REPTILE / new pets
Bearded Dragon Care Guide
Bearded dragon care is part of being a great pet parent to your reptilian friend! Beardies make great pets but need certain things in order to thrive. From their home to reptile supplies and their veterinarian, learn some of the basics of bearded dragon care.
Cool Facts About Bearded Dragons:
- Eight different species of bearded dragons can be found in the wilds of Australia
- Males and females both have beards, which they puff out to appear bigger to predators
- They communicate with other beardies by waving and head bobbing.
- Bearded dragons love to climb.
- These pets were not introduced to the U.S until around 1990.
Bearded Dragon Basics:
- Bearded dragons make great pets for anyone who loves reptiles. They’re perfect for beginners.
- They can grow up to 24” long and live an average of 10 years.
- These pets have a friendly nature, often forming a bond with their pet parent.
What Should I Feed My Bearded Dragon?
Young bearded dragons are omnivorous. They eat an even split of insects and plants, so they get all of their nutritional needs met as they grow. The older they get, the fewer insects they eat and the more herbivorous they become. Full-grown bearded dragons eat about 90% plant matter including bearded dragon pellet food. The diet that offers the best bearded dragon care includes:
- Insects - When feeding your pet bearded dragon insects, you should feed them gut-loaded insects, like crickets, once a day. An insect is “gut-loaded” when they have been fed strategic ingredients, like calcium and other nutrients, to increase their nutritional value before giving them to a reptile. Mealworms, superworms and waxworms can be offered to you pet, but only in small amounts. There are storage containers for these reptile insects that keep them from escaping.
- Vegetables and Fruits - Bearded dragons eat lots of dark, leafy greens, carrots, squash and peas that can all be offered daily. Fruits, like melons, berries and citrus, should only be offered to your pet once a week. Make sure to remove any food they do not eat after a few hours before it starts to rot.
- Bearded Dragon Food - Pellet food for bearded dragons should be offered on a daily basis, moistened with water.
- Vitamins - Dust an adult’s food with calcium/Vitamin D3 powder two to three times a week and a juviniles four to five times a week. A reptile multivitamin can be dusted on a juvenile’s food once a week and twice a month for adults, or as directed by your veterinarian.
What Kind of Terrarium Should I Buy for My Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragon care involves giving them an ideal home that they can thrive in. 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. If space permits, 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 them run around the house on occasion!
What Should I Put in My Bearded Dragon’s Terrarium?
- Substrate - Line the bottom of your bearded dragon’s terrarium with a reptile carpet or tile. 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’s noticed and provide clean bedding as needed (at least once a month).
- Heating - Bearded dragons are ectotherms. That means they’ll need both a reliable source of heat and a cooler area to stay comfy. Their terrariums require a temperature gradient (a cool side and a warm side). Heat lamps/basking bulbs for reptiles can be used to create this.
- Temperature - The actual temperature of a bearded dragon habitat should be 75-85° Fahrenheit on the cool side of their tank and 95-100° Fahrenheit on the basking side. The night time temperature should be between 65-75° Fahrenheit.
- Humidity - Bearded dragons need their humidity levels to stay between 20-30%. A reptile water dish, habitat fogger or mister can be used to increase humidity in their tank. Use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels.
- Lighting - Use UVB light bulbs to mimic a 12 hour day and night cycle. Bearded dragons are active during the day and sleep at night — just like you. Unlike you, they like basking under a UVA/UVB bulb with a timer for about 12 hours each day.
- Reptile Decor - Be sure to give your bearded dragon some habitat decor like a piece of driftwood or rock, secured in place, to climb a little closer to the heat source to bask, or to hide behind. Add a few branches for hiding and climbing.
Bringing Home Your New Bearded Dragon
Transitions are tough for any new pet. Try not to handle your new reptile for three or four days — they need a chance to get used to their new home.
When Should I Call the Vet?
Regular vet visits should always be on the calendar to monitor your bearded dragon’s care and make sure they stay in their best shape. Aside from yearly annual physical exams — if you notice any of these signs, it might be a good time to visit a veterinarian with reptile experience:
- More hiding time than usual.
- Less eating and drinking
- Weight loss
- Swollen Joints
- Skin Discoloration
- Abnormalities in the eyes, nose or mouth
- Runny or abnormal droppings for more than 2 days
- Lack of droppings over extended periods.
Remember, ALL animals can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic diseases that are contagious to humans. Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with your pet or their habitat. Adults should always assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet or its habitat.
Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is a bearded dragon a good pet?
- Bearded dragons make great pets for anyone who loves reptiles. They’re perfect for beginners. They can grow up to 24” long and live an average of 10 years. These pets have a friendly nature, often forming a bond with their pet parent.
What is the life expectancy of a bearded dragon?
- Bearded dragons can grow up to 24” long and live an average of 10 years.
Is a bearded dragon good for beginners?
Bearded dragons make great pets for anyone who loves reptiles. They’re perfect for beginners.