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happypamama

Bearded Dragons

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My almost 13yo really wants a bearded dragon. DH and I are reading about how they need to be fed multiple times a day, need frequent baths, need frequent vet visits, etc. We have a leopard gecko that we’ve had for twelve years, and she’s super easy — feed crickets and give new water a few times a week, clean out the aquarium periodically, etc. She’s really easy. Are beardies really that much more work?? Not that we necessarily want to do the minimum care, but we’d like to have a realistic view. Can you tell me what it really looks like at your house, and what the parent needs to do vs. what a conscientious 13yo can do?

Edited by happypamama

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We have an adult

Rescue and it’s not that hard. She doesn’t eat multiple times a day. We give her greens each day and feed crickets or super worms maybe twice a week. Baths twice a week. Baths are easy and we just put water in a small sterilite bin with certain drops (removes chlorine maybe?). She chills in there for a few minutes (it’s how they hydrate) and sometimes poops.

 

Proper equipment is a must. Heat lamp plus uv light (Repti-glo 10.0) is critical. Calcium spray for food. Our beardie has metabolic bone disease because the previous owner didn’t use the right lights.

 

You can leave them at home for about 4 days if you need to, which makes vacationing a lot easier. Just put the lights on a timer.

 

We have never taken care of a baby though, so I don’t know how much work that would be. They’re so cute that any extra work would be worth it!

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I Have them naturally  in my garden. They are native to my area (Australia). they are so much fun to watch. They jump  to catch flying insects. One has worked out it can just walk past the bee hives for a quick snack. They are really good at  blending in and can be quite hard to spot in their natural environment.

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I don't have one, but friends do. 

 

They need to be fed multiple times a day, yes. This makes it harder to get a friend to come over and feed them when you are out of town.

 

They should be bathed at least once a week, twice a week in the warmer months. That's actually one of the more fun things you can do with them, though. They're not a barrel of excitement, lol. 

 

You'd have to get a much bigger tank for the dragon than what you have for the gecko, and they need UVB lights. 

 

The dragon will view the gecko as prey, so you'd have to be careful about keeping them apart and making sure cages are secure. If they are in the same room, you'll have to cover some sides of the cages and arrange them so that the gecko is not constantly stressed by seeing a predator. 

 

And I'm sure you know this, but dragons can live well over ten years, so it will be your pet at some point, lol. 

 

 

 

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Beardies are on the medium side-since they are omnivores, you need both types of food, and it can get expensive. Dubia are easier than crickets to manage, but can be hard to find a local supplier. Beardies are super sweet and adorable.

Edited by dmmetler
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We have an adult

Rescue and it’s not that hard. She doesn’t eat multiple times a day. We give her greens each day and feed crickets or super worms maybe twice a week. Baths twice a week. Baths are easy and we just put water in a small sterilite bin with certain drops (removes chlorine maybe?). She chills in there for a few minutes (it’s how they hydrate) and sometimes poops.

 

Proper equipment is a must. Heat lamp plus uv light (Repti-glo 10.0) is critical. Calcium spray for food. Our beardie has metabolic bone disease because the previous owner didn’t use the right lights.

 

You can leave them at home for about 4 days if you need to, which makes vacationing a lot easier. Just put the lights on a timer.

 

We have never taken care of a baby though, so I don’t know how much work that would be. They’re so cute that any extra work would be worth it!

That doesn't sound difficult at all.  He would like to get an adult one, so that should help some.

 

I don't have one, but friends do. 

 

They need to be fed multiple times a day, yes. This makes it harder to get a friend to come over and feed them when you are out of town.

 

They should be bathed at least once a week, twice a week in the warmer months. That's actually one of the more fun things you can do with them, though. They're not a barrel of excitement, lol. 

 

You'd have to get a much bigger tank for the dragon than what you have for the gecko, and they need UVB lights. 

 

The dragon will view the gecko as prey, so you'd have to be careful about keeping them apart and making sure cages are secure. If they are in the same room, you'll have to cover some sides of the cages and arrange them so that the gecko is not constantly stressed by seeing a predator. 

 

And I'm sure you know this, but dragons can live well over ten years, so it will be your pet at some point, lol. 

Yeah, so I hear.  But that's okay.  We have lots of siblings who will be old enough to help at some point too.

 

No worries about keeping them apart -- they'd be in completely different rooms.

 

Beardies are on the medium side-since they are omnivores, you need both types of food, and it can get expensive. Dubia are easier than crickets to manage, but can be hard to find a local supplier. Beardies are super sweet and adorable.

