Bearded dragon for beginners - pogona vitticeps care 101

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Have you thought about having a lizard? Today we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the care of the bearded dragon (or pogona vitticeps).

The lizards comprise over four thousand different species and the pogonas are included within the family of the agamids. The term pogona has its origin from the Greek 'pogon', which means beard; hence they are also known as bearded dragons.

Their maintenance and care are relatively easy, which is why they are a very common choice for beginners in the world of reptiles.

How should be the terrarium of a bearded dragon?

We will need a horizontal terrarium, the bigger the better, and always respecting a minimum space per animal if we want to have more than one specimen. They are animals that can measure up to 30 cm as adults and weigh about 450 grams.

Minimum size of a terrarium for bearded dragon:

  • Young animals: 80 x 60 x 50 cm
  • Adult animals: 100 x 60 x 50 cm
  • Group of 2-3 animals: 150 x 60 x 50 cm

In the case of having more than one bearded dragon, the compatibility of the animals must be taken into account. You can get to have groups of females or a male with two females. Avoid introducing two males in groups of females to avoid confrontation. Babies (0-3 months) can be kept in groups of 4-5 animals to control, above all, that they do not damage each other.

Characteristics of the terrarium of the bearded dragon

1. Temperature and heat sources

They need a cold zone at 20-25 ºC and another warm zone at 35-40 ºC. At night the temperature should not fall below 18-20 ºC. To get this temperature we can make use of:

  • Infrared light
  • Ceramic lamp
  • Mercury vapor lamp (this one emits UV light A and B)

As support heat sources you can opt for blankets/thermal cables or thermal stones with a care that the animal does not burn himself by contact.

2. Lighting

It is a very important point when it comes to maintenance in captivity. Pogonas require ultraviolet radiation a and b (light sources 10.0). The lamp can be left at a rate of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

The lifespan of these lamps must be taken into account and it is necessary to renew them every 6-8 months and at least once a year.

3. Terrarium floor

Baby/juvenile animals: newspaper or kitchen paper changing it daily.
Adult animals: peat or coconut milk can be used. If we choose sand, we must ensure that they do not ingest it during times of calcium deficiency.

4. Humidity and water source

It is necessary a relative humidity of 30-40% and the provision of drinking water in suitable containers.
Beware of baby animals that live together because when stacking they can cause drowning of some animal. It is also possible in these cases to spray the terrarium with water several times a day.

5. Environmental enrichment

It is important that the animals are as comfortable as possible in their new home. That is why we must offer you different options to achieve it:

  • Shelters so they can hide (caves, cabins, etc.)
  • Trunks so they can climb, not too high
  • Rocks
  • Plants (we will choose those that are not toxic if they are ingested)

It is very important to get a thermometer and a hygrometer to control the temperature and humidity respectively. This will ensure that the terrarium conditions are adequate.

Feeding the bearded dragons or pogonas

The pogonas are very voracious reptiles. Of course, depending on the time of their life, their
needs change:

  • Babies: 100% live food (live prey)
  • Juvenile (from 6 months to a year and a half): 60% live food and 40% vegetables
  • Adults: 50% live food and 50% vegetables
  • Older pogonas (more than 5 years old): 25% live food and 75% vegetables
  • Pregnant females: 75% live food and 25% vegetables

Vegetables

Daily

  • Green alfalfa
  • Pumpkin
  • Dandelion
  • Endive
  • Chicory
  • Mustard leaf
  • Turnip leaf

Weekly

  • Apple without skin, strawberry, tangerine
  • Arugula
  • Cole leaf
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Peeled cucumber

Live food

Daily

  • Cockroach
  • Lobster
  • Worm of silk
  • Ants/termites

Weekly

  • Crickets
  • Sporadic
  • Zophobas
  • Tenebrio(mealworm)
  • Earthworm
  • Honey worm

To this should be added supplementation with vitamins and minerals. Its administration depends on the age of the animal, and it will be the veterinarian specialized in exotic animals who will indicate when they are necessary and in what quantity.

Patricia Lorenzo García, licensed in Veterinary by the UCM and specialist in Exotic Animals. Founder of the Facebook group Exotics in Bilbao. Currently working in the team of the Veterinary Clinic Campo Volantín, in Bilbao.