Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bearded Whats?

Bearded Dragons, that's what. I have a few of them, 4 to be exact. Two of them are only about 3 to 4 months old, the other two are adults at just about 1.5 years old. Yep they mature quickly but then again they only live about 12 years. The two smaller ones that I have, I bought hoping to sell. No dice so I am stuck with them for now. That is okay, when they mature they will be worth a lot more, and I'll probably trade them anyhow. Trade em for what? Well other reptiles or amphibians - what else!

As for the two adults, well I got one of em for free. Got him from a gent at my local herpetological society. He asked me if I would take it, and i really did not want it but he could not care for it any longer and told me it was okay to give it away to someone who knows how to take care of it. I asked if he would mind me selling it and giving the money to the
Long Island Herpetological Society as a donation and he was fine with that. Well it has been months now, maybe even a half of a year or more and I have him still. I just have not found any takers, so he was sharing an outside pen in the warmer weather, and now an inside tank with my other Bearded Dragon adult. Yes he is definitely a he.

As for the other one, if you know anything about BD's then yo know you usually cannot keep two males together unless you have a really large enclosure for them because they are just too territorial with one another. I don't have one that big, so you guessed it, the other one is a female. Males and females usually get along just fine together, and you could keep one male with a harem of several females if you wanted with no problems. That is so long as you kept them in a large enough enclosure, but that would still be one smaller than two males together would require. I cannot recall where I got the female. I remember I bought it from someone. It was not expensive, as I recall only $25.00; that was a steal. Yet the person who sold it to me knew its value and just wanted to make something off of it, and was otherwise basically adopting it out. I also figured I would sell her for a nice profit. I have had her for at least 4 to 5 months now. Wow that means I have had the male longer than 6 months, at least the way I figure it. It doesn't mater, I am stuck with em both.

Just three days or so ago, I noticed the female was starting to get very active, and was digging in the sand in the bottom of her enclosure. That along with the fact that she looked as if she had swallowed a bag of marbles was a sure sign that she was ready to lay eggs. Chances are she laid eggs once before, in the pen in my backyard over the summer. I never saw any hatchling, but if they hatched and I did not notice, I suppose they were dinner for mama and papa. What can I say. This time though she was inside, and I noticed she was gravid, and I placed a box full of slightly moistened sand and coconut fiber into her tank. After a day or two she was digging in that. I think it was this past Thursday night or Friday morning she laid her eggs. I was not too sure if she had more to lay, so on the second evening I placed a heat lamp over the area where the eggs had been laid and left it on throughout the clock. They wound up going through one night and part of the next day without added heat except for the tank lights during the day, but should be okay. I got them into an incubator today. I was really surprised to find 26 eggs in all. That is a good sized amount of eggs for a first or second clutch. They were all laid in the same area so I suppose she laid them all at once, instead of digging holes at different times to lay some each time.

If they all hatch out, and I should know in about 55 - 60 days I will be a happy made. I can possibly sell them for $20 apiece, maybe even a little more. I have not sold squat this year, so that would be good. If they start to develop nice color they will go for even more than a little more. That would be nice, but I ain't counting my chickens dragons until they have hatched. Even they the mortality rate is higher until they reach about 5 to 6 weeks at which time I can be pretty sure those that have survived will make it to adulthood. With any luck the eggs should start hatching by about December 16 - just in time for the Christmas rush. I will not even try to sell them then, they wont be sellable, as far as I am concerned, until they hit 5 or 6 weeks at the youngest. It is even better to wait until they reach 8 weeks old before buying one, especially if you are a first time Bearded Dragon person.

As far as them being pets, Bearded Dragons are probably the best common pet lizard that there is in the trade today. They are not difficult to care for so long as you follow so pretty basic guidelines such as lighting, heat, caging and feeding. They are also pretty mellow as far as lizards go. Sometimes you would think they are fake such as when you see someone walking around at a reptile expo with one on his or her shoulder, and the lizard is simply not fazed by almost anything. Of course you can always get the rare psychopathic Bearded Dragon, but they are few and far between.

They grow to about 18-20 inches on average, a lot of that being tail, and one or two adults can be kept in a 30 gallon long tank at a bare minimum. Bigger is better. I have two in a similarly sized tank now, but they share a much larger pen in my backyard during the warmer months from May or June through September. They require special lighting that gives off UVA and UVB radiation like the sun, and also require a hot spot in their enclosure up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit for basking. You can accomplish that with a combination of a heat lamp and UV bulbs, but I get by with a single bulb - a self ballasted mercury vapor bulb (made especially for lizard keeping). The lighting and tank are the most expensive items, and even tho0ugh each of the bulb cost me about $25, I saved money because I do not need two types of bulbs and therefore two separate fixtures. Actually I sue three types of bulbs on their tank but I could get away with just the one. I use the mercury vapor lamp over their basking sight, an incandescent bulb of much less wattage than the MV lamp over the center of the tank for some heat there, and a florescent lamp with a reptile bulb running from the center of the tank toward the other end. That way I am sure wherever they are in the tank they are getting the UVA and UVB they need. Now if you think about the set up of the lights I just mentioned you will realize one end of the tank is hot, the center is warm, and the other end is just about room temp. That temperature gradient is extremely important for bearded dragons as they are cold blooded and they thermoregulate (adjust their body temperature) by moving from warm to cool areas and vice versa. At night they do not require heat or light so long as temps do not go below the mid sixties Fahrenheit.

