So, you've successfully navigated the initial stages of your bearded dragon's life, and your pet has blossomed into the juvenile stage. This guide will help you understand the next steps in your dragon's journey, ensuring they transition smoothly into adulthood.
Bearded dragons (Pogona Vitticeps) are native to Australia and are renowned for their friendly demeanor, making them highly cherished pet reptiles globally. However, every life stage comes with its unique needs and the juvenile phase is no exception.
Juvenile Stage (6-9 months)
As your dragon transitions into the juvenile phase, a varied diet becomes even more crucial for their health. While protein remains a significant part of their diet, it's time to increase the proportion of vegetables they consume. Aim for a 80-20 split between protein and greens.
Dubia roaches should remain a staple in your dragon's diet due to their superior protein content and nutritional value. But remember, variety is key! Incorporate other feeder insects like medium superworms and black soldier fly larvae (also known as Phoenix or calci-worms) as treats and expand the range of veggies offered. Collard greens and squash can be excellent choices.
Your growing dragon will need more room to move around and explore, so a 40-gallon tank may start to feel cramped. It's advisable to upgrade to a 75-gallon tank to offer more space.
The temperature of the basking spot should be slightly lowered to around 100-105°F, with the cooler area kept between 80-85°F. UVB lighting continues to be essential for 12-14 hours a day.
At this stage, your dragon is likely to have grown more comfortable in its environment and with you. You can handle them more often, which will help strengthen your bond. Always ensure you support their body and legs when handling.
Sub Adult Stage (10-18 months)
As your bearded dragon nears adulthood, continue to balance their diet with both proteins and greens, but start increasing the vegetable portion. Aim for a balanced 50-50 ratio of proteins to greens.
Continue to feed Dubia roaches as a staple part of the diet and introduce a wider variety of vegetables. Don't forget to dust insects with a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Your dragon's habitat should remain largely the same as in the early juvenile stage. However, be vigilant about maintaining appropriate temperatures and lighting conditions. Regularly monitor the UVB bulb and replace it every six months to ensure your dragon gets enough exposure.
Your bearded dragon is likely to be more comfortable and confident now. Encourage interaction and allow them to explore their surroundings under your supervision. This is the perfect time to deepen your bond with your pet.
By the Sub Adult stage, your dragon may show signs of being ready to breed. However, it's generally ill-advised to allow them to do so at this age due to the potential health risks involved.
Additionally, don't be surprised if your bearded dragon begins to exhibit signs of brumation - a form of hibernation. This can include reduced activity, less eating, and more sleeping. It's a natural process but can be disconcerting for new owners. Always consult with a vet if you're unsure about any changes in your dragon's behavior.
Navigating the juvenile stage of your bearded dragon's life is an exciting journey. With the right diet, including a mix of staple dubia roaches and other nutritious feeders, an adequate habitat, and regular interaction, your dragon will smoothly transition into a healthy adult.
Patience and consistency are key. These pets are as unique as we are, so adapt to your bearded dragon's individual needs and preferences. As you take these steps, your scaly friend will undoubtedly reward your efforts with a lifelong companionship.