General Information on Bearded Dragons as Pets.

Bearded Dragons are commonly kept lizards and can make wonderful pets. Many are unfortunately
presented to the veterinarians at our clinic with problems that can largely be prevented. Many
people acquire small bearded dragons as pets without getting the proper guidance or familiarising
themselves of the basic husbandry, nutritional and hygiene facts around keeping these animals.
Some of the basic facts about Bearded Dragons include:

  1. They can live for 10 – 15 years.
  2. They reach reproductive age at 1-2 years.
  3. Adult body weights can vary from about 290 grams in small females to 560 grams in large
  4. They are omnivores and should have a mix of vegetables and live insects as food.
  5. Optimal temperature gradient should be between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius.
  6. This can be lowered to 21 degrees Celsius at night. Slightly lower and higher temperatures
    can be tolerated for short periods.
  7. It is preferable to keep them in their own enclosure to prevent aggression between
  8. Substrates should be easy to clean and disinfect and impossible to ingest. This generally
    means that bark chips, saw-dust, sand, gravel and other particulate substrate should be
  9. Females can produce eggs even if not with a male. Clutches can be large but average clutch
    sizes vary between 15 and 30 eggs.
  10. Ultraviolet light is essential as is Calcium supplementation in the diet to prevent Metabolic
    Bone Disease. This can be provided with UVB lights or direct unfiltered sunlight, i.e. not
    filtered through glass.
  11. The vivarium must be kept clean at all times and an appropriate, safe disinfectant should be
    used regularly.
  12. Animals must be protected from direct heat sources to avoid contact and subsequent
    thermal burns or anything that can cause damage such as sharp objects etc.

The majority of medical conditions seen at our practice are a result of these principles being wrongly
applied or absent.

We commonly see patients with metabolic bone disease, impactions, bite wounds, skin and mouth
infections, nutritional diseases such as obesity, thermal burns and physical trauma.

We recommend that an annual health check be part of your health prevention program. Husbandry,
nutrition and disease prevention can be discussed with one of our veterinarians. The Bearded
Dragon’s droppings can be tested to screen for parasites. A survey full body radiograph may or may
not be advised to help us assess the health of your Bearded Dragon.

More information on specific diseases can be obtained when your Bearded Dragon is presented for a
health check.

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