I love being outdoors but good old mother nature has made it a bit challenging by keeping temperatures in the low teens. This didn't stop my wife and I today. We ended up checking out the place where we had our wedding portraits taken almost 15 years ago. The best part about the frigid temperatures in Cleveland is that the creek at Bridal Veil Falls was frozen over and covered with a few inches of snow. This made it possible to hike through the creek along a path that is just about impossible to follow in the summer.Read More
Well, it's been a little over a week, eight days to be exact, that my two little bearded dragons have been living inside their new home. I'm still not sure what sex they are but I have a feeling that the smaller of the two is a female. The male (guessing at this point) took a few days to adjust to the large enclosure (120 gallon 4'x2'x2' aquarium) but the female took to her new home the very first day. The first 5 days I exclusively fed them live crickets with a few wax worms mixed in but have just recently added fruits and vegetables to their diet. It figures that the female hates her greens (at this point) and the male eats veggies right from my hand.
I picked up these little guys right before I had a few days off of work so I started out feeding them 3 times a day. Once I get back to work, they'll have to make do with feeding twice a day (morning and evening). Crickets make up most of their diet and I expect it to stay this way until they're about a year old. Once they're fully mature their diet will consist of an even split between live food (crickets, wax worms, meal worms, etc...) and fruits and vegetables. I have read that baby dragons grow a half inch every week and I can tell that my little dragons have grown at least that over the 8 days.
As you have seen with my first post, I added a few photos of their first day as new pets. About two days ago, I set up a little dragon studio with a light tent box that I use for product photography. Bearded Dragons are extremely easy to photograph because as long as they don't see a cricket, they don't move all that much. The photos listed in this blog were taken with a Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro lens mounted on a Canon 5D Mark II.
Macro photography offers viewers the ability to really see the beauty of things up close. When viewed at 100% (on the High Resolution Gallery), you can see every scale in detail and also the bearded dragons sharp claws that are used for climbing. Look closer and you can see little spikes running along each toe of the dragon. No wonder why these guys can climb structures with ease.
[smugmug url="http://digitalphotosbydale.smugmug.com/hack/feed.mg?Type=gallery&Data=20785577_PfgLhH&format=rss200" title="Bearded%20Dragons" description="Day 8" imagecount="100" start="1" num="100" thumbsize="Th" link="lightbox" captions="true" sort="true" window="false" smugmug="false" size="X2"]
Anybody that knows me, or has visited my website, can see that I spend a lot of my time experimenting and learning new techniques in the realm of photography. In addition to lugging my camera around to all ends of the earth, I also enjoy keeping up with a few hobbies. Previous to my purchase of two Bearded Dragons I had a pretty good Cichlid tank setup in my recreation room. All was great up until my 11 year old 120 gallon tank decided to leak. All of my South American Cichlids were moved to a 30 gallon tank that hosted one bad ass African Cichlid (Auratus). Needless to say, I have one fish left in the 30 gallon tank. Those South American Cichlids didn't stand a chance up against the Serial Killer (aka, African Cichlid).
So here I have this large 4 foot long by 2 feet deep by 2 feet tall aquarium that sits in my recreation room like an old WWII battleship docked in harbor collecting cobwebs. After visiting my nephew and seeing his two bearded dragons, which were medium size at the time, I quickly came up with a solution to my empty tank. Even though I made the decision to venture into the herpetology world, it took almost 6 months for me to buy my first pair of dragons.
Before I took any dragons home, I had to build a good enclosure for these little guys. The 120 gallon tank is a little excessive for dragon babies but perfect for full grown dragons. For those that wish to introduce a bearded dragon into your household, you'll need to consider the following items that happy healthy dragons will require.
- An enclosure - of course. You can use an aquarium or buy a reptile terrarium at your local pet store
- Heat lamp (depending on the size of your enclosure, between 75 and 150W - I went with the 150W bulb). This lamp puts out UVA light. Dragons, especially young ones, need areas ranging from 80 to 100 degrees to bask in. Running a heat lamp with a variable climbing structure that the little dragons and pick and choose their climate is optimal.
- Daylight florescent lamp (UVB) - mimics UVB rays that dragons naturally get from the sun - helps with digestion and overall health
- Under-the-tank heat pad (not a requirement, but I added one for good measure anyways. Dragons like to get all of their warmth from up above).
- Reptile Liner (looks like carpet/astro turf) for the bottom of the tank (substrate). Do not add sand or pebbles for baby dragons. It's really easy for these small lizards to consume sand or pebbles while eating crickets. Impaction is a real threat when using sand or pebbles as a substrate and this can KILL them.
- Food bowl (for greens and waxworms)
- Calcium and D3 supplement (sprinkled on greens and crickets)
- Gutload for crickets (feed this to your crickets a few hours before you feed them to your dragons)
- Spray bottle (water bottle). Dragons don't drink from a water bowl too well (they're not dogs). In the wild, Dragons get most of their moisture from bugs and plants but also lap up droplets from leafs or off of their head from a morning dew. Sprinkling a few droplets of water on their heads often promotes them to lap the moisture. This is the best way to assure your dragon is hydrated.
- Infrared heat sensor (used to gauge the temperature on the basking areas)
- Drift wood and slate rock (used to create a climbing structure - dragons like to climb. This is also used as a basking area for the dragons to warm up).
- Critter cage to house a few days worth of crickets (saves yourself the daily or bi-daily task of going to the pet shop).
The start-up cost for bearded dragons can vary quite a bit. I already had the enclosure and stand (120 gallon tank) but including the cost of two dragons, I still spent about $300. Baby Dragons will cost anywhere between $40 and $100 each (depending on the supply, size, and time of the year purchased). Your time must also be allocated into the cost of ownership. Dragons love live food and you'll find yourself making a few trips a week (or at least once a week if you buy in bulk) to pick up crickets. Their enclosure should be spot checked and cleaned of any waste on a daily basis. Daily sounds like a daunting task but time to feed and clean can be all completed in 20 to 30 minutes throughout your day (so I have heard - not from personal experience yet). Yes, there's maintenance, but nothing like the maintenance of owning a cat or dog.
On December 22nd 2012, I purchased two Bearded Dragons from Petsmart (Parma Branch). One, which is featured in the photo above (top lizard), I think is a male measuring at 5.5 inches in length. The other, a feisty female (I think), measures in at 5 inches. The first night in their new enclosure went well. The female had no problem warming up to me and she ate three waxworms fed to her via a feeding tong. The male on the other hand needed some more time to adjust to his new settings. He was easy to pick up but had no interest in eating the first night in the Dragon Hotel.
Over the next few months I'll be taking a daily log of these little guys. I won't be posting every day but I'll add updates along with a couple photos a few times a month. If you're into reptiles or if you are thinking about bringing one into your home sometime in the future, check back for my dragon updates. I'll try to supply as much useful information as possible.