The bearded dragon is an impressive reptile, the living representation of historical myths and medieval legends. Although it does not vote fire, its mere presence takes us to what could have been the majestic dragons of ancient times.
What is a bearded dragon?
The bearded dragons reptiles of the agamid family. This beautiful reptile originates from the semi-desert and desert regions of Australia. It is named for the pointy scales below the neck. Its scientific name is Pogona vitticeps.
They are medium-sized lizards and can measure up to 24 inches long. The pogonas, in the case of adult males can reach one pound in weight, with females of the same age being smaller. Their long and robust tails make up a large part of this length. The legs have not retractable claws
Physically they are characterized by having a lizard-like appearance. They have earthy skin colors such as brown, sand or gray, although they can also be green, reddish or orange. This color will be slightly different depending on the place of origin of each subspecies. In addition, it will also vary when regulating its body temperature, as well as to show its mood. Its belly is rather cream-colored.
They have a triangular head that is surrounded by sharp scales, especially under the throat. When this reptile feels threatened, it has the peculiarity of opening its mouth wide by unfolding its beard of thorns. Also, it will turn black, to frighten its adversary. It also has two rows of scales along its back along with two rows of spots that serve to camouflage with the stones and go unnoticed by possible predators.
The bearded dragon life span, how long is it?
The life span of a bearded dragon varies according to race and the living conditions of each one, generally lasting from 10 to 15 years in captivity. In their natural habitat, this time can be reduced by predators or by the conditions of an adverse environment, as well as by diseases acquired in their environment.
Types of Bearded Dragons
There are 8 different species within the genus Pogona (the genus of the bearded dragon).
Classification of bearded dragons by color.
Bearded dragons or pogons can also be distinguished in phases according to their coloring. These are the most common:
As in many other species in nature, the males are more striking than the females, since their color is one of the factors that make them choose “the best match” during mating season.
The pet bearded dragon, is it good?
They are very curious animals, nice and very docile. They can hold on without problems and move from one side to the other, although in some cases if they feel threatened, they can swell their throats.
With respect to character and temperament, although this lizard sometimes has a terrifying appearance, it adapts perfectly to life in captivity. This reptile will be a very good choice as a pet, especially for beginners’ terrarium lovers. It quickly becomes accustomed to human presence and is not frightened at all by the cuddles and sudden gestures of children.
Since this reptile is diurnal, we can observe it during the day. With strong and powerful claws, the bearded dragon turns out to be an unusual climber and will spend much of its time clinging to the branches. However, depending on the temperature of its habitat, this animal will also hide in the rocks and on the ground, so don’t forget to put some stones in its terrarium.
When there are other pets at homes such as dogs and cats, it is necessary to pay attention to barking and meowing; dogs and cats can be considered predators by beards. Nothing simpler than to observe your bearded dragon well when it is in the presence of these animals if the lizard leaves its mouth open while the scalp beard is inflated, this is a sign that it is being placed in a defensive posture. To avoid stress, immediately remove it from the cat or dog.
They are diurnal animals. In their natural habitats, they molt as they grow, and then once a year as an adult. Their fat reserves are in their tails. They are capable of emitting soft whistles when they are really annoyed. They hear only low frequencies but have very good eyesight.
Male or female, how do you know?
How do I know if my pogona is male or female? If you’ve come here it’s because you’ve asked yourself that very question. The first thing we have to take into account is that physically they are not very different, especially if they are baby bearded dragons. If we look at their temperament, females are usually calmer than males, although this is not an exact rule. To easily sex bearded dragons should be about one year old or more.
The easiest way to find out the sex of a bearded dragon is to look at whether they have two hemipenal sacs or not. But we can only see that more easily when they are over a year old. First of all, although it is not mandatory, the best thing to do before sexing your pogon would be to give it a bath. In this way we remove any traces of shedding that might make sexing difficult.
After bathing your bearded dragon, we will proceed to know its sex. To do this you have to lift its tail and bring it close to its back (be careful not to hurt it by turning it too much!). To avoid hurting her, avoid turning the tail more than 90º.
With the dragon in this position, you have to look at the part of the tail closest to the sewer. If you find two bumps on either side of the tail, it is a male. Those two lumps are the hemipenis.
