Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bearded Dragons


Pogona are a genus of lizards containing seven species, which are often known by the common name bearded dragons. The term "bearded dragon" is most commonly used to describe the Central Bearded Dragon. Members of this genus live in the arid, rocky, semi-desert regions and dry open woodlands of Australia. They are adept climbers, spending time on branches and in bushes, even found on fence posts when living near human habitation. Pogona bask on rocks and exposed branches in the mornings and afternoons. The species are found throughout Australia.

Several species of this genus have been domesticated, especially Pogona vitticeps and are often kept as pets or exhibited.

Scientific name : Pogona Vitticeps

Common name : Bearded Dragon

Housing Size : 48" x 24" x 24"

Housing Type : Desert

Adult Size : Total Length 22"

Care/Keeping : Keep singularly, as a pair or in a group with only one male.

Level Of Difficulty : Easy to Moderate

Life Span : Up to 10 years

Diet : Omnivorous


Bearded Dragons now come in a variety of morphs including such colours as normal browns, tan, orange to red, sand fires, pale pastels and even snow colours. I myself would rank the Bearded Dragon as amongst one of the most enjoyable and easy to handle pet reptiles that anyone could have the pleasure in owning.

Baby Inland Bearded Dragons are no more than 4 inches in length when born, whereas an adult dragon can typically reach up to 22 inches. Bearded Dragons are social animals and a pair consisting of a male and a female closely matched in size is an ideal combination. Although they can also be kept singularly as well as in groups, if kept in a group they should only be one male to several females. This obviously is all dependent on the size of the housing / enclosure.


Bearded Dragons are moderately sized but as they grow will eventually require a large enclosure. When choosing your vivarium, this can be looked at in two different ways. Firstly, if purchasing a baby Bearded Dragon, this can be housed in a smaller vivarium such as a 36" x 15" x 15", however as your dragon attains a larger size you will need to upgrade to a more suitably sized vivarium i.e. a (48" x 24" x 24") or (72" x 18" x 18") or similar. These sizes suitable enough to house a pair of adult Bearded Dragons. Alternatively, you may wish to purchase the full sized vivarium that your Bearded Dragon would eventually require but I would not recommend this as baby Bearded Dragons can be problematic in too large an enclosure i.e. the dragon may fail to find water, food, suitable basking sites and hiding places in such a large area.

In terms of decoration, Bearded Dragons require suitable hiding places, a basking area and suitable branches for example Cork Branch or Bamboo Root is ideal. Small, rough rock or pebbles also give the added advantage of helping to keep Bearded Dragons nails worn down. Substrate needs to be chosen carefully due to possible risks of impaction from ingestion. When raising our baby Bearded Dragons we choose to use no substrate whatsoever as this gives the advantage of ease of cleaning for a hygienic environment, monitoring stools, lack of hiding places for crickets / hoppers and reduces the risk of impaction. Adult Bearded Dragons should ideally be provided with a silica based, dust free sand suitable for reptiles.

Lighting / Heating

Providing the correct heating and lighting is essential to keeping Bearded Dragons healthy. Activity and their metabolic processes depend on proper light and heat. When using a wooden vivarium a ceramic heat source at one end of the vivarium controlled by a suitable dimming or pulse thermostat, works best. Heat guards must be used over heat sources. A basking spot should be provided and the temperature at this spot should measure between 90°F and 100°F. A hot rock such as the Exo Terra Heat Rock can also be used as a secondary heat source if required.

Bearded Dragons as with all reptiles are ecothermic and use external temperatures to control their body temperature. If the temperature is too cool in the vivarium, this can lead to digestion problems.

UVB light is essential for bearded dragons as they need this to produce vitamin d3 which in turn helps the absorption of calcium, providing strong bone growth especially in young bearded dragons which are growing fast. We suggest a uv-b fluorescent tube placed along the back or ceiling of the vivarium to be the best form of uv lighting as this gives the whole vivarium with an even distribution of UVB light rather than a UVB spot light which is only providing it in a small concentrated area. Fluorescent UVB light tubes should be replaced every six months as even though the light you see may look as bright, the strength of the UVB does deplete over time. Bearded dragons should be provided with up to 14 hours of UVB light per day.


Bearded Dragons are omnivores which means they eat both plant and animal material. All insect food should be dusted with a calcium powder. Insects to feed to a Bearded Dragon are crickets (black and brown), hoppers, mealworms, giant mealworms and wax moth larvae. They should also be offered plant and vegetable matter such as dandelion leaves (when available), finely grated carrot, green beans, peas, sweet corn and fruits such as banana (small amounts), apple, strawberries, grapes. Any fruit, vegetables or plant matter should be washed thoroughly before feeding to your Bearded Dragon. There are also complete pellet foods available to feed to Bearded Dragons which can be fed occasionally but not as a staple diet. A pinkie mouse can also be given occasionally as a treat. Bearded Dragons should be fed in the daytime as they are less likely to feed at night and uneaten crickets running around the vivarium while the Bearded Dragon is sleeping can be an irritation and the crickets can also bite a sleeping beardie. Fresh water should be provided daily in a shallow dish. Reverse osmosis water is best to use but if this type of water cannot be sourced, bottled mineral water is also suitable. Do not use tap water.


Bearded Dragons have fascinating behaviour. When housed in a group and sexual maturity is reached (from around 6 months of age), dragons will puff out their throat in a display of dominance to others in the group or as a warning to predators. Less dominant members of the group will wave their arms in slow forward circular motions as a sign of appeasement usually seen in females during breeding, whilst males during breeding, will be seen to be extending their throat and bobbing their head. Usually the alpha male of the group will have the highest basking spot in the enclosure. Gaping is usually done when the bearded dragon is trying to cool down, check the temperatures in the vivarium to ensure that their is a temperature gradient from one end of the enclosure to the other and ensure the enclosure is not overheating. A Bearded Dragon, should look alert and be standing proud pushed up from the front legs. Listless sleepy dragons should be avoided when purchasing.

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