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REPTILE / new pets

A Set-Up Guide for New Bearded Dragon Parents

Tips from home to health to food and fun.

Overview

5 things to know about your bearded dragon

  1. Bearded dragons are medium-size desert lizards
  2. Colors can range from red to green to yellow to white
  3. Your bearded dragon can live as long as ten years
  4. Your bearded dragon may grow up to 24 inches
  5. They’re dragons that have beards, and that’s just awesome

Your bearded dragon’s home

Your bearded dragon is from a warm, dry environment. Once he’s fully grown, you’ll want a glass terrarium of at least 40 gallons in volume (that’s 32 to 36 inches long) for him to live in. You’ll also need a screened lid, as well as a heating source for his home. Your dragon prefers the solitary life, so it may be best not to give him a roommate.

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What to put in your dragon’s habitat

To remind him of the desert of his ancestors, line the bottom of your bearded dragon’s terrarium with three to six inches of calcium sand, or invest in reptile carpet. Carpet is a better choice for younger bearded dragons. Scoop up poop at least once a week, and treat him to fresh bedding once a month.

Reptiles can be finicky about comfortable room temperature. Be sure to give your scaly pal a piece of driftwood or rock, to climb a little closer to his heat source, or to hide behind when he’s feeling too toasty. And if you really want to make him happy, add a few branches, alive or dead, for hiding and climbing.

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Feeding your bearded dragon

Bearded dragons are omnivores - they eat both plants and meat. Feed your dragon two to three times a day. A young hatchling will mostly eat small insects. But once he’s a bit more mature, he’ll enjoy vegetables, too.

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Heating & lighting

Bearded dragons, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded. That means they’ll need both a reliable source of heat and a cooler area to stay comfy. Here are some more tips on heating and lighting to keep in mind:

Heating

  • Your dragon’s habitat should have a thermometer at each end, as well as a hygrometer—a device that measures humidity. Your beardy thrives when humidity is between 20% and 30%.
  • Place your heat light over the basking spot, which should be the warmest area in the habitat during the day: 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (38 to 49 Centigrade). The cool end should be about 75 to 85 F (24 to 29 C).
  • Turn the basking light off at night. Use a ceramic heat emitter or night heat lamp to keep the temperature between 66 to 75 degrees F (18 to 24 C).
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Lighting

  • Dragons are active during day and sleepy at night — just like you. Unlike you, they like basking under a UVA or UVB bulb for about 12 hours each day.
  • For night viewing, switch to a night-specific bulb to keep from disturbing your dragon
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Keeping your bearded dragon healthy

Try not to handle your new reptile pals for three or four days — they need a chance to get used to their new home. Even a settled-in lizard can feel sick — if you notice any of these symptoms, it might be a good time to visit the vet:

  • More hiding time than usual
  • Less eating and drinking, maybe even weight loss
  • Swollen joints
  • Skin is discolored and shedding
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Droppings that look runny for more than two days

If you have questions about the health of your bearded dragon, talk to a PetSmart store associate or a veterinarian who knows reptile health.

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The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.