Bearded dragon lizards are hardy little reptiles and their sunny temperament means that they make for a great pet. In its natural habitat the bearded dragon is found in areas where there is a lot of natural light. Not only does it love to bask in the sun but also the light from the sun’s rays is essential to their continued good health. In captivity it is necessary to simulate the sun’s rays if your lizard is to remain healthy and happy. Given the right conditions the bearded dragon’s life span can range from anywhere between 12 and 20 years.
Just a couple of years ago the life span was estimated at 7-10 years, however, as they have been domesticated longer and more information is available, it has been increased.
In its natural habitat the bearded dragon can be found in forested areas, in scrubland and in the desert, and especially where there are natural rock formations. They love to lie on the rocks and bask, in fact a lot of their time in the wild is spent basking and sunning themselves. It is therefore necessary to have the correct type and amount of lighting for your lizard to simulate its natural habitat.
Although their natural behavior is to bask on rocks, it is not recommended to purchase a heated rock unless first consulting a professional caretaker or herp vet. Heated rocks can develop hot spots and can sometimes burn your beardie.
You should also have some type of temperature gauging appliance in your beardie’s housing, as bearded dragons are unable to control their bodily temperatures internally. Their housing should contain areas of different temperatures, as this is the way in which their bodily temperature can be controlled. Having a cooler side of their housing enables them a place to go to relieve themselves from the heat when needed. Ideally temperatures need to be between 95 and 110 degrees during the day and 60 to 80 degrees at night.
You will see a bearded dragon open its mouth wide and pertrude it’s tongue slightly. This is the beardie’s mechanism for regulating body temperature. Having a cool side (between 75 and 90 degrees possibly with a log to crawl under) allows the lizard to escape when it has identified it needs to cool down.
A porcelain dome lighting feature is ideal in your bearded dragon’s habitat, particularly if you use a ceramic heat emitter. Whatever you choose you need some method of providing basking conditions along with temperature control. While the porcelain dome is recommended by some experts, you can also use a red, white or blue reptile basking light; or just an old fashioned household light bulb. You should use a bright, white light for your beardie to bask under, colored bulbs can cause them to eat less and appear lethargic or sick.
Because bearded lizards need proper lighting if they are to grow and remain healthy it is advisable to use a UVB light. There are two options available in this type of light, these are the tubular strip light or a mercury vapour bulb. Whichever type you use the bulb should be replaced regularly – around every six months (no longer than a year) and depending on the strength of the bulb should be a certain distance away from the lizard – a 100 watt bulb for example should be placed at least 10-12 inches away from your beardie. Your beardie will not eat much and could develop MBD or metabolic bone disease which is a serious condition – and don’t forget that the temperature needs to be controlled as your lizard cannot do this for itself.