Petcare for Reptiles

BASICS ON BUILDING A HOME FOR YOUR BEARDED DRAGON

Bearded dragons are one of the most common pet lizards. They are known for their tameness and are great for first time reptile owners. The average life span of beardies range from 6-10years and can weigh more than 300g as full grown adults and have a head to tail length of 30-50cm long. 

Even though bearded dragons are relatively hardy compared to other kinds of reptiles, as with all reptiles, getting the husbandry right is extremely important when keeping these little orange fellows. 

A 40 gallon (150L) tank or enclosure with secure wire top for better ventilation and UV absorption should be used for housing. While it may not be aesthetically pleasing, newspaper or paper towels can be used as bedding, instead of reptile carpet which can be expensive and hard to maintain. You can furnish your reptile tank with a hiding box, basking trunk/perch and some plastic plants, but NEVER put anything in the tank that could potentially be swallowed by your pet. Many inquisitive beardies have been known to come in for impaction after ingesting small pebbles, sand and wood chips. 

Heat lamp at basking zone and strip UVB lamp are essential in creating the perfect home for your beardie. 

Heat lamp at basking zone and strip UVB lamp are essential in creating the perfect home for your beardie. 

Like all reptiles, your bearded dragon has an optimal temperature range (OTR) of 26-39degree celcius. You should always have a thermometer at each end of your enclosure to monitor the coolest and hottest zones in your tank all the time. It is vital that a temperature gradient is created so that your lizard can move to the cool zone if he/she gets too warm while basking (lizards in the wild can be seen suntanning on hot rocks in midday and then slink off into the shade when it gets too blistering). Even though our climate is hot, you should still provide a spotlight at the basking zone to ensure that the basking zone maintains at 39 degrees, especially on rainy days, for at least 10hours daily. 

On top of the hot basking spot, you will also need to provide your pet with a UV lamp. This is extremely important for reptiles to maintain healthy bones and a normal calcium-vitamin D balance. Long term deficiency from natural unfiltered sunlight or UV lamp can cause metabolic bone disease (MBD), infections (pneumonia, abscess formations) and even death! You should also ensure that your UV lamp is within 30cm of your lizard (amount of UV decreases as distance increases) and that you change your lamp every 6months even if it seems to be working (amount of UV decreases with age of your bulb). You also need to ensure that the UV bulb is placed in the centre of the top of the enclosure to ensure that your beardie will get sufficient UV whether he/she is in the cool or basking zone. You can use a strip bulb for UV and lay it across the top of the enclosure like a fish tank. With all bulbs, make sure your pet cannot come in contact directly with it, if not they could suffer serious burns. 

Take home message:

  • temperature gradient 26-39 degree celcius
  • heat lamp 
  • UVB lamp or natural unfiltered sunlight 10hours daily

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