Reptile Booklet

Bearded Dragons:

Bearded Dragons:
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Are omnivores: eating a mixture of plants and animal products, but the bulk of the diet is protein based.
Common problems are similar as with other reptiles and include malnutrition from improper lighting and feeding. They often suffer from parasite infections and should be examined yearly. Bring a fecal sample! Hatchling bearded dragons have to be fed very small live food which sometimes can be difficult to obtain and hatchlings are more fragile. It is best to start with a slightly older dragon that can be fed readily available food.

ENVIRONMENT: Desert of Australia
LIFESPAN: 10+ years of age
SEXING: Males have a beard that turns black during the breeding season
Males have pre-anal and femoral pores
HOUSING: – A large aquarium with a natural substrate bottom and multiple climbing branches and hide boxes should be used.
The type of substrate is often debated but may people advocate bedding such as sand, outdoor carpet, decomposed granite, paper towels, newspaper… Regardless of the type of substrate used, hygiene is the most important aspect to consider. You should choose a substrate that you can keep
clean and fresh for your dragon.
Avoid: kitty litter, bird litter (such as corncob or walnut shells) and wood shavings.

LIGHTING: Full spectrum lighting can only be supplied in the form of fluorescent bulbs and the bulb must supply UVB spectrum light.
The light should be ~18 inches from the cage.

A basking light should be provided in the form of an incandescent bulb placed above a branch.

TEMPERATURE: A range or temperature gradient should be supplied with the cool end of the cage at ~75F and the warm end up to 86F. Night time temperatures can dip down to the 70’s. The basking light should provide a focal spot in the 90’s range.

WATER/HUMIDITY: A shallow drinking dish should be provided Occasional misting with a spray bottle can be provided.

DIET: These guys are omnivores: they eat protein and veggies.
Very Young: Pin head crickets must be provided, feeding these hatchlings too large an insect can result in their death. Assorted shredded veggies. Immature: larger insects – a variety should be provided.
Adults: As the lizards grow larger they can be fed mice or other rodents.

SUPPLEMENTS: The insects should be dusted with a phosphorus free calcium supplement prior to feeding. A multi vitamin should be provided twice weekly.

MEDICAL CONCERNS: – Parasite infections are very common in bearded dragons and will often result in cloaca irritation and prolapse.

Malnutrition and metabolic bone disease due to poor lighting and diet.
Gut impaction
Remember: A yearly veterinary examination is needed to keep your dragon healthy.

CONCLUSION: Dragons can make excellent pets and I often recommend them to people considering purchasing a lizard. One benefit of dragons is that they don’t grow as large as iguanas and they tend not to become aggressive. But, like all exotic pets they have very special needs and the potential owner should become educated prior to purchasing these pets. Also, remember that adult dragons must be fed a larger protein source such as mice and rats. If you aren’t comfortable feeding this type of prey then a dragon is not for you.


IguanaIguanas are herbivores – eat veggies.
Iguanas are a lizard that I do not recommend purchasing as a pet unless you understand and are willing to provide for all their very special needs. These guys will grow to be very large and males often become aggressive, have razor sharp teeth that can cause serious injury, and a strong tail that can be used like a whip. When buying an iguana (or any reptile) it is important to first research their needs and be certain that you can provide the space,
diet and environment that they require. It is not uncommon to see advanced metabolic bone disease in Iguanas due to poor diet and environment. MBD is a lack of bone density due to low calcium and vitamin D (or sunlight) in the diet. MBD results in scoliosis, fractures and
inability to walk.

We also frequently see adult iguana that have become so large that they cannot be kept by their current owners. Unfortunately many of the iguana rescue groups are full to overflowing with rescued iguanas and are not always able to provide a home for these guys. lease realize that these guys get very large and be certain that you’ll be able to care for they later in life before you buy that baby iguana. I recommend feeding a mixed leafy green salad with diced veggies daily. These guys will also need a calcium supplement (phosphorus free) and either direct sunlight or a vitamin D supplement as part of a multivitamin.

Another problem with iguanas is dehydration and kidney disease. They need much higher humidity levels than we are often able to provide in captivity. I suggest soaking in warm shallow water daily to improve hydration. Kidney disease is often linked to high dietary protein intake. Iguanas are not carnivores and should not be fed dog food.



I love chameleons and personally find them to be the most fascinating of the reptiles. However, I typically don’t recommend them as pets because they have very specialized needs and can be very frail in captivity with sudden death not uncommon.
Unique Characteristics:

-Their feet have toe bones fused into a specialized foot that allows them to climb & grasp.

– They have the ability to change skin color and will often change color when stressed.

– Their eyes can rotate independently.

– The chameleon family includes both egg bearers and live bearers.

– They spend their lives in the trees and foliage

– They drink rain drops off of leaves

– They have a long projectile tongue enabling them to catch prey

– They are solitary animals.

– Males often have head ornamentation.

– They require live food – insects.

They must be housed with plants to provide them with a feeling of security. A drip system must be implemented to water them. There are several commercial productsavailable but a drip system can easily be home made by placing a bowl on top of the cage with a pin hole on the bottom to allow water to drip through the foliage and into a receiving bowl. They will not drink out of a bowl so the water must drip over the plant material. Alternatively, the plants can be misted several times daily.

Each type of chameleon will have special needs, but generally speaking they all require a source of sunlight, humidity, varied insects that have been supplemented, and a heat source.

One of the best things you can do for your chameleon is to provide them with regular sunlight. The sun should not be filtered through glass because this limits the absorption of UV rays.

Problems Requiring Medical Attention ASAP:

– Refusal to feed

– inability to open eyes

– swollen eyes

– inability to grasp or climb

– oral lesions

Sick chameleons tend to become critical in a short period of time and should be examine by a veterinarian at the first sign of trouble.

2 thoughts on “Reptile Booklet

  1. Mary Dylan

    I have a female red-eared slider approximately 5 years old and I can not find any literature on why she is consuming her own feces. She was not fed regularly by a previous owner and I have seen her thrive and grow in size since I have gotten her on a regular and comparatively generous feeding schedule. I assume it is a nutrition problem although she is on a commercial 35%Protein growth formula. I have a powerful filtration system, heat and her tank is clean although I have plans to put her in a bigger tank. Am I not feeding her enough?

    1. admin Post author

      Turtles and tortoises are naturally coporphagic (eat their feces) as a way of establishing normal and varied gut flora (bacteria). As long as she appears otherwise healthy, has a clean tank and good diet this would not concern me. It really is not related to any malnutrition or lack of food – sounds like she has a good home.

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