Top Herp Veterinarian Reveals Importance of Bearded Dragon Care

Bearded Dragon Pet

Top Herp Veterinarian Reveals  Importance of Bearded Dragon Care…And How Early Prevention Can Avoid Senseless Pre-Mature Deaths.

How important is bearded dragon care in the early years? With more than 90% of bearded dragon deaths caused by accidental mistakes that can be avoided, top veterinarians will agree that to increase your bearded dragon lifespan early intervention is the best long-term care.

As a long-time herp vet, over the past year I could not believe the increasing number of bearded dragon owners who came to my practice and relied on an internet search as their primary source of bearded dragon care.

When it got to the point their bearded dragons were near death or sickly from not eating for several days, they would bring in their beardies to my practice for urgent care. The vast majority of these incidents could have been prevented simply with proper care.

I decided to take a look myself and see what I discovered. After searching for several days, I found many websites that contained pages and pages of seemingly useful but sometimes conflicting information on bearded dragon care. Is sand the best substrate or is it the worse? Which are the best types of UVA or UVB lighting? And are mealworms among the preferred feeder or not? Where can one find the industry recommended standards for bearded dragon care?

Raising Bearded Dragons

Industry growth and the need for continuing education

Reptiles have been the fastest growing sector of the pet industry for the past two decades. The American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey shows that over 5.6 million homes in the United States have at least one scaly friend within their walls. Currently, reptilian pets number over 11.5 million in the U.S. alone, demonstrating massive growing interest in frogs, snakes, lizards and more as pets.

And although the reptile industry has changed and evolved tremendously especially since 2008 with the rise of humanization of pets (treating pets like a family member with premium services, diets and products), it seems most websites have not.

As veterinarians it is important that we attend conferences and seminars regularly to learn new and best practices as the industry is constantly growing and changing. Breeders are in a similar and necessary situation. So given that a long life span ranks among the top priorities for bearded dragon owners, I cannot understand why bearded dragon owners and caretakers do not offer a conference or event for advocacy and to promote best practices among the bearded dragon care segment.

Raising Bearded Dragons

What’s next in bearded dragon care?

Over the past 2 decades as the reptile market has evolved from hobbyists to among the fastest growing pet industry, considerable advancements have been made in the industry. Breeding and mating practices have become more sophisticated as has product development with specialized and reptile specific products and services continually being introduced to the marketplace.

The folks at Raising Bearded Dragons are among the pioneers of the bearded dragon care market which is still in its infancy. As the market continues to grow, so will this critical and overlooked segment.

Raising Bearded Dragons

 

Raising Bearded Dragons: Ultimate Care Guide

Here’s why I recommend it.

The reason why I recommend Raising Bearded Dragons: Ultimate Care Guide is because you can start using their bearded dragon care plan and recommended food list specific to your beardies age in a matter of days.

As their product is in a friendly video format, it is easy for young people to learn proper care of their age even if their reading level is limited or they don’t have the patience to read a book.

When people are able to provide proper bearded dragon care it makes our jobs as veterinarians a lot easier allowing us to focus on regular treatments and check-ups instead of dealing heartbreaking news that their beardie may not live much longer because of something that could have been easily prevented.

In my opinion this is way more superior, effective and cost efficient than any of the other methods available on the market. Obviously, everyone is different in how they learn but what could be simpler? You don’t have to go buy certain medications or products or visit any other websites or anything like that.

Anyway, I hope you’ve found this information useful whatever your situation because since I have learned about Raising Bearded Dragons Ultimate Care Guide,  I have been recommending it to all my clients. I wish something was available like this on my market years ago as I could have saved many more bearded dragons from dying along with a lot of time, money and frustration for their owners. I wish you every success.

Raising Bearded Dragons

What Fruits Can Bearded Dragons Eat?

Fruits

Wanting to know what fruits can bearded dragons eat? Before we get to the types of fruits, we should first note that fruit should only be fed occasionally to dragons, making up only 10% your Bearded Dragon’s diet.

The overall diet of your beardie depends on its age. If your young Beardie was still in the wild, its diet would comprise of 80% animal-based food and 20% plants, vegetables and fruit. And your adult Beardie will prefer the inverse – with 80% plants, vegetables and fruit and 20% animal-based food.

It is important to maintain this ratio in captivity for the health of your Bearded Dragon, but again, keep in mind that the fruit component should not exceed 10% of your Beardie’s diet.

So what fruits can bearded dragons eat?

Blueberries, figs, peaches, cranberries, raspberries and blackberries are all fine to give to beardies. Give your beardie fresh and organic fruit when possible because frozen fruits sometimes contain preservatives and lose some of its vitamins and nutritional value.

Fruits in a bearded dragon diet should be seen more like a treat as they are high in water content and can cause diarrhea. Bananas are high in phosphorous which needs to balanced with calcium; and peaches are high in goitrogens. Goitrogen is a term used to describe any substance that can cause enlargement of the thyroid gland. Swelling in the thyroid can cause ingestion problems.

These fruits should not be added to salads because mustard greens, turnip greens and collard greens which are already recommended as a staple for beardie salads are already high in goitrogen.

All fruit including that with skin i.e. grapes, should be washed thoroughly, peeled, cored, seeds removed and cut into very small pieces before giving to bearded dragons.

Raising Bearded Dragons

What fruits can bearded dragons eat with salads?

Strawberries, mango, papaya, and cherries are all great for color enhancement but should only be added occasionally if your bearded dragon is picky about eating their vegetables. This is because, strawberries, along with pears and also grapes (a favorite treat for bearded dragons) are high in oxalates.

Oxalates bind calcium, making them indigestible. It impairs the metabolism of calcium leading to all sorts of problems associated with calcium deficiency.

