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Bearded Dragon Care Guide

Updated: Feb 14


Bearded dragon licks tortoise

Pogona vitticeps

Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are fascinating and popular pets known for their distinctive "beards" – skin under their throat that puffs up when they are threatened or excited. Originating from the arid woodlands and deserts of Australia, these creatures exhibit a range of intriguing behaviors such as arm-waving and head-bobbing. Adult bearded dragons can grow up to 24 inches in length and with proper care they can live for 10 to 15 years. This guide aims to cover all aspects of bearded dragon care, ensuring a healthy and enriching environment for your scaly friend. From their natural habitat to their diet and handling, each section is tailored to meet their unique needs.


Enclosure

A suitable enclosure for an adult bearded dragon is a tank or vivarium that is at least 40 gallons (3ft long 18 inches wide) I have noticed with the dozens of bearded dragons that I have rescued that they can have many different personalities. Some of my dragons would love big space and will run and climb all over it but some just sit still most of the day and only really move for the essentials, basking, drinking, sleeping, and feeding being their favorite of course. Observe your dragon and see how it reacts in its environment, give it as much space as it will enjoy and as much as you can but never less than 3ft long 18 inches wide for an adult. For the substrate I always use Cyprus mulch (as with most of my animals). Other options include reptile carpet, ceramic tiles or even paper but never sand. Sand can be swallowed and cause impaction when it comes to feeding. It's essential to maintain a clean water bowl and include items like rocks for basking and a hide for it to get under and sleep if it wishes to. Incorporating hides, rocks, edible plants, and shallow water bowls also creates a naturalistic and stimulating environment for your pet lizard. Bearded dragons require a basking spot with temperatures around 95-110°F and a cooler area in the 75°F - low 80s. They also need UVB lighting to process calcium properly. Being diurnal, they are active during the day so a night and day cycle is important. A timer set to 12 hours automatically turning the heat and UVB lights on and off is best as it keeps it consistent and saves you 2 daily chores.

Diet

Bearded dragons are omnivorous. Their diet should consist of a mix of insects (like crickets, roaches and mealworms or superworms) and fresh plant matter (such as collard greens, squash, and bell peppers). Young dragons eat more insects for protein, while adults should have a larger portion of greens.

bearded dragon eats worm

For my adult bearded dragons I feed

greens (opuntia cactus, hibiscus leaves/flowers, mulberry leaves) 3 days out of the week and insects (discoid roaches, superworms and more roaches) 3 days out of the week and 1 day they do not eat.

This has been the schedules that has worked for me but some people prefer feeding greens and insects at the same time (This is best if you have a picky dragon that does not want greens). You can feed them daily or feed them 4-5 times a week you’ll just need to give properly sized portions to avoid a fat or skinny dragon. Get a feel for this by observing and weighing your dragon.  A babies diet should be roughly 80% insects 20% greens and an adults should be 50/50. Now I am planning on moving all my dragons outside into large enclosures with lots of plants so they can eat naturally and I'll release some insect in there for them a couple times a week. Follow along on YouTube!

 Hydration

Always provide fresh, clean water in a shallow dish. Some bearded dragons do not recognize standing water as a source of hydration. Misting your bearded dragon with water a few times a week can help, especially during shedding periods. They might lick the water droplets from their skin or the sides of the enclosure. Incorporating hydrating foods into their diet is another way to ensure they get enough water. Vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, and leafy greens have high water content and can contribute to their hydration. Pay attention to signs of dehydration in your bearded dragon, such as sunken eyes, lethargy, or dry, wrinkly skin. If you notice these signs, you should soak your bearded dragon in shallow water to quickly rehydrate it, consult a veterinarian if signs continue. It's also important to avoid overhydrating your bearded dragon. Their natural habitat does not have much water, so their bodies aren't adapted to processing a lot of humidity. Overhydration can lead to health issues. Supplements like calcium and vitamin D3 are essential a few times a week to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

How to tame your dragon

Bearded dragons are generally docile and can be handled regularly. However, always support their body fully and avoid sudden movements to prevent stress. Regular, gentle handling can foster trust and a bond between you and your pet. Be mindful of their mood and give them space if they seem stressed or agitated. Signs of this can be a darkened beard, head bobbing, running away or opening of the mouth.


 

Bearded Dragon for Sale

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These care guides that I write are used daily and followed as law here at Shadow’s reptiles.

 I am constantly working on improving them which in turn improves the quality of care for my animals and for my customers and their animals. I appreciate any and all feedback more than anything. In trade for your corrections, questions, and comments I promise to keep all care guides updated with the best possible care tips I can offer linked with updated YouTube videos and the products that I use for my animals.


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