Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons eating veggies and drinking water

How to get your Bearded Dragon to love veggies and drink water

I come across many bearded dragon owners who say their dragons do nothing the entire day? Have you ever asked yourself why that is? If you sat in a closet with only 4 walls every day of your life then you would also be forced to do nothing. Bearded dragons that are provided with big cages, lots of climbing things and loads of freedom spend a very big deal of their day playing and running – they are very active. The second important thing is water.

Water is like super juice to dragons! Most people prefer to go with the idea that they get enough water from their food and do not need more than that. I can’t say that this believe is wrong, however, what we feed them in our homes are far different from what they eat in the wild. Their natural environment gets between 200-250mm of rain a year, the plants in the outback stores water to survive drought and when the dragons eat these plants they receive the needed water, our plants do not store water in the same way.

Symptoms of dehydration are sunken eyes, wrinkled skin, lack of appetite, and lethargy (sitting around doing nothing). The digestive tract requires fluids to process foods, if there are not enough fluids available they will be taken from other critical systems. When dehydrated, having a loss of appetite may be one way the Beardie’s body tries to protect itself.

Bearded dragons do not drink water from a dish or any still standing pool. However, when water drips from above it triggers them to drink. It is a natural response, to them it is raining and they lap up the water as if it is a gift from the skies. You can teach your dragon to drink water from a spray bottle, a dripper or even straight from the kitchen tap. http://reptile-parrots.com/forums/showthread.php/196-How-to-get-your-Dragon-to-Love-veggies-and-drink-water

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za-JZhuEiBI


Just an ordinary morning, one of the most special times with my dragons for sure. The eating usually lasts around 15 minutes each of course with a lot of play in between. Watch Sky at the end, he tilts his head back and open his mouth the moment he sees the spoon.
Bearded Dragons and Dehydration

Impaction in Bearded dragons

Impaction is a condition where a bearded dragon’s digestive tract is blocked by a solid or semi-solid object.

In moderate impaction, you will see other symptoms before you realize they are not defecating. Some are slight leg trembles, regurgitation, dragging one of both the back legs, not walking properly and you may also see a slight bump along the spinal area.

The paralysis you are seeing is because the stomach empties out into the intestines lying right along the mid/upper spine. It puts pressure on the spine, as they do not have disc between the vertebras that protect the spine like other animals.

In the case of a major impaction, the dragon will not be very mobile, one or both back legs may appear paralysed. If the impaction is higher in the digestive track, the front legs may also be paralysed. A lower impaction that is only affecting the back legs can continue to grow until the front legs are also affected.

Causes of Impaction.

Impaction can be caused by several things. One possible cause is if a beardie ate food items that are too large to properly move through their digestive tract.

Bearded dragons needs high temperatures to digest their food. The surface temp of the basking spot must be at a temperature between 100 to 115 degrees, in order for them to digest their food properly. If a bearded dragon is fed food that are difficult to digest and they are not kept at the correct temperature to digest it then it can also cause impaction.

Particulate substrates are one of the major reasons for impaction. Calci-Sand, pellets, pebbles, play sand and every other loose substrate in the cage can cause a risk if ingested regularly.

Many calcium-based substrates claim that their substrate is digestible and they also claim that it is beneficial for your dragon’s health if they do ingest it, because it is a source of calcium for them. These products are not digestible as they claim.

People will argue that Dragons live on sand in the dessert so why not keep them this way. The problem with this is that your dragon is NOT in the desert but in your home, locked up in a cage. There is absolutely nothing natural about that! Secondly they are found in a variety of habitats, ranging from wet forests to deserts, these lizards are most commonly seen in open woodlands and similar habitats.

If there is 1% chance of impaction then it is 1% too much. Your dragon’s life is in your hands, not by choice, but forced and it is your responsibility to protect him from ALL harm.


This dissection is of a juvenile dragon that died due to impaction in late 2003. An owner brought the dragon in long after the damage was done. Problems with the cloaca were noticed by the owner approximately one month prior to getting help. Even after warm baths to loosen the blockage, there was really nothing that could be done. The dragon passed away within 12 hours of being brought in.

http://mrskingsbioweb.com/beardeddragngrossanatomy.htm

http://reptile-parrots.com/forums/showthread.php?152-Bearded-Dragon-Impaction

1% Chance of Impaction is 100% too much!
Bearded Dragon Care

Gravid Bearded Dragon Care

The pet trade is booming with bearded dragons and good homes are hard to find.

A female Bearded Dragon will lay eggs even if she had no contact with a male. This behaviour is usually triggered by time of year, how much light there is, warmer and longer days

If your female dragon did come in contact with a male she can lay eggs as often as once a month even twice a month and produce a clutch of up to 35 eggs at a time. Females store the sperm and therefore the egg laying can last up to six months even if she just mated once with the male. Having too many clutches too often will shorten her life and there is no control over this when the female is storing sperm.

After mating it takes between 3 to 6 weeks before the female will start laying her eggs.

Signs of a gravid female:
> The belly increases.
> The body shape changes from being round to a tear drop shape.
> Loose interest in her food, however I know of females that ate right through.
> Pacing inside the cage, wanting out and then pacing wanting back in, running back and forth. Extreme restlessness.
> Constant digging.
> Weight gain.

When you notice all the signs it is important to supply her with a laying box to prevent her from becoming egg-bound, which could be detrimental, even fatal. The female usually holds her eggs until she is given a laying box.

