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Australia and Disney movies
Males up to 20, females slightly smaller
Males have black beard and femoral pores
76o to 86o gradient, 90o to 100o for basking
10 o cooler during winter (for breeding)
Needs branches and/or rocks
Alert, inquisitive, territorial as they mature
No shavings, corn cobs, or kitty litter
Needs a hide box or cave in their cooler area
Not a problem
Insects, Pinkies, Greens, Fruit
Calcium and Vitamins
Full-spectrum or limited sunlight
One to two years
Clutches approach 30
Origins: Bearded dragons originally came from Australia (which has cut off all animal exports). The Europeans bred them and supplied the U.S. All the dragons you find these days are bred in the U.S. (including Des Moines). Several different color morphs exist.
Natural Environment: In Australia, bearded dragons live in semi-desert and open woodland areas. They are great climbers and love to bask on rocks in the mornings and evenings. They spend the hottest part of the day in their burrows.
Temperament: In the wild, bearded dragons flare their “beards” and open their mouths to scare off predators and competitors. Their flared beards make them look bigger and more threatening. Tame dragons show this behavior less often. They like people. Dragons also get along with other lizards (that are too big to eat). However, the adults need a lot of room if you house them together. Overcrowding will cause stress, aggression, and can result in death.
Colors: Bearded dragons come in several different colors these days. The rarer colors cost more. They pretty much all look alike when young.
Size: Adult bearded dragons attain 20+ inches in length, but most specimens we’ve seen are smaller. The most popular and most sellable sizes are nearly always babies. Babies cost less and are easier to house together. Adults tend to fight in confinement. Really tiny babies are hard to keep.
Foods: Bearded dragons love crickets. However, bearded dragons also eat plant material – greens and fruits. Slice and dice it at first. In later meals you need not “chew” it for them. They will eat nearly any insect – even ants. Do not house them with smaller lizards. We had one that ate geckos only two inches smaller than him. Feed (gut load) your crickets and mealworms before feeding them to your dragons.
Supplements: Because the bones of the babies grow so much, bearded dragons also need calcium supplements dusted on their insects. If you give them a pinkie (baby rodent) a week, you will meet many of their mineral and vitamin needs.
Lighting: Like most reptiles, bearded dragons need full-spectrum, fluorescent lighting or daily sessions in real sunlight. The closer they can climb to your bulbs, the better your bulbs work.
Heat: An under-cage heater plus a basking heat source make a good combination. Heat rocks also provide a good basking site. Many lizard keepers advise against heat rocks. Lizards have poor toilet manners. Clean your heat rock often. Use well-spaced thermometers to make sure you provide a range of temperatures for them to choose from.
Water: Bearded dragons drink little water compared to some lizards. Still, they need a low, easy-to-get-into water dish. Bearded dragons also enjoy occasional mistings – the small Dragons especially. Change their water often. Like we said, lizards have poor toilet manners
Handling: Scoop them up from below rather than grabbing them from above. Handle them carefully, and they quickly learn to sit calmly on your hand.
Inquisitive: Bearded dragons like to explore their surroundings. Give them branches and rocks to climb on and caves to explore. If you provide them a box of sand, they will probably burrow into it for fun. They like variety. Very few lizards interact with humans as well as the bearded dragon.
Breeding: One male and several females makes a good combo. Females dig a good size hole to deposit their eggs in. Breeders usually pull their eggs and incubate them. We put them in a small plastic container inside another with water in the bottom. We put a tight cover on it and store it on an out-of-the-way 13-foot high shelf where it always stays warm. We’ll take a look at the results in 60 to 80 days.