Bearded dragon (Pogona Vitticeps) is the common name for inland bearded dragon, an Australian lizard species often kept as a pet. These reptiles reach a mature length of approximately 2 feet, including the tail, and live for as long as 10 years. Dragons require a number of things to survive well in captivity, including a proper environment and diet. Plants figure prominently into both the diet and the environment of these lizards.
Environment Enhancing Pets
Doctors Foster and Smith, a pet supply catalog website that also offers online veterinarian advice to pet owners, writes of the importance of plants in the environment of the bearded dragon. Plants introduce humidity and shade to the dragon’s environment and provide the animals a sense of security. Recommended species of common houseplants ideal for bearded dragon environments include hibiscus, various species of the Dracaena genus, weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), geraniums, petunias, violets and pothos. Consult bearded dragon literature or your veterinarian before placing any other species of plant with your pet, as dragons nibble on plants and may ingest toxins this way.
Always properly prepare and inspect plants before placing them in an enclosure with bearded dragons. Never place a plant that has been treated with pesticides in with dragons. Always inspect the potting soil the plant came in for the presence of vermiculite, pesticides, fertilizer and wetting agents. The Doctors Foster and Smith website recommends thorough washing of all plants and the inside and outside of the pots the plants live in before introducing these items to a bearded dragon’s environment. Leave plants purchased from stores or nurseries to sit for 6 to 12 weeks before giving them to dragons. This allows any systemic pesticides the store or nursery may have used to leave the plant.
Edible Plants and Vegetables
Bearded dragons are one of a handful of species of omnivorous lizards -- those that eat both vegetables and meat. Supplementing the diet of dragons with high-calcium plants and vegetables by placing them in the lizard’s enclosure for casual perusing is beneficial. Plants and plant parts recommended for bearded dragon consumption include kale, arugula, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens and flowers, parsley, endives, radish, carrots, turnips, escarole and chicory. Other vegetables recommended for dragon consumption include corn, peas, cucumbers, sweet potato, green pepper and chard. Do not give bearded dragons iceberg lettuce. It has no nutritional value and may induce diarrhea.
Dragons eat the fruit of a number of plants in addition to the other vegetables and plant parts they commonly consume. Fruits that benefit the bearded dragon include apples, peaches, blueberries, plums, grapes, raspberries and cantaloupe. Always finely chop all fruits added to a dragon’s environment, particularly large, hard fruits such as apples and melons. Chopping fruit reduces the risk of choking and aids digestion.
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