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Bearded Dragon FAQ

I have gotten a lot of miscellaneous questions about Dragon keeping. I will post some questions and answers here.

  1. How big do they get? About 18-24 inches. Most dragons will max out about 18-20 inches but there are German Giants that grow to 2 feet.
  2. Do they bite? Not generally. Most of them are quite tame and social. Of course there is an exception to every rule and there could be an individual that just has an attitude problem. Usually they are good especially with lots of handling as babies.
  3. Are they social? Yes, by and far the most social of the lizards if you ask me. Most of them seem to enjoy coming out to be petted, held or let to roam around. Many of them seem to actually be listening to and understanding their owners.
  4. How big a tank do I really have to keep one in? I have a 10 gallon tank here already. A ten gallon will do for the first couple of months for a baby but it will quickly be outgrown. In the end an adult would need AT LEAST a 30 gallon. A 55 gallon is recommended though. I keep 2 adults in a 75 gallon and this seems like a roomy enough enclosure for them.
  5. Why won't my dragon drink out of a dish? Many dragons will only drink if misted on. They do get a lot of moisture from their food, particularly vegetation. They need to be misted daily so they can tip their heads and drink the drops coming off their heads. Babies should be misted 2x a day. Adults can be misted daily or even every other day depending on vegetable intake.
  6. Why shouldn't I use a hotrock. My best friend has a hotrock and his dragon loves it! Hotrocks are evil in my opinion. They only heat up themselves and not the air. They can also cause thermal burns. See my No Hotrocks page for detailed information. Use overhead basking lights by day and no heat or lighting by night.
  7. Take heed the dangers of Fireflies: I got this in my mail the other day. Very sad. "I had no idea, but last night I had my kids catch bugs for my dragon - she quickly ate them up. Unfortunately I was not aware that lightening bugs were toxic. When we woke this morning she was dead."

Recently I got this list of questions in my email. Lots of good questions so here is it in it's entirety with my answers in all CAPS.

1. I have seen pics of beardies with some kind of toy like a stuffed animal (a small one of course) I was wandering is this harmful or will they actually play with it?
NOT HARMFUL AT ALL. IF YOU WANT TO YOU CAN PUT SOMETHING IN WITH HIM BUT BEWARE IT WILL GET POOPED UPON.

2. I heard not to feed them fireflies but what else should I be aware of?
FIREFLIES ARE DEADLY. THERE ARE SOME TOXIC PLANTS OUT THERE AS WELL. STICK TO THE LEAFY GREENS FROM THE STORE AND FARM RAISED CRICKETS AND SUPERWORMS. I WOULD AVOID OUTDOOR BUGS IN GENERAL AS YOU DONT KNOW WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN OR IF THEY HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH ANY PESTICIDES.

3. I was also to that one side of the cage should be in the low hundreds for basking and the other side in the eight range, how do I keep that constant and how do I know if it to hot or to cold?
GET A THERMOMETER. DONT GUESS. THEY ARE NOT EXPENSIVE. DO NOT BUY THE ONES THAT STICK ON THE GLASS. YOUR DRAGON IS NEVER STUCK TO THE GLASS SO YOU DONT CARE HOW HOT THE GLASS IS. YOU NEED TO MEASURE TEMPS WHERE THE DRAGON WILL BE. RIGHT UNDER THE BASKING LIGHT AND OVER ON THE COOLER SIDE. 100 ON THE BASKING SPOT IS GOOD AS IS HIGH 70S ON THE COOLER SIDE.

4. how many lights do I need?
A HEAT LIGHT AND UV LIGHT. ANY OLD LIGHT FOR THE HEAT WILL DO. YOU WILL NEED SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 60-100 WATTS TO ADEQUATELY HEAT. IT DEPENDS ON YOUR HOUSE TEMPS AND THE CAGE SETUP FOR THE EXACT WATTAGE. THEN YOU NEED A UVB LIGHT LIKE A ZOOMED REPTISUN 5.0 or 10.0. THEY ARE ABOUT $20 FOR THE BULB. THERE ARE COMBOS OUT THERE LIKE THE POWERSUN 160 AND THE T-REX UVHEAT LIGHT AND THE MEGA-RAY LIGHT. THEY ARE ALL ABOUT $40 FOR THE BULB ALONE. THE MEGA-RAYS ARE EXCELLENT AND LAST LONGER IN MY OPINION.

