Inland Bearded Dragons (Pogona Vitticeps) come from the eastern half of central Australia. They can vary considerably in size, pattern, and color depending on their place of origin.
Though they are omnivorous in the wild, adult dragons in captivity should be fed a diet of dark leafy greens and vegetables high in Vitamin A and calcium. Dandelion greens, kale, chard, mustard, collards, cooked yams and carrots may be offered. A variety is essential. Juveniles require more insects in their diet, but these should be fed on an appropriate diet so that they are “gut loaded” and provide good nutrition for young dragons. Obesity is a common health problem seen in reptiles, and it can lead to liver disease.
A clean environment is essential to good health. Towels or newspaper should be used instead of sand, gravel or bark as substrate to allow for ease of cleaning. Although bearded dragons in the wild live on sand and rocky outcroppings, theses substrates are difficult to keep sanitary. Dragons may also ingest sand when eating and develop an obstruction of the GI tract known as “impaction.”
Reptiles are ectothermic and require a temperature gradient to maintain proper health, support their immune systems, and digest their food properly. A temperature gradient of 80-100 degrees Farenheit can be maintained using a combination of heating pads and an incandescent basking light or ceramic heat element.
Reptiles also require full-spectrum light, such as unfiltered natural sunlight or a full-spectrum bulb such as ZooMed’s Reptisun 10. They cannot absorb the calcium from their food without ultraviolet B rays. Adding calcium or Vitamin D to the diet with powders does not make up for the lack of proper lighting. An improper diet or the absence of proper UV rays will result in weak bones or metabolic bone disease.
A large cage or terrarium is desirable so that the dragon can move around and change its position and temperature. A water dish should be provided. Cage furniture can consist of rocks and pieces of wood to climb up on and a “cave” of some sort to hide and sleep in. Fake plants should not be used, as dragons will often try to eat them. Changing things around in the cage after cleaning encourages dragons to explore and exercise.