Bearded dragons have gained popularity as captivating and unique reptile pets. With their docile nature and fascinating appearance, they can make wonderful companions for reptile enthusiasts.
That said, providing optimal care and meeting their specific needs is crucial to their health and well-being.
In terms of husbandry, bearded dragons require a large enclosure with a basking area that is heated to 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit and a cooler side that is 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
They also need a UVB light source, access to clean, fresh water, a humidity level of 30-40%, a substrate that they cannot ingest, a variety of hides, and regular cleaning and disinfection of the enclosure.
Their diet should be varied and consist of insects, vegetables, and fruits.
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Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
|Common Name:||Bearded Dragon|
|Scientific Name:||Pogona vitticeps|
|Size as Adult:||18-24 inches (45-60 cm)|
|Diet:||Omnivorous (insects, leafy greens, vegetables, occasional fruits)|
|Enclosure Size Requirements:||Minimum 40-gallon tank for juveniles, larger for adults|
|Enclosure Temperature Requirements:||Basking spot at 95-105°F (35-40°C), cooler area at 75-85°F (24-29°C)|
|Humidity Requirements:||30-40% humidity, relatively dry environment|
Bearded dragons, scientifically known as Pogona vitticeps, originate from the arid regions of Australia. They are diurnal reptiles, meaning they are active during the day and require adequate lighting and heating to thrive. These reptiles have unique characteristics, such as their beard-like projection under their chin, which they display when feeling threatened or during courtship rituals.
Bearded dragons are native to the arid regions of Australia. They live in a variety of habitats, including deserts, grasslands, and forests. The most common habitat for bearded dragons is the semi-arid desert. These deserts are characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The soil in these deserts is sandy or rocky, and there is often little vegetation.
Bearded dragons are well-adapted to life in dry environments. They have a thick layer of skin that helps to retain moisture, and they can go for long periods of time without water. They also have a special organ called a gular pouch that they can use to store water.
Bearded dragons are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. They are basking lizards and spend most of their time basking in the sun to regulate their body temperature. They are also very good climbers and can often be found perched on rocks or branches.
Bearded dragons are social animals and they live in groups called herds. The herds are usually made up of related individuals, but they can also include unrelated individuals. The herds help to protect the dragons from predators and to provide them with mates.
Bearded dragons can live for up to 15 years in captivity. They reach sexual maturity at around 1 year old. Breeding season is in the spring and summer. Females lay a clutch of 10-30 eggs, which hatch after about 6 weeks.
The lifespan of a bearded dragon can vary depending on a number of factors, including diet, habitat, and health care. Bearded dragons that are well-cared for and have a healthy diet can live for up to 15 years. However, bearded dragons that are not properly cared for may only live for a few years.
There are 8 subspecies of bearded dragons, each with its own unique characteristics. The most common subspecies is the central bearded dragon, Pogona vitticeps. This subspecies is found in the central and eastern parts of Australia. Other popular subspecies include the eastern bearded dragon, Pogona barbata, and the western bearded dragon, Pogona minor.
There are three species of bearded dragon which are commonly kept as pets:
- Central bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps): This is the most common species of bearded dragon and is native to Australia. They are relatively large, growing up to 24 inches long.
- Eastern bearded dragon (Pogona barbata): This species is smaller than the central bearded dragon, growing up to 20 inches long. They are native to Australia and are known for their beautiful orange and black coloration.
- Western bearded dragon (Pogona minor): This is the smallest species of bearded dragon, growing up to 18 inches long. They are native to Australia and are known for their yellow and black coloration.
All three species of bearded dragons are relatively easy to care for and make good pets for people who are new to reptiles. They are also relatively affordable, making them a good choice for budget-minded pet owners.
Husbandry and Enclosure Requirements
Creating a suitable habitat is crucial for the well-being of your bearded dragon. Specific enclosure size, temperature, lightning, and humidity needs must be taken into account when setting up a comfortable living environment for your pet lizard.
The enclosure should be large enough for the dragon to move around comfortably.
A minimum of a 40-gallon tank is recommended for juvenile dragons, and larger enclosures are necessary for adults. The enclosure should also be escape-proof and well-ventilated.
This means that the enclosure should have a screen top and should be well-aerated to prevent the buildup of harmful gases.
Bearded dragons are ectothermic, meaning they rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.
The enclosure should have a temperature gradient, with a basking spot at 95-105°F (35-40°C) and a cooler area at 75-85°F (24-29°C). This can be achieved using a combination of heat lamps, ceramic heat emitters, under-tank heating pads, and retes stacks.
The basking spot should be located on one side of the enclosure, and the cooler area should be located on the other side.
