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How to Care for Bearded Dragons 2019

By Emzotic on


Em: This is a look, it's a mood. [laughs] Can we just, there we go. You're going to hold that there, close enough. Hey, what's up creatures? It's Em and I'm back today with a brand new care video for you. Today we're going to be looking at bearded dragons. Assisting me today with my video is Bad Idea the rescued bearded dragon. Just a note before we get started, as you guys will know if you've been here for a while, I'm usually really on the ball with getting back to people's comments as soon as this video goes out, but today is going to be an exception because right this second, I am actually in a radio recording studio, recording something for.

Super exciting, just wish me luck because I'm probably trembling right now as a nervous wreck. I'm also super excited to be seeing you guys at Playlist Live this weekend in Orlando Florida. If you're going to be there, let me know, leave a comment down below and also go and check out my two panels, I have two panels and I'm also going to be having a meet-and-greet at some point during the day. Just know that I'm super excited to see you.

If you haven't already remembered to hit that subscribe button down below, become part of the creature crew and also hit that notification bell down in the corner there so you don't miss a single upload. Today's video is a collaboration video with AnimaLogic. Say, "Hi, AnimaLogic." AnimaLogic has just released a fantastic informational video about bearded dragons. Go and check out her awesome channel and subscribe to her channel for more animal education.

AnimaLogic is a paleoartist, not only do you get to learn amazing animal facts by all kinds of obscure species, but you get to see how to make an incredible piece of art as you learn. Now, there's no such thing as a beginner pet or a beginner exotic pet or reptile, but I do think that bearded dragons are not only one of the best lizards you can keep, but definitely one of the best reptiles in general. For your viewing enjoyment, I'm going to be breaking down all of the different informational segments into different chapters.

If you're interested in a specific chapter like choosing a healthy bearded dragon, or heating and lighting or even substrate, then go and check out in my description box below where you can find really useful timestamps to get you where you need to go, but I fully suggest that you stay for the entire duration of this video because you might learn something that you didn't know before and because I need the ad revenue. You can click on my adverts if you like. To tell you more about today's chapters is me in voice-over form. Take it away Em.

How to pick a healthy dragon, housing your bearded dragon, heating and lighting, picking a substrate, diet handling and enrichment, dragon maintenance, common illnesses, other resources. Now you have to go away for a little while because I need to give my full attention to everyone who's watching us, so you can go in your view to full exercise pod behind me. Is that okay? Let's go.

How to pick a healthy dragon. Picking a healthy dragon and where to find them. There's a couple of places you can actually find wonderful bearded dragons, one is directly from a breeder. This is a great place to go if you're looking for a particular type of bearded dragon. You do get different bearded dragon morphs or different colorations and skin types. If that's what you're looking for, then a breeder is probably the best choice for you. There is of course the very standard pet stores that you can go to which have a variety of bearded dragons.

I don't normally recommend these pet stores because they tend to bulk buy from mass producers and I don't think that their bearded dragons are always the best quality, but it's really up to you if you want to go for a big chain pet store, which I personally do not recommend, or if you want to go to maybe a smaller boutique kind of pet store which might have connections with smaller-scale breeders which is probably a better way forward. You can also go to the reptile expos in your area. Depending on where you live, especially in the USA, you are bound to find Reptile Expos. Reptile Expos depending on the ones that you go to, you get the good ones and you also get the bad ones.

You can usually tell which vendors you want to stay away from, the ones that really cram their tables full of stock that looks really dehydrated or are missing limbs or have loads of stock shed. Avoid, avoid, avoid. A great sign that you're dealing with good vendors, good breeders, or good pet stores is that they take time to fully explain the pros and the cons of keeping these lizards as pets.

Of course, my favorite place, rescues. There are tons of reptile rescues. If you want to try and find them a great place to go is on Facebook, look up different reptile rescues, ask questions or you can even just call up a normal rescue and ask them if they have any affiliates or know any sister charities in the area which deal with reptiles. Just send them an email, give them a call they might be able to point you in the right direction.

