Adult Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are omnivores that accept a wide variety of foods. Variety is the key to good nutrition and foods offered should include:
- Vegetable matter, offered as a chopped salad, should make up approximately 50-55% of the adult dragon diet. Dark leafy greens (such as collard greens, kale, romaine, dandelion, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, bok choy, swiss chard, spinach, chicory, escarole) are all excellent options. You should aim to have 5-10 different vegetables in their salads as variety is key for these lizards.
- Other chopped or grated vegetables may comprise up to 20% of the diet (squash, zucchini, sweet potato, broccoli, peas, carrot, beans, okra, bean sprouts, tofu).
- Animal matter should make up approximately 25% of the adult dragon diet. Some safe insects include: appropriately sized crickets (body length no greater than the width of the dragon’s head), earthworms,superworms (Zophobas), wax worms, hornworms, silkworms, mealworms, butter worms, vacuum sealed dubia roaches (live ones are not legal in canada). As with vegetable matter it is important to offer variety, too much of one insect can have negative effects, so offer a wide variety to round out the nutrient profile, and avoid issues with your dragon. You can also offer a salad that is topped with bugs to entice eating and ‘trick’ your dragon into eating vegetables as well. Bearded dragons should eat as many bugs as they can consume in a 5-10 minute timeframe.
- Fruit should make up no more than 5% of the diet and should include nutrient dense items such as papaya, melon, and banana.
- An ideal feeding schedule would be salads everyday, and bugs on or as well as salad every 2-3 days. Adult bearded dragons do not need to eat insects everyday, this increases appetite and helps ensure they are getting enough greens.
- Your bearded dragon needs calcium supplements in order to thrive, you can purchase reptile calcium without D3 as well as calcium plus D3 at most pet stores. You should dust all insects with the calcium without D3 3-5 times a week and dust with calcium with D3 1-2 times per week depending on frequency of feedings.
- As a rule, bearded dragons require housing at least three times as long as their snout-tail length. At minimum, the single adult requires a 75-gallon (283-L) aquarium although larger enclosures are recommended. Bearded dragons require hiding areas (rock cave, plant pot, cardboard box, etc.) Provide a full-spectrum light source for normal absorption of dietary calcium. Substrates like sand or dirt can be accidentally consumed by your dragon and can cause impaction, which can be fatal. To avoid catastrophe with your dragon, consider using repti-carpet (which is a synthetic material sold at most pet stores for reptiles), or you can use brown package wrapping paper, sold at most post offices or dollar stores.
- Although bearded dragons thrive in low humidity, drinking water should always be provided in a shallow bowl or saucer. Dragons will often soak in their water bowl and may defecate in their water. Drinking and soaking bowls should be cleaned at least daily. Ideal humidity is 30%-40%, which can be measured using a hygrometer. If you live in a dry area you can increase humidity by placing a damp towel over the top of the enclosure (away from heat source), add forest or sphagnum moss (sold at most pet stores for reptiles) to the corners of the enclosure (to ensure your dragon doesn't accidentally eat it), or you can place a large crock of water near the heat source to cause heat evaporation, but remember to keep a close eye on the temp of the water to avoid any accidents.
- Bearded Dragons require a heat gradient, which means that they need to have a hot side & a cool side, the hot side should include a basking area with a temperature of 100f-110f. The basking area can include slate, rocks or tile for your dragon to lay and bask on, as these are similar to their natural habitat and will greatly help in keeping temperatures high enough. These can be purchased at your local hardware store, petstore, or F&A Aquariums downtown has an excellent selection! You can check your temperatures with a temperature gun to ensure adequate temperatures. The enclosure should gradually decrease to 75f-80f on the cool side, and a warm “in between” temperature for the middle area of the enclosure. This can be achieved with heat bulbs from your local pet store. This gives your dragon the opportunity to regulate their own temperature by moving around their enclosure freely.
- Dragons require UVB rays which can be achieved with artificial light bulbs, they can be purchased from your local pet stores or specialty reptile stores. The most ideal UVB bulb is a linear “tube” shaped bulb which stretches across the back of the enclosure, the T5 bulb is ideal as it has strong rays and lasts the longest of most UVB lights, however, this bulb needs to be replaced every 6 months regardless of if the bulb is still lighting up in order to have enough UVB output.
- Alternatively you can opt for a specific type of bulb called a “Mega Ray” bulb, which includes both heat and UVB rays, giving your reptile the best of both worlds without some of the confusion/hassle that multiple bulbs can cause. Mega Ray bulbs also have a guaranteed UVB output of 12-16 months, this will help cut down on the amount of bulbs you will need to purchase over time. Make sure to read specific directions on both types of bulbs to ensure safety for your pet.
- Bearded dragons heat up quickly but cool down very slowly, putting them at risk for heat stroke. Never place a bearded dragon in direct sunlight when housed in a glass tank. Bearded dragons require bright light for adequate food intake and normal behaviors. Ceramic heaters, red bulbs, and low wattage bulbs are inadequate.
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