Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

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Are orchids and air plants safe for bearded dragons?

Postby CutestBabyDragon » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:49 pm

[TOPIC AUTO-LOCKED DUE TO INACTIVITY]

Hello to all!

Just a little background, on which I welcome any commentary or suggestions. This is my first post to the forum. I am a new bearded dragon owner. I do have a great deal of experience with animals in general (currently have a dog, two cats, two rabbits, and an African Grey, in addition to new baby...) I also have kept reptiles and amphibians in the past (garter snakes, anoles, African clawed frogs, an ornate box turtle, and a leopard tortoise.)

I have a baby that I estimate to be approximately two months old, who is absolutely adorable. It is enclosed in a 40 gallon tank, with a Zilla Slimline UVB tube. It has an infrared heat lamp.

Substrate is slate tile. Baby has a ceramic water bowl, a ceramic salad bowl, and a ceramic worm bowl. Baby also has an artificial log, which brings it about 6 inches away from the light and heat. Basking temps are a little over 100.

I've had baby for almost three weeks. It is putting on a gram about every two days (12 grams right now). It is eating small crickets and Phoenix worms. If it eats exclusively worms, it eats 50-60 a day, and if I add in calcium dusted crickets it'll eat around 20-25 crickets, and maybe 30 Phoenix worms. It does like cooked Delicata squash, and collard, turnip or mustard greens - a few nibbles a day, but those are not the focus of its hunger for the most part right now (although it definitely likes being hand fed veg.) It is fed insects at least twice (usually three times) a day, and veggies are changed twice a day.

It is shedding all the time, and I give it a warm bath each morning as I prepare its morning food. It poops at least once a day, and usually twice. I also mist it in the late afternoon.

It is extremely active, and very bright eyed and inquisitive. It loves to nestle in my sweatshirt, and becomes brightly colored when it snuggles with me. Very adorable. I noted some concern about the infrared lights, and so have been observing it after "lights out." It seems to sleep very happily on the limbs of its fake log. I have not noted any crankiness or sleep disturbance, but am curious to hear others' opinions on this.

Now to my main question. Since its habitat is relatively sparse (mostly focused on function) at the moment, I'd like to add some elements - particularly plants, as I am also a bit of a plant nut. I am aware of concerns with respect to bearded dragons ingesting things like sand, and also that they like to nibble plants. Further I thought that soil in plants might also present a problem, not just in terms of ingesting the soil itself, but in terms of pesticides and other chemicals.

I am an avid orchid grower, and they grow mostly in a mix of large chunks of bark. I don't imagine that a baby could eat chunks of bark this size, but am still concerned about the possibility. If larger chunks such as those found in orchid mix do not present a problem, I think an orchid might make a nice addition to the environment. They like to be misted everyday, and I think that might be a benefit to the wee one, who could drink off of the leaves.

Another plant I grow is the air plant. These plants require no soil. You can actually pick the whole plant up and carry them around. They're really neat. They just need a misting every day. Again, this would be nice for a little dragon drinking fountain. I think the benefit to using an air plant in a bearded dragon environment might be that if it is soiled, all you have to do is lift it out and wash it, and plop it back in. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article about air plants, just to give some context.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tillandsia

I have looked everywhere to see if these plants are safe for dragons, but can't find an answer. Does anyone have any experience? Intuitively, it seems to me that the air plant, in particular would be great for bearded dragon environments due to the ease of cleansing, the misting requirement (and thus additional water source), and because they have pretty strong tough leaves, making them difficult to nibble on.

I would be very grateful for any insight you all might have. Also - incidentally, thank you all for all of the discussions you have had. They have been invaluable in helping me to research the best way to keep this little baby.

Best to you and your dragons!
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Re: Are orchids and air plants safe for bearded dragons?

Postby killzinus » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:36 pm

i dont know about an orchid or air plant being harmful to a bearded dragon, you should ask someone else, but from personal experience, any plant i put in my dragons cage, she has gone out of her way to trample. even the hardy plants didnt survive long in her cage. another risk with plants that need to be misted is that you may raise the humidity level too much in the enclosure so if you do end up putting one in there, you will want to monitor that.
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Re: Are orchids and air plants safe for bearded dragons?

Postby CutestBabyDragon » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:01 pm

Thank you so much for the reply, and for the reminder about the humidity issue.

I am aware of the need to monitor humidity. My general feeling knowing these plants, though I may be wrong, is that the level of misting that these plants would require once a day (always in the morning) would not be so much as to adversely affect the humidity levels of the environment, and the misting might actually be beneficial in that it would provide a moving water source for the baby in the morning. Either of these plants could easily be removed from the environment for misting and then replaced once misted, so that the only water introduced would be that on the leaves.

Thank you also for the warning about trampling. That would certainly be more of a concern for an orchid than an air plant, as orchids can be delicate. Air plants are pretty tough little buggers though. I lean towards them for that reason, and also because of the ease of just picking one up and washing it, and the lack of a need for a soil or planting substrate that could cause problems for the baby.

