The Best Food to Feed a Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons make wonderful pets. They are active during the day, and when adult are large enough to be allowed to roam around the house for limited periods (that is, until they start getting cold) without any fears of them disappearing in small hiding places – obviously they need to be supervised at all times. They also have the advantage of almost being born tame and are happy to sit on their owner and will put up with a cuddle.

They are attractive and have great personalities, and make excellent pets for people who are allergic to fur and cannot have any of the more common warm blooded pets. In captivity with the correct husbandry they should live for up to 10 years or even more. The oldest I’m currently aware of is 12. To reach their potential live span they need to be fed the correct foods.

I am often contacted by people who would like to own a bearded dragon, and who want to know if there is any alternative to feeding them live food. The answer is a very definite NO. Although many pet shops stock dried food which is supposed to be for bearded dragons, I have never heard of one that actually will eat this. I’ve tried to feed it to mine but I think they would rather starve!

The amount and type of live food they need changes as they grow from hatchling to adult. When first hatched they are almost totally carnivorous. When adult they are 80% vegetarian. At all stages of their lives they should have the correct balance of vegetables/fruit and live food.

When a juvenile is purchased and brought home from the breeder or pet shop it is important to always offer finely chopped vegetables/fruit. The rule of thumb when feeding bearded dragons is to make sure no food offered is larger than the gap between their eyes. This goes for the size of live food offered, as well as the green stuff. If a juvenile has been properly fed from hatching it will be used to always have a bowl of veg in its enclosure, which it will peck at if there’s nothing better on offer. Juvenile bearded dragons are often similar to human toddlers – seemingly allergic to anything green! But if they’ve been used to it they’ll often continue to munch on salad and vegetables throughout their growing period. Some beardies refuse to touch vegetables – some (including mine!) have been known never to eat it when their owners are watching as if by pretending they are starving they’ll be offered something more tasty. But eventually they all succumb and eat it and, when adult, it will be their staple diet.

If you have a juvenile who won’t touch the stuff, don’t worry. He’ll get there in time, and though it’s disappointing to spend your time chopping food that’s not eaten, you must persevere. It’s best to try and variety of different vegetables and fruit – some beardies like some things, others don’t. Cabbage, mixed salad leaves, curly kale, peppers, sweet potato, grapes, apples, carrots are all foods which might appeal to a beardie. Experiment with items that you eat and see what yours likes.

Bearded dragons should never be fed avocado, and avoid items with a high moisture content such as iceburg lettuce, cucumber or tomatoes which will cause diarrhoea.

These reptiles have an astonishing rate of growth – they grow 4000 times in size from hatching to adult, and should reach full size between 12 and 18 months. To support this tremendous growth rate they have to have copious amounts of protein which can only be supplied by a main diet of live food. When deciding whether this is the pet for you, you need to factor in the cost of their food. During their first year of live they cost as much as a cat and some dogs to feed. There is also the problem of obtaining live food – but if you don’t live near a suitably stocked pet shop mail order is very efficient, and you can set up a regular order with most online suppliers.

The basic live food diet is crickets. These come in two types – brown, and black. Black are supposedly silent, but you’ll still get the odd one that will chirp all night. Both are nutritious. Crickets, as other insects, come in various sizes called instars. As a cricket grows it sheds its skin. First instar crickets are the smallest, and then they increase in size through various sheds until they reach adult size. Don’t feed crickets which are too big for your bearded dragon (remember the gap between the eyes rule), but conversely, if you try and offer crickets that are too small he might not be interested in them.

All live food should be gut fed – this simply means feeding them the same vegetables that you are offering your beardie. Hence even if he isn’t keen on vegetables, he’ll be getting the goodness by eating the crickets.

When growing rapidly they should be fed live food 3 times a day up until the age of about 4 months – as many as they can eat in a 10 minute session each time. This can be reduced to 2 feeds, and then to 1 when the beardie is a good size – around 6 to 8 months. It is difficult to give any definite ages as all bearded dragons grow at different rates. As they are such voracious eaters crickets are recommended as they are the cheapest to buy.

Bearded dragons need calcium supplement – daily until they are adult, and then about weekly thereafter. Calcium powder is sprinkled on their food. Without extra calcium they are likely to develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) which causes deformities in their bone growth, and is often fatal. Prevention is far better than trying to cure it.