Now, do you want a baby drago nor an adult dragon? It really is up to you. I personally would rather go for an adult bearded dragon. That's just me. I find that many people like to purchase bearded dragons as babies because they want to watch them grow. One of the pros of getting a young bearded dragon is that you are directly in charge of giving them that great start in life.

This was not the case with my bearded dragon. My bearded dragon is severely stunted, he is a rescue and I would say that my dragon is not an accurate representation of a super healthy bearded dragon. He is stunted, he's not going to get much bigger, he is a little bit weedy despite the fact that he does eat a lot. Where are you sausage? I see you. He's right there. [laughs]

While it is a truly magical thing to watch your bearded dragon go from a little juvenile all the way to a big healthy majestic dragon, it does cost quite a lot. Baby bearded dragons need a lot of protein when they're young and a lot of calcium and a lot of care. They are voracious eaters. If you're planning on getting a baby, just make sure that you factor into your costs that they're going to need to eat every single day. If you don't want to spend a ton of money feeding and feeding and feeding your bearded dragon for the first two-ish years of its lifespan, then maybe an adult might be a better way forward.

Now, one dragon or two? This is entirely up to you, but if you're going to be getting more than one bearded dragon, keep them separately. When you go into a lot of pet stores or even into reptile expos, you will see all the babies looking super cute hanging out together, basking on top of each other looking like total chill buddies, but that's not going to last. Bearded dragons are very territorial and if you keep a pair together, like say, two males or two females, they will fight.

Of course, if you keep a male and a female together you're going to get babies, lots and lots of babies. If you are keeping yours together and they're producing lots of eggs, just realize that even if you are discarding the eggs and therefore not technically breeding them and selling them, you're still putting your female bearded dragon under a lot of stress. She's using a lot of calcium. Please just keep your bearded dragons completely separate from each other. They don't need to hang out and Netflix and chill with each other. They're happy just to chill by themselves.

Housing your bearded dragon. With enclosure size, the bigger the better. Your dragon will use all of the space as much as possible. My bearded dragon is a stunted individual and lives in a 40-gallon tank. Although he does get a lot of supervised enrichment in pens, he is due an upgrade. Typically, I would say that 75 gallons for an adult is a decent sized space, but the bigger the better. By providing more space, your dragon will be happier, healthier and will display more interesting and natural behaviors.

Two of my favorite enclosures which I've kept bearded dragons in in the past are herpteks and vision enclosures. They're made of plastic and therefore don't reflect back at your bearded dragon the way that glass does. Some bearded dragons stress in glass cages as they feel too exposed, or they think that their reflection is a rival. If this happens, you can fold a piece of paper on the outside of the enclosure to minimize their reflections. A bearded dragon set-up should have the following; a basking spot and a cool spot, hammocks and ledges for lounging climbing and basking, a hiding place or a hide, substrate, food dish, textured items like logs for climbing, a safe soaking dish.

Heating and lighting. Lighting can be a little bit daunting for new owners. I'm going to break it down for you. Your bearded dragon requires two bulbs; one which has UVA and UVB and another which provides heat. For the UVA and UVB, it's recommended to use a bulb which allows light to span around two-thirds of the dragon's enclosure. Both Arcadia and Zoo Med manufacture fantastic UVA and UVB lights.

Reptiles need special lighting in order to actually get the nutrients from their food. Now heating, in your enclosure you should have a warmer end and a cooler end. Your bearded dragon should be given the chance to choose whether it wants to go into the cooler side or into the warmer side. Often you'll notice that your bearded dragons will actually go from one side to the other quite regularly.

This is because they are thermo-regulating. Bearded dragons need to be able to choose if they want to have a little bit more heat or a little bit less. Absolutely, you can use different heaters like spot lamps, or you can even use a ceramic heater which is based in one side of the enclosure. Do not under any circumstances be tricked or fooled into buying what's known as a heat rock. Heat rocks have been known to cause a lot of problems. Not only do they actually overheat and therefore, burn your animal, but they've been known to also start house fires. For this reason, no matter what heat source you are using, just please don't go for heat rocks. Always use a thermostat, a good reliable thermostat.