If you don’t find two lumps, it’s most likely a female. Females have only one lump in the middle of their tail and much closer to the sewer than in males. It is possible that when you sex your pogona you think it is a female because you don’t find the two hemipenis, but it is possible that it is a very young pogona (one-year-old or less). That’s why I recommend waiting until they grow up to sex them safely.
Another way to tell if it’s a male is for us to see the femoral pores clearly. Femoral pores are pores that are found on the hind legs and near the sewer. They can be seen from one knee to the other, one after the other. If they are not seen, it could indicate that it is a female.
Setting a bearded dragon habitat, what is there to know?
Bearded dragons are strong and easy to maintain animals. But just like other types of reptiles, they need specific conditions to live and develop in optimal conditions
We will now cover all the characteristics that a bearded dragon terrarium should have, where they can thrive in a healthy and safe way.
Bearded dragons are semi-arboreal terrestrial reptiles, the reason why they are good climbers and spend a good part of their time on branches or bushes. Although these are animals of diurnal habits, like most animals whose habitat is the desert, spend the hours of greater solar exposure hidden in caves underground.
Bearded dragon terrarium
The terrarium of our Bearded Dragon should be as large as we can afford, they will reach in adult size about 17 inches and at one year old they are over 12 inches.
For this reason, we should think about how many specimens we are going to have and whether or not we are going to keep them in the same terrarium at all times or whether we are going to move from a smaller to a larger one as they grow.
Bearded dragons are solitary, territorial animals. If you are going to have more than one specimen, it is essential that they are of different sexes and live together from the beginning. Two males will fight each other to see who owns the cage. Who will eat first, who will drink first, who will climb to the top of the branch… they will not kill each other, but they will hurt each other quite a lot.
Berdies inside their tank
If we are going to acquire young bearded dragons we will not put too many specimens together to avoid fights and that they all eat well and grow at the same time, if there are too many they will stick together and some will not eat as well as others, therefore they will get weak.
Adult bearded dragons inside the terrarium
We must bear in mind that once adults these dragons are quite territorial, so the males should never live together.
One option is to keep one male and several females, only one female is not a good option either since we could put the female’s life at risk due to the fact that during the mating season the male can be very heavy and can cause injuries and stress to only one female.
Taking into account all these small issues we have seen we could decide by the size of the terrarium, the measures are indicative, the bigger the terrariums the better our specimens will be and they will enjoy their terrarium. The MINIMUM measurements will be 24 x 18 x 12 inc. to be able to keep some baby bearded dragon specimens for a while; 36 x 18 x 18 cm for juvenile pogonas.
For adult dragons we will acquire a terrarium not less than 48 x 18 x 18 inches, in which we can put a trio (a male and two females)
Bearded Dragon Heat Lamps.
It depends to a great extent on the age of the bearded dragon and its enclosure size. You should use heating lamps as a primary heat source. They are diurnal reptiles, so they like to bask. On the other hand, nocturnal reptiles such as leopard geckos and snakes, spend the most part of the day in caves, absorbing the ground heat, without much exposure to the sun. In this case, a heating pad is the best option.
The bearded dragons are natives of the desert part of Australia, so they are semi-arboreal. To achieve a desert look in our terrarium, we can use branches, sand, trunks, rocks, etc.
The terrarium substrate for bearded dragons
The substrate will depends on the bearded dragon age. For baby bearded dragons, from birth until almost a year old it is advisable only to put kitchen paper or newspaper. During that age, they eat anything, so there is a risk of suffering clogging in the intestine.
As an adult you may use any sand for reptiles. Some special substrates are able to highlight more the colors of our berdies, but you always must have them well clean, removing their droppings daily.
Bearded dragon’s Terrarium decor
To decorate them we can put branches and trunks that are sold in pet shops, or you can make the decoration yourself. If you want to save some bucks, you may use branches from your yard. But make sure to boiling them firs to kill parasites or any plagues the can carry.
These decorations will always hold you as best as possible because these dragons are quite restless and will end up throwing everything away. With all these elements we will manage to create their natural habitat.
Food and water supplies for bearded dragons
We must place a container with fresh water where our bearded dragon has free access. This bowl must be sturdy and firm, allowing the cleaning and avoiding flipping. The water must be changed frequently since bearded dragons like to get inside the water bowls and this stimulated to urinate and defecate in the water. this is positive so we must make sure that our bearded dragons can enter and leave the drinking fountain.
