Getting Started - A New Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragons are Solitary Creatures
Males housed together will generally attempt to hurt or kill each other.
Male female combinations will create stress and over-breeding for the female. Over-breeding may take years off of the female's life. There can be breeding complications as well, especially if she is over-bred (more than once a year) or bred too young (at less than a year and a half old). These breeding complications, such as egg-binding, can kill the female very quickly if veterinary help is not found. Even if no problems are observed and the female seems fine, females housed with males generally have shorter life spans than those who are not housed with males. Years shorter. There is no way to keep Bearded Dragons from breeding if housed together. Although there are some myths about doing it out there, none of these pan out. Nor are there common procedures for spaying or neutering lizards. There is a common misconception floating around that Bearded Dragons only breed after their winter brumation (hibernation-lite). This is untrue. The Bearded Dragon whose head is at the top of the page, for example, was conceived in the middle of winter.
Female female combinations work in isolated cases, but usually dominance issues, injuries, or deaths result.
All three combinations often result in heightened risk of illness, failure to thrive (one or both are not growing properly, are too thin, etc.), injuries, permanent mutilations (Bearded Dragons do not regrow body parts) and deaths.
Choosing a Bearded Dragon
When choosing a Bearded Dragon, there are some things to look for. First, make sure that he is active and plump. His eyes should be bright, and he should be interactive with his surroundings. He should not be missing any body parts. Also, although it is tempting to get the smallest, cutest little one, Bearded Dragons are extremely fragile before they are six inches in length. They are much more likely to contract illnesses, and they still need to be fed around 5 times a day and other similar care things. They are just much more high maintenance before they reach six inches. So, unless you are very experienced, make sure that you buy a dragon six inches or larger from snout to tail. Another thing to look at is that they have a non-particulate substrate and other basic things in care, like a UVB light. If they don't have this, the place may not have given them a good start in life and they may be unhealthy. Also, make sure that the majority are not missing tails or toes. While this sometimes happens to the best of breeders, it should not happen often, and this too is a sign that they are not getting the best care and may not be healthy.
If you are buying from a online breeder, there are other things to watch out for. First, only buy from those that have a care sheet that you can look at, so you can see if they are taking good care of their hatchlings. Second, only buy from those that show you a picture of the hatchling you are buying. Make sure they have a warranty, as well. If they have a page for their breeders, which most do, go there and check that all of their breeders are above 18 inches, the minimum size for a female to safely be bred and a good genetic size for the male. Good breeders will have animals of that size are larger. Make sure that both breeders and hatchlings rarely have tail and toe nips. Lastly, there is a place called the Fauna Board of Inquiry that allows you to look up the reputations of particular breeders. It is wise to look up a breeder there before buying from them, whether they are local or online.
Note: On the links page, under breeding, I have included various online breeders of Bearded Dragons. I have already checked all the things I mentioned except for the warranty, and some of them I have personally talked to at some length in forums where we both give advise about breeding dragons, and if you want to start looking at online breeders any of these would be a good start.
Some Bearded Dragons go through something called relocation stress. This is when the Bearded Dragon is moved to a new place, or sometimes just when something in the tank is changed, and the Bearded Dragon reacts by going off his food, not being as active, and being generally less chipper. This doesn't happen for some Bearded Dragons, but in most it does. It can last from a couple of days up to two weeks. If your Bearded Dragon is going through relocation stress, keep the handling to the minimum and be patient. Before you know it they'll adjust and be back to their normal selves.
Bearded Dragon Shopping List
Starting from scratch, you will need:
1. An enclosure made out of either glass, plexiglass, wood, or melamine, that is at least a 40 gallon breeder in size (36 by 18 by 16 inches). 75 gallon or larger would be better, and 4 by 2 by 2 would be ideal.
2. A dome reptile fixture (preferably ceramic) for a basking light, and a common household bulb.
3. A digital thermometer with probe or an infrared thermometer, and a hygrometer. It is possible to find a thermometer that also measures humidity, so you don't need to buy a separate hygrometer.
4. A UVB light and fixture. Suitable lights are the fluorescent: Reptisun 10.0, Arcadia D3 + 12%, Reptisun 5.0, or Reptiglo 8.0. Or a Mercury Vapor Bulb: Megaray, T-Rex, or Powersun. Bearded Dragons have one of the highest UVB requirements of all captive lizards, so most UVB lights aren't designed for their extremely high UVB needs and won't put out enough UVB rays to keep them healthy. In this case, brand make and model are exceedingly important, and there are very few I haven't listed that are adequate for Bearded Dragons.
5. A substrate for flooring such astextured tiles, nonadhesive and textured shelfliner(you can find this in various colors), reptile carpet, paper towels, or newspaper. If your Beardie is 16 inches or larger, you can use silicone free washed and sifted children's playsandas well.
6. A piece of wood or rock formation to serve as a basking site.
7. A place to house the insects, like a cricket keeper or a large rubber maid. You also need insects. Staple insects are crickets, silkworms, roaches, locusts, hornworms, andphoenix worms. If your Beardie is 16 inches or larger, superworms can also be staple insects.
8. A saucer or food bowl for salad. For suitable salad, see Beautiful Dragon's Nutrition Content page.
9. A calcium and multivitamin supplementation (preferably not in one).
10. If your house get below 65 degrees F. at night, a Ceramic Heat Emitter for night time heat.
1. Something to serve as climbing furniture.
2. A dimmer to attach the basking light to.
3. A light timer.
4. A water bowl, preferably shallow and large enough for your entire Bearded Dragon's body to fit inside.