I give them some bricks on one end as a basking spot, a branch spans center tank and there is a brick and a piece of bark on the other cooler end for them to rest on. As to substrate I use fine 'play sand'. A good and secure screen cover goes over the top of the tank both to keep them in and to keep other pets like cats out. I place there food bowl for greens and other vegetables in the center of the tank. Feeding them is easy, they are usually hungry. As adults I feed them crickets about 3 to 4 times per week. I'll throw about 20 to 30 crickets in there that often. I also feed them greens daily. When I got the male I was told he rarely ate greens. he eats them now. I just stopped feeding him crickets for a week to 1o days, and he got hungry and ate the greens. Now he likes em, and that is the way it should be. Babies eat crickets at least 2x per day, and fresh greens should also be available at all times. As I have been told, 25 babies can easily go through a thousand 1/4" crickets in a week. As they grow older you feed them crickets less often, until as adults they get em as mine do now - 3 to 4x per week. As adults they eat adult crickets. I supplement the diet of crickets, and greens with: Superworms, Mealworms, Waxworms, vegetable (for convenience I use frozen mixed vegetable, thawed out first of course). The greens I feed them consist of leaf lettuce, mustard greens, dandelion greens, collard greens, turnip greens, broccoli rabe, and so forth. Not too much spinach should ever be given as it has a chemical which apparently prevents absorption of calcium in lizards. I spray my adults with water about 1 or 2x per week, that is it. Babies need to be sprayed a bit 2 to 3x per day, otherwise they can dehydrate.

Remember if you keep reptiles as pets, they can spread certain diseases to people such as Salmonella. Don't be too alarmed though; I have kept reptiles and amphibians for well over 45 years and have not contracted anything from they yet. Nor do I know firsthand of anyone else ever getting sick from them. From what I can tell by reading the Food and Drug Administration's website concerning salmonella (they are the ones responsible for the 4" turtle law), salmonella is much more likely to be caught from dairy products, undercooked eggs or chicken. You may also recall the salmonella scare this past summer where pepper were found to be the agent that was spreading this disease. The key to not catching salmonella seems to be good hygiene, so wash your hands and use alcohol gel after handling pets of any type, even your cats, dogs and birds. Keeping very young children away from such pets may also be advisable. If you have a concern go to
FDA.gov and read up on it there, or go to there page about kids, reptiles and salmonella here. (Let me just point out that page has what I am pretty sure is some incorrect info, as in iguanas being the number one reptile pet. That seems far fetched to me as the popularity of iguanas as pets has declined markedly since they make poor pets, and dealers at reptile expos usually let people know this, most dealers not even selling them at all.)

If you want more detailed info on their care, you can find it here (I will only recommend the first one based on my opinion of and personal experience with it and the author, but you may also want to read the others.):

http://www.lihs.org/files/caresheets/P_vitticeps.htm (This is a good one written by a man who knows his bearded dragons. He was a breeder of them for many years and produced some prize winning animals. I ask him for advice all of the time, and he gladly gives it to me.)

http://www.beardeddragoncare.net/ (Apparently a whole website dedicated to bearded dragon care. I don't know if it is good info or not, but it is one that is out there.)

http://www.beardeddragon.org/articles/caresheet/

http://www.sundialreptile.com/care%20sheet--bearded%20dragon.htm (I goofed, I'll also recommend this one as it comes from a trusted source in my opinion.)

http://www.kingsnake.com/gladescs/bearded/

All the best,
GB

4 comments:

Humble wife said...

Holy Toledo! 25 eggs...it will be neat to see the hatched critters. Funny about the cricket thing...we had a contest today to catch as many crickets(grasshoppers or what nots) and then toss into the chicken pen..) The chickens love love love to give chase. And without us, we call the coop a no fly(hop) zone...because the crickets seem to avoid the area without *our* silly farm games.

As you may have sensed(cause I am not blunt-haHa) I am not too fond of lizards, snakes and the likes...but don't worry my sons make up for this BIG time.


definitely take photos...it will be neat!
Jennifer

Glenn Bartley said...

I recounted and have now corrected 25 to 26, and there is a pic added.

Glenn Bartley said...

Try those crickets baked into a nice pie crust. Roast em first to get out all the moisture - mmm gooooooood.

Jungle Mom said...

"
As for the other one, if you know anything about BD's then yo know you usually cannot keep two males together unless you have a really large enclosure for them because they are just too territorial with one another."
I find the above statement to be true of the human male species as well.