The thermostat that I use is the iSTAT and this is one that I had shipped over from the UK. It's definitely something that I trust, I love that it's touchscreen, I love that it gives off a really loud piercing alarm. For your heating and lighting have everything hooked up to a thermostat and hook that thermostat up to a timer because your bearded dragon is not an animal that wants to be awake

all of the time. They do sleep at night because they are a diurnal species. Diurnal meaning that they wake up during the day as opposed to a nocturnal animal which wakes up at night.

Now, you do get some nocturnal lizards and geckos but the bearded dragon is not one of them. Some people do have the belief that red bulbs don't really bother bearded dragons but I personally think it's better to give them absolute peace, quiet, and darkness at nighttime, so hook everything up to a timer. For us, every night at 9:00 PM, boom, everything goes off and then again, at about 6:00 AM, boom, everything comes back on again.

Picking a substrate. Yes, substrates. Substrates, everyone's favorite polarizing topic when it comes to bearded dragons. When it comes to keeping a healthy bearded dragon, substrate is something you have to consider very, very carefully because some substrates can actually be so detrimental to your bearded dragon that your bearded dragon can die. Yes. In particular, I am talking about sands and especially, calcium sands.

Calcium sand is irresistible to so many bearded dragons and you will find a lot of bearded dragons just can't help themselves except to lap up this amazing calcium-rich sand, but here's the issue. It can often cause what's known as an impaction. Impaction is when everything gets so messed up on the inside and everything sticks together that your bearded dragon physically can't pass any fecal matter and it can all become very, very bacteria-ridden and cause an infection, and your bearded dragon will die without surgery.

Some bearded dragon owners find that their bearded dragon loves using sand or calcium sand and that they have no issues. I have personally kept bearded dragons with sand and without sand. I have not had any issues with any bearded dragons having impactions. However, because it does happen quite frequently with other people, I will not be recommending calcium sand in this video.

What I personally use and what I personally recommend is a sand mat. The sand mat that I use is from Zoo Med and it's literally a roll-out mat which is sort of like a liner bottom and it's got sand stuck to it so the sand doesn't come up. It's not calcium sand either, so it's not the kind of sand which really entices your bearded dragon to lick it. Instead, it just produces a nice texture-full substrate which will help to keep the bearded dragon's nails in check.

Some other substrates, which you might be interested in using are paper towel. It's very difficult for a bearded dragon to actually chew, eat, consume and therefore, become impacted with paper towel. It's also really easy to replace and it's very affordable, so if your bearded dragon does make a mess, as it will inevitably do, all you have to do is peel it off and discard it, and you're left with a nice clean enclosure, which you can then clean with a vinegar solution or something similar.

Another pro when it comes to using paper towel is that any live food you happen to use will stand out really well against the white of the paper towel, making it really simple for young or juvenile bearded dragons to find their food. Another favorite to use is, ta-da, newspaper. Please forgive that it's not completely lining the bottom of this little, fake enclosure I have. This isn't an actual enclosure for anyone. This is, literally, just a bin that I keep my scissors in. Anyway, you don't need to know that.

Very similar to paper towel, you can also use newspaper, which is fantastic because it's often free because people don't care about the environment and like to give us spam mail to our letterbox. Therefore, it's easy to put it to use. Although, I actually read them. I'm that sad person that reads spam mail. What? Imagine your home, totally organized. That's never going to happen.

This is my opinion on tile, on paper towel, and on newspaper, and you're probably not going to like what I'm going to say but it comes from a caring place. I promise. I don't like it. The reason why I personally do not like it-- Though it's fine for you guys to use. I'm not going to judge that. The reason why I don't like it is because I don't want to keep my bearded dragon too clean.