The Laying Box

You need a Rubbermaid storage container of about 18 gallon. Fill it with about 8 to 10 inches of new vermiculite that has been moistened with water. You can test the vermiculite by squeezing it between your hands into a ball, if it keeps its shape then it is perfect. You need to make sure that it is not dripping with water so add water little at a time. Partially cover or totally cover the container loosely with a lid or piece of cardboard. You can now place the female into the box and she should start digging. Sometimes she will only dig for a short period and then come out and run around frenetically looking for a better place to dig. You can put her back in the box but if she keeps on escaping it means she is not ready to lay yet.

They often dig for several hours on succeeding days. When the digging stops there will be a dugout hole and she will back into it and start laying her eggs. Don’t disturb her during this time, leave her until she is finished laying and completely covered the eggs.

You female will be very skinny and tired after laying her eggs. You can now pamper her with loads of fluids to drink and food dusted with calcium powder. You can let her have a nice warm bath to rinse off all the vermiculite.

Problems that may occur

It is very uncommon for dragons to become egg bound. Females can retain their eggs for a period of time while searching for an appropriate place to dig. However if she cant find a laying box and the eggs are retained too long it will become a problem and can be lethal.

Causes for egg binding:

> No place to lay the eggs
> The dragon is still too small and was breed
> Very emaciated or dehydrated
> Calcium deficient and not enough exposure to UVB
> Threatened by cage mates

The most common problem is calcium deficiency. You need to make sure that your dragon get highly nutritious food that are dusted with reptile calcium two to three times a week. The correct UVB exposure is also crucial.

Egg building is a huge drain on a female’s metabolism. All laying females, whether the eggs are fertile or not, need more supplemental calcium and nutrients. It is also best to replace the UVB light during Spring and you can even give your female 2 bulbs during this time.
Gravid bearded dragon care

Signs of a sick bearded dragon

If you notice that your Bearded Dragon is sick then you need to consult with a qualified Herp vet immediately. Dragons do not show illness until it is almost too late to safe them.

If it is not breeding season, brumation or the beginning of a new shed period, the following signs may indicate pain from an injury, abscess, tumour, abdominal mass, or other problem:

Behavior:
• Restless
• Anorexic
• Lack of appetite
• Depressed
• Changes in stool such as smelly, runny, bloody or none at all
• A discharge from the mouth, eyes or nostrils


Movement:
• Lethargy
• Lack of usual activity
• Reluctance to move
• Favouring a limb, tail or quadrant
• Limping, lameness
• Slowed reflexes (in the absence of being too cold)

Responses:
• Unusual aggression to all contact
• Withdrawal or avoidance behaviour, especially in a usually sociable or gregarious individual

Posture:
• Hunching (abdomen tucked up)
• Sunken eyes
• Won’t lay down, even in favored places
• Stands holding foot or limb elevated

Impaction

Impaction is a condition where a bearded dragon’s digestive tract is blocked by a solid or semi-solid object.

In moderate impaction, you will see other symptoms before you realize they are not defecating. Some are slight leg trembles, regurgitation, dragging one of both the back legs, not walking properly and you may also see a slight bump along the spinal area.

The paralysis you are seeing is because the stomach empties out into the intestines lying right along the mid/upper spine. It puts pressure on the spine, as they do not have disc between the vertebras that protect the spine like other animals.

In the case of a major impaction, the dragon will not be very mobile, one or both back legs may appear paralysed. If the impaction is higher in the digestive track, the front legs may also be paralysed. A lower impaction that is only affecting the back legs can continue to grow until the front legs are also affected.

Causes of Impaction.

Impaction can be caused by several things. One possible cause is if a beardie ate food items that are too large to properly move through their digestive tract.

Bearded dragons needs high temperatures to digest their food. The surface temp of the basking spot must be at a temperature between 100 to 115 degrees, in order for them to digest their food properly. If a bearded dragon is fed food that are difficult to digest and they are not kept at the correct temperature to digest it then it can also cause impaction.

Particulate substrates are one of the major reasons for impaction. Calci-Sand, pellets, pebbles, play sand and every other loose substrate in the cage can cause a risk if ingested regularly.

Many calcium-based substrates claim that their substrate is digestible and they also claim that it is beneficial for your dragon’s health if they do ingest it, because it is a source of calcium for them. These products are not digestible as they claim.

People will argue that Dragons live on sand in the dessert so why not keep them this way. The problem with this is that your dragon is NOT in the desert but in your home, locked up in a cage. There is absolutely nothing natural about that! Secondly they are found in a variety of habitats, ranging from wet forests to deserts, these lizards are most commonly seen in open woodlands and similar habitats.

If there is 1% chance of impaction then it is 1% too much. Your dragon’s life is in your hands, not by choice, but forced and it is your responsibility to protect him from ALL harm.

1. Mites

Mites, like ticks, are eight-legged bloodsucking organisms. They carry and transmit diseases from one reptile to another. Mites can usually be found roaming the body, tucked under the edges of scales and congregating around the eyes, ears, and any place on the body where the scales are thinner.

Mites are difficult to kill because the chemicals that we use to kill mites will also kill the Dragon. Mites can be drowned, but if you are not careful, the mites can just scurry up the Beardie’s body and emerge from the water, hanging out around the eyes and nose. Favourite hiding places of mites include the neck folds, head, armpits and ears.

