him. But don’t feel discouraged; as long as you do the process consistently, it will yield a successful result. When he does not shy away from your touch, you can now proceed to hold him.
Never pick up a Bearded Dragon from above. Instead, place your hand on his chest and slide it down so that your hand is under his tummy. Then, you can gently lift him. For those who have bigger Pogonas, you may need to use both hands to hold them securely.
What do Bearded Dragons eat?
Your Bearded Dragon’s diet should be composed of insects and vegetables. Young Pogonas need 65 per cent live food and 35 per cent greens.
Baby Pogonas need to eat at least twice a day with chopped veggies. Juveniles and adults only need to feed once a day. Large older Pogonas need 40 per cent live food and 60 per cent greens.
When feeding them with insects, make sure that they are not too big as these can be choking hazards, especially for baby Bearded dragons. Butterworms, earthworms, newly moulted mealworms, red worms, silkworms, super worms, and wax worms are common food for Bearded Dragons. It is also a good option to feed full-grown Bearded Dragons with Pinkie Mice once in a while.
Before feeding the insects to your Pogona, they should be gut loaded. It means you need to let them eat a healthy meal before serving them to your pet. This allows the nutrients from the insects to transfer to your Bearded Dragon.
Consider placing small amounts of calcium and Vitamin D supplements in his food. It prevents metabolic bone disease. Be sure to do it no more than once a week.
Vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens should be chopped and combined to create a salad. For smaller Bearded Dragons, it is important to chop everything finely to avoid the risk of choking. Be sure to remove seeds and pits as well. Below is a list of vegetables and fruits that is safe for Bearded Dragons to eat:
- Butternut squash
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
How long do Bearded Dragons Live?
Whilst wild Bearded Dragons only live 5 to 8 years, pet Bearded Dragons have an average lifespan of approximately 8 to 12 years when properly taken care of. Making sure he has a proper tank, a happy and safe home environment, and a healthy and well-balanced meal will help prolong his life. Some Bearded Dragons can even live up to 18 years.
Health problems may also affect the longevity of Pogonas. There are several diseases that a Bearded Dragon is at risk of developing or contracting. Listed underneath are the common health issues found in Bearded Dragons:
- Egg Binding
- Fungal Infections
- Metabolic bone disease
- Respiratory infections
- Skin diseases
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Beta-Carotene deficiencies
- Calcium & Vitamin D3 deficiencies
To know if your Bearded Dragon is sick, observe his behaviour. The early signs of health problems include lethargy, lack of appetite, and frequently lying flat in his enclosure. Bring him immediately to the vet if he is showing any of these symptoms.
Cost of Ownership
How much is a bearded dragon?
Getting a healthy Bearded Dragon will cost you anywhere from £40 to £70. Young Bearded Dragons cost less which is about £20.
Expenses for Setting up his tank including thermostat, UV light, and heat lamp are approximately £350 to £400. Food costs are estimated at more than £300 yearly. Getting your pet insured will add about £4 to £12 to your monthly bills.
Bearded Dragon Fun Facts
The Bearded Dragon cannot regenerate new limbs, unlike other lizards. If he loses his tail or legs, they will not regenerate.
In 2005, a research conducted by Australia’s Melbourne University found out that Bearded Dragons have venom. However, it poses no danger to humans and most animals. The researchers speculated that the venom was used by the animal’s ancestors to hunt prey.
The Bearded Dragon is capable of changing colours but it is not as conspicuous as other lizards like the chameleon.
Do you want a Beardy as your family pet? Visit our Bearded Dragon For Sale page to find the right one for you.