The Pogona vitticeps, also known as the bearded dragon, is one of the most popular lizards found in terrariums around the world because of its fantasy look and its friendly personality.
The beard that inspired the name, of this reptile, is made by several rows of soft spikes on the inflatable pouch on the neck.
It can be found in several color variations in the wild, the breeders focused in breeding some shades; red and golden are the most popular at the moment for this lizard.
They are well kept in groups, especially with the youngsters, but they can also be housed alone, if you decide to have a group of Bearded Dragons, make sure you provide plenty of food, as they preserve hierarchies in captivity, and the weakest of the group will starve, as they eat last.
You can find mixed pellet food for them in the pet shop or you can feed them with leafy plants like dandelions, chopped carrots and small fruits or pieces of fruit like apples, bananas, melon and grapes. If you choose to feed them fresh fruits and vegetables, it is advised to supply them with vitamins and minerals.
The youngsters are easy to be cared for, as they can be hand fed even from the first days with small invertebrates like crickets, as the growth requirements can’t be fully met by vegetables and fruits. Make sure you avoid feeding rhubarb as it is poisonous.
They mature at the age of one year old, as an adult they reach about 50 cm in length.
They can be housed in heated terrariums, with plenty of full spectrum lighting as they like to sunbathe a lot. The terrarium can be built from melamine or glass, as it needs to be easily cleaned.
Supply the terrarium with heating by using spotlights located in the roof of the terrarium protected by a wire cage, to ensure the lizard will not be able to climb and get in close contact with the light. Also ceramic infrared heaters with reflectors are widely used in terrariums.
Adding a thermostat will help you control the temperature. In per stores you can find hot rocks and heating pads, make sure the temperature can be controlled, as overheating is one of the major threats when raising reptiles.
When selecting the lighting type, you should keep in mind that there are two types of UV radiation the A type promotes eating and encourages activity, and the B radiation promotes the synthesis of vitamin D, vital in the calcium and phosphorus absorption and storage. This is the reason why full spectrum lights should be provided, and changed often as the radiation decreases in time, even if they still appear viable.
As substrate in the terrarium, you can use calcium sand that is safe even if ingested with food, for enrichment you can add items such as branches, live plants, rocks. You don’t need to worry about the plants; they will thrive under the light of the terrarium.
When placing plants inside the terrarium, make sure you don’t include harmful plants like cacti or poisonous plants as your bearded dragon will have the tendency of eating the plants inside the terrarium.
Your Bearded Dragon will need constant care, besides feeding and heating it, you will have to make regulate cleanings of the terrarium, and remove the soiled substrate every day, and every two or three months you will need to empty the terrarium and clean every element. Depending on the number of occupants living in the terrarium you will need to clean it more often.
If you decide to go in vacation, find a pet sitter for your Bearded Dragon, remove the lizard from the terrarium during the transport to avoid accidents, make sure you supply enough food and a secondary heating element in case the main one brakes down during your absence.
When it comes to shedding, it is vital that you monitor your lizard closely during this time, as it might have trouble shedding, if this happens, you will need to make small changes in the humidity of the terrarium and continue to monitor until this process ends.
Eugene Bruins – The complete Encyclopedia of Terrarium, Rebo, Netherlands, 1999