By Andrea Inman
Bearded dragons, native to Australia, are popular beginner reptiles for many because they are relatively friendly and easy to care for as long as you have done your research. Before you bring a bearded dragon into your home, ensure you have done the work up front. Here are important facts to consider before adopting a bearded dragon:
- Bearded dragons can live up to 15 years if cared for properly, so realize they are a commitment similar to some dogs and cats.
- As desert reptiles, bearded dragons require special lighting and heating to keep them healthy. A proper setup for a bearded dragon (tank, light fixtures, thermometers, etc.) requires a hefty start-up cost of at least $300.
- While they don’t require vaccinations to keep them in good health, check that there is an exotic animal vet in your area who is knowledgeable about bearded dragons in case of any issues, and who can check for parasites annually.
- Bearded dragons are solitary animals and should not be housed with other bearded dragons. If you want more than one, they will need to be separated for their safety.
- Bearded dragons naturally carry salmonella, so hands need to be washed after handling.
- They are omnivores. As juveniles, they primarily eat insects (roaches, crickets, superworms), and as they get age, they transition to primarily greens (collard greens, dandelion greens, arugula, etc). If you do not like the idea of insects in your home, you may want to find an alternative pet.
- Bearded dragons are diurnal, meaning they are awake during the day and go to sleep at night (just like us humans)!
- They can darken their color to attract more heat, or to let you know they aren’t happy or are stressed.
- Females can lay unfertilized eggs even if they have not been bred. During this time, they need extra calcium and more food.
- It is common during winter months for bearded dragons to brummate. This is a period of dormancy when they sleep more and eat less. In captivity, it is possible they will not do this as their environmental temperatures can be controlled year-round.
As long as you have the money and time to invest in bringing home a bearded dragon, you will find they make amazing pets and will quickly capture your heart.