If you’re an exotic animal lover, chances are you’ve considered owning a bearded dragon as a pet. Affectionate and intelligent, bearded dragons can make wonderful companions for the right owner. We spoke with exotic animal expert Tom Harford Columbia, who offered helpful insights on who should own a bearded dragon and how to set up your new pet for a happy, healthy life with you.
“Bearded dragons are a popular choice for reptile lovers because of their good-natured, friendly temperament,” explains Thomas Harford Columbia. “While some reptiles can be aggressive, bearded dragons tend to be docile and easy to train. After they get to know you, they can form a bond with you and allow themselves to be handled on a regular basis. They can live up to 10 years and eat a diet of plants and insects, which are easy to procure.”
However, there are many things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of getting a bearded dragon of your own. To begin, ensure that you take the proper steps to protect yourself from contracting salmonella. “Bearded dragons can carry salmonella-causing bacteria, so make sure you clean their habitats regularly and don’t handle their feces directly,” suggests Thomas Harford Columbia.
Secondly, make sure that you clean your bearded dragon’s habitat is large enough. “Bearded dragons need plenty of space to move around comfortably,” says Tom Harford Columbia. “While baby bearded dragons might only need 20-gallon tanks, the largest adults might need tanks that are 70-120 gallons. When it comes to bearded dragons’ habitats, the bigger, the better.” Also, keep one side of their habitat warm, for basking, and the other cooler. You’ll need a basking bulb for the basking side, a perch, reptile carpet, and full-spectrum lighting as well.
Finally, give your bearded dragon time to get used to you. “Bearded dragons might be anxious or nervous at first when you begin picking them up,” says Thomas Harford Columbia. “Get them accustomed to your touch by picking them up for only a few minutes at a time at first. Gradually, they will become more comfortable with hands-on time together, as long as you’re gentle.”
Thomas Harford Columbia hails from upstate New York and currently serves as a middle school science teacher in Albany, NY. Passionate about exotic animals and animal care since childhood, Tom Harford Columbia parlayed his early love of pets into a lifelong career in exotic animal training and education. Thomas Harford earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from Western State University, serves as an advisor to individuals, pet stores, and animal training centers, and Tom Harford works part-time at a local zoo as an animal trainer and educator for children and adults alike.
For more information about bearded dragons, contact Thomas Harford Columbia to discuss conducting an appearance or seminar, whether privately or at your business.