Rough idea of how much to feed them per week?  We're used to getting the crickets weekly, so it wouldn't be a big deal to get a larger quantity.  I'd like to know how much larger of a quantity though.

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It can be quite a bit, depending on the dragon and the season (they usually Brumate in the winter in the USA). Juveniles are more carnivorous, and tend to eat a dozen or so insects a day. Like most herps, they will cost more and be more difficult to feed when they are young, but simpler as adults. Adults gradually move to eating more vegetables, and will tend to eat a good sized meal of 10 or so Dubia or 15 or so large crickets a few times a week. Vegetables are their water source, as well as a food source.

 

The biggest change will be the UV needs for a beardie over a Leo. You should also powder insects for a beardie to supplement vitamin D. If you have the day/night bulbs on timers, that will help a lot. Be aware that your electricity cost will probably go up, and that those bulbs are extremely expensive andncan be a pain to find.

 

One of DD’s conference contacts is a gentleman who wrote the first published paper on wild Bearded dragon behavior (I’m sure generations of Australians had made similar observations, just hadn’t published :) ). It’s really neat to see all those wild behaviors in captivity.

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It can be quite a bit, depending on the dragon and the season (they usually Brumate in the winter in the USA). Juveniles are more carnivorous, and tend to eat a dozen or so insects a day. Like most herps, they will cost more and be more difficult to feed when they are young, but simpler as adults. Adults gradually move to eating more vegetables, and will tend to eat a good sized meal of 10 or so Dubia or 15 or so large crickets a few times a week. Vegetables are their water source, as well as a food source.

 

The biggest change will be the UV needs for a beardie over a Leo. You should also powder insects for a beardie to supplement vitamin D. If you have the day/night bulbs on timers, that will help a lot. Be aware that your electricity cost will probably go up, and that those bulbs are extremely expensive andncan be a pain to find.

 

One of DD’s conference contacts is a gentleman who wrote the first published paper on wild Bearded dragon behavior (I’m sure generations of Australians had made similar observations, just hadn’t published :) ). It’s really neat to see all those wild behaviors in captivity.

Okay, that's helpful.  So I'd roughly buy 50 large crickets a week for an adult (he wants an adult)?  We buy around 25-30 now, which runs about $4, depending on where I get them, so that's not horrible for a pet.  

 

Is it possible to raise the crickets yourself?  I've wondered that for years.  It's not really a problem to go buy them, since I can send the older kids in (and not have to get all the littles unbuckled), but it does mean I have to keep tabs on when the pet store closes because I can't buy the food at the 24 hour grocery store.

 

We'd definitely get a timer for the lights.  A light like this? (I'd get a couple and always have a spare on hand.) https://www.amazon.com/Exo-Terra-Repti-Glo-Fluorescent-Terrarium/dp/B00101GDIG

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I Have them naturally  in my garden. They are native to my area (Australia). they are so much fun to watch. They jump  to catch flying insects. One has worked out it can just walk past the bee hives for a quick snack. They are really good at  blending in and can be quite hard to spot in their natural environment.

 

Same here. We saw one burying her eggs in our front yard a while back. That was very cool to see. 

I tried to load a photo, but it didn't work for some reason. You'll have to imagine how fabulous it is  ;) .

 

Blue-tongue lizards are also pretty cool. My parents had one in their yard that would climb up into the chicken coop and eat the eggs. My Mum would just pick it up and lift it out  :) .

 

No idea what they'd be like as pets, but they are lovely native animals here.

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Blue tonged skinks are pretty good pets, too. They have the advantage of typically being pretty slow and placid. We’re hoping to go to NZ and Aus in 2020 for the World Congress on Herpetology, and are hoping to get to see some of the pet store herps in the wild :).

 

Yes, you can raise crickets yourself. It’s not terribly hard, but rather smelly.

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We have an adult, and we love him so much!! He is citrus, which are really cute. They are great pets. He is super lovable and just loves to hang out on us or in a sunny spot of our kitchen. He especially loves sitting in front of our screened door in the sun (in the winter it's an all glass storm so still warm) We do not even feed every day, but most. He has a bowl in his cage and gets whatever fruits and vegetables I'm preparing at any time. We supplement with crickets... we buy 100 every couple of weeks and distribute every other day or so. And every 4 or 5 times we get crickets we also get some superworms. I do know people who raise their own crickets, but I have no interest in doing that! He gets bathed regularly but prob not every week. He's very clean... does not like to go in his cage. He lets us know that he wants to go by scratching to get out of his cage. Then we'll put him outside so he can go on the grass. In the winter he goes on the kitchen floor (yeah, I know, pretty gross) and I clean it right up. Ours has only been to the vet once in the three plus years we've had him, for tail rot, which cleared right up with some antibiotics. We completely clean his cage every few months (new sand/walnut shells) We have the two lights. He's pretty much my pet so I do most of the care, but I think it's all doable for a 13 year old.

