Bearded dragons are extremely popular in the United States because they look amazing and are relatively easy to raise. Like many other reptiles, expert breeders have discovered ways to manipulate the colors and spines of dragons to create a specific appearance. This altered appearance is called the fancy bearded dragon. If you would like to purchase one of these wonderful pets and want to learn more about it, keep reading while we look at cost, habitat, temperature, supplements, and more to help you make an educated decision.
Quick Facts About Fancy Bearded Dragons
|Common Name:||Fancy Bearded Dragon|
|Lifespan:||12 – 14 years|
|Adult Size:||16–24 inches|
|Diet:||Crickets, earthworms, waxworms|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20–40 gallons|
|Temperature & Humidity:||80–110 degrees
Do Fancy Bearded Dragons Make Good Pets?
The fancy bearded dragon is a calm animal that enjoys chin rubs. It has a long lifespan with relatively few health problems and likes when you handle it. It makes a great pet in any home but is especially well suited for children who will appreciate its prehistoric appearance and gentle nature.
Fancy bearded dragons are the result of skilled breeders creating a unique animal with specific colors and scales. While ordinary Bearded Dragons tend to be yellow or tan colored, the fancy variety is usually red and the scales tend to be slightly smoother than those found on standard dragons.
How to Take Care of Fancy Bearded Dragons
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Your adult fancy bearded dragon will require an aquarium no smaller than 20 gallons, but most experts recommend a 40-gallon tank. It likes dry, desert areas, so you will need to provide plenty of rocks and dry branches to replicate that environment.
You will need to purchase UVB heat lamps for your aquarium to provide heat and to create a basking area that your pet can use. Your lamps must provide UVB because captive reptiles can’t get the required amount from the sun, but it’s important to read the packaging that comes with the bulb because they usually stop producing UVB long before they burn out.
Heating (Temperature & Humidity)
Your fancy bearded dragon will require a desert environment. Therefore, you will need to increase temperatures to above 80 degrees F and keep them there. The basking area will need to reach temperatures up to 110 degrees F.
Since your fancy bearded dragon is a desert animal, it will prefer lower humidity levels and most experts recommend keeping it between 30% and 40%. Humidity that is too high can cause breathing problems for your pet, while levels that are too low will make it difficult for your pet to shed its skin.
Sand and pebbles make the best substrate for a fancy bearded dragon because they closely mimic its natural habitat and don’t retain humidity like wood or paper-based substrate do.
|Tank Type:||40-gallon glass vivarium|
|Lighting:||UVB heat lamps|
|Heating:||Heating pad/tape on the bottom of the enclosure|
|Best Substrate:||Sand, pebbles|
Feeding Your Fancy Bearded Dragon
Your fancy bearded dragon would eat all types of insects in the wild, but you will likely be feeding them a diet that consists of mostly crickets. Crickets are inexpensive and easy to find at any local pet store, and they will provide your pet with a satisfying hunt.
|Fruits:||0% of the diet|
|Insects:||100% of the diet|
|Meat:||0% of diet – small/medium-sized rodents|
|Supplements Required:||Calcium, vitamin D3|
Keeping Your Fancy Bearded Dragon Healthy
The best way to keep your fancy bearded dragon healthy is to maintain the proper temperature and humidity in the cage. Always keep backup bulbs ready to go if one burns out and plan for the unexpected to help you prepare.
Common Health Issues
The main health issue that can affect your fancy bearded dragon is metabolic bone disease (MBD). MBD is a nutritional deficiency that affects many captive reptiles. It causes the bones of your dragon to become soft and brittle. As the disease progresses, the body can become flat, and it may even become paralyzed. To avoid this disease, you will need to dust your crickets with a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement before feeding them to your pet to make sure your pet gets these essential nutrients. You will also need to be cautious about how much phosphorus you are feeding them because it binds with calcium in the body, depleting already low amounts of calcium and making it harder to fight off the disease.
Unfortunately, one downside to the fancy bearded dragon is that it doesn’t live quite as long as the standard version. Regular bearded dragons usually live about 20 years, but the fancy version will usually live only 8–12 years.
Breeders create fancy bearded dragons through selective breeding techniques, which can be quite complex for someone with less experience. Besides knowledge, you would also need access to several examples of the fancy bearded dragon to study. Since captive breeding reptiles is relatively new and the process of breeding a fancy bearded dragon is so difficult, we recommend leaving it to the professionals for now until there are more breeders available that can help you.
Are Fancy Bearded Dragons Friendly? Our Handling Advice
Your fancy bearded dragon is one of the calmest reptiles you can own. If you want to handle your fancy, we recommend starting slow, holding it only a few minutes each day. If your pet seems comfortable, you can try to extend the visitations a little each day.
Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect
Your fancy bearded dragon will shed its skin frequently throughout its life. When it does, it will need higher humidity to make the old skin more manageable but still keep it within the acceptable range to prevent it from having respiratory problems.
Brumation is a type of hibernation that occurs as the temperature drops. If you keep the temperatures in your habitat correct, your pet is unlikely to enter brumation.
How Much Do Fancy Bearded Dragons Cost?
Due to the complexity of selective breeding required to create fancy bearded dragons, you can expect to pay more. A standard beardie will cost $25 – $40, while a Fancy will usually cost $80– $100, depending on where you get it. However, as technology increases and more breeders go into business, these attractive reptiles will likely go down in price and become more popular.
Care Guide Summary
The fancy bearded dragon is an attractive reptile that makes a wonderful pet. It’s not hard to maintain, doesn’t mind if you handle it, and has attractive and rare coloring. It also has few health problems and a long lifespan. The only downside is that it can be hard to find, making it more expensive, and you can expect to pay more than twice what a standard bearded dragon costs.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and have learned something new. If we have convinced you to seek out one of these rare reptiles, please share this guide to the fancy bearded dragon on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Rangga A Firmansyah, Shutterstock