Daily #19: Pogona Vitticeps

I am the proud owner of an animal belonging to the above species, which is also commonly known as a bearded dragon.

His name is Bernard (pronounced Ber-NARD), and he is the first pet I’ve owned since moving out.

Bernard, in all his glory.

When we bought him, we lived in a flat which didn’t allow pets. My partner brought up owning a reptile, which was something that had never crossed my mind before. I wanted a cute and cuddly dog, not a lizard!

However, bearded dragons in fact have glowing reviews, with articles even going as far to say they are the ‘perfect pet’. So, after checking with our landlord, and doing a lot of research (more on that later), we bought a baby bearded dragon.

When we brought him home, he weighed a whopping 17 grams, and his body was about the length of my finger.

After a bath.

He was the smallest thing I’d ever seen, and we were responsible for keeping it alive. However, he was so cute, I instantly fell in love.

I’m now going to explain the advantages and disadvantages of owning a bearded dragon (‘beardie’):

  • They are low maintenance as adults. At just over 18 months old, Bernard is now fully grown and now only needs to be fed bugs once every other day. The rest of his food is made up from salad, which is easy to provide.
  • They work well with working owners. We both work full-time, but can leave Bernard in his tank during the day. He is perfectly happy to hang around in there until we get home.
  • They are interactive! A common problem with caged pets such as hamsters is that they are nocturnal, and don’t always like to interact with people. Bearded dragons are naturally curious, and most will actively seek out interaction and new experiences. They are also diurnal, like us, so are awake when we are.
  • They’re very cool. Although this is a minor point, if you’re someone who has guests round often, a bearded dragon makes a good talking topic for conversation.

And now, the downsides:

  • They are expensive to start with. A bearded dragon requires a fully equipped tank, containing multiple light fixtures, thermometers, bowls, climbing equipment and caves – a good setup could cost up to £500 if you buy everything new. And if you decide to buy a baby, they consume huge amounts of food.
  • They eat live bugs! Adult bearded dragons live off 80% salad, and 20% protein. That protein needs to be made up of crickets, cockroaches, or worms (among other things). Babies have an 80% protein, 20% salad diet – so you’ll be buying lots of bugs.
  • Doing it ‘right’ is hard. Everyone has their own opinion on what’s best for a beardie, and pretty much everything you try will result in somebody telling you you’re doing it wrong. However, it’s very important to do your research. Bearded dragons are quite hardy animals, but they are also quite fragile if you want them to keep them alive and happy (they can live for up to 15 years!).

Bernard is very rewarding, and I’d recommend a bearded dragon to anybody who wants something more intensive but can’t get it because they work. You can have a lot of fun with them, such as making hats and watching them explore your house. As it’s now officially December, I’ll leave you with a picture from last Christmas.

Bah humbug.

I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about getting your own little beardie buddy!

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