Care and Husbandry of Angle Head Dragons and Boyd’s Forest Dragons (Lophosarus sp.)

Help Support AUSSIE PYTHONS:

WeirdzandBeardz

Not so new Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2016
Messages
35
Reaction score
46
Location
Sydney
Mitchell Hodgson

V1 composed 15/04/2019
V1.2 edited on 20/03/2021

Introduction:

The Lophosarus genus of dragons is two of Australia’s coolest (a slight pun intended) dragons. These remarkable dragons inhabit temperate and tropical rainforest along the east coast from NSW Central Coast up to FNQ. Lophosarus sp. are typically considered thermoconformers, and subsequently have slightly different husbandry needs to other dragons. Being a thermoconformer means that these species will match their body temperatures to the environment without thermoregulating typically like other dragons.

Choosing a Dragon:

Selecting a dragon is straightforward. Both species of this group are widely available for purchase. The most widespread is the Angle Head Dragon(Lophosarus spinipies) and these can be acquired rather easily as they are a hardy captive that breeds regularly. It is for this reason I would suggest those interested in keeping this group of lizards select this species. The other species within the genus that can be kept in Australia is the Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Lophosarus boydii), which is at present also widely available, though due to slowly updating laws restricted to advanced licenses in most states.

When selecting an individual for purchase a good sign is a nice fat belly and alert or attentive posture. Forest dragons are generally ‘dainty’ in build relative to other dragons, so be aware that a healthy induvial may not be overly fat as some other captive dragons look. These animals are active and inquisitive, without such a display of behaviours it could indicate that they are sick or malnourished. These species will naturally have their pelvic bones just visible, however if there is an extensive amount of bone visable it may indicate a sick animal.

Enclosure:

As hatchlings these animals can be housed in enclosures around 60cm x 45cm x 45cm, commonly the typical 2ft tank dimensions seen in the hobby. With that said, most species as adults should be housed in 90cm x 45cm x 60cm as they are very active. Extra height to 90cms is good as it greatly increases the available space, similarly extra depth to 60cm can be offered and this allows for the better inclusion of perching objects. Boyd’s forest dragons will need a bigger enclosure as adult relative to angle heads at they reach much bigger sizes. These measurements are guidelines and should be considered against the number of lizards in the tank and their size. I maintian my adult angleheads in a 120cm L x45cm D x 120cm H enclousre and my boyds in a 120cm L x45cm D x 90cm H. These are great enclosure sizes for a trio of each species.

Broadly, both species need an enclosure with multiple perching objects, both vertically and horizontally. Branches can be easily cut to size as well as commercial products such as grapevine, driftwood or ghostwood. Both species appreciate and use additional surface area provided by backgrounds – whether they be home-made or commercial. Care should be taken with cheap soft-foam backgrounds as feeder insects will consume them and they suffer wear from climbing quite rapidly. These species do excellently with backgrounds made of commercial bark cladding (fence extender) that can be purchased from Bunnings.

These dragons can be maintained on a variety of substrates. I recommend to most keepers to use either a quality organic soil mix. You can also use commercial petshop products like critter comfort or coconut fibre, however take care as some products become dusty when they dry out. Coconut fibre when wet can become an anoxic environment promoting bad bacterial growth, whilst when dry can be powdery and irritable to both you and the lizards. Whilst chances are slim, there also exists the potential of impaction from large indigestible material.

Heating and Lighting:

These dragons have a preferred body temperature range under 30c and as such a generally cool environment should be offered. I supply my angle head dragons with no supplemental heating year round, while my Boyds get a small heat source through winter in Sydney. Heat can be offered easily through halogen spotlights and incandescent bulbs, Mercury Vapour bulbs (which also supply uvb) should not be used with these species unless in very large enclosures. Underbelly heating should not be used with this group of lizards unless advised by a vet for medical reasons.

These animals need a quality UVB source, without it a majority of them get sickly, will not breed and will most likely die. This is especially important during the early life stages as these species undergo rapid growth within the first 6-18months and without proper UVB access they can suffer diseases of captivity (specifically a group of disorders grouped into what hobbyists call Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD – Have a google). A UVB source of 5%-7% should be offered. Stronger UV than this is not advised as it could cause long term harm to the lizards. The best option to supply UVB to dragons are UVB emitting T5 tubes. Both T8 and compact spiral UVB globes are acceptable in smaller enclosures as they have less output relative to T5 tubes. With that said, adequate shelter should be given to allow them to escape the UV if they so desire. No direct obstruction such as glass or perspex should be present between the UV source and the lizards as both above-mentioned filter UV light effectively. Check manufacture specifications, but most bulbs loose output capacity over 10-20cm so make sure that you have them installed correctly. As final note avoid cheap backyard retailer UVB as there is plenty of evidence to suggest that between brands there is a significant difference in quality. Brands such as Arcadia, Zoomed, Get Your Pet Right and Exo Terra are all quality products that I would recommend. Generally, more expensive brands will last longer (up to 12 months) as well as having a better-quality light emitted. Please check manufacturer specifications on how long the UV output of our globe is! A nifty trick is to write the install date on the base of the globe so you know when to change it.

