Something that isn’t always publicly discussed in the Bearded Dragon community is the ethics behind breeding, keeping and collecting dragons. Some will always argue a wild animal should be free, some believe a simple animal can be kept in a simple enclosure merely for their owners leisure and others treat their dragons like reptilian royalty.
When it comes to breeding these wonderful creatures, far too often a person starts off with ambitious desires and grandeur views but as expenses add up and time goes by they are forced to make cut backs, and effort falls off. The last thing any reasonable person needs on their conscience is the guilt of neglect. Many whom choose to breed do go on to successfully work with bearded dragons in the realm of fair ethics, but today we will focus on some of the perhaps even unknowns when it comes to breeding ethically.
This series will look at the ethics behind breeding bearded dragons and hopefully educate new dragon keepers looking to get into breeding, while adding to the bank of knowledge of those who have been breeding dragons for some time.
Bearded Dragon Enclosures
When it comes to properly housing your dragons, besides the absolute necessities of life that should be provided regularly, such as water and sustenance, the most important factor of life is one’s living conditions. Providing any and all bearded dragons fair space is perhaps the first challenge of ethics any new dragon keeper will face. We make recommendations for enclosure sizes for your bearded dragons in our information section, but today we are looking at the ethical approach of choosing what is right for you.
Custom built 2ft tall x 4ft wide x 18in deep Enclosure, this size is ideal for 1-2 Adult Dragons
When keeping a bearded dragon for breeding purposes, I feel often times dollar signs will blur an otherwise good person’s morals when it comes to taking proper care of your dragons. As with anything revolving morals, there is a great amount of personal opinions involved. There are a few who have extreme views on the far outsides edges of the group, but most people wall fall somewhere in the middle.
The first question one must ask when it comes to keeping dragons is, “Do I have the space and finances to achieve my goals?” As with any goal requiring expenditures, you must prepare for unforeseen expenses. sometimes people under estimate the amount of space even one mother dragon’s clutches will need. A female bearded dragon is capable of laying up to 5+ clutches of 25+ eggs. Assuming you average 20 successful hatches per clutch, that is around 100 dragons you may need the proper space for, not to mention to be capable of feeding twice daily. From experience, let me tell you the 5000 crickets you need weekly will require a fair amount of space on their own, not to mention the costs of purchasing them.
The question of what is a proper enclosure becomes complicated when you phrase it as, “Well, how much space does a dragon really need to live comfortably?” For arguments sake, lets look at what constitutes the extreme views. Someone with a conservative approach will say enough space to comfortably turn around, eat and provide a basking spot is enough. A more liberal approach would be to argue they have thousands of acres in the wild, and therefore must require huge environments to be kept in domestically.
Both have fair arguments, though I personally feel those like myself who have a greater appreciation for the gift of life in any form would lean towards the more liberal viewpoint. Reasonably a dragon should have space to eat, drink, warm up, cool down and move about in his or her enclosure, especially as an adult, and especially if this same dragon isn’t being handled outside of its enclosure regularly. The final judgement falls on you as the keeper, but please always keep in mind the necessities they need, and perhaps try and take a view from the dragons perspective. Could you be reasonably comfortable living in the enclosure you provided as a dragon?
Nothing turns me off more to the ideals of promoting the appreciation of bearded dragon keeping then seeing a breeder who only sees dollar signs. Remember every dragon needs a UVB source, heat lamp, water/food, attention and care not just sometimes, but every single day. It takes time to feed, clean and care for 20 baby dragons let alone, 60, 80 or even 100 in various sizes.
Bearded Dragon Eggs (1/2 of one clutch) (Temps @ 85F – Humidity @ 85%)
When it comes to baby dragons, we actually encourage breeders to use bins. Bins are ideal because you really do not want to overdo the amount of space given to a baby dragon. Too much space can lead to stress on the baby dragon as it becomes more difficult to hunt food. Bins are affordable, and allow you to provide multiple separate enclosures for your babies to minimize their stress and maximize their chance to successfully grow. Many who breed dragons will have a rack of bins arranged on shelving allowing for easy cleaning, feeding and care.
Bins also limit the temperature variance from one side of the tank to the other. Baby bearded dragons don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to regulating their temperatures so you don’t necessarily want to provide as cool of a “cool side” temperature level. With baby dragons, day time temps don’t need to drop below 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You will want to keep night temps up a bit as well. For these reasons, the bins should be morally fair as they aren’t long term housing and actually provide for a safer and more efficient environment for your dragons.
Be prepared, baby dragons travel in large groups!
Breeding bearded dragons certainly has its rewards, but definitely comes at a cost. Be sure you have not only the time and finances available to properly care bearded dragons, but also the space and proper housing units available.
Join us for another discussion next week, this time on the morals of pairing dragons. We will discuss the complications in breeding Silkback dragons, pairing translucents as well as touch on proper age consideration and health. May your moral compass always point north on your journey with dragons.
More information on Bearded Dragons
More on proper Enclosures and Housing
More on proper Dragon Egg Care
More on proper Baby Dragon Care