What diseases can a bearded dragon have?
Parasites: Since almost all bearded dragons on the market today were born in captivity, it is very unlikely that we will find parasites in them. If parasites do appear, it is most likely that they were acquired from other animals in the terrarium. We will distinguish two large groups of parasites: ectoparasites (external) and endoparasites (internal).
The most common ectoparasites are ticks and mites. Ticks can measure up to about 6mm, but when they attach themselves to the host and suck its blood.
Mites, on the other hand, are more difficult to detect. As a rule, we only notice their presence when they have multiplied in large numbers, which happens remarkably quickly. They usually appear in the folds of the skin of saurians. They are mainly located in the armpits, the openings of the ear, and the cloacal opening.
Mouth rot: Mouth rot is a fairly common and especially unpleasant infection. As its name suggests, it is an infection that affects the tissues of the mouth and gums and is usually caused by bacteria and fungi that have penetrated through a small wound. In the most serious cases it can even affect the jaws. The most frequent symptoms are a suppuration of the gums and/or the jaws, the animal refuses to eat, bleeds inside the mouth and a thick and purulent substance appears inside the mouth cavity. Mouth rot can be very serious, and a veterinary surgeon should be consulted immediately.
Intestinal obstruction: The main cause of the impact is caused by inadequate breeding care. It is necessary to have a correct temperature, an adequate diet and to feed it with healthy food for the pogona. The impact is when some substance or food accumulates inside the digestive system of our bearded Dragon getting hard causing a jam and cannot move it naturally inside. It occurs when we have ingested some substance that is not digestible or food such as worms or tenebrio that have a hard skin and can pass through the digestive system
Dehydration: Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of our Baby Bearded Dragons. The most frequent reason is because, usually many people set the temperature higher than it should be and in this case, inevitably, dehydration is much faster.
Bone Metabolism Disease: MBD is caused by a poor diet, poor lighting, very low temperatures and lack of calcium supplements. It is a progressive disease that will get worse if it is not solved.
Yellow Fungus: It’s a fungal disease that’s quite contagious between pogons. It is believed that it can be triggered when the pogon receives inadequate antibiotic treatment.
Respiratory infections: These are bacterial infections that occur in the lungs of the pogons. It occurs when the pogon lives in an environment that is too humid (more than 60%) or with low temperatures. This usually happens at night when the temperature in the terrarium drops too low without us noticing. This can easily be solved by installing a heating system connected to a thermostat, which prevents the temperature from falling below 60ºF.
Feeding the bearded dragon, what should you give him?
Bearded dragons are omnivorous saurians. They need to eat fruits, vegetables and insects, in fact, if they don’t consume any of these parts they could get sick.
Depending on the age of the dragon the proportion of fruit, vegetables, and insects it needs to eat will vary.
Under one year of age: The pogona should have a diet that is distributed as follows: 70% insects and 30% fruits and vegetables.
With more than one year old: We must change the proportion progressively until we reach a diet based on 70% fruits and vegetables and 30% insects.
It is very important that we complement your diet with multivitamins and calcium +D3. Personally, what has worked best for me has been the supplement Calcium + D3 and to give him from time to time this food for pogonas already vitaminized. For your Pogona to eat the calcium we must sprinkle it on the insects. If we choose to give it a multivitamin, we will do so together with the calcium in a 1:1 mixture.
Bearded dragons eat almost anything that moves, however, not all insects are safe or contain the necessary nutrients to grow or develop healthily. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure nutritious insects. Below is a list of the insects used in bearded dragons’ regular diet:
You should never feed your bearded dragons with wild insects that you have found in your garden. There is a high probability that these insects are carriers of parasites or have been sprayed with pesticides. If so, you would be putting your pet’s health and life at risk by saving a few dollars.
There are many vegetables that are safe in a bearded dragon diet. In fact, we have a list of over 50 safe vegetables to feed your bearded dragon on our bearded dragon diet page. Below is a list of the most common staple vegetables that you can feed your bearded dragon every day:
|Acorn squash||Artichoke Heart||Asparagus (Raw)||Yams (Raw)|
|Bell Peppers (Raw)||Bok choy||Butternut squash||Yellow squash|
|Chicory||Collard greens||Cucumber (Peeled)||Pumpkins|
|Kohlrabi||Mustard greens||Okra (Raw)||Turnip greens|