The logic behind this is that I want my bearded dragon to have a decent immune system. It's not always that my bearded dragon is always inside its enclosure. Sometimes, it's in other places, for example, in this exercise pen or in the enrichment pod, which I'm having delivered soon. I prefer to leave a little bit of something behind just so that they get used to a little bit more of that bacteria and it seems to be working out really well for my bearded dragon, who has actually come on in leaps and bounds in the last year.

I'm very happy to allow my bearded dragon to have a little bit of manageable dirt every now and then, just so his immune system stays good and strong. It really is up to you to form an opinion that you think is going to be best for you, your circumstance, and your bearded dragon but I would say, stay away from the calcium sand. It's just not worth the risk.

Diet. Bearded dragon diets-- He knows I'm talking about food. [chuckles] Juvenile and sub-adult bearded dragons certainly need a much higher protein intake than an adult bearded dragon. For this reason, 80% invertebrates and 20% leafy greens is what I would recommend. After about two years of age, you can switch this over to about 60% worth of leafy greens and 40% invertebrates.

Some of the best invertebrates that you can feed your bearded dragon are Dubia roaches. Dubia roaches are actually very easy to create your own colony of or you can actually buy them relatively inexpensively from most pet stores. Dubia roaches are packed, full of wonderful proteins and vitamins for your bearded dragon and because Dubia roaches can be very, very quick on their feet, it also provides enrichment and exercise for your bearded dragon because they physically have to run after their food.

You can also feed mealworms and superworms in moderation. Mealworms and superworms have a lot more chitin in them which is very difficult for a bearded dragon to digest in large quantities. You can also feed hornworms if you really, really like. They're a fantastic source, again, of both protein and also, water because a lot of what a very expensive hornworm actually is, is water. Again, it's a fantastic source of protein for your bearded dragon but a cup of about this size is going to cost you about $20 in most stores. That's US dollars, by the way. Not particularly the best if you're on a budget but they make a lovely treat every now and again.

Now, if you're lucky enough to live in a very bio-diverse, healthy area, then you might have insects at your disposal outside but I highly recommend that you do not use any wild court invertebrates. The reason why I suggest this is because you just don't know if they have any parasites or if they've been eating anything with any pesticides. Of course, anything that your feeders eat goes directly into your bearded dragon, so I highly recommend that you purchase your feeders from a store.

In particular, never feed any wild hornworms to your bearded dragon. In the wild, hornworms love to eat nightshade which happens to be a sedative and a poison, so although the hornworm looks absolutely fine, it's probably not going to be okay to feed to your bearded dragon, which might end up absorbing the toxins from those leaves. Another fantastic source of protein, which is really easy to find in the UK, but, which you just cannot get in the US because they're actually illegal are locusts.

Locusts are a wonderful source of protein and they climb as well. Along with Dubia, locusts are a fantastic source of protein for bearded dragons and it is such a shame that you cannot get them in the USA because they are an agricultural pest. This is what they look like. If you live in the UK or in Europe, it's most likely that you'll be able to find these very, very inexpensively. I highly recommend Dubia and locusts to make up the bulk of the invertebrates that you feed to your bearded dragons.

Greens. Let's talk about greens. Some of the best greens you can feed are dandelion greens. Bearded dragons love dandelion greens. In the summer, you can even pick them for yourself, but do not pick them if you're not sure that your lawn is completely pesticide-free. For some reason, the US is completely obsessed with having pesticides on their lawns. I am not a fan. I do not have any pesticides on my lawn because I like to encourage biodiversity and not kill it, and I'm not a monster.

If you want to pick your own leafy greens, then only do it from a place you know 110% does not get treated with pesticides. From your local supermarket, you should be able to get other really fantastic beneficial greens just like turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens. All of these are fantastic. Avoid feeding greens like spinach and kale. They do nothing whatsoever for your bearded dragon. In fact, they actually sap your bearded dragon of the ability to actually absorb calcium. Other food items which you can feed to your bearded dragons are a little bit of hard-boiled egg every now and then. A little bit of apple or a blueberry every now and then is a lovely treat.