It is perfectly possible to feed crickets and dust them with calcium powder without having to touch them by using a Cricket Keeper. You empty the crickets from the tub they arrive in into the keeper, and put vegetables and water into it. Pots of water are not recommended as the crickets are likely to drown in it, instead you can buy Bug Gel, or simply put in cotton wool balls soaked in water. Cricket Keepers have four black tubes. The crickets go up the tubes as they like being in the dark. When it’s feeding time you simply lift out one of the tubes, spinkle some calcium supplement down the tube, put something over the top and shake vigorously. This coats the crickets evenly with calcium powder, and also slightly stuns them which makes them slower and easier for the beardie to catch. You can also slow down crickets by putting them in the fridge for a few minutes before feeding. Most beardies can catch them anyway, but some have difficulty at first, so slower moving crickets can be beneficial.

As beardies grow they can move on to locusts or roaches. A roach colony can be kept at home, and so you can breed your own live food and make feeding much cheaper though not everyone wants to do this. Locusts are much more tasty to a bearded dragon, and also more expensive to buy. If you start feeding these too early you may find he won’t go back to eating crickets, and hence it will be far more expensive. For that reason I recommend staying with crickets as long as possible. As adults they will only need livefood two or three times a week. Once they are fully grown too much protein will overload their internal organs so if you overfeed you will be killing them with kindness.

Meal worms should not be given to bearded dragons. They do like them, but their skins are high in chitin which is hard to digest, and they are not as nutritious as crickets or locusts. Morio worms are a good substitute, but I’d still stick with crickets as a staple diet. Silk worms can also be fed daily, but again are more expensive. Wax worms are only to be given as a treat as they are very rich. They do love them in the way we like chocolate!

Remember, feeding your bearded dragon the correct food for each stage of its life is important, but equally so is having your vivarium set up correctly. The basking temperature should be right as it helps them digest their food properly, and a strong UVB light is necessary so they get sufficient vitamins.

The Right Way to Take Care of a Pet Parrot

Getting a pet parrot may turn out to be a highly worthwhile investment, in terms of time and money. Such a pet proves to be very fascinating to some people, especially with the numerous abilities they have. One can simply be entertained with the gesture of teaching their parrot a bunch of tricks, and a ton of time is to be dedicated into providing proper care for this type of bird. There are so many things, though, that one has to make sure of, such as cleaning its cage properly, changing its water supply as well as ensuring that it’s always provided enough company. Below are some additional things to ponder upon when it comes to taking care of a pet parrot.

  1. One has to decide carefully if they really want to have a parrot as a pet, and this includes looking into their cage’s size and getting it a perch, since it’s quite a sociable creature to have. One should also realize that its most unique trait is the ability to mimic any sound it hears, including how the owner talks. Owners should have enough time spent on schooling it and ensuring that it gets the proper training in order to develop into a well rounded pet that everyone can have fun with and appreciate.
  2. Getting them the right kind of food is also essential. Parrots are often fed seeds which contain a lot of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, all of which can help them grow and acquire healthy bodies. However, this isn’t always the most appropriate choice. Considering that most seeds are being commercially manufactured, and may even include all those various nutrients, there’s also a lot more freedom in choice. One can simply purchase pellets which these birds can chew on, and the owners won’t have to worry about husks of seeds scattered all over the cage.
  3. It would also be essential for the owner to take it out of its cage and be properly groomed. There needs to be utmost caution when doing so, since these creatures can be very fidgety, thus increasing the risk of injuring them. Their beaks must be properly cleaned in a delicate manner, toe nails should be trimmed carefully with the right sized trimmer, and wings have to be clipped properly to avoid nasty falls during flying play sessions.

A pet parrot may not be the least complicated type of birds to handle, yet they are pretty fun to have around the household. It also teaches owners how to be responsible in taking care of fragile creatures that will end up leading to a whole new experience.

So You Bought a Parrot, Now What?

In my other blog, I write about my daily life. But, most of my posts revolve around my parrots, as does my life. It is in my belief that birds were not intended to be on this earth so we could still them in a cage in our homes. No matter what your religion is, birds were not made for solitary stationary lives. They were intended to fly in the great outdoors. Nobody can argue with that.

But, now you have one in your home, as do I. Now what? Well, let’s hope that you did your research and you found a parrot that is right for you and your family. We’re going to assume you did for the sake of this article and my sanity.

