Bearded dragons make wonderful pets. They are active during the day, and when adult are large enough to be allowed to roam around the house for limited periods (that is, until they start getting cold) without any fears of them disappearing in small hiding places – obviously they need to be supervised at all times. They also have the advantage of almost being born tame and are happy to sit on their owner and will put up with a cuddle.
They are attractive and have great personalities, and make excellent pets for people who are allergic to fur and cannot have any of the more common warm blooded pets. In captivity with the correct husbandry they should live for up to 10 years or even more Best Router Table Reviews. The oldest I’m currently aware of is 12. To reach their potential live span they need to be fed the correct foods.
I am often contacted by people who would like to own a bearded dragon, and who want to know if there is any alternative to feeding them live food. The answer is a very definite NO. Although many pet shops stock dried food which is supposed to be for bearded dragons, I have never heard of one that actually will eat this. I’ve tried to feed it to mine but I think they would rather starve!
The amount and type of live food they need changes as they grow from hatchling to adult. When first hatched they are almost totally carnivorous. When adult they are 80% vegetarian. At all stages of their lives they should have the correct balance of vegetables/fruit and live food.
When a juvenile is purchased and brought home from the breeder or pet shop it is important to always offer finely chopped vegetables/fruit. The rule of thumb when feeding bearded dragons is to make sure no food offered is larger than the gap between their eyes. This goes for the size of live food offered, as well as the green stuff. If a juvenile has been properly fed from hatching it will be used to always have a bowl of veg in its enclosure, which it will peck at if there’s nothing better on offer. Juvenile bearded dragons are often similar to human toddlers – seemingly allergic to anything green! But if they’ve been used to it they’ll often continue to munch on salad and vegetables throughout their growing period. Some beardies refuse to touch vegetables – some (including mine!) have been known never to eat it when their owners are watching as if by pretending they are starving they’ll be offered something more tasty. But eventually they all succumb and eat it and, when adult, it will be their staple diet.
If you have a juvenile who won’t touch the stuff, don’t worry. He’ll get there in time, and though it’s disappointing to spend your time chopping food that’s not eaten, you must persevere. It’s best to try and variety of different vegetables and fruit – some beardies like some things, others don’t. Cabbage, mixed salad leaves, curly kale, peppers, sweet potato, grapes, apples, carrots are all foods which might appeal to a beardie. Experiment with items that you eat and see what yours likes.
Bearded dragons should never be fed avocado, and avoid items with a high moisture content such as iceburg lettuce, cucumber or tomatoes which will cause diarrhoea.
These reptiles have an astonishing rate of growth – they grow 4000 times in size from hatching to adult, and should reach full size between 12 and 18 months. To support this tremendous growth rate they have to have copious amounts of protein which can only be supplied by a main diet of live food. When deciding whether this is the pet for you, you need to factor in the cost of their food. During their first year of live they cost as much as a cat and some dogs to feed. There is also the problem of obtaining live food – but if you don’t live near a suitably stocked pet shop mail order is very efficient, and you can set up a regular order with most online suppliers.
The basic live food diet is crickets. These come in two types – brown, and black. Black are supposedly silent, but you’ll still get the odd one that will chirp all night. Both are nutritious. Crickets, as other insects, come in various sizes called instars. As a cricket grows it sheds its skin. First instar crickets are the smallest, and then they increase in size through various sheds until they reach adult size. Don’t feed crickets which are too big for your bearded dragon (remember the gap between the eyes rule), but conversely, if you try and offer crickets that are too small he might not be interested in them.