Bearded Dragon Care 101

Bearded Dragons are one of the most favored reptile pets and it is quite easy to see why. Many pet owners just love these docile dragons. They do have a particular traits that set them apart from other reptiles and they are also easy to handle and care for. Many keepers have found them to be willing to be pet and quite tamed when handled. If you can follow the general guidelines in the proper setup of their habitat as well as managing their diet, you can manage them with no issues at all.

These docile pets are also easy to breed. If you can provide them with the right husbandry, you can keep them as long as a decade and even longer.

To help you with the most common concerns related to handling and caring for bearded dragons, we have prepared this guideline that you can refer to any time. If you feel and think that this has helped you in any way, we will appreciate it if you will share the knowledge as well. You will find important information on how to properly set up the dragon’s enclosure, as well as the heating, lighting, and accessories for your pet dragon.

Enclosure

One to two baby or juvenile bearded dragons can live comfortably in an enclosure as small as 40 gallons (36″ x 18″ x 13″H). A bigger enclosure of about 70 gallons (36″ x 18″ x 25″H) to about 90 gallons (48″ x 18″ x 25″H) will make an excellent space for adults. You may need to place a secure screen top to prevent your dragons from getting out of its cage.

Female bearded dragons can be placed in a similar size cage together. Males, however, are territorial should not be placed in the same enclosure as they will just fight off for space. But, you can house a male and several females together. You can do this only if you are an experienced reptile enthusiast as there can be problems that may arise and cause stress for any of the dragons. It may also cause the dragons to get sick and even die early. Note that even multiple females will fight for survival so you have to make sure that all dragons (if you put more than one in the same enclosure) are receiving an appropriate share of the food, heat, humidity, and so on. For really small or big reptiles, it is best that place each in separate cages.

Substrate

There are several options that you can use for a substrate. Though some prefer sand for larger or adult bearded dragons as they provide a more natural look in the enclosure, some would rather opt for alternatives. Reports of impaction were a major concern, so many dragon keepers would rather use a reptile carpet, liner, or a sand mat instead. There are a wide variety of beddings that you can find online as well as in local pet stores. Whatever you opt to choose for your dragon’s substrate, make sure that you check for any possible hazards in them.

For juvenile or baby dragons, you may use paper towels, shred papers, or similar products until they have grown to about 10 inches long. Younger dragons are more active feeders and the probability of them ingesting some of the substrates while nibbling crickets and other insects is quite high.

Heating

Like all other reptiles, your pet dragon needs much heat, especially during the day. A bearded dragon will need a thermal gradient of about 100° to 110° F for its basking spot and 80° F for the cool side. The proper way to heat your pet’s enclosure is by combining the heat of a heat mat and a ceramic heat emitter.

To ensure that your dragon is provided the right heat any time of the day, you will need to include a thermostat when setting up your pet’s housing. You will also need to monitor the temperatures with a thermometer to keep track of the warm and cool sides of the enclosure.

Lighting

Bearded Dragons also need the right lighting setup in its cage. A best UVB Bulb for Bearded Dragon properly installed in its housing will do the trick and will keep them healthy. Options for this bearded dragon accessory includes SunForce UV Mercury Vapor Bulb and Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 bulb. You have to make sure that your dragon stays in a safe distance from the bulb, however. You also need to make sure that the bulb is functioning well. If it needs to be replaced (a bulb usually needs a replacement after every 6 months) have it changed right away.

Shelter

Your pet will also need to take shelter from time to time, especially during the night. It can be anything as a basic hide box to a more complex or decorative cave. Always keep one side of the shelter facing the warm side of the enclosure and the other half the side. It should be strong enough to withstand any unforeseen movements within or outside the cage that may endanger the dragon if it collapses.

Food

These docile pets are not picky eaters. They will feast on a large number of giant mealworms, super worms, crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and even pinkie mice. Juvenile and baby bearded dragons, however, need to be fed with insects twice a day. Adults, on the other hand, will find once daily to be enough.

Feed your dragons as many crickets or mealworms that it can consume in 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure that the insect that you feed your dragon will not be longer than the distance between its eyes. Once your dragon is full, take all leftover from the enclosure.

Dragons also eat greens. They eat more greens but lesser insects as they mature. Lettuce, cucumber, dandelion, green beans, carrots, sweet potato and other healthy greens can be given to your dragon. Just make sure to chop or grate them before offering to your pet dragon. You may also give them fruits like papaya and grapes, but this will consist only a small part of their diet.

Water

Water should be provided to your dragon three to four times a week to allow them to soak and clean themselves. Of course, they also need some water to go with the food. You can have their food misted as well as their cage so that they can get the right humidity that they need for the day with best reptile humidifier. They may need more of that when they are getting ready to shed their skin.

Vitamins

Your pet dragon will need high-quality food. Keepers normally gut load insects or prey before feeding them to the dragon. You will also need to coat the animal food source for your dragon with vitamin and calcium powders before offering them to your reptile.

Shedding

All reptiles and amphibians shed their entire skin at once. Younger reptiles shed more often than adults, however. Some dragons won’t have problems pulling off their skin. There are some, however, that may need help with that, especially if they do not have the proper humidity while shedding.

If you noticed your dragon has retained skin after shedding place it in a small container lined with warm, wet paper towels. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes or until the skin is soft enough to be removed with a pair of tweezers.

Cage Maintenance

Make sure that you keep your dragon’s cage clean. Remove feces with a scooper 2 to 3 times a week or as needed. The sand substrate should be replaced, however, and the enclosure should be washed with and deodorized at least once every four to five months. Paper towel substrates should be changed at least once a week.

Proper husbandry is needed to ensure that your dragon will live long and well. Regularly check the condition of your dragon’s enclosure to ensure that the right heat, lighting, and humidity is provided for it as well.