Proper lighting is essential for the health of bearded dragons. Invest in high-quality, reptile-specific UVB bulbs to cover two-thirds of the enclosure.
UVB lighting is necessary for bearded dragons to synthesize vitamin D3 and metabolize calcium effectively. Regularly replace these bulbs as they lose their effectiveness over time.
In addition to UVB lighting, bearded dragons also need access to UVA light. UVA light is not essential for their health, but it does help to promote activity and alertness.
Bearded dragons require a relatively dry environment with a humidity level of around 30-40%.
Excess humidity can lead to respiratory problems, so it’s crucial to control moisture sources like water dishes and misting while maintaining proper ventilation.
You can help to maintain the humidity level in the enclosure by using a hygrometer.
Dietary Needs and Feeding Schedule
Bearded dragons are omnivorous, which means they have a varied diet consisting of both animal protein (mainly insects) and plant matter. A balanced diet is essential for their health.
Offer a mix of insects such as crickets, dubia roaches, and mealworms, along with a variety of leafy greens and vegetables. Occasional fruits like berries and melons can be given as treats.
The percentage of insects and vegetables in a bearded dragon’s diet should vary depending on their age.
Adults: Adults should eat a diet that is 15% insects and 85% greens. This is because they do not need as much protein as hatchlings and juveniles, and they can get the calcium they need from their vegetables. The dark leafy greens high in n3 fatty acids are especially important for adults, as they can help to reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
Juveniles: Juveniles should eat a diet that is 15-30% greens and 70-85% insects. This is because they are still growing and developing, and they need the protein and calcium that insects provide. It is important to offer a variety of insects to juveniles, including crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches.
|Hatchlings (0-3 months)||85%||15%||4-5 times a day|
|Juveniles (4-12 months)||70-80%||20-30%||2-3 times a day|
|Adults (1-7 years)||15-30%||70-85%||1-2 times a day|
|Seniors (> 7 years)||15%||85%||1-2 times a day|
Hatchling and juvenile bearded dragons need a lot of feeder insects to help them grow and develop.
They should be offered as much as they will eat, 4-5 times a day. As they grow, they will start to rely less on insects and more on greens and vegetables.
Adult bearded dragons only need as little as 15% insects in their diet, and will eat less often as they age.
It’s a good idea to gut-load insects (feed them nutritious food) and dust them with calcium and multivitamin supplements to ensure your dragon receives essential nutrients.
Insects are a staple food for bearded dragons. They are a good source of protein and other nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorus. Some good choices of insects for bearded dragons include:
- Crickets: Crickets are a popular choice of insect for bearded dragons. They are relatively easy to find and can be gut-loaded with a variety of nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and grains.
- Dubia Roaches: Dubia roaches are a good alternative to crickets. They are higher in calcium and lower in fat than crickets.
- Mealworms: Mealworms are a good source of protein and fat. They should not be the only insect that is fed to bearded dragons, as they can be high in fat.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamin and minerals for bearded dragons. A majority of dark leafy green should be fed as staple, whereas fruits and berries which are higher in sugar should only be offered as an occasioanl treat.
- Collard Greens: Collard greens are a good source of calcium and vitamin A. They are also a good source of fiber, which can help to keep your bearded dragon’s digestive system healthy.
- Kale: Kale is another good source of calcium and vitamin A. It is also a good source of antioxidants, which can help to protect your bearded dragon’s cells from damage.
- Carrots: Carrots are a good source of vitamin A and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that can help to protect your bearded dragon’s cells from damage.
- Squash: Squash is a good source of vitamins A and C. It is also a good source of fiber, which can help to keep your bearded dragon’s digestive system healthy.
- Fruits: Fruits should be given to bearded dragons as treats, and only in moderation, due to their high sugar content. Some good fruits for bearded dragons include bananas, strawberries, and blueberries.
Zilla Omnivore Mix – Insects, Fruits and Veggies + Calcium
Zilla Vegetable and Fruits Mix
Zilla Vegetable Mix + Calcium
Reptilinks are a type of whole prey diet for reptiles, which come in the form of pre-packaged, frozen “sausage” links.
There are two main blends of reptilinks that are specially formulated for adult and subadult bearded dragons:
- 50/50 Omnivore blend: Rabbit (Ohio raised New Zealand white or California white breed, includes entire carcass), organic green beans, collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, 100% natural collagen casing.
- 25/25/50 Omnivore blend + Insects: Insects (hisser roaches, crickets, superworms), rabbit (Ohio raised New Zealand white or California white breed, includes entire carcass), organic green beans, collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, 100% natural collagen casing.
You can get $5 off your next Reptilinks order by using code ‘petswithscales’ at checkout or by ordering through our promotional link.
