Keeping Bearded Dragons is an unusually fascinating and original hobby and is well-deservedly popular – as a result, they are one of the most common and best lizard pets.
Having a reptile at home is the same as having a dinosaur – these creatures have a truly ancient history. But before that happens and you bring a new pet home, there are a few essential steps you need to make. One of them is the right way to choose a Bearded Dragon and its environment.
When picking a Bearded Dragon in pet stores, always choose one that’s healthy. Do not try to save the sick! Often, the treatment of clinically ill reptiles is ineffective, even if you manage to find a veterinarian specializing in their diseases. As a result, an animal dies, and the owner can forever be disappointed in the idea of keeping reptiles. You can avoid most of these problems by acquiring a knowingly healthy lizard.
Also, do not buy a very young lizard. These animals are susceptible to the stresses that arise during transportation and can quickly die. It’s enough once to make a mistake in the temperature conditions or feeding – and the baby can no longer be saved. However, starting from 4 months of age, dragons become more resistant to the environment.
Choosing Bearded Dragon in the Pet Store
One of the most reliable ways to pick a Bearded Dragon is to do that in a pet store after a physical examination. But how do you know if the lizard is healthy?
First of all, when trying to pick a bearded dragon in a pet store, pay attention to the cleanliness of the store itself and the tanks with reptiles. Enclosures should be well-lit, equipped with shelters and climbing facilities, and also be sized in terms of the number of lizards contained in it. Animals kept in dirty terrariums with high crowding (over five animals per 10 gallons) will almost certainly have health problems in the future.
If you are comfortable with the conditions, carefully inspect the reptile. It’s better to do this on a table with a soft towel under it. Keep in mind that juvenile dragons may seem calm and then make sudden leaps without warning. Thus, make sure that there’s no way for a lizard to fall off the table or escape far.
Most young lizards (geckos, iguanas) will try to hide after they see you approaching the terrarium. Depending on their personality, Dragons can react differently. The most modest ones will likely slip into a cover, others will be cautious of your further actions, and the most fearless are going to come close to the edge of a cage to study you. Regardless of behavior traits, young dragons must somehow react to your approach, even with minor movements. In case animals don’t notice you, they should be busy with ordinary activities – basking under heat lamps, eating, etc. Any symptom of apathy or lack of interest in their surrounding environment should be perceived as a sign of health problems.
Examining a Bearded Dragon
The next step is to pick up the Bearded Dragon from the enclosure. The best way to do this is to place your hand on the ground. With your free hand, lead the lizard onto an open palm and, gently holding with your fingers, pull it out of the terrarium. A healthy animal should look around with curiosity. It might attempt to run over your arm or lower its head and try to taste your fingers.
It’s also helpful to examine a reptile for any skin damage, inspect the fingers, and the tip of the tail. In case of their absence, make sure that there are no signs of infection around the scars. It’s useful to weigh the animal to ensure that the weight is appropriate for the size. Juvenile dragons are usually 4 inches long and weigh from 2 to 3 grams. Make sure to examine the eyes either they are open or closed, check for crusts or outflows. Cloaca should be closed, and there should not be any external objects sticking to it. Keep in mind that baby lizards are very fragile; they can quickly get limb fractures during transportation.
Signs of a Sick Bearded Dragon
- Apathy, lethargy, lack of activity and interest in what is happening
- Closed or bleeding eyes
- Dried crusts around the eyes, nose or cloaca
- Broken, fixed or irregular limbs
- The lower jaw is soft or uneven in shape
- The presence of dense exudate in the mouth
- Untreated wounds or burns
The absence of fingers or the tip of the tail is considered normal if the scars show no signs of infection. Also, make sure that you can always find an expert who can answer your questions. We advise looking for a veterinarian or clinic that works with reptiles before any problem occurs.
Buying Dragons on the Internet
Professional breeders often offer their services online. In most cases, breeders are very responsible and knowledgeable people who are always ready to give valuable advice and answer questions. The disadvantage of this is the inability to examine the animal physically, which isn’t a problem when purchasing a lizard from a breeder. Still, in the case of forums or websites, this can be important.
The ability to find a veterinarian herpetologist is crucial when buying a Bearded Dragon. The vet not only helps you choose the right equipment for the terrarium but also preserve the health of your pet. It makes sense to take care of finding a specialist before you get an animal.
Before You Get a Bearded Dragon (Plus Few More Tips)
An important rule you have to follow when keeping any lizard: buy and fully equip their enclosure before you get the animal. Transportation itself is a lot of stress, and the longer you force your Bearded Dragon to sit in a cold and dark box for transportation, the more likely the animal will get sick.
Before you bring a new family member, prepare a terrarium, start up the equipment and check its operation. Choosing a suitable terrarium for Bearded Dragon is one of the most important things for your pet’s comfort. A small dragon can be delivered in an insect cage or a box with openings for air. For an adult, you will need cat carrying. Please do not get the lizard out of the carrier on the way home and do not let it go out on its own.
It’s recommended to learn about the Bearded Dragons nutrition and prepare necessary ration in beforehand. Be aware that the Beardies diet is changing depending on their age.
Things to Know About Beardies
Bearded Dragons can perfectly sense gazes. That’s a sign of a predator preparing to attack, so for the first time, watch it out of the corner of your eye and don’t let cats and dogs stare.
Make sure that enclosure lighting is on, and there’s a bowl of water. It’s not recommended to feed a Bearded Dragon for 8-12 hours to give it time to get comfortable in the new environment. For young lizards, this period is best reduced to 4 hours. Open the carrying door, carefully remove the pet, place it in the terrarium and allow some time to get comfortable, look around and sniff at the new house, create the most protected conditions for several days. Dragons can freeze for some time without movement – this is a normal reaction; there is no need to force it to explore the territory. Don’t pick up the Bearded Dragon in the first week and don’t create too much movement near the cage.
Never take the Bearded Dragon from above as it scares them as if a predator attacked them. Don’t try to pull the lizard by the tail because of the very same reason.