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The Bearded Dragon is like a primeval character that would be a welcome pet for any “Game of Thrones” fan. This friendly Australian lizard has a gentle nature, and his spiky skin is quite soft.
Bearded dragons are easy to keep, because they like a wide variety of foods and they remain small in size. The reptiles generally mature between 14 and 24 inches long. They eat both protein-based food and vegetables. They are more entertaining than some of their nocturnal relatives, as they tend to be most active during the day.
Bearded dragons are so passive and affable that they a favorite of reptile fanciers. They can be trained to walk on a leash, and some people will even dress them up in little outfits. They have an endearing habit of raising their front leg in greeting, as if waving a friendly, “hi” to other dragons and their owners.
There are nine varieties of bearded dragon, and all originate in Australia. The type that has shot to popularity in the United States is the Inland Bearded Dragon, Pogona Vitticeps, also known affectionately as, “Beardie.”
Among these Beardies, there are three specialty types:
Through careful breeding, this variation emerged by breeding dragons that were the largest in a group. Over time, breeders have developed a line of “German Giants,” which are 50 percent larger than the original.
Leatherback Bearded Dragons have smaller scales than their predecessors. So, they feel smoother. And, the increased numbers and layers of scales have resulted in deeper coloration.
The Silkback Dragons result from breeding two leatherbacks together. The offspring have scales so small that they look and feel much smoother than the previous generations. All of these varieties can be produced in various colors.
Bearded Dragons in Living Color
Typically, Beardies are born with skin that is a mix of green and tan or yellow and red. But, through selective breeding, there are also solid colored bearded dragons. These include red, orange, yellow, and white. These solid-colored dragons tend to have dark eyes. But, the white variety includes albino, which has a pinkish hue, with red eyes.
Most popular may be the dynamic red dragons, which are brushed with a range of shades. These include:
- Ruby Red
- Blood Red
- Citrus Tiger
Some breeders produce Beardies that will display hypomelanism traits, which are lighter in color. They also breed for translucency, which produces Beardies that have skin which is nearly transparent. Their eyes are typically solid black.
Where to House Your Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragons like to climb, so are happiest if their home terrarium offers a variety of agility obstacles, such as driftwood and rocks. For the average dragon, you will need at least a 40-gallon tank. If you have a larger type of Dragon, he will need a larger tank. Also, be aware that the larger your tank is, the bigger your Beardie will grow. Dragons are happiest when they have plenty of room.
Like all lizards, they appreciate fresh water, a heat source, and some soft sand to dig around in. A basking light is very important, as the Beardies thrive on having light 12-to-14 hours a day.
Being from the Australian desert, your Dragon will need a housing temperature of around 70 degrees – and that’s the cool side. For the warm side of his habitat, he should enjoy a temp of 110 degrees. It’s a good idea to keep two thermometers so these ideal conditions can be maintained.
There are a variety of enclosures that will do such as glass, wood, or PVC. Just must make sure the enclosure you select comes with a secure cover. Dragons are escape artists! Obviously, the cover should be a screen or some other type of fixture that allows air to flow through.
Keeping your dragon happy is simple if you provide the right type of enclosure and a balanced diet. Beyond that, be prepared to spend about the next decade with your very own primitive friend!