I am not sure of the toxicity issue either, and am very concerned about that. I will not introduce a plant without knowing in advance whether or not toxicity is an issue. If anyone has any idea, I would be most grateful. I cannot seem to find anything on whether these plants present a risk to bearded dragons or not...

Best to you and your dragons!
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Re: Are orchids and air plants safe for bearded dragons?

Postby ziggy23 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:29 pm

IME plants don't last long at all with dragons. i tried it once, I lost 5 in less than a week.
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Re: Are orchids and air plants safe for bearded dragons?

Postby CutestBabyDragon » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:56 pm

Thanks for the reply.

My concern is not so much for the plant, as it is the dragon.

If the air plant is destroyed, so be it. I just don't want a little nip off the air plant to kill my baby dragon.

So to reiterate...does anyone know if air plants (I'm pretty much nixing orchids for the moment) are toxic to bearded dragons?

Thanks so much, and best to you and your dragons!
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Re: Are orchids and air plants safe for bearded dragons?

Postby beardie parents » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:43 am

I've never put plants in our girls' homes. I've read about some putting plastic plants in there and they eat them, which isn't healthy for them. If you go to beautifuldragons.com and click on 'nutrition content' there is a lot of food listed, color coded in firefox and opera not in internet explorer, and on the bottom of the list there is a list of safe plants for them. I suggest using one of them.
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Re: Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

Postby jeserah » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:29 am

(currently have a dog, two cats, two rabbits, and an African Grey, in addition to new baby...)

I love how you group the baby in with your animals, it was adorable! tee hee

Most orchids require regular watering. I have a couple myself, and I would expect that if watered regularly, the bark substrate would absorb some of the water. If so, then having an orchid in with a dragon might by itself raise the humidity of the tank to more than it should be. I can't say if they're toxic, I wouldn't know, but just from personal experience I don't think I'd do it.

Oh, you should definitely change your UV to a REPTISUN 10.0 tube. They're the preferred UV for beardies and are much safer.
Hope this helps! And welcome to the site :D
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Re: Are orchids and air plants safe for bearded dragons?

Postby CutestBabyDragon » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:16 pm

Thanks for the post.

I agree about the plastic plants...doesn't seem like such a great idea. I've also seen that list on the beautiful dragons site.

I may go ahead and use one of those, but all of those plants need soil to live in...soil which could cause issues with the little dude/dudette.

I thought an air plant would be ideal because it doesn't actually require any soil at all. I'm pretty much nixing the orchid idea for now, and my remaining question is whether anyone knows if air plants are toxic, or not.

Thanks so much for all the help, and best to you and your dragons.
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Re: Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

Postby CutestBabyDragon » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:22 pm

Haha...actually, when I was referring to "baby," I meant the baby dragon. We're not so much into human babies...like...not at all. We much prefer our feathered, furred, and scaled friends.

Thanks for the welcome to the site. I've pretty much scrapped the orchid idea...as the dragon gets larger, I think the bark substrate could present an issue. Plus I've gotten several warnings on humidity.

I still think the air plant could be awesome...no substrate whatsoever to present problems, and it would be so easy to clean and rearrange.

So the question that remains...

Does anyone know if air plants are toxic for bearded dragons?

Best to you and your dragons.
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Re: Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

Postby pogvitt » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:46 pm

Sorry, I don't know if air plants are toxic or not, but I can tell you one thing - it will get nommed! Personally, I like hen-and-chicks as a beardie terrarium plant, as it tolerates low humidity, it doesn't have any nasty spikes or spines, is non-toxic, and tends to be nom-proof.
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Re: Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

Postby changilass » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:51 pm

Never heard of hen and chicks, does it go by any other name?
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Re: Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

Postby pogvitt » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:06 pm

Its proper name is Echeveria, it's a small succulent.
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Re: Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

Postby diamc » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:34 pm

Here's a picture of the hens & chicks so that you know what you're looking for. There are many variations too and some are even different colors. Image
Image

I merged your 2 threads together to make it less confusing for all and moved it here as it seemed better suited for the Health forum.
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Re: Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

Postby Gail » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:22 pm

What kind of air plant is it? There seems to be several, the ones I think of are the fern like clumps that are died a bright green and not actually alive. Then there is ones like this http://ny-image3.etsy.com/il_fullxfull.125099763.jpg
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Re: Are air plants and orchids safe for bearded dragons?

Postby CutestBabyDragon » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:52 pm

First, thanks for consolidating the thread and placing it in the appropriate place. I wasn't sure what to do as frankly, I'm not much of one for posting on forums in general.

When it comes to what kind of air plant...it is actually alive. There are several subspecies, and some do very well in arid environments. They only require misting every few days, and could easily be picked up out of the environment so as to avoid undue humidity. The Wikipedia article on them is above in my first post...

I'm not sure of what the specific subspecies, when it comes to the one my plant store has but I can certainly ask them.

Thanks again for any help, and best to you and your dragons.
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