Agnes is a bearded dragon and we think she is about a year old.  She was much younger and was ill when she initially found her way to East York Veterinary Center.  Her condition required some fairly intensive care at first, but Agnes was able to make a full recovery, and she has been growing up before our eyes ever since!  In the coming months we will be installing an enclosure for Agnes in the hospital’s waiting room, where everyone will be able to see and learn about her.


Bearded dragons are native to Australia, where they live in the arid climates of the open woodland and semidesert regions.  They are adapted to sandy, rocky surroundings as well as to climbing branches and basking in bushes or small trees.  Their diet is omnivorous, including plant matter such as leaves, fruits, and flowers, along with insects and even small vertebrate animals.  Adults can reach 1.5 - 2 feet in length and live as long as 10 years.


When keeping any reptile in captivity, the goal should be to recreate the natural environment as completely as possible.  In the case of bearded dragons like Agnes, this means providing ample heat, appropriate ultraviolet light exposure, adequate space to move around, and a proper diet.  


The temperature in the enclosure should follow a gradient, ranging from 90-100 degrees F in the “hot spot” to around 80 degrees F in the cooler area.  Ultraviolet light, specifically in the B spectrum (“UV-B”) is very important as it is necessary for proper calcium metabolism and normal bone density.  Recreating the diet means offering insects (gut-loaded crickets, Phoenix worms, superworms, etc.) in addition to vegetarian options (leafy greens, other veggies, fruits).  Younger bearded dragons tend to require a more carnivorous diet, whereas adults can be mostly vegetarian.


If you’re interested in owning a reptile like Agnes, make sure you do a lot of reading and preparation first.  This includes which species you’re interested in, the natural habitat, captive husbandry, and finding a local veterinary office that sees reptiles, like East York Veterinary Center.  Here is a link for some further reading on bearded dragons: Bearded Dragons on Anapsid.org