Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bringing Home Your First Bearded Dragon


A Young Bearded Dragon
Are you thinking of getting a new pet? Are you considering a bearded dragon? You're not alone!

We were recently thinking the same thing. We did research and preparation over a few weeks before we decided to add a "beardie" to our family.

So far, it's been a good learning experience and a lot of fun!

When we first started our research we asked one of the Skyenimal's Featured Photographers, Shayna Hartley, for some advice. Shayna has experience with many pets, including Bearded Dragons. The information from Shayna was very helpful and it is included it here:
Skyenimals: Hi Shayna! We are thinking about getting a pet lizard of some sort... Thinking Bearded Dragon maybe. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?
Shayna Hartley: Hi! Bearded dragon's are always my recommendation for anyone looking to get a pet lizard. They each have their own personality, they tolerate human interaction well, come in a variety of colours, and are fairly easy to take care of. A good website for information on them is The forums are great and the moderators really know their stuff. Be sure you get set up well in advance and get the temperatures set right before you get the beardie. It's better to have it perfect before hand, rather than trying to fix it while you have a lizard in your care. You will also need to be sure that you have a good herp vet in your area as you can run in to issues with lizards just like you would with a cat or dog.
We found there are many web sites out there about setting up a bearded dragon habitat. We don't have one we recommend because we reviewed many of them and used ideas and information from each of them. As usual, you'll find different opinions and conflicting information out there on the web, so it's good to read a variety and use what works best for you and your budget.

Two Bearded Dragons at our local pet store.
We already owned a 55 gallon acrylic tank from a previous pet so we decided to reuse it. After cleaning the tank we set it up with the required lighting (heat and UVB), substrate (flooring), furniture, basking spot, etc. We had never owned a lizard before so setting everything up took more research, time and money than expected.

Be prepared for the expense, you could easily spend $100 or more in essentials and accessories for your tank. We went with reptile carpet for the flooring, a halogen basking lamp, and an 18" UVB fluorescent bulb.

During our setup when we tested the temps we found we needed to add a second bulb for daytime heat, as the halogen was heating the basking spot properly, but the rest of the terrarium was not staying warm enough. Our house stays at about 68F at night so we didn't add any nighttime heating. We found differing opinions online about nighttime heating as well as heating mats. Several sites suggest that heating mats should be avoided for bearded dragons so we never even considered using one.

It took a few trips to the store to get things "just right" with the temperature in the tank. Don't rush! Building the terrarium is a fun part of getting ready for your new pet. The preparation time will also make the first week or two of ownership easier and much more enjoyable for you and your new pet. After the tank was set up properly it was time to look for a Dragon.

We wanted to start with a young bearded dragon so it could get to know us better and didn't have any habits or health concerns an older dragon may have. We looked on craigslist and at pet stores for Bearded Dragons. Ultimately,we felt more comfortable going with a local pet store. Our bearded dragon cost $50 at the pet store. All craigslist listings were asking for a $40 or more adoption fee, so cost savings was really not a factor.

Make sure you have a container and place to store your beardie's crickets. You probably do not want to keep them in your bedroom because they will chirp at night. Also, you can't just put all the crickets in with the bearded dragon because they will eat them much faster than they need to. Check with the local pet store or online about feeding amounts and advice. We've been feeding our dragon mostly crickets and mealworms and she has a very healthy appetite.

Check out the Skyenimals Spotlight - Bearded Dragon video above for more information from Skye and Bella about Bearded Dragons as pets. If you get one, good luck and enjoy your Bearded Dragon! Please come to and upload a picture of your beardie, too!

Feel free to ask questions using the comment section below. We're not experts, but we will help as we can.


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  3. We found there are many web sites out there about setting up a bearded dragon habitat. We don't have one we recommend because we ...

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