The mite treatment products available at pet stores are ineffective. There is no easy way to get rid of mites. It requires a two-phase attack: you must aggressively treat the environment as well as the reptile. Another problem with eradication attempts is that many people think that simply cleaning and disinfecting the environment will eradicate the mites. It won’t. It will get rid of the loose feces and may wash away many of the exposed mites. It will disinfect the bacteria left behind where the mites were squashed or defecated. It will likely not kill the non-feeding morphs, larvae, and laying females hidden away in deep crevices.


2. Terminal Ingestion

Young dragons swallow food that are too large and they can die from this because the item gets lodged within their digestive track. Signs of this is when they extend their back legs straight back as though they are paralysed or in pain. You can raise the basking temps and soak your dragon in warm water to induce a bowel movement. Success is a long shot.

3. Thermal Burns

These are caused by direct contact with a heat source and scald the skin - most likely resulting in blisters. The blisters often break open and create the opportunity for secondary bacterial infections which not only complicate treatment, but could possibly be fatal (depending on the severity). Dragons will walk through their feces - so an impeccable cage is a must during treatment. While daily treatment can be taken care of at home - initial diagnosis and follow-ups should be performed by your veterinarian.

4. Calcium Deficiency

Without adequate calcium and vitamin D3 in your Dragon’s diet, aside from a slow growth rate, you will more than likely encounter Metabolic Bone Disease. The first symptom usually noticed is uncontrolled twitching of the dragon’s toes or legs. This can be a fatal disease if not treated promptly. If this problem occurs, we suggest raising the amount of calcium in the Dragons diet immediately and taking it outside in direct sunlight to bask for a period of time each day until the twitching stops. If there is no change in a few days then you have to take him to a herp vet.

5. Hypovitaminosis A

Early on, there is some swelling of the eyelid, some mild swelling around the iris, and some tearing of the eye in cases of hypovitaminosis A. In addition, there are changes in the orbital glands. As the condition progresses untreated, the swellings become more pronounced and the conjunctiva becomes visible, swollen and reddened. Reptiles that depend on sight to feed can no longer see well enough to feed, and slowly starvation sets in, further weakening the animal.

The the diet and environment needs to be correct and your vet will start administering Vit A.

6. Respiratory Infections

Bearded Dragons are very resistant to respiratory infections. BUT… prolonged exposure to low temperatures, improper humidity and poor cage conditions could result in respiratory complications.

Treatment for this problem is usually antibiotics and to raise the ambient temperature of your cage a bit. (The best thing is to avoid low cage temperatures and eliminate the problem before it arises.) The most obvious symptoms are gaping, forced exhalation of air, puffing of the throat, a puffed up appearance of the body and lack of appetite. In some cases, the mucus may accumulate in the mouth and/or emerge from the nostrils. If these symptoms are present and persistent the illness is usually well progressed - a veterinarian visit is in order immediately for treatment.

7. Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration are sunken eyes, wrinkled skin, lack of appetite, and lethargy. The digestive tract requires fluids to process foods, if there are not enough fluids available they will be taken from other critical systems. When dehydrated, having a loss of appetite may be one way the Beardie’s body tries to protect itself.

8. Stomatitis

Stomatitis or mouth rot is a systemic infection that often shows up as a whitish or yellow-gray cheesy substance in the soft tissues of the mouth. In advanced cases, the head may be quite swollen, and teeth may be loose. You need to take your dragon to a vet for a proper diagnosis and antibiotic treatment if you suspect he has mouth rot.

Reptiles with stomatitis usually stops eating and drinking.

9. Internal Parasites

Symptoms of internal parasites include weight loss, worms in the stools, runny stools, gaping and listlessness. If you observe a combination of these symptoms you should take your bearded dragon to a veterinarian to have a stool sample examined to determine if there are any parasites present and if so, what kind they are. Follow their recommendation for treatment. If you notice any of these signs, please contact your vet.

10. Coccidia

Coccidia is a microscopic parasite that all dragons normally have in their intestinal tract, in some very small amount. This is a normal occurrence, both in the wild, and in Beardies being kept in captivity. A minimal coccidia count is usually not troublesome in a healthy dragon. Their immune systems are able to keep the amount of coccidia in their systems in check, so that they don’t become sick from them.

However, one of the things that can cause a dragon’s immune system to stop working properly is stress. And unfortunately, when you bring your Beardie home with you, no matter where you get him from, or how much you fuss over him, he is going to suffer from relocation stress for at least a week or two.

Bearded Dragons are creatures of habit, and are very sensitive to changes in their environment. Nearly all of them suffer from relocation stress, to some degree, and as a result, their coccidia counts will become higher than normal.

This is why you should give your dragon a couple of weeks to settle into his new home, before having his stool sample checked. Once the stress disappears, and he begins to relax and feel at home, his immune system will kick into play again, and, if coccidia is the only parasite present, his immune system will bring the coccidia levels back down where they belong, without having to medicate him. However, if other parasites are present, they will also make the coccidia count higher, and your dragon cannot get rid of these types of parasites on his own. Leaving them untreated for a long period of time can cause serious illness, or even death.

11. MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) http://reptile-parrots.com/forums/showthread.php?142-Metabolic-Bone-Disease-in-reptiles

In general, metabolic bone disease (MBD) is the weakening of the bone of your Bearded Dragon caused by an imbalance in vitamin D3, calcium, and phosphorus. Several foods, which have a high calcium content, such as spinach, carrots, collards, chards and other thick leafy greens, also contain oxalates, which bind to calcium. When foods high in oxalates are eaten by a Beardie, the oxalates attack the calcium and make it useless in their body.

