By Michael Torresi:
As one of the more popular lizard breeds taken in as pets, the bearded dragon lizard is actually quite easy to look after. They require minimum fuss and maintenance except for the staple care and supplies of the general reptile breed as a whole.
There is no recommended age for the bearded dragon to be bought as a pet. Unlike other animals that develop bonds with their caretakers during childhood and become tamer as they spend more time with humans, bearded dragons are independent creatures. They fend for themselves and even those adopted during adulthood can develop strong relations with their owners.
Below are the basic needs in taking care of a bearded dragon lizard.
The most preferred housing for a bearded dragon is a glass tank with a screen as a cover. The screen will ensure that enough air circulates in the tank while keeping the lizard securely inside. Glass is preferred for two things also: maximum visual pleasure for the owner and added light absorption for the pet.
Other options are container made of wood and plastic. Wood cages are quite beautiful but heavy and difficult to clean. Plastic, on the other hand, are rapidly becoming a common choice because of their convenience in cleaning and ease to move around.
Bearded dragon lizards are relatively easy to feed. They require a daily diet consisting of little bugs, worm, and crickets mixed with a variety of veggies. Cultivated bugs that are available in most pet and reptile stores are the best choice for your lizards. This ensures that they were not contaminated by fertilizers and pesticides that infect most bugs found in open vegetation spaces.
Dark green and leafy vegetables are also ideal for bearded dragon lizards. Tear or cut up the leaves into small bite sizes before feeding. A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep the veggie size between half to 2/3 the space between your dragon's eyes.
Lizards require exposure to the full UV spectrum daily. You can provide them this need by installing a UV light (long fluorescent lights will do also) inside their cage. The nearer the bearded dragon lizard is to the light source, the better. UV light aids in dragons' digestion and keeps their disposition amicable.
In keeping a bearded dragon lizard, it is imperative that you employ a temperature gradient inside their housing. Part of their cage should be warm enough for them to enjoy their daily basking and stretching. At night, it should be cold enough to mimic the outside environment.
Temperature regulation is very important because dragons are sensitive to uncomplimentary whether. Too much warmth or coldness can adversely affect their health.
Kitchen paper towels make good substrates for bearded dragon lizards. Not only are they cheap and easy to find, they are also clean and inedible. This safety measure will surely keep your dragon on the safe side. Another beneficial feature of using paper towels is that they are really easy to replace when soiled, no messy cleaning is required.
Other materials that can be used are children's play sand, soil and sand from pet stores, and crushed sea shells. The latter two items are all available in your local reptile store while children's play sand is pretty much the same as the ones used in school and park play grounds. The important thing to remember when using sand as substrate is to clean it daily to maintain a fresh and hygienic environment for the bearded dragon lizard.
6. Tank accessories
Optional tank accessories may be placed inside your bearded dragon lizard's to imitate the natural environment. As lizards are fond of lying around and basking, a mini log may be installed. Plastic or natural plants may also be provided to give the tank a more forest atmosphere. Just keep in mind not too clutter the housing too much so as not to encroach in the living and moving space of your pet. Also, keep the housing and all accessories clean at all time.