Pogona Vitticeps Or Bearded Dragon Caresheet
Pogona vitticeps, and other Pogona species, or bearded dragons, are a fascinating reptile, which probably explains their increasing popularity.
Although I don’t have any myself, I certainly would keep them if I had the space. If you are considering getting yourself one or more of these little creatures, I suggest you start with some research on their requirements. Following are a few notes – more information can easily be found on the net.
Before purchasing your dragon, have your environment set up; it will be far less disruptive to the animal, than buying your cage at the same time as the dragon.
It’s best to get your dragon from a reputable breeder or pet shop, if you don’t know anyone who breeds them. When you visit the breeder or shop, take note of the cage condition, and the condition of the reptiles in the area – this can tell you a lot about the dealer. If the cages are dirty, with empty water bowls, rotting food, then personally, I would not deal with that business. There are many good breeders out there. Ask around, perhaps on Australian Herps elist, which can be found on Yahoo Groups.
When you are selecting your bearded dragon, remember they are a very active reptile, so don’t choose the listless one in the corner, no matter how sorry for it you feel. Select the bright, happy animal, with the interested expression!
Adult males have larger heads, and a larger beard, usually black. Colours can vary.
Your dragons may be a little nervous when you first take them home, but should settle well after a few days. Give them peace and quiet until they get used to their new environment. They’ll need to find where everything is, and where to go to hide, if they want to.
You should be aware that adult bearded dragons can give a nasty bite. If young children are to handle them, make sure it is under supervision.
If the species you have decided to keep occurs naturally in your area, then a large concreted pit will be ideal for them. The walls should be smooth and should extend at least 60 – 65 cm below ground level, as dragons like to dig. The walls should be high enough that the dragons cannot escape.
There should be shaded and sunny areas in the enclosure, which should, ideally, get at least 8 hours of sun each day. There needs to be an area which stays dry, so the dragons can take shelter. Water should be provided, and should be changed regularly. Dragons also like occasional misting.
Dragons can also be kept indoors, and a cage at least 100-110 cm long should be provided, larger would be better, especially for adult dragons. Adult bearded dragons may be up to 65 cm long.
Both indoor and outdoor enclosures should have rocks and branches to enable the dragon to climb and bask. A hiding place under a branch or rock would be appreciated also.
Sand is an ideal substrata for dragons. Put paper underneath if you prefer. The sand should be several cm deep, as dragons enjoy digging.
Heating should be provided for your dragon. If it is outside, a warm cave or shelter will be sufficient. It can be heated with heat pads, rocks or lamps. Dragons require heat to properly digest their food.
Cages inside should be kept at approximately 23-35C night time temperature, and the daytime temperature should be approximately 32C. UV light is required for dragons, ideally as a basking light.
Dragons are omnivores, and as such, will take a wide variety of foods. Adults may be fed about once a week and younger dragons two to three times a week. The size of the food should be no larger than the space between the dragon’s eye-sockets, as too large a portion can cause
impaction and may be fatal.
Bearded dragons should have their food supplemented with calcium and vitamin D powder. This can easily be added to minced meat or other such food, or sprinkled on their meals.
Some of the items dragons enjoy include : crickets, mealworms, grasshoppers, worms, snails, pet mince, clover, lettuce (this is best chopped) bananas, clover. Also try green beans, peas, carrots, corn and broccoli. There are sure to be many other items they will eat that I haven’t mentioned.
Dragons like to drink water which is running down their faces in preference to that in a bowl, so you will need to mist them quite often. They also like to run through shallow water. Approximately 2-3 cm deep should be sufficient.
Bearded dragons are egg layers, laying in the summer. Some may lay in late spring. Approximately 6 to 20 eggs may be laid, perhaps more. The hatching rate may be as high as 95 %. More than one clutch may be laid each year.
Hatchlings are about 7 cm long, and are independent as soon as they are hatched. They may be fed immediately. Make sure the portions are very small. The hatchlings should be kept separately to the adults, and like to have plenty of places to hide.
Feed them as much as they will eat in 10 minutes, 2 – 3 times per week. Make sure they have fresh water. Bearded dragons like to be misted, as they often drink the water running into their faces in preference to drinking from a bowl.
Hopefully, you’ve found this information to be useful. Enjoy your dragon!