Vitamin D3, calcium, and phosphorus work together in maintaining bone growth, muscle contractions and blood coagulation. Too much phosphorus can throw this balance off, as can too much or too little vitamin D3 or too little access to UVB light.

Signs of metabolic bone disease include hard knobs in the long bones of the legs, bumps along the vertebral column of the back and tail, and softening or hard swelling of the lower jaw. Regular physical exams are important as these bumps may be felt before they can usually be seen. Visible signs of moderate to severe metabolic bone disease include jerky movements when walking, repeated tremors, twitches, or spasms in the limbs and muscles of the legs and toes when at rest or after exercise, and shakiness when being held. More advanced cases of MBD include all the above signs plus constipation, anorexia, and fractured bones. Severely deficient Beardies tend to be lethargic and may only be able to drag themselves along the ground.

There are several treatment options available for Beardies suffering from MBD. Moderate to severe cases of MBD require the proper diet, temperatures, and UVB as well as a more powerful calcium supplement than those found in pet stores.

I will say it again, if your bearded dragons seems ill then take him to a qualified herp-vet, his life is in your hands!
bearded dragons

Natural Environment of the Bearded Dragon

The central bearded dragons natural soils is extremely varied, it is true some areas such as the south east segment of ‘territory’ that there are natural landmarks named ‘travelling sands’ which in truth are large sand-dunes. But, this isn’t to say that these animals live on these dunes without shade vegetation, food or water, in all seriousness, why would they? The truth is they can and do move around especially after hatching, to find a SOLITARY and thriving environment, FREE from fellow siblings, predators and even other species of dragon, and of course, a suitable substrate for future burrows and egg laying.

The soil scape of the Australian outback is extremely varied, from hard rock, cracked clay, hard packed soils, to compact dunes, and bushland soils. Patches of soil become more ‘dirt’ or darker soils, as the tree’s and foliage die. Other areas become stripped with rain, leaving hard rock and clay, left to ‘bake’ as the weather warms. Some areas, for instance Uluru, or the Olgas or Mt Connor are proof of terrential rains in the wet season, and the fact this place used to be underwater and a big ocean, that the landscape is practically ‘stripped’ of loose soils. It is just a big rock..

Their natural soils, are in fact not entirely safe. As mother nature goes, and the deaths of pretory feasts, impactions by soil, food and other foreign objects come, their population seems to level out, even with tens of thousands dying on the roads each year. They seem to be a ‘feeder’ food themselves by other reptiles, and predatory birds and wild dogs. There soils can contain chokable and impacting rocks, calcium based sands (in clay mixes) and even twigs and bush litter. Keep in mind a lot of wild animals die of impaction, they are not someone’s pet, their not expected to be looked after, as they are ‘mother natures responsibility’ and in this a natural death and cycle.

Courtesy of Paul Kirby who lives in Australia, photos: http://reptile-parrots.com/forums/showthread.php?155-Natural-Environment-Of-Bearded-Dragons

In no way should you put your dragon at risk in a captive environment, via predators, or dangerous substrates or impacting articles (stones twigs). It is our responsibility as their care givers, to provide a safe and loving environment, free from dangers and health risks. This includes a purely naturalistic substrate.

Sand, doesn’t even allow digging, they may shift and throw around the loose soil, but they do not successfully make a burrow or den as they would dig for in the wild to escape heat of day, and lay eggs… sand isn’t ‘preferred’ by many species of reptile and marsupial as it doesn’t allow sufficient grip, or a balance for quick get-aways. It doesn’t flourish the bushland for hiding, shade or food, and doesn’t allow water to hold in the soils or in pools. Thicker, harder, less particle soils or harder in chemical make-up allow growth and ‘life’. Clay is found in most soils all across Australia.

'Particle substrates' each to their own are undoubtedly 'foreign indigestible material.' This to me, does not make it safe, or suitable I use ceramic tiles, and repti-carpet, both being non particle and safe. Each to their own having added benefits, or soft and snugly, and keeping nails trim, and easy to clean.

As for no ‘safe’ substrates allowing a ‘burrow’, I find a suitable, snug hide will do the trick, after all they only want a ‘snug’ spot to feel secure. Either soft towels, or plain straight on the indoor/outdoor carpet.

Bearded Dragon diet

Bearded dragons are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both animal and plant matter. Any and all food items that your Bearded Dragons eat should be no bigger than the space between their eyes. If the food items are bigger than the space between their eyes it can cause impaction and/or hind leg paralysis. Either way your Beardie will suffer horribly.


Diet - Babies & Juvenile Beardies

Baby and juvenile Beardies should be offered appropriately sized crickets two to three times a day. Offer as many as your Beardie will eat in a 5-10 minute time frame. When your Beardie stops eating, stop offering. Young Bearded Dragons can eat anywhere from 20-60 small crickets a day. Your Beardie should also be given fresh greens daily. Spraying the greens with water will help them last longer and will also help keep your Beardie hydrated. You should dust the food with calcium once a day, 5 times a week, make sure to use calcium without vitamin D3.

