Bearded Dragons 101

Many pet owners with a taste for the exotic have begun to adopt bearded dragons.
Martha Stewart Living Television

Bearded dragons look as if they've crawled out of another age or some fantastical place. But they're not creatures from a fairy tale; bearded dragons are lizards from Australia named for the tiny scales lining their faces that bristle if they are threatened. They are flat and heavy bodied, grow to a length of about 10 inches, and are usually either entirely gray or brown with splotches of white.

Many pet owners with a taste for the exotic have begun to adopt bearded dragons. If you're interested in bringing one into your home and can attend to its special requirements, you'll find that these active lizards are intriguing pets. 

They need lots of room to run, so choose a cage that is at least 50 inches long, or five times the length of an adult of the species, and 2 1/2 feet wide. Line the bottom with sand or newspaper, and add rocks and branches on which the dragon can climb. The cage will need to have a basking area that reaches temperatures of 90 degrees and another cooler spot where the lizard can rest. At night, the cage should cool to about room temperature.

The bearded dragon requires two bowls, one for water and another for bathing; the bathing bowl should be shallow enough for the lizard to climb into and out of. It's essential that these bowls be cleaned daily. Bearded dragons are omnivores and love sweet fruits and vegetables such as chopped-up squash, pears, apples, carrots, and lettuce. They also like to eat crickets, mealworms, and fruit flies as well as rodents such as mice and smaller lizards.

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