CAGES

The first thing that needs to be purchased is a cage. Have you ever walked into a pet store and saw that they have a sale going on, “Buy This Cage, Get a Parakeet FREE!” Don’t do that. Just buy the parakeet and cage separately because THAT cage will not be big enough for your new family member. Remember, your new family member is a bird with wings and will need to use those wings. A cage for a parakeet should be wider than taller, because they are not helicopters that can fly straight up.

Bigger is always better when buying a cage for your new pet. However, the width of the bar spacing in cages is also just as important, as tiny heads can get trapped in between the bars. So, keep that in mind when purchasing the cage.

A good cage size for a Macaw or bigger parrot is one where your parrot can stretch his wings without touching the sides of his cage.

FOOD

As with the topic of human children and nutrition, there are just as many debates on parrot nutrition. Some say pellets only, some say seeds and pellets, some say fresh food, seeds, and pellets, some say cooked foods, fresh foods, seeds, and pellets; but, no one says that only feeding seeds is good for a parrot.

Mine get a huge variety of foods on a daily basis. If you read my other blog, you would know that I am having some issues with Sisco eating foods that are good for her. She is a seed junky and will not eat anything else except mashed potatoes. Just like human children, if they are exposed to only certain things, they will never develop a taste of other foods. However, if they are exposed to good foods on a daily basis, they will eventually try something, and possibly even like it!

The point is to never give up trying to feed your parrot healthy foods and never stop learning about parrot nutrition.

TOYS

What do you mean by toys? My bird needs toys? Isn’t a swing enough? Um, no. Your bird needs something to do. A bored bird is an unhappy bird. A bird that is busy is a happy bird. A bird that is locked in a cage from day in to day out with nothing to do will exhibit very unwelcoming behaviors such as excessive screaming. A bird that doesn’t have any toys (or the wrong toys for THAT specific bird) but is allowed the freedom to come and go as he pleases may start to be destructive to the things around him, such as the molding on your big picture window or your first edition of Twilight.

There are lots of different toys on the market today. To pick out which toy is right for your bird will just be a process of trial and error. But in reality, a bird should have a variety of toys and not the same type of toy in his cage at all times. You should have enough toys to be able to rotate every few weeks.

ATTENTION

No, it is not enough to plop them in a cage with healthy foods and enough toys to outfit a bird toy store. Sorry. You need to pay attention to him. You do not have to hold your parrot 24/7, but you do need to give him ambient attention. Ambient attention is to give your parrot attention while she is in her cage or on her playstand. This can be achieved with just talking to your parrot, interacting with her, calling his name when he calls for you, reading to her, dancing with her, singing with her, watching TV and keeping a running commentary with her of what you see, etc. This is the kind of attention parrots absolutely love.

VET CARE

Your new buddy needs to see a doctor from time to time. It is true that birds hide their illnesses, so when you see what could potentially be a sign of an illness, get him to a vet as soon as possible! The time to find a good avian vet is when he is healthy, not when it is an emergency.

Those are just some of the basics of parrot care. The very basics, unfortunately. If you do not treat your parrot like the delicate animal he is, things can go very wrong in an instant.

Protecting Garden Birds From Magpies

Magpies can be desired and detested in equal measure, depending on the person and situation. On the one hand, they’re uniquely intelligent birds, with a well developed social system accompanying their well developed appetites. Unfortunately, they’re not only incredibly hungry, but predatory to boot. A small flock will happily devour an entire rabbit left gutted in the garden, so it’s no surprise the ease with which they crack open eggs waiting to hatch, or even kill the live young of other birds around the garden. If you want to keep the other species safe you can read on for a little info on deterring the creatures.

First up, a very simple a cheap system for deterring magpies from your garden. Oddly enough, these socially advanced creatures absolutely cannot abide being looked at by other animals, particularly those they can’t identify. In Australia the birds have been known to attack children in the street, who then took to strapping paper eyes to the reverse of their caps. The magpies see the false eyes, spook easily and are quick to back away.

This is an easy method to adopt, and there are a few ways to expand upon it to make it even more effective. Start off by making a few sets of paper eyes at home. Once you’ve got a few pairs start posting them up around the garden. Trunks and walls are best, a nice flat surface where they’ll enjoy a lot of visibility. Fasten them on with sellotape for longer-lasting results.