Sub-Adults & Adults

Sub-adult to adult Beardies only need to eat prey items once a day along with fresh greens. Once they are this age you can also offer them Locusts, Cockroaches, Mealworms, Waxworms, Zophobas worms, Silkworms, Superworms, Butterworms, Red worms, Earthworms and just about any other worm available. All these should be used as treats though with roaches, crickets and greens being the staple part of your Dragons diet. DO NOT feed your Beardie insects that you have caught in your backyard. These bugs could have parasites that could be passed on to your Beardie or they could have been exposed to poisons that could kill your Beardie. Lightning bugs can also kill your Beardie so it is much safer to stay away from wild caught insects. Dust the food with calcium every 3rd day, make sure it does not contain vitamin D3.

Here is guide on breeding superworms and what the difference is between mealworms, giant mealworms and superworms. http://reptile-parrots.com/forums/sh…-to-Breed-them
Method of feeding live insects

It is always a hassle when you have crickets, roaches etc. running all over the cage and you have to catch them every time. I have huge cages with loads of rocks and had to make a plan to feed my dragons inside the cage on the days that we start early in the mornings. I took 2 small, shallow, see through lunch boxes and cut out squires in the lids big enough for my dragons heads and front legs to fit in. The lid prevented the crickets from climbing out and my dragons could happily catch them without having them crawl on them. If you put tiny roaches in there then you need to smear the inside sides with Vaseline, the roaches wont go over the Vaseline.
List of recommended salads: This can be used for all reptiles including parrots, mix up with water before serving.

You need to make a salad combining at least 3 different types of greens, 1 veggie and fruit once a week or as a treat.

Staple greens that can be fed daily.

Alfalfa - called Lucerne in South Africa
Turnip Greens
Mustard Greens
Collard Greens
Watercress
Dandelion - pesticide free
Escarole
Endive

Occasionally mix in with the staple greens: Do NOT feed daily.

Bok Choy (high in goitrogens)
Chicory
Clover
Kale (high in goitrogens)
Beet Greens (high in Oxalates and Phytates)
Swiss Chard (high in Oxalates and Phytates)
Rocket
Cabbage (high in goitrogens)
Carrot Tops (high in Oxalates and Phytates)
Spinach (high in Oxalates and Phytates)
Parsley
leeks

Herbs that can be fed:

I personally mix them alternatively in per day. It is impossible to write all the benefits of these herbs! (This can be the reason why all my kids are full of energy, active and can solve problems.)

Basil - Anti-oxidant protection, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, many essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins, bone strengthening function etc.

Coriander (Cilantro) - Containing an antibacterial compound, cilantro has been found to provide a natural means of fighting Salmonella and aids in digestion. It is also found to have anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to protect from metal-poisoning. etc.

Fennel - Reduce inflammation and prevent the occurrence of cancer. Source of fibre and reduce cholesterol.

Thyme - Keeps your brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes healthy and protects against ageing.

Oregano - Anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, source of iron, manganese and dietary fibre, as well as a good source of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A.

Rosemary - stimulates the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion. Increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration.

Sage - Ant-oxidant, Anti-inflammatory, boost brain function.

Peppermint - Relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including indigestion, dyspepsia, and colonic muscle spasms. Anti-cancer agent, stops the growth of many different bacteria. Excellent source of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene.

If the greens you are wondering about say Lettuce anywhere in the name avoid them. Most types of lettuce are composed mostly of water and hold little or no nutritional value. With the wide variety of other greens out there it is better and easier to just avoid any type of lettuce. Spinach should also be avoided as calcium binds to it and will not be digested by your beardie.

Veggies:
A wide variety of vegetables can also be offered to your Beardie. Butternut squash, Yellow squash, Spaghetti squash, Acorn squash, all other varieties of squash, Green beans, Parsnips, Sweet potato, Snow peas and Carrots. Carrots should only be used as a treat though due to the high amounts of vitamin A. Any food with high amounts of vitamin A should be avoided as reptiles do not absorb a lot of vitamin A. Feeding your Beardie a lot foods such as Carrots will end up in a condition called Vitamin A toxicity which is deadly. Squashes will either have to be cooked or micro waved before feeding them to your Beardie. This will soften them up and they can then be minced and eaten easier. My dragons are spoiled rotten, I feed them mashed up veggies with a spoon every morning. They sit on my lap and eat like a baby! This is the only way I can get them to eat their veggies.

List of recommended Vegetables
Acorn Squash
Bell Pepper
Broccoli
Butternut Squash
Frozen Mixed Vegetables
Grated Carrots
Green Beans
Okra
Parsnips
Peas
Prickly pear
Snow Peas
Spaghetti Squash
Squash
Sweet Potato
Yellow Squash
Zucchini

Here is a video of how you can get your dragon to LOVE veggies:
http://reptile-parrots.com/forums/showthread.php?196-How-to-get-your-Dragon-to-Love-veggies-and-drink-water
Fruits

Fruits can also be used, just avoid any citrus fruit such as oranges and grape fruit. Use Melon, occasional Apples, Banana (only very occasionally as a treat -bananas are very high in Phosphorus), and rarely Strawberry, Grapes, Raspberry.
When feeding any vegetable or fruit, always cut or shred it into small enough pieces.