When giving your bearded dragon their greens, you should add a high-quality calcium and vitamin supplement. You can find these at most pet stores which stock reptile accessories. Rep-Cal Calcium with Vitamin D and Rep-Cal Herptivite are great supplements in the USA. I also like to switch these up on occasion with supplements from the UK such as Nutrobal and Vionate.

Handling and enrichment. Now, let's talk about handling your bearded dragon. Young and juvenile bearded dragons are always going to be a little bit more flighty and scared when it comes to being held, so as soon as you bring your bearded dragon home and you have him in his set-up, just leave them alone for a couple of days to set in. Once your bearded dragon has established a routine of a day and night cycle as well as eating, and you can see that they are pooping absolutely fine, then you can start handling them for short periods at a time.

Start out this way and allow them to just sit in your hand and, of course, be aware that your bearded dragon may suddenly decide to shoot off into the abyss so be very, very cautious and keep them low to the ground or on your lap the first few times you hold them. When picking up your bearded dragon, never pick them up by the tail. They do not have a prehensile or semi-prehensile tail, which is a tail which acts like like a 5th limb which they can wrap around, a bit like a monkey, they don't have that. If you grab your bearded dragon and pick them up by the tail, you can cause irreparable damage to their spine.

Don't take it personally if your bearded dragon doesn't want to hang out with you initially. This will come with time. If your bearded dragon doesn't want to hang out with you or they're constantly trying to get away, just put them back in their enclosure because you don't want them to associate any negativity with your handling sessions.

This is Bad Idea's enrichment pod. I actually share this with a bunch of my animals whenever they come into my office. It's actually created by a beautiful company called Clearly Loved Pets. It's a really versatile, wonderful pen. #notsponsored. On the way in, what I've got in here is a bunch of different things that a bearded dragon can actually enjoy. He's actually- because it's quite late at night now, he's taking a little snooze under here.

The great thing is that with an enrichment pod, which you don't have to have you can just do this in a supervised space, you don't have to have like a fancy pen. Look, I've been filming a lot. [chuckles] I have a water dish where he can come and get some water and I also put in different things for him to smell, taste, and interact with. Hence why I have a pair of shoes in here, these are some of my irregular choice shoes with like crayfish at the bottom.

When it comes to enrichment, anything can really be used as enrichment from new things that he doesn't get to smell that often, you can introduce different safe fragrances for them to smell. For example, like rubbing a bit of grass onto a piece of paper for them to smell. Anything really can be enrichment and it's a really great thing to give you a bearded dragon something different to do. He's super sleepy right now. I've actually just done this after filming the majority of my video.

Now, it is dark outside so he's ready to go to bed. I'm going to take him home now and start to wrap things up, but we're going to continue on with this video because it's still only like halfway through this video. If it's a warm, sunny day, you can fit your bearded dragon with a reptile harness and give them additional exercise outdoors.

Dragon maintenance. Maintaining your bearded dragon. We've spoken about food, we've spoken about heating, lighting, and substrate, but your bearded dragon, being a growing lizard, will actually shed its skin periodically. You should aim to allow your bearded dragon to soak. I personally always have a soaking dish for my bearded dragon because my bearded dragon is a freak and will actually drink standing water which many bearded dragons won't, but it will also soak its own body. This is fantastic for helping my bearded dragon to actually shed its old skin.

I'm sure that some of you will have bearded dragons which refuse to soak themselves in which case, that job comes to you. You'll have to fill up either your bathtub or a separate soaking tub with about as much water as will come up to sort of midway along your bearded dragon. This will ensure that your bearded dragon does not drown. While soaking your bearded dragon to help them loosen up their skin before shedding or if they've got some stuck shed, you should always keep an eye on your bearded dragon. Never take your eyes off your bearded dragon because some are a little bit dopey and might drown themselves.

Never submerge your bearded dragon in water which it cannot comfortably stand up in and which it cannot raise its head above. Bearded dragons can swim but they are not natural swimmers and they will tire very, very easily. One of the drawbacks to having the soaking dish in your enclosure is that your bearded dragon may enjoy using it as a toilet. For this reason, it's good to check your water dish every day and change out any fouled water immediately.

