Bearded dragons can be difficult to take care of, but it becomes significantly more manageable once you’ve established a routine with them.
As your bearded dragon ages and grows, its dietary needs become much easier to manage. During that time, you’ll also learn and adapt to their lifestyle.
While bearded dragons require a lot of maintenance, they are great pets to own. If you’re willing to put time and effort into caring for your dragon, bonding with a bearded dragon is very rewarding and makes everything worth it.
Read on for more information on why bearded dragons can be challenging pets and ways to minimize those difficulties.
Why bearded dragons can be difficult pets?
They require a strict diet
Bearded dragons are omnivores who require a specific ratio of insects to veggies that varies with size and age.
You’ll have to do your own research and talk to a vet. Over time you’ll adjust the amount of insects and greens you feed them every day.
Young and smaller bearded dragons will require more insects and fewer greens. Eventually, that ratio will start to even out as they age and grow.
Important note: bearded dragons also require a certain amount of calcium in their diet that’ll also vary with age. If they don’t get enough calcium, they could potentially have health issues that affect their growth and bones; you can’t give them too much too, or else that will result in calcium overdose (Hypercalcemia).
They require a specific amount of heat and humidity
Too much or too little heat can lead to health problems if not appropriately monitored.
Lighting is crucial when owning a dragon and requires their bulbs changed every 6 months to a year.
The humidity of the climate you live in can affect your bearded dragon. Too much humidity can lead to respiratory infections.
Simply leaving their water dish in their enclosure can lead to high humidity levels that aren’t safe for them.
If you happen to live in a humid climate, it may be best to keep water outside the enclosure.
Instead, you can regularly bathe them and/or provide water at feeding time so they can hydrate themselves.
Reptile vets can be hard to find
Finding a proper vet can be very difficult and require long-distance traveling.
Most vets are not knowledgeable about reptiles. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to research nearby specialized vets and know how far away they are.
They can’t be housed with another pet.
Bearded dragons are territorial and have environmental requirements that don’t match up with other pets.
Additionally, it isn’t recommended to house two bearded dragons together. The likelihood of them fighting for dominance is high.
Not only is this dangerous and could lead to the more submissive one losing limbs and getting an infection, but the dominant one will do its best to steal all the heat and nutrients.
They’re susceptible to parasites.
If their enclosures aren’t cleaned regularly and bacteria manage to get in the enclosure, there’s a risk that your dragon will get sick.
If you have a busy schedule that takes up most of your day, you may need to reconsider owning a bearded dragon.
You may be surprised to learn that it doesn’t take much for bacteria to accumulate in the enclosure.
Some examples include your dragon running through their own feces, sitting water, and food being left in the cage too long.
Their enclosures must be above 40 feet long and should be somewhat tall. These tanks can be difficult to find and often expensive.
Otherwise, the lack of space could stress out your dragon and lead to health issues.
The costs of their diets can vary, and the way to avoid these costs is to breed the insects yourself.
Also, while crickets are cheap and easy to find, they die off within a couple of days, and there’s always the small chance of a cricket carrying a disease.
UV lights are also expensive and require new bulbs once or twice per year. The prices for these vary, but nevertheless, they add up and often cost over one hundred dollars per year.
How to make taking care of a bearded dragon less difficult?
Choose the right bearded dragon
When purchasing a bearded dragon for the first time, consider their age, gender, and size. The younger and smaller they are, the more difficult it’s going to be.
Larger dragons are going to be likely more calm and relaxed. They’re also easy to feed and handle.
Male bearded dragons are often considered easier due to not becoming gravid. Many health issues can result from impaction from the eggs within your dragon’s stomach.
There’s less risk with owning a male bearded dragon and less stress when worrying about their health.
Younger dragons tend to be more hyper and fragile. In addition, their dietary needs change frequently as they grow.
Furthermore, it can be difficult to manage their diets as they change and develop.
Consistently interact with your dragon.
This is how you’ll bond with your dragon and recognize their behaviors. You’ll be more likely to notice when something about them is off, such as an illness or unusual eating habits.
You’ll know when it’s necessary to take them to the vet and when they’re being fussy with their meals.
Take them on walks, let them sit on your shoulder or lap while you work or do homework, give them weekly baths, watch a movie while they nap on you, etc.
Bearded dragons don’t require much exercise and tend to spend most of their time basking under their lamp or eating. They’re not like a dog or cat, where they’ll cause trouble if you don’t have an outlet for their energy. This makes taking care of them much easier if you’re a more laid-back person who doesn’t want an energetic pet.
Have fun with their dietary needs
Bearded dragons have a wide range of options to choose from when giving them food. Find what they like best and change things up once in a while.
When you find food that your dragon especially likes, It can be a fun and entertaining experience when you watch your dragon go crazy for certain foods.
Find other dragon owners.
Ask experienced breeders and long-term bearded dragon owners questions.
Chances are, if they own a bearded dragon and are vocal about it on the internet, there will be enthusiasts who won’t hesitate to fill you in with information.
Quick note: You will find many different dragon owners with conflicting opinions. Learn to consider each opinion, but know that certain outcomes depend on the situation. Do your own research and form your own opinions.
Why bearded dragons are great pets?
Despite how difficult it can be to care for a bearded dragon, they can be great companions.
They tend to have a great temperament.
This is especially true with older dragons. Many owners are able to take their bearded dragons on walks and errands.
Bearded dragons are also generally friendly towards people, including strangers.
You may have heard or seen people bringing their bearded dragons on adventures outside, and most will tolerate other people holding them.
You can train them to do easy tricks such as coming when you call them. They’re also fairly easy to train because they’re generally food-driven
You can take them almost anywhere.
Most dragons won’t mind riding on your shoulder or the front of your shirt as you go on a stroll or stop at the store with them.
They enjoy new adventures outside of the enclosure along with the new smells while they’re with someone they know will keep them safe.
Just be careful that they aren’t away from their heat source for an extended period of time.
They can be easier to handle compared to other reptiles
Other reptiles are often small and fragile and/or are more aggressive. You don’t have to worry about your dragon’s tail falling off, and they’re much easier to handle due to their larger size.
They’re also better reptiles to have if you have children who are taught how to hold them properly. Although, it may take a while to adjust to a more noisy home than a quiet one.
Fortunately, as long as you introduce them slowly and provide them with their own space to hide in their solitary enclosure, everything should be fine.
Bearded dragons can be difficult to care for, but you shouldn’t let that deter you from owning one.
If you’re up for the responsibility and are willing to put the work and effort into caring for your dragon, it’ll be easier than you think.
Once you’re able to recognize your dragon’s behaviors, including their likes and dislikes, it’ll become much easier to maintain then.
You’ll be able to determine if something is wrong, and you’ll be able to bond with your dragon as you figure out its personality.