List of recommended fruits
Mango (Mine LOVE mango)
Apple
Apricots
Bananas (With Skin)
Dates
Figs
Grapes
Kiwi
Melon
Papaya
Peaches
Plums
Raspberry
Strawberries
Tomatoes

Plants that I know are safe:

Nasturtium leafs and flower
Medical use for nasturtium: Effective treatment for the symptoms of topical and internal bacterial infections, as well as the respiratory and digestive systems. It can also be used to treat fungal infections. It has antibiotic, anti fungal, antiviral and antibacterial oils. Boosts the immune system, stimulates the appetite, promotes digestion and supports metabolism.
Hibiscus leaf and flower
Hollyhock another favourite.
Petunia



Cream of Wheat: This hot cereal has a perfect calcium/phosphorus ratio of 2:1 and offers protein, carbohydrates and other vitamins. You can cook the porridge and pour into an ice cube tray and keep in the refrigerator. Mix a block with his food once a week or so.


Water

Beardies need water just like we do. Fresh water should be offered daily in a shallow bowl and the bowl needs to be washed daily. Many Beardies may not drink from a water bowl so you may have to drip the water slowly onto your Beardies snout. Wiggling your finger in the water may also get their attention. Beardies like things that move so
creating ripples in the water may get their attention. I taught my dragons to drink from the kitchen tab by opening it and letting drip on their noses while smacking my lips. They soon started smacking their lips too and wha-la they drank water. This is now a routine in our house.

Proper hydration is very important in the health of a Beardie and is even more important to a sick Beardie. When a Beardie becomes ill they are often too weak to drink fluids on their own, and if they are not drinking or eating they
become even more lethargic and weak. Severe dehydration may lead to shock and even death. Clean water should always be available for your Dragon. Always provide fresh water in a low dish, no taller than their shoulder. Their food may also be misted to add moisture.

I have found that my dragons LOVE any water that comes from above - like rain. They hate bathing but LOVE showering.

What not to feed:

• Do not feed wild insects or insects found around the house. They may carry diseases that could be deadly to your dragon.
• Lightning bugs (also known as fireflies) are deadly poisonous (they contain phosphorous).
• Avoid also spinach as calcium binds to it and will not be digested by your dragon.
• Avoid citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits).
• Do not feed dog or cat food to your Dragon.
• Carrots should only be used as a treat though due to the high amounts of vitamin A. Any food with high amounts of vitamin A should be avoided, as reptiles do not absorb a lot of vitamin A.
• NEVER iceberg lettuce.

Bearded Dragon Habitat requirements

Baby Dragons should be kept in smaller size habitats for allowing easier feeding. The ideal will be to purchase the largest habitat which you are able to afford and separate an area off in which your dragon can live adequately till he’s larger. I suggest Large habitats since any animal develops superior physically and mentally if the habitat is spacious as well as enriched. 1.8 Meters by 1 meter are ideal and will be really enjoyed. Several individuals make use of 55gallon breeder tanks.

Heating

Babies and youngsters require a basking spot of a 110F / 43C with a cooler side at 85F / 29C.
Adults require a basking spot of 100-110F / 37C -43C with a cooler side of 80-85F / 26C-29C.
Nighttime temps may fall to 65F / 18C.

There is no need to purchase expensive basking lights from a pet store which cost you an arm as well as a leg, a regular household bulb may be used. I favor spot lights which are chromed at the very top. Purchase a number of different watts, for instance 60w, 80w, 100w, 150w since you need to measure the temperature till you get it just right. Any lights which you will not make use of may be used in your house. The basking area should have a tree branch, log or rocks for the dragon that will climb on to bask. You have to measure the temps on the highest point using a digital temperature gauge.

The habitat should be big enough allowing the dragon to retreat to a cooler area (referred to as thermoregulation).

Should the temps inside the habitat fall below 65F during the night you may purchase a good under tank heater meant for nighttime usage. Don’t use heat rocks since they cause significant burns. I prefer ceramic emitters for nights. These products become extremely hot and should only be used in porcelain/ceramic light sockets since the amount of heat
it produce can be sufficient to melt normal plastic-type light sockets.
Don’t use any night light due to the fact nearly all dragons need total darkness in order to rest.

You need a digital temperature gauge on the “hot side” and one on the “cooler side”..

UVA - UVB lights.

Bearded Dragons need full spectrum lighting for 12-14 hrs a day.

The flourecent UVB light ought to stretch the distance of the Dragons habitat and it should be 6-8 inches away from him or her. When you buy the light you will need to ensure that it is suggested for a Bearded Dragon as well as study the guidelines thoroughly. They will will specify exactly how far the UV light should be from the dragon, should you not adhere to the guidelines the item may lead to significant health problems. Replace the light every 6 months.

Type of flooring:

Use reptile carpet.. Cut this in to sections so that a person simply have to take out the actual dirty portion and not the furnishings.

The following can cause impaction.

• Corn Cob
• Walnut Shell:
• Calcisand
• Repti Bark
• Original lizard litter (made from the kenfa tree) and Jungle Blend

Substrates like mulch, shredded tree bark, or corn cob must never be used since they could carry moisture and stimulate bacterial growth. Any kind of wood shaving like cedar or pine must be avoided.

Items required inside the habitat.

• A thermostat to control the heating element. You can use 2 of them, one for the warm area of the enclosure and the second for the cool area,
• Tree branches cleaned with F10 
• Rocks they can’t dig under, soaked in the bath and washed with 10% bleach or F10.

Below the basking light must be a branch or rock so the dragon may move both horizontally and vertically to thermoregulate.
• Ceramic food bowl
• Water bowl as large as the dragon.

Bearded Dragons are the best pets!

Bearded Dragons make some of the best reptile pets. They reach a manageable size of about 18-22 inches. However, getting a Bearded Dragon is a serious commitment. They can live from 5-12 years in captivity.