Fruits bearded dragons should not eat

Now that you know what fruits can bearded dragons eat, let’s talk about some of the things they cannot and should not eat. Avocado and rhubarb are very toxic. So those are at the top of the list. While berries and many fruits contain citric acid, there are select citric fruits such as oranges, clementines, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, pineapple and kiwis which are very high in citric acid. It is better to avoid these fruits in a bearded dragon diet altogether as high citric acid intake can cause problems with digestion.

Be sure to cut or tear the fruit up into very small pieces so that your Beardie can eat and swallow them easily.

  • Apples
  • Apricot
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Chayote
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit
  • Guava
  • Mangos
  • Melons
  • Nectarine
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plum
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Raising Bearded Dragons

Why Bearded Dragon Temperature is Important to His Life Span

Bearded Dragons

If your bearded dragon temperature gets too cold it cannot properly digest its food which may cause it to stop eating and eventually become sick. And if your bearded dragon gets too hot and cannot cool off, he will die.

A bearded dragon temperature that is properly set and monitored is necessary for him to live a long and healthy life.

Many websites show a different recommended bearded dragon temperature. The reason why is because it can vary based on age of your dragon. A baby bearded dragon should be kept in temperatures on average 5-10 degrees higher than an adult dragon.

For example where the basking temperature for an adult dragon ranges from 95 – 105 degrees. For a baby it is a big higher ranging from about 105 – 110 degrees. The bearded dragon temperature in its enclosure much like the lighting is very critical in that when the temperature is not correct the dragon will not eat and ultimately get sick and die.

Your bearded dragon cage or enclosure needs to have a warm side and a ‘cool’ side. And the temperature in the enclosure should be measured with a digital thermometer or a digital thermometer gun with an infrared reader. Thermometer guns while slightly more expensive, offer the most accurate readings of the majority of ones available on the market. You should have 2 thermometers that will be hung on opposite sides of the tank. To measure the bearded dragon temperature, if you use a digital thermometer place it inside the tank at the base of the light beam. Leave in the tank for approximately 35 – 45 minutes to get a reading of how hot it will get. If you are using a digital thermometer gun with an infrared reader, hold the gun approximately 2 feet from the beam of the light.

The warm side adult bearded dragon temperature in the tank should be 95-105 degrees for basking. And for the baby bearded dragon temperature (105-110). The basking limb or rock should be approximately 8-12 inches max from the UVA (basking light). If the light is more than 12” from the basking spot, the bearded dragon cannot get its proper vitamins.

And the cool side bearded dragon temperature in the tank (for an adult beardie) should be between 80-90 degrees during the day. The lights in your tank should remain on for 12-14 hours. It is recommended to use a programmable digital timer. At night it is important that the temperature drops, the same as it would in the desert. This is done by turning off all lights in their tank. The nighttime bearded temperature should be in the low to mid 70’s.

If the temperatures are not stable or you notice your bearded dragon is constantly gaping (mouth wide open) or not active, eating or moving adjust the temperatures. To do this you can either change the wattage of the bulb or raise or lower the lamp or limb or rock – then measure and monitor the temps again. Use a journal or something to record the changes you have made. One or two nights where the bearded dragon temperature is too cold can kill your dragon so be sure to make changes immediately and monitor temperatures closely. If you fear your dragon has been exposed to a tank that was too cold at night and one day passes and your dragon is not active or eating, please take them to a vet as soon as possible.

Bearded Dragon Bedding

Bearded Dragon Bedding

Bearded dragon bedding is more commonly referred to substrate. It is the material you place on the floor or what lines the bottom of the tank or enclosure. Bearded dragon sand was once a popular choice since bearded dragons hail from the deserts of Australia.

The worst bearded dragon bedding

However, in terms of replicating their environment, and while sand seems to be a natural choice given that fact, it is no longer the recommended choice for bearded dragon bedding.
In simple terms the sand does not make the best bearded dragon bedding because the conditions that exist in the desert of Australia cannot be accurately replicated in terms of humidity, rain, and type of sand inside of the tank in your bedroom.

Potential risks with bearded dragon bedding

While there is a small chance of ingesting loose particles, recent studies show that one of the leading causes of bearded dragon deaths are related to impaction. Impaction is the process in which they essentially inhale or ingest loose particles while they are either eating or exploring their tank/enclosure with their tongue. As these particles are foreign to them and/or they carry bacteria the bearded dragon is not able to properly digest those particles and as a result get sick.

Along with sand, other once popular bearded dragon bedding (substrates) can cause similar issues. The popularity of bearded dragon sand along with other bearded dragon bedding options mostly came from trends in personalization of tanks and enclosures. However, little information from a scientific or research perspective was known at that time about the potential risks that could occur. Over time, these articles continued to rank at the top of internet search engines making it difficult for new and more accurate information to be shared widely among the community.

In addition to sand, for your bearded dragon bedding we highly advise against the use of:

  • Walnut shells
  • Potting soil
  • Calci sand
  • Dirt from your backyard or garden
  • Wood shavings
  • Rocks/pebbles

The best bearded dragon bedding

Instead of bearded dragon sand we recommend textured slate tiles. They are heavy but best in terms of ease of cleaning and if they have a little texture they can also help keep your beardies toenails filed. Tiles can be purchased loose and do not need to be sealed together. Sand Mats and reptile carpet also makes a good substrate. Just make sure that the reptile carpet stays trim and is not too ‘loopy’ (have lots of loops) as sometimes your beardies toenails can get caught in there and unwind it or rip it. Black and white print newspapers and paper towels, also work as a great option for your bearded dragon bedding.