Another bit of maintenance is your bedded dragon's nails. You want to make sure they're not too long. Obviously, you don't want to cut the quick, so a great tool to have are small animal clippers which you can get either online or from any pet store. Another bit of maintenance is making sure that your bearded dragon does not have any abundance of insects hiding inside its enclosure and bothering them. Some crickets, for example, will actually gang up on a bearded dragon especially young bearded dragons and to chew on their dead skin or the skin which is flaking off of their bodies. You just want to make sure that you're not pouring in a ton of invertebrates on top of more invertebrates which are already inside the enclosure.

Common illnesses. Before you even bring home a bearded dragon, I highly suggest that you do indeed look for a veterinarian in your local area who is comfortable with treating bearded dragons. Most veterinarians today have a little bit of experience with bearded dragons because they are such a popular reptile to keep as pets, but you just want to make sure that you definitely have access to a veterinarian in your area.

One of my most common animal keeping mottos is, if you cannot afford a vet, you cannot afford the pet. I just want you guys to bear that in mind because costs of actually using a veterinarian can skyrocket especially when you're talking about operations, x-rays, fecals, that can all definitely add up, not to mention any kind of medication.

Some owners feed their bearded dragons a little too much. While chubby dragons are very cute, this can cause huge health problems. If your dragon is getting a bit pudgy, cut back on the treats and encourage more exercise. Another common ailment that you might find is that your bearded dragon might for whatever reason cut one of its nails and it might bleed. If this is the case, then a great way to actually deal with a nail which is bleeding a lot is cornstarch.

Always keep a little bit of cornstarch around. This is also really helpful if you accidentally cut the quick or again, if your bearded dragon accidentally breaks its nail down to the quick, a little bit of cornstarch on there which you can get in any grocery store will be able to help stop the bleeding. Calcium is vital to bearded dragons. If they don't have enough calcium, they can develop MBD, which is metabolic bone disease. It's a bit like rickets and humans. The bones become a weak, bend and can easily break. Female bearded dragons can also be susceptible to calcium crashes after laying eggs. If your female dragon lays eggs, increase her calcium intake.

Other resources. All right. Now we've come right to the very end of the video where I want to tell you that you can still continue to do even more research to make yourself the most equipped and knowledgeable bearded dragon owner you possibly can be which is a fantastic thing to do. A really great place to find wonderful bearded dragon information is actually over on ye olde Facebook. [chuckles]

Facebook has amazing animal groups which are dedicated to individual species. You can check out groups for bearded dragon owners such as this one over here which is a fantastic resource. They also happen to have a website that you can check out as well which you can see right over here. If you're not old enough to make your own account, ask your parent's permission to help you and supervise you with an account so that you can learn more bearded dragon information.

That is it for today, guys. I really hope that you enjoyed this care video. Please do go and check out the amazing AnimalLogic. I think that her channel is so wonderful and super underrated. She deserves at least a million subscribers. Please go and check out AnimalLogic and send us some love as well from Emsotic. If you have any care videos which you would like to recommend for a future video, leave a suggestion down in the comment box below. Thank you guys all so much for watching. I will see you in another video soon. Bye. Don't forget to subscribe.

[00:27:30] [END OF AUDIO]

About Emzotic

"I'm an animal educator and former zookeeper. I keep a lot of rare and exotic pets whose beauty and care I like to share with the world. Subscribe and see the fantastic creatures I keep and learn about them!" — Em

Em is an animal educator, speaker, and former zookeeper, bringing lots of knowledge of animal care to the YouTube community. On her channel, she discusses and shows in detail how to keep and care for bearded dragons, ferrets, frogs, tarantulas, snails, rabbits, chinchillas, snakes, geckos, skunks, hornbills, and more.

Em's "wildly edutaining" videos include animal videos, pet care videos, and "Creature Features." Visit Em's channel today for some great information on pet care, animal facts, etc.

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