There are several reasons why you should choose a Bearded Dragon as your pet:

• They are very gentle and loyal
• They are docile, hardy and tame. They are one of the few reptiles that enjoy attention
• Bearded Dragons are easy to handle
• They are manageable, due to their small size
• It’s a very suitable pet if you have kids (under supervision)

A beginner owner should look at buying a juvenile and not a hatchling.

8 Things to consider before buying a Bearded Dragon

Before deciding on buying a Bearded Dragon, you should consider a few things:

1. Are you sure you want the dragon?

Never buy on impulse. You are in a store and see a lovely dragon and immediately decide to get it. Most of the dragons sold this way, will die within one year.

• You are walking through a pet store and come across a terrarium with bearded dragons. You notice the awful conditions and feel bad for the animals. So, you decide to buy on the instant. This way you will save the poor animal from the horrible cage. Think twice before you do this! Actually, these stores use the tactic of a pity purchase such as rescuing a bearded dragon in hope to sell more dragons. If you buy the animal you will help them survive and sell another and another animal. In the same conditions.

2. Do you know how to deal them?

• Always get care information before you buy your reptile and bring him or home home. Learn everything you find about housing, feeding, caring and the diseases beardies get. Get more information sources – books, magazines and personal experiences of experts and owners.

3. Do you exactly know what you have to do?

• Organize before you get the dragon. Create a list and go get the equipment you need. Set up the cage properly and let it run for at least a week to make sure the temps are correct and everything else is working. Find a trusty source for the crickets. Check grocery stores which sell the right vegetables.

4. Do you have access to fast professional medical help?

Is there a qualified Herp Vet in your area? Newly acquired Bearded Dragons should always have a fecal sample tested for parasites and a general health checkup. It is also a good idea to have them retested for parasites at least once a year.

5. Will you have the time to feed, upkeep the cage and clean up after a bearded dragon, daily, during his or her life?

• You will need a certain amount of time to care for the beardie and they need to have out of cage time every day. They need to be fed every day and it takes time to make a salad in the morning.
• You won’t be able to travel somewhere for long periods of time and leave the dragon at home. It is also difficult to find a person willing to handle crickets or worms to feed your dragons while you are away.

6. Do you have the money to care for a bearded dragon?

• Dragons may come cheap but their proper care will cost you. They eat plenty and needs to be fed daily, you need money for greens, vegetables, fruits, crickets, roaches, supplements etc. They also need a UVB light that are very expensive and needs to be replaced every 6 months. On top of that you need money for vet trips and all of this become costly over time.

7. Are you willing to keep roaches, mealworms etc. in your fridge, what about live insects in the house?

• This one can be a real difficult problem. Everybody in the household must be ok with it.

Buying your Bearded Dragon

The beardies should watch you with interest as you walk up to the enclosure and should also have bright and alert eyes. Dont buy the beardie if he seems lethargic.

Dont buy a beardie that is less than 6 inches in length. Baby Beardies are very fragile and become ill or overly stressed very easily.

You beardies new home must be completely set up before bringing him home. Additionally, make sure your new family member is allowed enough time to adjust to its new home. Wait three or four days before attempting to handle him and always supervise children when they interact with pets. You can cover 3 sides of the cage so that your dragon will feel more safe. You can remove the covering when he is settled in.


When buying a dragon, look for these good signs:

1. A tail curled up towards the head
2. Active and basking
3. The eyes are clear and open. There should be no mucus or crust.
4. Overall alertness. When you pick it up, it should show some movement and alertness.
5. Fat tail base
6. Head is up and dragon is perky
7. Perched under basking light with head up and body raised
8. No bones showing
9. Rounded body contours

Also, check for these bad signs:

1. Lethargy
2. Any form of excretions around the eyes
3. Missing toes, tail nip
4. No movement
5. Depressions in back of head
6. Head and body not raised
7. Eyes closed or half closed
8. Hip bones showing, spine prominent
9. Fecal smearing around vent
10. Open wounds, scabbing
11. External parasites
12. The conditions of the place where the dragon live, is it a dirty place, improper lighting and/or heating, feces left in cage, too many dragons crowded in small cage?

If the dragon and the place where it lives are in a poor condition then there is a good chance you’ll get an animal with a poor health.

MOST IMPORTANTLY NEVER BUY TWO! No matter how cute they look together - THEY DO NOT WANT TO BE TOGETHER! Dragons are lone animals and do not require a friend, see them like a leopard. If you put two males together you will have extremely stressed dragons. As they grow they WILL fight with the intention to kill! If you put a male and female together then they will breed constantly and this will deprive your female from a long and happy life - she WILL die early. Male and females can also fight. Two females can live together but they WILL NEVER choose to and will always be stressed to an agree!
bearded dragons

Bearded Dragons Facts and Myths

Myth: Bearded Dragons are lazy.

It is very sad that so many people think the problem lays with the dragon and not with themselves. Bearded Dragons kept in thriving conditions, allowed loads of freedom and sunshine are active. They bask until they reached the desired temperature and then move around the rest of the time, foraging for food, running over rocks, ‘play’ etc. They are extremely busy creatures most of the day!

Myth: Bearded Dragons should always stay in their enclosure

Keeping a Bearded Dragon locked up is like a sentence to hell for these guys. Being locked up is unnatural, it is against their nature to be confined to one space. This will lead to desperate boredom that are interpreted as laziness. If you take your Dragon out and he just stays in one area then it is because he was not at the desired temperature or the area where you want him to roam is too cold, it has got nothing to do with laziness.

