Article Hero Image

REPTILE / new pets

Bearded Dragon Care Guide

Tips from home to health to food to fun

Overview

5 things to know about your bearded dragon

  1. Eight different species of bearded dragons can be found in the wilds of Australia
  2. Males and females both have beards, which they puff out to appear bigger to predators
  3. They use body language with each other including head-bobbing to show dominance and hand-waving to show submission
  4. They were first introduced to the U.S. around 1990
  5. They are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and small insects

How do I set up my bearded dragon’s home?

Once your bearded dragon is fully grown, you’ll want a terrarium of at least 40 gallons (151 L) in volume (that’s 36 inches or 91 cm long) with a screened lid for them to live in. If space permits, considering a 48” x 24” (122 x 61 cm) habitat would help your bearded dragon have enough room to run and exercise without needing to let him/her run around the house on occasion! Your bearded dragon is from a hot & dry environment so you’ll also need a heating source for their home. Bearded dragons typically prefer the solitary life.

Shop terrariums Shop environmental control & lighting

What can I put in my bearded dragon’s terrarium?

Line the bottom of your bearded dragon’s terrarium with a reptile carpet or tile. Alternatively, a bioactive substrate made for desert dwellers can be used for adults; carpet is a better choice for younger bearded dragons. For bearded dragons shorter than 8 inches (15 cm), use reptile carpet. These guys are so small, they might accidentally swallow the bedding materials, which is bad for them. Scoop up waste when it is noticed and provide clean bedding as needed (at least once a month).

Be sure to give your bearded dragon a piece of secured driftwood or rock, to climb a little closer to the heat source to bask, or to hide behind. Add a few branches for hiding and climbing.

Shop reptile carpet Shop décor

Humidity, Heating & Lighting

Bearded dragons are ectotherms. That means they’ll need both a reliable source of heat and a cooler area to stay comfy. Here are some more tips 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 bearded dragon thrives when humidity is between 20% and 30%. If humidity is less than 20%, a light misting once day is sufficient.
  • Make sure your heat source is focused on the same spot as your UVB bulb to allow the basking spot to be the habitat’s warmest spot during the day (about 100 F or 38 C) while also supplying appropriate levels of ultraviolet light. The cool end should be about 75 to 85 F (24 to 29 C).
  • Turn the lights off at night. Use a ceramic heat emitter or night heat lamp to keep the temperature between 68 and 74 F (20 to 23 C).
  • Bearded dragons are active during day and sleep at night — just like you. Unlike you, they like basking under a UVA/UVB bulb for about 12 hours each day.
Shop environmental control & lighting

What do bearded dragons eat?

Bearded dragons are omnivores - they eat both plants and animals. Feed your young bearded dragon once a day. Young hatchlings and juveniles will mostly eat small insects but once your bearded dragon is a bit more mature, they’ll require more vegetables than insects. Make sure to clean the water and food bowl regularly.

  • Juveniles: 50% insects (crickets, dubia roaches, hornworms, meal/superworms), 50% plant matter (dark, leafy greens, squash, carrots, etc)
  • Adults: 90% plant matter, 10% other
  • Insects: crickets, dubia roaches, hornworms, mealworms and wax worms are great feeder insect choices.
  • Supplements:
    For juveniles: calcium with vitamin D3 (4-5x/week), multivitamin (1x/week)
    For adults: calcium with vitamin D3 (2-3x/week), multivitamin (2x/month)
  • Fruits: berries, bananas, melons at least once a week
  • Prepared diets: pelleted blend once daily
  • Water: Change daily and provide at all times!
Shop food Shop vitamins & supplements

How can I keep my bearded dragon healthy?

Try not to handle your new reptile for three or four days — they need a chance to get used to their new home. Aside from yearly annual physical exams — if you notice any of these symptoms, it might be a good time to visit a veterinarian with reptile experience:

  • More hiding time than usual
  • Less eating and drinking, maybe even weight loss
  • Swollen joints
  • Skin is discolored and shedding
  • Abnormalities with the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Runny or abnormal droppings for more than two days
  • Lack of droppings for extended periods of time

PET SAFETY TIPS

  • ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
  • Adults should assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet, its habitat or aquarium water.

VET ASSURED

Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets.

Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.

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.