The Joys of a Bearded Dragon
Growing up I was the type of child who kept a bug as a pet. I have always loved animals to the deepest of my core, and no matter what animal it was, I wanted one as a pet. When I was 2 years old I had two cats, by age five I had 3 cats, by age eight I had 5 cats and by age 11 I got my first couple of rats. Fast forward to age 15 after finally convincing my mother to let me get my first reptile, I decided on a baby bearded dragon.
When I went into my family owned pet store, I scanned all the glass tanks for my perfect lizard, and once I stopped at the Bearded dragon tanks and saw all 10 of the little babies sitting on each other I fell in love. As soon as I got my little guy home and set up his tank I put him in a little purse of mine and walked down the street to my friends house, showing off my knew lizard.
As the weeks went by I took him everywhere, I finally settled on a name for him, Baby Gilbert. The store owner told me that bearded dragon's are the perfect choice for those who have never owned a lizard before, they are tame and friendly and easy to take care of. He was right. Gilbert had no problem chilling in the hoods of my sweaters, or tagging along in my purses, but most of all he enjoyed just sitting on my chest and shoulder.
The bigger he grew, the more he loved to just hang around on me, he was very tame and calm and my father called him my living broach. Bearded Dragon's are also entertaining for the fact that when they bask under their heat lamps they fill up their bodies with air and puff up, often times also leaving their mouths open, as they hit maturity they puff out their "beards" giving the allusion of a dragon. Most often this happens when they are happily basking, but it is also used when they are scared.
The first time I saw Gilbert "Beard Out" out of anger was when I took him into the backyard during a 4th of July BBQ and let him run around in the grass... I always let Gilbert go outside (even using a lizard leash and taking him for walks). Gilbert accidentally got splashed with water from the pool and let me tell you... he was not a happy camper!
Not too long after the pool incident, I took Gilbert back into the pet store to show him off to the owner, and guess what I found out? Now that Gilbert hit maturity, I could find out the sex of my lizard, Gilbert was a girl! So after a lot of contemplation of whether or not to change the name, I couldn't. It would be like changing the name of your child after a year and a half. So I decided on Gilbs-berta. ( I know, it's a mouthful and an odd choice)
As the years went on, I started to just call her Baby Gilbs and everything was good. I loved Baby Gilbs, she was as friendly as any lizard could be, my little buddy who liked to sit on my head and hang on my chest. I often smashed up banana's and rolled it up in lettuce making her little burritos, and as a treat, I would put a meal worm in the middle.
I have never liked crickets either, but watching her chase them around the tank for dinner was like a little show. She had a personality, and even hated some of the music I listened too, but liked others. She puffed up and bearded at me when I put on KoRn, but if I played Hooty and the Blow Fish she would close her eyes and get comfortable.
When my parents divorced I had to move away, and Lizards can not go on a plane, the vet said it could kill her, so I had to give her away. I think about Baby Gilbs everyday and I tell everyone how amazing Bearded Dragons are. Since then I had an Iguana that wasn't tamable and unfriendly. Though not all Iguana's are like that, I haven't met one bearded Dragon that wasn't friendly and calm.
They can be your best friends and are the perfect pet for a child or for anyone. They require a tank changing every 3 to 6 months. They can be kept alone, but require more out-time and attention, or you can have a couple together in a tank. The bigger tank you have the more they will grow and the happier they will be. You can start with a 10 gallon tank when they are a baby, and move up in size the bigger they get. Or you can start with a 60 gallon tank, that is a good size for one Adult Dragon.
They are mainly Veggie eaters and love Banana's, lettuce, peas and carrots, Lima beans, cantaloupe and mango. You can try almost anything with them, they will let you know what they love. Gilbs loved her meal worms and would often refuse to eat her veggies unless I hid meal worms at the bottom of her bowl, eventually she out smarted me and would dig through her bowl for the worms and scatter her veggies.
So I started to give her meal worms in the morning and her veggies at night. For a treat I would get her 10 to 20 crickets, they would last her a day or two and then she would spend the next couple of days basking in her glory.
If you do not like bugs, obviously this isn't the pet for you. Although I did not like worms and crickets, but the fact that Gilbs loved them and made her happy I completely got over my issue with the meal worms. It is a good thing I did, Gilbs forced me to hand feed her the worms. She would not longer eat them out of her bowl, I had to have her on my lap and give them to her one at a time.
All in all, Baby Gilbs was one of the best animals I have ever owned. Out of my 5 cats, 11 rats, 5 beta fish a ball python and 1 Iguana, Baby Gilbs was my favorite.