The care and feeding of a bearded dragon

A few columns ago I wrote about a bearded dragon named Einstein that my son and I were fostering. This weekend, while I was working at Cat Con, a reader approached me to ask for an update on the dragon’s progress. A side note, over 200 cats were adopted at Cat Con. This was an extraordinary weekend celebrating cats and finding so many new families, but I digress. As a reminder about the dragon, it came into the shelter as a stray, emaciated and barely able to walk. Thanks to the fast work of our veterinary team, it quickly gained strength and became healthy enough to be-placed in foster care. I feel a bit like I am announcing a baby reveal here, but I am proud to share that we have officially adopted the dragon. Welcome to the Bank family, Sprite! My son wanted to change the name to give Sprite a fresh new start.

One funny story to share. While we were cleaning Sprites aquarium one afternoon, I found dozens of round, yellow, hard, pebbles that looked like corn nut cereal underneath the mat. Scooping them up, I immediately turned to the internet to find out what they could be. Much to my surprise, I learned that Sprite, who we thought was a boy, was actually a girl and the pebbles were unfertilized eggs. I video conferenced my son who was staying at grandma’s house to let him know. His reaction was priceless. Letting out a big sigh, he hung his head low and stated “I thought I had a son, but it turns out I have a daughter.” I’m thrilled that he has bonded so quickly with his companion.

We have had a blast since Sprite joined our home. Never caring for this type of lizard before, we needed to spend time learning about her needs. From reading books and searching the internet, we learned about a bearded dragon’s specialized diet. Going to the store to pick up her favorite foods has become a weekly family get together. She likes kale, collard greens, radicchio, spring mix, carrots, and blueberries. We regularly talk about the need to have a balanced diet that includes fruits and veggies and some protein, which for Sprite includes crickets and worms, certainly not my favorite part of feeding time. Shopping for Sprite has helped us have dialogue about our own diet and has inspired us to eat healthy too.

We have also learned about other habits needed to keep Sprite healthy. When keeping a bearded dragon as a pet, it is important to keep them clean and warm. We immediately purchased a large terrarium, hiding rock, heating source, ultraviolet light, and water and feeding dishes. We have the heating source and lights on a timer so that Sprite will get the correct mix of temperature to keep her warm and happy. Every day we take Sprite out of the terrarium to play and socialize, and twice a week she gets a warm bath for hydration. While it certainly has added to our family’s workload, it has been a ton of fun and a great educational experience to have Sprite in our home.

As a full service animal shelter, The Pasadena Humane Society takes any animal that comes through our door from our animal control service areas. We never turn an animal away. We see rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, chickens, reptiles, and other wildlife on a regular basis. Our staff is trained and has the appropriate equipment to jump into action to help any species, as needed. We have an entire critter room that houses these animals and as you can imagine, we have many that ultimately need a new home. Consider adopting a critter today! Visit to see photos of animals that need new homes. Also, visit us on August 18th where we will be participating in the National Clear the Shelters Adoption event.

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