Where There Be Dragons

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For the novice who is interested in keeping reptiles (and more specifically Dragons) the first question generally asked is, “What species should I start with?”  A popular and particularly good choice is the Bearded Dragon.

There are several species of bearded dragon but one of the most hardy and endearing varieties is the Pogona vitticeps. This species is more commonly known as the Central or Northern Bearded Dragon.

The Central Bearded Dragon grows to around 25cm, snout to vent in length, so is a great size to handle and keep.  Along with the placid nature when brought up from a hatchling, they make excellent pets for both adults and children alike.

They are seasonal breeders and the young are hatched out in the hotter months. These tiny little guys quickly learn to eat live insects, fruit and vegetables and can be easily trained to enjoy commercially prepared pellets such as the URS Lizard food that is available in leading pet stores.

They can be a little skittish as a hatchling but with careful handling, it does not take them long to accept being picked up and carried around.  Some become quite accustomed to it and enjoy hitching a ride on their owners.

Central Bearded Dragons come in a range of shades of greys, browns and oranges. A particularly stunning morph is the red phase, the result of populations originally from the red soiled areas of Australian combined with careful selective breeding.  These days, enthusiasts are now experimenting with other types of physical morphs based on skin and scale patterning and formation.  But when it all comes down to it, the humble regular, every-day Central Bearded dragon is still a winner if you are looking for a great pet.

As with many reptiles, these dragons require a ‘micro-habitat’ that meets all the needs they would normally access in the wild. Reptiles are cold-blooded or ‘ectothermic’ meaning they do not produce their own body heat but rather rely on the environment to heat their bodies. It is important that their enclosure is set up with a heat source so that they can regulate their own body temperature. Heating of the enclosure should always be connected with a thermostat to ensure it is properly regulated.  Bearded Dragons also require artificial UV in this enclosure.  The UV allows the animal to use calcium they have taken up in their diet. Without this UV, they can experience medical problems that affect their bones and overall health.  Along with this UV, they also require a period of light and darkness to reflect day and night.  It is essential to have the UV on during the day and then turned off at night.

If looked after correctly, you can get many years of pleasure keeping this dragon. And if you really enjoy keeping one, you might want to try another and perhaps even give breeding a shot. If nothing else, they are a great introduction to the unique and interesting world of reptiles.

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