Myth: Bearded Dragons display stress lines on their tummies.

The lines that sometimes appear on the tummy does not mean that he is stressed. The outward appearance of Dragons reflects their mood. They become darker to absorb more heat and this will cause the lines to be more prominent, they also have a dark ugly appearance when bored and unhappy and no lines might be visible. They show more orange when happy and active and a light appearance when they are hot. After a swim in the ‘rain’ they will make themselves darker to absorb more heat from the sun and the lines will also be more prominent. My one dragon’s beard goes black when he is up to mischief and in his element. My other dragon’s beard goes orange when he has his mind set on something. Both their beards go black when they encounter each other and no lines appear on the tummies although they are both clearly stressed. If you get to know your dragon by heart you will be able to read the outward appearance correctly.

Myth: Bearded Dragons hate change and need days to settle into a new environment.

We are not talking about relocation stress, a newly acquired Dragon needs to settle in for at least a week before handling may start.
Dragons love exploring new environments, they get bored with the same cage set up and you need to change things around to stimulate natural behaviour. They love going on holiday and show absolutely no signs of stress or even unhappiness, as long as you are around they are thriving. If your dragon could choose he will most probably choose to hang around on your shoulder for most part of the day. The only thing they do hate is being locked up.


Myth: Bearded dragons can be housed together successfully.

In nature when bearded dragons hatch they run to find a SOLITARY and thriving environment, FREE from fellow siblings, predators and even other species of dragon. They are not social creatures, their first and strongest instinct is to get away from all other and stay away until their hormones drive them to mate. Even then, they mate and disappear never to be seen together again.
Yes, people house them together but will never have a thriving dragon. No, it cannot be done successfully, you cannot alter nature.

Myth: Dragons dont need to drink water, they get all their water from the food.

Their natural environment gets between 200-250mm of rain a year and therefore it is referred to as desert. In order to survive the plants retain the water in their leafs, stems and roots. In the wild bearded dragons get their water from eating these plants but we do not feed our dragons desert plants. Our plants do not retain water because they are grown in high rainfall areas. Dragons kept in captivity need additional water, it is like super juice to them.

Myth: Dragons absorb water through their skin. (People even say that about iguanas - it is FALSE.)

There are documents on the internet written by a well known woman who suggest this theory. However, it was written based on studies dated 1988 to 1996. It has since been proven that reptiles do not absorb water through their skin.

Myth: You need to chop the heads off superworms or they will chew a hole through the bearded dragons stomach.

Complete nonsense, no feeder will survive all the way down to the stomach.

Fact: Feeders left in the cage will nibble on your dragon while he sleeps.

Crickets, roaches, all insects will bite your dragon during the night. Insects that are hungry eat each other and will eat anything that is placed in front of them, they are like garbage disposals.

Myth: Calci-sand is digestible and can safely be used as a substrate.

Calci-sand contains calcium carbonate which is used as an antacid. The direction for human consumption clearly states that it should never be used for longer than 2 weeks. There are also clear instructions of what to do if overdosing occurred and hospitalization is required. Humans are a thousand times bigger than a reptile, if we cant use it safely for more than 2 weeks how can reptiles live on it for months even years? Calci-sand neutralize the acid in the reptiles stomach, in high doses, this can easily lead to an impaction as the reptiles acid would become so neutralized that it would no longer be able to digest any additional calci-sand.
It causes constipation.
Calcium carbonate is also noted as causing hypercalcemia, this can lead to muscle weakness, spinal column curvature, psychological issues, nerve damage and many more issues.
Dust from the Calci-sand cause eye and lung irritation.

Myth: You can safely keep Bearded Dragons on play sand or any other particulate substrate when they are adults

Firstly Bearded Dragons do not live on sand. The soil scape of the Australian outback is extremely varied, from hard rock, cracked clay, hard packed soils, to compact dunes, and bushland soils. Patches of soil become more ‘dirt’ or darker soils, as the trees and foliage die. Other areas become stripped with rain, leaving hard rock and clay, left to ‘bake’ as the weather warms. Some areas, for instance Uluru, or the Olgas or Mt Connor are proof of terrential rains in the wet season, and the fact this place used to be underwater and a big ocean, that the landscape is practically ‘stripped’ of loose soils. It is just a big rock. In nature Bearded dragons die from predation, hit by cars and from impaction. If impaction causes death in the wild how can we then force them to live on unnatural desert sand for years inside a cage? 1% Chance of impaction is 100% too much.

Another reason for not using sand is sanitation, the urine filters into the sand and is impossible to remove. Stick your head into a cage with sand and keep it there for a moment, you will feel sick from the smell.

Some people say that they use sand because their dragon likes burrowing under it. Dragons only bury themselves under sand when there are no other safe hiding areas, provide them with shaded plants etc. and the burrowing stop.

Myth : You can make a bearded dragon (pogona vitticeps) a vegetarian.

Bearded Dragons need protein in the form of meat, without it they will be malnourished, ill, underweight, un thriving and non growing.

Myth: Bearded Dragons are Mean and Aggressive

When a Dragon display aggression it is usually a clear indication of stress or illness or wrong husbandry. Bearded Dragons enjoy human contact to such a degree that some of them will refuse to go back into the cage.