The bearded dragon is an Australian lizard that lives in dessert type areas. They have a a pouch under their chin that they will flare up when they feel threatened. They will also flatten out their bodies to make themselves appear to be larger than then really are in hopes to scare off an enemy. They have little spines on their heads. Dragons are meat and plant eaters.
Having a Bearded Dragon
As with all reptiles, there are some very strict rules that you will need to follow to be able to successfully house one of these creatures. The first and probably most important is heat. They need to have a temperature of around 80 degrees during the day (with a basking area slightly warmer) and around 75 degrees at night. You can buy heat lamps at any pet store and they can assist you in purchasing the correct bulbs. You should avoid heat rocks as I have heard stories of lizards getting severely burned on them. You can also buy a heat pad which goes underneath your grass mat or bark or dust (also available at pet stores and goes in the bottom of your cage).
Speaking of cages, a generously large glass aquarium with a screen lid is a good place to start. beardeds grow to be about 2 feet in length. Compared to some lizards, such as Green Iguanas (6-8 feet) and Savanna Monitors (5 feet) that is not real big. You will still need a large enough enclosure for him to grow and feel comfortable, unless you want to start out with one and upgrade later.
You will need to feed your bearded crickets and mice. Some people may not like the idea of this, so be aware before you buy. (If feeding live food does not appeal to you, Green Iguanas can be an option since they eat vegetables and premixed Iguana food). A fresh bowl of water will need to be available for him also.
One very important thing that you will want to research is Salmonella. All reptiles have Salmonella and contamination can occur through their feces. You will have to make sure that each and every time you come in contact with him you wash your hands very thoroughly and keep the cage very clean. If you let him roam the house then that will present more cleaning challenges. If you have guests over you should probably make them aware of the situation and what you have done to reduce the risk so they can make a choice if they want to enter that environment or not. Children under the age of 5 should probably avoid these types of situations completely as the chance of a child contracting salmonella is much higher than that of an adult (or much older child).
Bearded Dragons can adapt quickly to their new owners and are very social animals. They will generally allow you to handle them without a problem and are normally quite calm. There is quite a bit to know before you bring one into your home, so books or speaking with whomever you are purchasing one from should get you off to a pretty good start.
Check out these great links about Bearded Dragons before you go.
Bearded Dragons The Best of All Lizard Pets
General Care Of Bearded Dragons (Frames)
Bearded Dragon Care Sheet