Some people prefer dogs. Others prefer cats. Still others look for pets that are a bit more exotic and purchase guinea pigs and iguanas as a family pet. If you've decided to open your home to a brand new pet that walks a little on the wild side, the following bearded dragon facts will come in handy when you're determining whether or not this exotic animal is right for you.
What is a bearded dragon?
The term "bearded dragon" is generally used to describe the Central Bearded Dragon which makes its home in Australia. They are members of the Pogona genus of lizards and are characterized by spiny scales that exist in rows along their throat which expand when the animals becomes threatened by a potential predator. These rows of scales give the bearded dragon its name as they resemble a beard that puffs up around the animal when it is attempting to protect itself. Bearded dragons range in size from 12 to 24 inches and weigh anywhere from 10 to 20 ounces. Bearded dragons come in a variety of colors such as gray, brown and orange, and males can change colors when courting a female bearded dragon.
What do bearded dragons eat?
Because bearded dragons are native to the desert of central Australia, they are used to a habitat where food is generally scarce. The species is omnivorous-meaning they eat both plants and other animals-and typically consume a diet comprised of crickets, locusts, waxworms, silkworms and roaches, as well as a variety of vegetables which range from collard greens, turnips, carrots and parsley to pumpkins, peas and carrots. Most bearded dragons also eat a variety of flowers and vegetation such as dandelions, hibiscus, pansies and rose petals as well as fruits that include strawberries, raspberries, grapes, mangoes, pears, peaches and papayas.
Where do bearded dragons live?
Bearded dragons are found in arid rocky regions in the wild of Australia and spend the vast majority of their time climbing to the tops of bushes and branches where they bask in the sunlight during the early mornings and late afternoons. Bearded dragons that are kept as pets must have habitats that mimic the ones in which they would typically be found in the wild. Glass terrariums are the most popular type of habitat used to house a domesticated bearded dragon as they come in several different sizes and can fit a variety of plants. An adult bearded dragon requires a 60-75 gallon terrarium in order to be housed properly. The enclosure used to house a bearded dragon should also be outfitted with plenty of moss, driftwood, sand and other greenery to make his new home as much like the wild as possible. Be sure to provide a basking area and hiding spot so your bearded dragon can get away from visitors he may view as predators. It is important to secure a screen across the top of your bearded dragon's enclosure so he cannot escape from it.
Do bearded dragons make good pets?
Bearded dragons are often considered to be good house pets for beginning reptile owners as they are easy to care for and relatively docile around adults and children. However, their nutritional needs are complex and they require a fair amount of socialization, so it's imperative to have the time and willingness to care for them properly before making one a part of your family.