Bearded dragons are generally healthy pets, but as with most reptiles kept in captivity, they can be susceptible to some health problems. To prevent these, it’s important to provide an adequate diet, mineral supplements, and to meet husbandry requirements.
Make sure to take your bearded dragon to the vet for regular checkups. This will help to catch any health problems early on. These are some common health issues for bearded dragons:
- Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): MBD is a condition caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D3. It can lead to weak bones, deformities, and even death. To prevent MBD, make sure your bearded dragon’s diet is rich in calcium and vitamin D3. You can also provide your bearded dragon with a UVB light, which helps the body absorb calcium.
- Impaction: Impaction is a condition that occurs when food or other objects become stuck in the digestive tract. It can be a life-threatening condition, so it is important to seek veterinary care immediately if you think your bearded dragon is impacted. To prevent impaction, avoid feeding your bearded dragon large insects or objects that they cannot digest.
- Respiratory infections: Respiratory infections are common in bearded dragons, especially those that are kept in unsanitary conditions. Symptoms of a respiratory infection include lethargy, decreased appetite, and difficulty breathing. To prevent respiratory infections, keep your bearded dragon’s enclosure clean and free of dust. You can also provide your bearded dragon with a humid hide, which will help to keep the air moist.
- Skin problems: Bearded dragons can develop a variety of skin problems, including mites, scale rot, and bacterial infections. These problems can be treated with medication, but it is important to prevent them by keeping your bearded dragon’s enclosure clean and providing it with a proper diet. To prevent skin problems, keep your bearded dragon’s enclosure clean and free of moisture. You can also provide your bearded dragon with a shallow water dish to soak in.
- Eye problems: Bearded dragons can develop a variety of eye problems, including cataracts, conjunctivitis, and corneal ulcers. These problems can be treated with medication, but it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage. To prevent eye problems, keep your bearded dragon’s enclosure clean and free of dust. You can also provide your bearded dragon with a humid hide, which will help to keep the air moist.
Calcium and Vitamin Supplements
Calcium is the most difficult nutrient for bearded dragons to obtain from diet alone, so supplements are recommended.
Hatchlings should be fed gut-loaded or dusted feeder insects every day, juveniles and adults can be fed supplements two to three times a week. Proper UVB light is also essential for calcium absorption.
Reptile-friendly multivitamins can also be fed, no more than twice a week for hatchlings, and once a week for juveniles and adults. As they grow older, bearded dragons switch to a diet that comprises primarily vegetables, and most vitamins can be obtained through a varied diet.
Things to Consider
Taming and Handling
Bearded dragons are relatively easy to tame, but it does take some patience and time. The best way to start is to spend time around your dragon in its enclosure, talking to it in a calm voice and letting it get used to your presence.
Once your dragon is comfortable with you, you can start to gently handle it for short periods of time. Be sure to support its body properly and avoid picking it up by its tail.
As your dragon gets more comfortable with handling, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend with it. It’s also a good idea to let your dragon explore your hand or arm before you pick it up. This will help it to feel more secure.
Costs and Maintenance
The initial cost of getting a bearded dragon is relatively low. You will need to purchase a terrarium, lighting, heat lamp, food, and water bowl. The cost of these items will vary depending on the size of your dragon and the quality of the products you purchase.
The ongoing costs of owning a bearded dragon are also relatively low. You will need to buy food, water, and bedding on a regular basis. You will also need to take your dragon to the vet for regular checkups. The cost of vet care will vary depending on the location of your vet and the health of your dragon.
That said, when taking into account the rather long lifespan of bearded dragons in captivity (up to 15 years), it’s important to acknowledge that taking care of these animals is a huge financial commitment, much like adopting a cat or dog.
Comparison with Other Species
Owning a bearded dragon can be a rewarding experience. They are relatively easy to care for, and they can be very friendly and affectionate pets.
Bearded dragons are similar to blue tongue skinks in terms of ease of care. They are both docile and friendly, but blue tongue skinks can be more expensive to care for.
Bearded dragons are easier to care for than iguanas. They eat a variety of foods, including insects, which are easy to find at pet stores, and do not need to be fed very often as they grow older.
The overall cost of caring for a bearded dragon is also lower than the cost of caring for an iguana. This is because bearded dragons are smaller, eat a more affordable diet, and don’t need as large of an enclosure.
Clare Louise Oldfield (2014) Bearded Dragons: common husbandry and nutrition-related problems, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 29:11, 354-357.
PetsWithScales.com is an informational website about big lizard pet care. We collect and provide information from different sources across the web on how to keep and care for reptiles as pets. The species we mainly deal with are tegus, monitor lizards, skinks and geckos. Our aim is to provide high quality information to help pet owners make better, more informed decisions about their animal’s diets, health and life.