I offer UVB for 10-12 hours a day for all juveniles and subadults. For adults, during summer it is acceptable to offer up to 14 hours a day, while during winter it is acceptable to cut down to 6 hours or less. This light cycling process is important for breeding and accepted by most keepers to increase longevity. There are risks with cycling animals incorrectly and I recommend having a look online or having a chat to me if you wish to undertake the process. Forest dragons rarely are impacted by cooling during winter cycling however.

Make sure to give these animals access to natural sunlight. Unfiltered sunlight has major benefits for dragons as they can metabolise calcium and see significantly better in natural sunlight. Make sure to provide them an option to exit direct light though to prevent overheating.

For more on lighting have a good read of http://www.uvguide.co.uk/





Feeding and Hydration:


Lophosarus dragons are insectivores, meaning that their diet is insects. Most dragons are visual hunters and will actively predate fast moving prey such as crickets or woodies. These two feeders make excellent staples for most species. Both species will consume black soldier larvae (marketed as BSF, lizard grubs, oz grubs, calci worms, etc.), however they aren’t widely taken by all individuals. Young boyds are particularly reluctant, however adults are fairly happy to consume them. What I recommend is trying your lizard on them and seeing if they will eat them, the reason being that BSF are nutritionally some of the best feeders. Dietary enrichment can occur with the inclusion of appropriately sized mealworms or superworms, however these should NEVER be a staple and fed sparingly as a treat – think of them as junk food.

As hatchlings these animals should be fed every day. Lophosarus will reach maturity with 12-24 months of hatching (it’s natural for them!) and need the energy to grow healthily. As they approach the 12-18month mark feeding should be dialled back to every second day, then feeding should be offered 3 times a week to adults max. If animals thin due to changes in feeding regime, adjust accordingly. I generally feed my dragons ad lib in a five minute sitting, however a good rule for most is 10-15 appropriately sized crickets. These dragons eat weanies when they hatch and will be capable of eating large crickets as adults. Discuss with the breeder or seller at the time of purchase about what they are feeding on and how to upgrade food sizes.

Some breeders and authors claim these species will consume vegetation or fruit. I have never had this happen nor seen it personally.

Water should be offered through daily sprays for hatchlings and sprays every second day for adults. Water bowls should be offered for both species. Angle heads will actively drink from standing water, while boyds usually require moving water to prompt them to drink. Some keepers opt to use bubblers to get the animals to drink. Be aware that young animals can drown in smooth side bowls, so take care so that they can escape!

Decoration:

Lophosarus sp. are awesome captives to really deck out a tank for! They are non-destructive and active– qualities that make them excellent display lizards. Decorating enclosures can easily be done with rocks, branches and bark as well as commercially produced decorations available online or through pet shops. When using natural materials sourced form outside, be responsible. Don’t go pillaging natural habitats for the perfect decorations, try check places like gumtree for people re-landscaping and giving away bush rock or arborists trying to move on already lopped trees. I generally don’t treat branches or logs from outside, other than giving them a nice wash down to remove and debris. Please make sure all objects are placed on the base of the tank so that id dragons dig (which these guys will do!) they can’t accidentally pin themselves.

Health:

I’ll only briefly touch on the concept of health as I’m not a trained reptile vet, but what I think anyone with a reptile needs to know is that prevention, not reaction is key! Reptiles can suffer awfully in captivity if adequate steps aren’t taken initially. Don’t skimp out on husbandry and please do lots of reading from multiple sources. This is care sheet is a good place to start, but it’s purpose is to help guide you, not hold your hand!



Final Checklist:

Essential

  • Hatchling Enclosure (Recommended minimum 60cm x 45cm x 60cm)
  • UVB source (5%-7% UVB compact or T5 tube)
  • Calcium/multivitamin powder
  • Substrate – soil or euci mulch
  • Basking Perch/object
  • Hides (can be suspended caves, logs, burrows)
  • Timer for day-night cycle
  • Food bowl
  • Water bowl
  • Cage disinfectant (F10, 1:10 bleach to water mix)
  • Live food (crickets, roaches, black soldier fly larvae)
  • Misting bottle


Optional Extras

  • Decorative Plants, branches, rocks, etc.
  • Tank background
 

Latest posts

Top