Thursday, August 16, 2012

Avoiding Stress

Because bearded dragons have excellent color vison and hearing and are very curious, they are very susceptible to stress.  Their third eye is extremely responsive to overhead shadows because in the wild birds of prey feed on them.  Their third eye protects them from this danger, they are alerted by the shadow and then seek hiding.  That is why a hide box is so important in their environment, thereby removing any stress caused by that shadow sense.  The other interesting fact is that their spines and grooves on their back help hold the rain and when they tilt their head down, this directs the rain down the grooves, along their head and to their mouth, where their tongue laps up the drips.  Bearded dragons love to explore their environment and they watch everything around them very carefully.  Playing with your bearded dragon  builds trust with them which is important when feeding, cleaning the cage and doing regular inspections of their health so that they are not stressed out.  Stress is one of the biggest killers of pet reptiles.  In order to avoid stress, follow these suggestions:
Have the right environment:  Ensure the tank is large enough (Bearded dragons grow to 2 feet) for a variety of spaces; opportunity to climb a branch, clean surface to allow sunning and two hide boxes, one in the warm and one in the cool area in order to moderate temperature .   Make sure you have the right lighting, food and water bowls as well. 

Don’t interrupt a bearded dragon when it is trying to eat.  As entertaining as it might be, try to be inconspicuous as your dragon hunts for crickets etc.  Don't make noise because dragons have acute hearing and are easily startled into the 'frozen' state.
Hold your bearded dragon frequently They tolerate being held well.   Put one hand under the head and chest area and one hand under the body and tail. When picking the bearded dragon up, wrap your whole hand over the back and under the arms without squeezing it.  Acclimatizing your dragon to being held will enable you to monitor it's health and skin quality and make any trips to the vet easier.

Ensure they have Water:  Savannah, my dragon does not like to drink water from a bowl but if I spray her with water she will lower her head and drink the drops as they come down to her tongue.  I put her in a sink with 2 inches of cool water every second day and she drinks 10 - 15 sips then climbs out.  Digger, on the other hand, drinks from a small basin in his cage and doesn't need to go outside to a tub.  So dragons vary in their preferences and you need to be vigilant to watch their behavior and learn their habits so that you can best support them.

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