The tape actually plays into the best way to improve the technique. Magpies are more likely to spook from objects which reflect light well. Not only are they bright, but they better represent the glistening effect of an actual eye. The best value for money solution you’ll find requires two types of object. A thread of string and any loose CDs and DVDs you’ve no intention of keeping. String the CDs together into long hanging ornaments, then affix them to walls, trunks and branches. They’ll turn in the wind, reflecting randomly while also resembling a circular eye, complete with pupil.

In small domestic gardens these techniques will prove successful enough at scaring off the pesky, predatory birds. So long as you maintain good lines of sight so a pair of eyes or reflective CDs are constantly in view the magpie population should quickly begin avoiding your property. In larger areas setting up a large number of these items tends to be an inefficient use of your time. Instead consider a scarecrow with reflective eyes. They’re an old standby, and the appearance of a conscious human does wonders deterring these birds.

Francesca has been writing about UK wildlife and garden birds for years, from providing them with shelter to keeping them safe from predators. Now serving as a featured contributor to Garden Bird, a premier supplier of bird feed and care accessories, she hopes to expand her audience even further.

The Importance of the Right Reptile Lighting

It is no secret that your cold-blooded creatures are in desperate need of an outside source of heat to survive. In spite of this knowledge, it is often too surprising to learn that more owners still believe that any reptile lighting is enough. This is a common misconception since the wrong brand could lead to serious illness, and even death. One of the obvious ways to prevent this is to learn for yourself the different types of luminosity, which is available in the market. It is also a great idea to study the physical make-up of the species you own to get a clear grasp of its toleration to heat.

First of all, you have to consider the dimensions of your reptile cages and terrariums before settling on any type of lighting. Once you’ve already determined the exact measurements of your pets’ home, it will now be easier for you to choose the precise length, and even type, of the device that your cold-blooded friends need. Of course, you also have to consider the shape of the glass case. For example, if you’ve settled for the usual, rectangular frame, then the fluorescent strips are the perfect piece for you. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to go for a circular or a hexagonal bowl, small bulbs would suffice.

Before you install a particular type of lighting, you are required to make an inventory, if not a mental note, of the reptile supplies, which are kept inside the terrarium. This list includes the permanent items, such as your decorative pieces, substrates, food and water dishes, and the like.

By doing this, you are given a clear idea on the kind of device, as well as the power of its radiance and heat, which you need to set up. However, if you find that a particular bulb suits the needs of your cold-blooded friends well, while the ornaments cannot handle the warmth, it will be wiser to replace the items with more durable ones.

Your choice of reptile lighting should also be suitable to the species of cold-blooded creatures you keep. For example, ordinary pets, like the iguana and lizards, require less heat, and they are happy with a mere basking lamp. On the other hand, snakes also need less warmth, while the small crocodiles mandate more radiance constantly.

The reptile lighting for you also depends on its setup procedures in the sense that you should choose a model, which is not too tedious for you to install. You may decide on a brand, which is meant to be fixed inside the terrarium in the same way that you would do your decorative adornments.

Finding the perfect lighting to give your reptiles a comfortable home is not a problem when you have already considered every aspect, which may affect your purchase.

The Basics of Goldfish Care

Caring for goldfish isn’t all that different from caring for any other fish. A clean home with room to grow, meals delivered to their front door, and maybe some decor to give the place a bit of class is about all they ask for. None the less, some of their requirements do vary a bit from those of most other common aquarium fish. They’re not hard to meet, but doing so is key to keeping a happy and healthy goldfish.

Size
The number one thing that seems to slip past most people looking to keep goldfish is that they get BIG. Even for smaller varieties expect adults to reach about 8 inches in length with some easily passing a foot. This of course means that fish bowls, which goldfish are so commonly portrayed in, are virtually worthless for keeping goldfish (or any other fish for that matter). Really anything under 30 gallons is too small for even a single goldfish long term and if you want more than one the tank will need to be even bigger. Without adequate room to grow fish will become stunted, leading to health problems and most likely an early death.

Climate
While they’re typically sold alongside a bevy of various other species of tropical fish, which tend to prefer what could be thought of as tropical temperatures, goldfish are actually considered a cold water species. In fact they can tolerate temperatures close to freezing, although in the aquarium something in the mid 60s to low 70s in preferred (or roughly 18 to 23C). Even though they do just fine at lower temperatures a heater still isn’t a bad idea, however. Temperature swings are never a good thing for any fish. A heater ensures things don’t change too rapidly on particularly cool days.

