CARING FOR BEARDED/WATER DRAGONS
Your dragon must be kept in an environment with a suitable temperature range, humidity and daylength. Disease problems in dragons are commonly associated with poor maintenance of these, particularly temperature.
- Dragons have a preferred body temperature (PBT) of 35-39ºC and their enclosure should provide a temperature range of 2-3ºC either side of this PBT.
These temperatures are best achieved through the use of 40-75 watt blue globes or infrared heatlamps in, or over, one end of the enclosure. Provision of logs or rocks placed under and around the heat source allow your dragon to sit at varying distances from it and a hollow log or upturned flower pot provides a cool retreat.
- A source of ultraviolet light, either through exposure to unfiltered, natural sunlight, or an artificial UV light will help prevent Vitamin D deficiency and skin and bone disorders. Remember to replace the light regularly (every 3-6 months) as it will lose strength, even though the light still works.
- The enclosure (ideally made of wood and perspex) should be large enough for your dragon to move around freely. A screen top will ensure that excess heat can escape.
- Thermometers and humidity gauges are essential.
- Humidity should be maintained between 35-75% depending on the species - this can be achieved by placing a shallow dish of water in the enclosure. Water dragons, however, need a water container large enough to allow them to completely submerge.
- Feeding frequency is daily for juveniles and every 2-3 days for adults. Remember — if the enclosure temperature is not right your dragon may refuse to eat.
- All dragons are insect-eaters and should be offered a selection of live crickets, silkworms and mealworms. However, this diet is highly deficient in calcium. To avoid calcium deficiency and Metabolic Bone Disease (Rickets) in your dragon, calcium supplementation is required. This can be achieved by either:
- Feeding crickets with 80% cricket food and 20% calcium carbonate for 2-3 days prior to feeding to your dragon; or
- Injecting the insects with Calcium Sandoz Syrup or dusting with calcium carbonate powder immediately prior to feeding to your dragon.
- Bearded and water dragons also like a variety of chopped fruit and vegetables such as clover, dandelion, mulberry leaves, milk thistle, watercress, banana, apple, pawpaw, pear, green beans, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, parsley and tomato. Reptile supplements are also available.
- Worm every 6 months.
- Book a yearly health check to check faeces and detect general health problems
eg parasite infestations and bacterial infections.
- Annual blood screening and/or bacterial cultures are recommended for certain pet lizards.
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