Have you ever considered owning a dragon as a pet?
– Ben Dessen. Reptile Department Manager, Kellyville Pets.
Lifespan: 10-15 years.
Adult size: 40-60cm
Enclosure size: 90 x 45 x 60cm (minimum).
Diet: Live insects, fruits, vegetables & Vetafarm Lizard Food.
Equipment and maintenance
Providing adequate temperature gradients within a dragon’s enclosure is essential for maintaining their health and wellbeing. Bearded dragons require a hot basking spot maintained between 35-40˚C. They should have access to an elevated piece of timber, or a rock ornament to allow them to bask within 30cm of the heat source. The cool end of the enclosure should be maintained between 24-26˚C and should not drop below 18-21˚C at night.
Temperatures should be checked daily and must be regulated with the use of a good quality thermostat. Recommended sources of heat include the use of incandescent, halogen, ceramic (night time) and mercury vapour globes, along with a heat mat as a secondary source of heating.
Ultraviolet light (UV) plays an important role in a dragon’s growth and development. A 10.0 UVB tube or compact globe must be used as a source of artificial UV lighting in the dragon’s enclosure. Dragon’s should also have access to unfiltered, natural light at least once or twice a week. Maintaining a ‘day and night’ cycle with heat and UV lights set on a timer that runs for approximately 10-12 hours each day, is also required.
Fresh water should be available to the dragon at all times and changed daily. Young hatchlings also enjoy a very light misting of water on hot days in summer and often drink droplets of water off ornaments in the enclosure.
Bearded dragons are active, sun-loving reptiles that spend considerable time basking each day. Dragons are solitary animals and should generally be housed on their own, to avoid dominance and aggression issues between dragons.
For one adult dragon a glass or timber enclosure of at least 90x45x60cm is recommended, however, a 120x45x60cm enclosure is also ideal. It is important that the enclosure has sufficient ventilation as well as a secure, lockable door.
The enclosure can be furnished with a basking log or rock, background, artificial plants and a water and feed dish. An absorbent substrate is also important such as a fine-grade reptile safe desert sand or artificial grass repti-mat.
Cleaning & Hygiene
It is important to maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene within the dragon’s enclosure. Daily ‘spot checks’ should be carried out, sifting substrate to remove any faeces, shed skin or uneaten food. A full substrate change should be carried out every 2-3 months (depending on what substrate is used) and the enclosure thoroughly cleaned with a reptile-safe disinfectant such as Vetafarm’s Enclosure Clean.
Bearded dragons are omnivores and feed on a range of live insects and plant matter. In captivity bearded dragons should be fed a variety of both live foods and fruits and vegetables. Hatchling and juvenile dragons will consume more live food than vegetables (80:20) with sub-adult and adult dragons consuming more fruits and vegetables (50:50).
Live foods suitable for bearded dragons include; crickets, woodies, black soldier fly larvae, mealworms (in moderation) and silkworms. All live foods should be dusted with Vetafarm’s Multical Dust before being offered. As a guide, the size of live insects should be no larger than the space between the lizard’s eyes. Fruits and vegetables that can be offered include; kale, endive, parsley, Asian greens, apple, carrot, beans, broccoli, zucchini and squash. Commercially available lizard pellets such as Vetafarm Lizard Food can also be mixed through the chopped fruits and vegetables to provide extra nutrition for the dragon. Juvenile dragons should be fed daily (live food twice daily for very young hatchlings) and adults can be offered food every second day.