This doesn’t mean your goldfish have to live alone, though. There are lots of other fish out there who enjoy a cooler temperature. White Cloud Minnows are quite popular coldwater fish, and the common Zebra Danio is quite adaptive and does just fine in cooler water. Just make sure they’re not too small as your goldfish may mistake them for a tasty snack! Some species of loaches and plecos are compatible as well, though care should be taken if you’re keeping a pleco and goldfish with frilly tails as the pleco may harass them.

Upkeep
Goldfish also differ from most common aquarium fish in that they are quite messy. Their digestive system works a little differently from other fish and can be considered somewhat inefficient. Add to this that they are just plain big fish and it’s easy to see why they need a lot of filtration to keep their tanks clean. Generally you’ll want about double the filtration that you would normally want for the tank size. Good circulation and mechanical filtration are of particular importance for keeping the bottom of the tank free from waste. This also means that regular upkeep is all the more important. Even with a good filter the substrate tends to get quite dirty necessitating vacuuming.

Along with their unique digestive system comes a need for unique food. When picking a food for your goldfish make sure to get something specifically sold as goldfish food. Normal tropical foods will likely prove too hard to digest leading to a messy tank and malnourished fish. But, just like other fish, they will get bored with the same thing day after day so don’t forget to change up their diet every now and then. You can even branch out into fresher alternatives. Goldfish are quite fond of peas and may accept other cooked vegetable bits.

So, to recap, or if you’re just looking for a quick guide to goldfishes’ needs:

-Goldfish get big and thus need a big home. Expect them to reach at least 8″ and need at least 30 gallons.
-Goldfish are coldwater fish preferring temperatures in the mid 60s to low 70s.
-Goldfish are messy- include extra filtration and be prepared to clean their tank weekly.
-Make sure to feed your goldfish food formulated specifically for them.
-As a side note: koi are not goldfish. They are related, but get much too big for the average home aquarium.

A goldfish tank offers a unique aesthetic not found in most other aquariums- large brightly colored peaceful fish. They’re an iconic species; instantly recognizable by just about anyone even from across the room. While their needs do differ a bit from most other common aquarium fish, they’re really not all that hard to meet. Fulfill those and you’ll have a happy goldfish for many years to come.

The Best Spring Feed for Your Birds

Spring is certainly an important time for bird feeding. Many migratory species will be passing through your garden on their way back home, and you can expect to see new nests and hatchlings springing up around your area when mating season kicks off. Birds have specific nutritional needs throughout the period, however, so it’s worth taking the time to note just what you should be providing.

Mealworms

These are an old standby, and an excellent source of live feed. Unlike their larger, crunchier brethren, mealworms are both protein heavy and moist. They benefit smaller birds the most, and you can expect to see them surge in popularity during mating season. Adults will bring them back to the nest to sustain their young, as they’re one of the most nutritious and edible feeds out there.

Remember, they can easily go off if left outside for too long. Consider soaking them in water for a little extra moisture on hot days, as long as they’re all eaten quickly. As always, be sure to clean up any uneaten remnants to prevent disease.

Fruit

If you grow a variety of plants in your garden, there’s every chance you have a few apples and pears going spare through spring. These large, meaty and moist fruits are particularly suited to feeding larger birds, capable of digging in more effectively. The high water content will certainly benefit them in hotter weeks, and slicing up a few to leave on the feeder will keep a lot of birds happy.

As an interesting idea for presentation, consider slicing a fruit in half and impaling It on the branch of a tree. This will move larger birds into the canopy, while producing a pleasant natural appearance. Just be sure not to leave any sliced fruit out for longer than a few days. In the heat and rain of spring it’s quite easy for them to rot, so dense trees and covered feeders are a nice touch.

Seeds and Nuts

As ever, nyger seeds make for a great investment, and are extremely popular among the majority of finch species. They’re very fatty for their size, but will need a specialised feeder to hold them in.

Peanuts are a regular feature of any feed mix, but will require special attention if you intend to leave them out in the spring. They’re heavy in fat and protein, but be sure not to make the mistake of leaving out salted nuts, birds can’t process the salt and will suffer for it.

Remember, whole peanuts can easily choke a newly hatched bird, so either crush up your nuts or leave them in a mesh they cannot be removed from whole. Any other small seeds and nuts will suffice, sunflower hearts being another high nutrition treat.