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Common Mistakes to Avoid After Getting a Bearded Dragon as a Pet

Congratulations on getting a bearded dragon as a pet! These unique reptiles can make great companions, but it’s important to understand how to care for them properly to keep them healthy and happy. Here are some common mistakes to avoid after getting a bearded dragon as a pet:

Inadequate Housing

One of the most common mistakes new bearded dragon owners make is not providing a suitable enclosure for their pets. Here are a few effective tips for providing proper housing for your bearded dragon:

Tank Size: Bearded dragons require a spacious enclosure. The tank size should be a minimum of 40 gallons for an adult bearded dragon. The tank size should be larger if you have more than one bearded dragon. It’s important to ensure that your bearded dragon has room to move around, bask, and hide.

Substrate: The substrate you choose for your bearded dragon’s tank should be safe and non-toxic. Some good options include reptile carpets, paper towels, or tiles. Avoid using sand, wood shavings, or other substrates that can cause impaction if ingested.

Lighting and Temperature: Bearded dragons need access to UVB lighting to metabolize calcium properly. Additionally, they require a basking area with a temperature of 95-110 degrees Fahrenheit, with a cooler area on the other end of the tank. You’ll need to use thermometers to ensure that the temperature is accurate and consistent throughout the enclosure. Finally, make sure to replace the UVB bulb every six months to maintain its effectiveness.

Improper Diet

Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they need a balanced diet that includes plant- and animal-based foods. To avoid getting it wrong, here are a few tips to ensure the proper diet for your bearded dragon:

Offer a Balanced Diet: Bearded dragons are omnivores and require a balanced diet that includes plant- and animal-based foods. Offer your bearded dragon a variety of greens and vegetables, such as collard greens, kale, dandelion greens, squash, and carrots. You should also offer a source of protein, such as crickets, mealworms, or dubia roaches. Avoid feeding your bearded dragon insects caught in the wild, as they may carry parasites or pesticides.

Supplement with Calcium and Vitamin D3: Bearded dragons require calcium and vitamin D3 to maintain strong bones and prevent metabolic bone disease. You can dust your bearded dragon’s food with a calcium supplement powder containing vitamin D3. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dosage and frequency.

Lack of Hydration

Bearded dragons need access to clean water at all times. Here are two tips to ensure proper hydration for your bearded dragon:

Provide Fresh Water: Always ensure that your bearded dragon has access to fresh, clean water at all times. You can provide water in a shallow dish that is large enough for your bearded dragon to drink from comfortably. Change the water at least once a day or more frequently if it becomes dirty or contaminated.

Offer Moist Foods: Bearded dragons are from arid regions and may not drink water as often as other reptiles. You can help to ensure that your bearded dragon is well hydrated by offering moist foods such as greens and vegetables. Some good options include cucumbers, melons, and squash. You can also mist the enclosure with water to increase the humidity level, which can help your bearded dragon to absorb moisture through their skin.

Incorrect Temperature

Incorrect temperature can result in the bearded dragon’s inability to digest food, lethargy, and even health issues like a metabolic bone disease. Use these tips to ensure the proper temperature for your bearded dragon:

Use a Thermometer: To ensure that your bearded dragon’s basking area and cool side are at the right temperature, you should use a thermometer. There are a variety of thermometers available, including digital and analog models. You can place one thermometer on the basking area and another on the cool side to monitor the temperature range in the enclosure.

Adjust Lighting and Heating Elements: Bearded dragons require a basking area with a temperature of 95-110 degrees Fahrenheit and a cooler area on the other side of the tank. You’ll need to use a heat lamp or ceramic heater to create a basking spot to achieve this. Adjust the distance between the heat lamp and the basking spot if the temperature is too high. If the temperature is too low, increase the wattage of the bulb or add another heating element.

Poor Handling

Bearded dragons are not toys, and improper handling can stress them out. Here are some tips on how to handle your bearded dragon properly:

Start slow: If your bearded dragon is new to you or has never been handled before, introduce yourself to them and get them used to your presence. Then, gradually start offering them food from your hand and move on to petting them gently.

Avoid the tail: Bearded dragons use their tails for balance, so it’s important not to grab or pull on their tails when handling them. This can cause them to become stressed and potentially injure their tail.

Avoid handling during shedding: Bearded dragons shed their skin periodically, and during this time, they can become sensitive and uncomfortable. Avoid handling your bearded dragon during shedding, as it can cause them unnecessary stress.

Ignoring Signs of Illness

It’s important to monitor your bearded dragon’s behavior and appearance closely. Here are some common signs of illnesses in bearded dragons:

Lack of appetite: Bearded dragons are usually good eaters, so if your pet is not eating or showing little interest in food, it could be a sign of illness.

Weight loss: If your bearded dragon is losing weight despite having a healthy appetite, it could indicate an underlying health problem.

Lethargy: If your bearded dragon sleeps more than usual or seems less active, it could indicate illness.

Discolored or sunken eyes: If your bearded dragon’s eyes appear sunken, cloudy, or have changed in color, it could be a sign of dehydration or an infection.

Diarrhea: Bearded dragons can get diarrhea from various causes, such as stress, diet changes, or infections, so monitoring your pet’s bowel movements and consistency is important.

Respiratory issues: If your bearded dragon is making wheezing or clicking sounds when breathing, it could be a sign of a respiratory infection.

Skin issues: If your bearded dragon has discolored or rough skin patches, it could be a sign of a skin infection or injury.

Parasites: Parasites are a common problem in bearded dragons, so keep an eye out for signs such as vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

If you notice any of these signs in your bearded dragon, you must take them to a veterinarian with experience treating reptiles. Early detection and treatment can prevent serious health complications and ensure your pet stays healthy and happy.

Summing Up

Whether you are living in an apartment or a bigger house, having a pet companion can be precious. Bearded Dragons have gained popularity as pets recently but it is essential to avoid making a few common mistakes once you bring them home. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can provide your bearded dragon with a safe and healthy environment, leading to a long and happy life.