No doubt pet lovers nowadays are pretty knowledgeable and make sure to provide the best possible environment for their pets. As bearded dragon fanciers, we also make a lot of effort in maintaining enclosures for our beardies (like arranging basking light, UV Bulbs, temperature gradient, hides, rocks, wood, and branches) to keep our bearded friends happy and healthy.
However, while reading the above lines, you may wonder, “Can my bearded dragon live outside the tank?” “Do bearded dragons really need to go outside?” or “Should I allow my beardies to move around freely (like dogs or cats)?” etc.
So this post is focused on discussing the topic stated above and answering all the questions bothering you. Let’s go, first thing first.
Can A Bearded Dragon Survive Outside?
“YES” For thousands of years, bearded dragons have been used to spending their whole life in the hot deserts of Australia. They do all sorts of activities (like climbing, burrowing, hunting insects, avoiding predators, mating, laying eggs, raising and looking after their young ones, etc.) in an open environment without human help. So definitely, they can survive outside the tank if an appropriate environment is provided.
The above statement is definitely true when bearded dragons are in their natural habitat. However, the situation is totally different when it comes to beardies in captivity. In captivity, bearded dragons are dependent on you for many things, and providing an environment close to their natural habitat is not an easy task. You can’t convert the whole of your house or lawn into their natural habitat as it is virtually impossible to maintain the required temperature and lighting in that case. So the best option is to take them out occasionally or daily for a short duration.
Things To Consider While Taking Bearded Dragon Outside
Know Your Beardie’s Personality
Like humans, every bearded dragon is different and has its own personality. It’s not necessarily that every bearded dragon would like to go outside. If your beardie is highly active, bored, or sometimes when your bearded dragon is not comfortable in the tank (for any reason), he will enjoy going outside. On the other, beardies with low energy levels or who are content and happy in their tanks may not like going outside, and forcing them to go outside can be stressful. So the first thing to consider is the personality of your bearded friend.
We are well aware of the fact that bearded dragons can’t regulate their body temperature and depend on an external heat source to maintain their body heat and digest the food. So it’s crucial to take them out on a sunny day and only when the temperature is above 75 °F and humidity is less than 35%. Experts advise not to take bearded dragons out in the morning (because the temperature is low at that time) and after the meal (because after the meal, they need to bask to absorb enough heat required for proper digestion).
Use Leash Or Harness
Another critical thing to consider is that never forget to use a harness or leash when taking your bearded dragon outside. Your beardie could be calm, docile, and comfortable in the tanks, but the scenario is different when he is outside. They can get scared of minor things, especially when outside the house; they can see predators (birds, dogs, cats, etc.) and get frightened. Since they are small and if they run away and hide somewhere, you may never find them again.
Watch Out For the Predators
When outside, be vigilant and keep an eye around to safeguard your bearded friend from potential predators. Your tiny bearded dragon is an appetizing snack for birds or animals like Hawks, owls, cats, coyotes, myriads, etc. Especially hawks and owls (when hungry) are daring enough that they will not bother your presence and swoop so swiftly and steal your tiny friend before you realize the situation.
Have A Hide Nearby
Naturally, bearded dragons have the instinctive ability to detect predators well before time. So when they sense a predator is around, they would run faster than ever and prefer to hide somewhere. So when taking outside, make sure that a couple of hides (it’s better if you have more) are nearby. Seeing that a hiding place is nearby will give your beaded dragon a sense of security, and he will feel relaxed.
Monitor What They Eat
Instinctively, the bearded dragons will at least taste everything (if not eat) that will fit in their mouth. So when outside, it’s crucial to keep a check on what they eat? Many wild plants are toxic, and even a trace amount of fertilizers or herbicides can be lethal for your beardie. Even wild insects may carry many germs and parasites, or they may have eaten something that is normal for the insects but harmful for beardies. So experts recommend following a thumb rule of “no wild vegetation and bugs” to avoid health concerns.
How Often Or How Long Should Bearded Dragon Stay Outside?
It depends on the age and individual personality of your beardies. In addition, beardie’s mood and outside environmental conditions on that particular day also matter. Usually, taking out babies (up to 2 weeks of age) is not advised. After two weeks, you can take them out 1-2 times daily for 10-20 minutes. You can increase their outside time gradually as they grow up. However maximum time an adult bearded dragon can spend outside is two hours.
It is crucial to observe your bearded friend closely when he is outside, and if he looks inactive, stressed, tired, or changes color, put him back in the tank immediately.
Benefits Of Taking Your Bearded Dragon Outside
Irrespective of how good the environment you have maintained inside the tank, nothing can be compared with natural light and heat from the sun, fresh air, and natural vegetation. Artificial UVB light can never match the way natural sunlight incorporates vitamin D in the body. Rather improper use of artificial UVB light can cause health issues.
In the wild, bearded dragons have a lot more physical activity because they struggle to get food and often have to run to escape predators. While in captivity, their activity is very limited. So taking beardies out is a great way to provide them with necessary exercise and physical stimulation.
A bearded dragon can get bored due to the lack of physical activity and continuously being in the same environment. So outside visit once or twice daily also provide them with necessary mental stimulation.
In the end, last but not the least, going out and spending some time together is an excellent way to build mutual trust and bonding. This is especially important for new owners whose beardie are still not familiar with them.