Caring For Your Bearded Dragon: Part 1
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Caring For Your Bearded Dragon: Part 1

Many people like to have reptiles as pets. The Central Bearded Dragon (Pagona vitticeps) is one of the most common reptiles people enjoy having as pets. When in nature, they tend to live in semi-desert regions that are rocky and arid. They also inhabit areas of Australia, typically the dry, open woodlands.

In captivity, adults can grow between sixteen and twenty-four inches from head to tail, and can weigh up to twenty ounces. They can also live for quite some time in captivity, usually between eight and twelve years. Since they are relatively easy to take care of, and have a very hardy nature, they make terrific family pets.

Habitat/Living conditions

Housing for your bearded dragon is very important. Even though you will need quite a few items, once everything is set up, maintenance is fairly easy. First off, you will need a large terrarium. Even if your dragon is small when you first get it, a 55 gallon terrarium is ideal. That way, you do not need to keep buying a bigger terrarium every time your dragon grows . The bigger terrarium also gives plenty of room for your dragon to run around.

The terrarium should have screen lids on the top, providing good air circulation and air flow. The screen lids also give excellent access to heat sources and light, and gives a chance for any excess humidity to leave.

Lighting is very important. It needs to be full-spectrum lighting, running anywhere from 12-14 hours a day. Your dragon should have something to climb on so he/she can get close to the light. Anywhere from 6-8 inches away is ideal. heat lamps are also vitally important, especially at night when temperatures drop. The best (and safest) heat lamps are ceramic heat emitters that you put inside a light fixture that has a porcelain dome. The temperature of the basking spot is different for juveniles and adults. For juveniles, it should be around 110 degrees F (43 C), and for adults it should be around 95 degrees F (35 C). During the day, the temperature on the cooler side of the habitat should be around 85 degrees F (30 C). It's a good idea to have a thermometer on both sides of the enclosure to monitor the temperature.

The flooring of the habitat also varies from juveniles to adults. For juveniles, the best types of flooring are: butcher paper, paper towels, reptile carpeting, or newspaper. It's gentler on their feet and claws, and there is little chance that they will pick up something harmful while eating. For adults, it changes to: sand (specially made for reptiles), or tiles.

Accessories are also a big part of the habitat. Dragons like to feel secure and safe, and also need stimulation from their surroundings. Some accessories that can help with this are: branches ( to climb on), a "hide" (an enclosed area to escape from light, and sometimes people), a hammock for the tank, a basking platform that is 6-8 inches from the light, and a background that goes on the glass wall of the tank (this is for security). All of these items can help your dragon to feel more secure and at home.

As you can see, getting ready to include a reptile into your family is not as easy as some would say. However, the more prepared you are, the easier it will get!

Coming in Part 2: Diet, behavior and health. See you soon!

Street Talk

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