(Pogona vitticeps)


It goes without saying that everyone at Scales ‘N Tails believes that lizards make great pets. Just like dogs and cats, there are a wide variety of different types readily available at pet stores nationwide, making it easy for someone looking to get a new pet lizard to find one that’s perfect for them! Different people look for different traits when selecting their new pets, and we always take that into account before we recommend one species over another. Most of the time, however, people tell us they want a lizard that’s not too big, but not too small, nonaggressive, hardy, and easy to handle. So more often than not, we find ourselves recommending the Bearded Dragon. It seemed only fitting to make it our Animal of the Month for December since we know it will be on the Christmas wish list of many children!

While there are actually 8 different species of Bearded Dragons, it is the Inland Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps, that has earned a place as a beloved family pet in countless homes across the country, and for good reason. It has all the characteristics people look for in any pet; it’s well mannered and comfortable being handled, it’s just the right size, it’s very hardy and easy to keep healthy, and it has a big personality! Bearded Dragon owners love interacting with their pets as much as they do just sitting back and observing their behavior. You never know when you’ll catch them doing something interesting and entertaining, like head bobbing and arm waving, or even flaring out that beard for which they are named, which are all behaviors both captive and wild dragons exhibit.

Bearded Dragons are native to Australia, where wild dragons spend most of their time resting in or beneath bushes and trees or basking on rocks. Beardies definitely love the sun, so they do not typically burrow unless the daytime temperatures reach extreme highs. They also spend a significant amount of time feasting whatever is currently available, be it plants, insects, or even very small animals. While Australia closed its borders to animal exports years ago, the fact that these animals thrive in captivity, and reproduce readily, has lead to captive bred specimens being readily available at all times of the year.


Captive Bearded Dragons have the same needs as wild ones, including a heated environment, complete with full spectrum lighting, access to clean water, and a balanced diet. We recommend starting baby dragons off in a small terrarium, no larger than about a 20 gallon, but keep in mind that a larger enclosure will need to be provided when it reaches maturity. While sand is commonly used as a substrate for these lizards, Scales ‘N Tails does not recommend it as the best option, and sand should never be used for young dragons. Adult dragons can be kept on a number of different substrates, but reptile carpet is often the best solution and can be purchased in many sizes to easily fit into almost any size terrarium. Young dragons should not be kept on any type of loose substrate, but rather paper towels, newspaper, or reptile carpet. The enclosure should also contain some climbing branches, which serve to enrich the animal’s environment as well as provide it the ability to better thermoregulate or control its body temperature.

Bearded Dragons like it hot, so a heat lamp is a must. Their basking spot should be kept at least 100 degrees, with the cooler side of the enclosure in the mid-80s. In addition, captive animals kept indoors must be provided with a full spectrum UVB lighting source. UVB is critical to their health as it aids in their bodies synthesizing Vitamin D3 and properly absorbing calcium. Mercury Vapor bulbs, we use Zoo Med’s Power Sun Bulbs, are a good lighting option that provides both heat and UVB.

As mentioned, Bearded Dragons are omnivores, and should be provided a well-balanced diet that includes leafy greens and vegetables, as well as live insects. Younger animals will feed primarily on live insects, such as Dubia Roaches, Meal Worms, and Crickets, but will need to consume greater amounts of plant matter as they mature. A mature adult’s diet should include an almost equal balance of plant matter and insects. Scales ‘N Tails is happy to offer our customer’s a reptile salad mix that is prepared fresh daily, as well as a large variety of plump live insects to keep your pet dragon’s diet balanced and interesting.

If you provide the right environment for your Bearded Dragon, then you’ll be able to enjoy your pet for a long time. Captive animals, when kept in the proper conditions, have a life expectancy of 8 – 12 years, although there are records of captive specimens living twice that long.

Finally, we wouldn’t be doing our Animal of the Month justice if we didn’t make it an affordable pet option. So for the month of December, while supplies last, we will have baby Bearded Dragons available for the unbeatable price of $29.99! So if you’re interested in a new pet lizard, there has never been a better time to get one!