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We have an adult, and we love him so much!! He is citrus, which are really cute. They are great pets. He is super lovable and just loves to hang out on us or in a sunny spot of our kitchen. He especially loves sitting in front of our screened door in the sun (in the winter it's an all glass storm so still warm) We do not even feed every day, but most. He has a bowl in his cage and gets whatever fruits and vegetables I'm preparing at any time. We supplement with crickets... we buy 100 every couple of weeks and distribute every other day or so. And every 4 or 5 times we get crickets we also get some superworms. I do know people who raise their own crickets, but I have no interest in doing that! He gets bathed regularly but prob not every week. He's very clean... does not like to go in his cage. He lets us know that he wants to go by scratching to get out of his cage. Then we'll put him outside so he can go on the grass. In the winter he goes on the kitchen floor (yeah, I know, pretty gross) and I clean it right up. Ours has only been to the vet once in the three plus years we've had him, for tail rot, which cleared right up with some antibiotics. We completely clean his cage every few months (new sand/walnut shells) We have the two lights. He's pretty much my pet so I do most of the care, but I think it's all doable for a 13 year old.

That sounds totally doable.  Thank you!

 

Dumb question -- do you put him on a leash when you take him out?  I've heard that they can get lost in small nooks and crannies, and we have a lot of those.

 

Google is saying 40 gallon tank.  Expensive!

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Their front leg waiving to let other lizardsknow that it is their territory is pretty interesting. I had one balancedon a small stick over the frog pond the other day doing the leg waving. I couldn't spot what other lizards it was signaling to though.

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40 is too small for most adult beardies. More like 75 or even 125 for a big one. They need a big enough enclosure to get a range of temperatures.

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40 is too small for most adult beardies. More like 75 or even 125 for a big one. They need a big enough enclosure to get a range of temperatures.

Oh wow!  That's really good to know.  Hmmmm. . . 

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Their front leg waiving to let other lizardsknow that it is their territory is pretty interesting. I had one balancedon a small stick over the frog pond the other day doing the leg waving. I couldn't spot what other lizards it was signaling to though.

They do that at people in pet stores. It looks like they’re waving hello, as opposed to ‘hey, big lizard, stay away, this is my turf :) ). They get used to people who belong in their home, so you don’r See as much waving, head bobbing etc.

 

Be aware if you do any Reptile nights, 4H clubs, etc,-beardies, especially males, are territorial and try to get the attention of females-including those not of their species. They’re great display animals, as long as you only have one. Especially when it’s a nice, warm day and a bit humid...

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We have had beardies in the family for the past 14 years... my oldest got her first baby on her 13th birthday (she wanted one when she was 10 but we waited). 

A healthy beardie will live 7-10 years. 

 

A 40 gallon tank is the MINIMUM size for an adult bearded dragon... and it would not be very happy...

There are some nice 60 gallon herp tanks (side slides open) that make cleaning easier-- but they are costly.  There are plans out on the internet so you can build your own...

 

My dd uses 75-80 gallon aquariums for hers (only one beardie per tank).  One side is the climbing/basking area and 'hiding cave' and the other side is the food/poo area.  She trains hers to 'go' on a newspaper or paper towel-- makes a quick pick up so much easier.

 

The adults get veggies every morning and a few crickets or worms a few times each week.  Bath time is 1-2 times each week.

 

DD uses a leash when she takes hers outside in the summer.  Drako (my avatar) lived almost 8 years.  He LOVED hanging out on dd's lap when she homeschooled.  He was also patient as she dressed him up... Her favorite yearly outing with him was our town's Forth of July parade...

 

We have had lots of fun building tank items (climbing/basking wall and caves)... some have been pretty elaborate.  DD's current beardie is brumating inside a 2ft tall R2D2...

 

When ours were babies we ordered crickets by the 500's and even 1000's.  Babies can eat 30-50 per day so mail order is the only way to go.  We have friends who breed their own roaches (Dubia)-- they do not escape and they do not smell as bad as crickets.  I had a silk-worm colony going for about 5 years once... they were interesting to raise (and the local schools loved us!).

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