5. about how many crickets will he eat a day?
THEY EAT A LOT OF SMALL CRICKETS WHEN THEY ARE SMALL. SOMETIMES UPWARDS OF 40-50 A DAY. YOU WILL WANT TO GO ONLINE AND ORDER THEM BY THE 500 AT LEAST. I USE WWW.REPTILEFOOD.COM FOR MINE. THEY ARE CHEAP AND COME QUICKLY. WHEN HE GETS BIGGER YOU WILL WANT TO FEED SUPERWORMS AS WELL. MAKE SURE YOU OFFER LEAFY GREENS AND OTHER VEGGIES CHOPPED SMALL AS WELL. FEED THE VEGGIES FIRST AND THE CRICKETS LATER SO HE LEARNS TO EAT HIS VEGGIES.

6. what do you use for shade on the cool side? I have heard not to use anything the crickets can hide in.
DONT FEED THE DRAGON IN THE CAGE AND YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT LOTS OF CRICKETS IN THERE. FEED THE DRAGON IN A RUBBERMAID TUB OR SIMILAR. YOU DO NOT WANT CRICKETS IN THE TANK AT NIGHT. THEY WILL CHEW ON YOUR DRAGON.

7. I have heard to use something with three percent bleach when cleaning wont this hurt the dragon?
5-10% BLEACH WILL KILL MOST THINGS BUT YOU NEED TO RINSE VERY WELL. RINSE TIL YOU CANNOT SMELL BLEACH ANYMORE. I USE NOLVASAN SOLUTION FOR BASIC CLEANING (YOU HAVE TO GET THIS FROM YOUR VET UNLESS YOU WANT TO BUY A GALLON OF IT FROM A SUPPLY STORE). THERE ARE THINGS LIKE WIPEOUT BUT I AM NOT SURE HOW GOOD THEY WORK.

8. what should the humidity read?
THEY ARE ARID SPECIES. I WOULD NOT WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT HUMIDITY.

9. my boyfriend was going to make the cage for me and I was wandering if wood or screen would get to hot and if so what would be the best thing to use?
COMBO WOOD AND SCREEN. I ASSUME THIS IS FOR INDOORS? MAKE SURE IT IS VENTED WELL YET NOT DRAFTY. IT DEPENDS ON YOUR ROOM CONDITIONS AS WELL. GLASS TANKS ARE FINE AS LONG AS YOU USE A SCREEN COVER (FOR VENTING AND SO THAT THE UV CAN PASS THRU). UV CANNOT PASS THRU GLASS OR PLASTIC.

10. how do I tell if the cricket is to big or to small?
FEED CRICKETS THAT ARE NO LARGER THAN THE SPACE BETWEEN THE EYES.

11. I like to hold them but I want to make sure I don't hold it to much what is the idea length of time?
NO SET AMOUNT OF TIME. IF HE IS EATING AND BASKING AND POOPING YOU CAN HOLD HIM AS LONG AS YOU WANT. A STRESSED LIZARD WON'T EAT.

12. what is a UV tube? and what does it do?
UV TUBES PROVIDE RAYS LIKE FROM THE SUN THAT THE DRAGON (AND OTHER BASKING CREATURES) NEED TO METABOLIZE CALCIUM. IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. THEY WILL DIE WITHOUT IT.

13. what is the best method of clipping nails and how often should I spray him to make sure he doesnt dehydrate?
NAIL CLIPPERS LIKE FOR CATS. CUT ONLY THE VERY END THAT IS THE BLACK NEEDLELIKE PART. AND SPRAY HIM AT LEAST 2X A DAY. YOU CAN REALLY SOAK HIM EARLY IN THE DAY. KEEP SPRAYING UNTIL HE IS DONE DRINKING. MAKE SURE THE CAGE DRIES OUT BEFORE LIGHTS OUT.