The Art of Darkness

Bearded Dragons as Pets

April 14th, 2009 by Cobwebs

Shadowboy and FriendI’ve previously talked about the gothy possibilities of keeping rats as pets,* but realized that I’ve never mentioned another excellent choice, the Bearded Dragon.

One of the major advantages that beardies have over most other reptiles is that they’re very docile. Most snakes and lizards don’t like to be held and try to escape whenever you pick them up. Beardies don’t mind being handled and can even be carried around on your shoulder. (Part of this is their lifestyle: Bearded Dragons feed by sitting still until something edible walks by, then rushing out and grabbing it. So they spend about 90% of their time sitting around anyway.) If you play with them regularly they’ll get comfortable enough to eat out of your hand, and they’re generally very reluctant to bite.** Overall they act much more “pet” than “trapped.”

They’re a good choice for apartment-dwellers since they live in a cage and don’t get very big (less than 2′ from nose to tail), and they’re very low-maintenance compared to a mammalian pet. They eat insects and vegetables so their food is cheap (especially if you mail-order the insects), plus if you’re a little squeamish it’s much easier to feed a creature live mealworms than live mice.***

As with any pet, there are a couple of minor downsides: They require a little bit of specialized equipment, such as a large aquarium and a heat lamp, so their initial setup costs are a bit higher than some other pets. (On the flip side, they don’t require shots or regular veterinary checkups, so it sort of evens out.) The lizards themselves run about $60 at a pet store, which is certainly more expensive than a hamster but nowhere near the cost of a puppy.

Also, although the beardies’ gentle nature makes them safe to have around children–Shadowboy (shown above, with Basil) simply adores mine–all reptiles can potentially carry Salmonella bacteria. After playing with your beardie you should thoroughly wash your hands, and you should carefully disinfect any equipment you use to clean their cages. (Treat your beardie as though it were made of raw chicken and you should be fine.) Additionally, they’re fairly delicate creatures so small children should be monitored to ensure they’re not playing too rough.

If you’re interested in a Bearded Dragon as a pet, check out beardeddragon.org as well as Tosney’s Bearded Dragon Care (an excellent resource). You might also join the Pogona Group on Yahoo to get in touch with a whole community of beardie enthusiasts. They’re wonderful for answering newbie questions about proper care.

Beardies really do make excellent pets for just about anyone, but they make particularly good goth pets because hey, big spiky lizard. If you’re looking for a pet that’s low-maintenance, gentle, and extremely interesting, I can’t recommend them enough.


*Speaking of which, I recently found out that not only is there a site called World of Rats, not only does it have an event called Ratapalooza, not only is their pet rescue area called the Recycled Rat, but ohmigawd they link to a rat breeder called Rodents of Unusual Sweetness. I now must put my head on my desk.

**One note about this: Young beardies go through a sort of “teenage angst” period where they’re very skittish and more likely to bite. They usually give plenty of warning, puffing up their beards and dancing around, so if you exercise a little caution you won’t get nipped. They get over this phase in a couple of months.

***Actually, my staple insect of choice is superworms rather than mealworms. The superworms have also served another purpose for me in the past: The big ones are a couple of inches long, and when you get a whole bunch of them together there’s a definite chittering noise as all of their wiggly little legs move around. For one Halloween party I put a life-size skeleton in the bathtub and poured 1,000 live superworms in with it. They couldn’t escape up the smooth walls of the tub, but they crawled all over the skeleton. More than one guest refused to use the bathroom that night. Make ’em want to pee in a wastebasket, that’s my motto.

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One Response

  1. Beth Says:

    I too love my goth beardie. :)

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