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The Bearded Dragon: The Perfect Exotic Pet

bearded dragon  on a rock
By Greg Hume - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The perfect exotic pet, the Bearded Dragon is a good starter lizard for either beginner or advanced reptile keepers.

Beardies are friendly and funny.

Two Bearded DragonsThey are more gregarious than some other species and unlike the green iguana, which can get quite large, they are a medium sized lizard, seldom growing to over 20 inches long, nose to tail tip.

Feeding Your Beardie

Baby beardies do best on a diet of small crickets. Small crickets will be beigy-white. If they have turned brown, they are too old. The dark color comes as the cricket shell matures and that shell is made of chitin which is not very nutritious and probably not delicious to a beardie.

Do take the time to learn which greens are best. As your dragon matures, offer him a variety of greens: romaine, green leaf, red leaf, collards, turnip greens, etc. Greens will be your dragons staple diet when he is mature.

If your bearded dragon is hesitant in eating his veggies, try drizzling a spoonful or two of olive oil over them or put them on top of his superworms or crickets. He’ll soon develop a taste for them as if by accident!

However, never feed iceberg lettuce. It is too sweet and does not contain enough nutrients. Spring mix makes a good treat, but watch out for brands that contain too much spinach as the oxalic acid in spinach binds with calcium and keeps his body from absorbing it.

Besides lettuces, your beardie will enjoy other greens such as turnip greens and collard greens. Our vegetable eating reptiles also enjoy a bit of radicchio (a type of leafy chicory) and an occasional piece or two of summer squash, which is supposed to be a natural wormer as well as being very tasty.

Although beardies maintain their love for crickets and other feeder insects throughout their lives, adult beardies can subsist on almost 100% greens, dusted lightly with calcium and vitamin D. That's good to know, especially if you live where winters are cold. Crickets and worms can be difficult to find when temperatures drop because many vendors don't like to ship live insects in sub-zero weather.

Bearded Dragons get their name from the males of their species.

Bearded Dragon beard display
By Obolton, Public Domain,

They puff out their chins, which look like black beards, to show dominance. Don't be fooled by the smile! This behavior can also be a sign of aggression.

Generally speaking, reptiles don't have the same type of memory that we mammals do. As a result, they don't learn things in the same ways as mammals, nor do they quickly retain what they have learned. That said, it is important you learn how your Bearded Dragon communicates with his limited capabilities.

Baby Beardies are very sweet tempered little individuals. When baby beardies turn into adults, the bristly parts of their skin get stiff and can make them uncomfortable to handle. While Bearded Dragons are not normally an aggressive species, if you want to maintain that sweetness after your Beardie is grown, you need to handle him for a short time each day.

Beardies do communicate somewhat through body language. When they want to be left alone, they bob their heads vigorously to tell you that you are too close. When they are looking for attention, there is nothing sweeter than their hand waves that tell you they are not threat to you.

Complete details on Bearded Dragon care can be found in an excellent Bearded Dragon care sheet at Bearded

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