The Bearded Dragon is among the top-selling reptiles in the pet industry. Although there are several reasons for this, one of them is that most people consider it absolutely adorable. Bearded dragons have a lot of personalities as well as being very tame. In fact, some herpetologists maintain that Pogona Vitticeps likes to be touched and petted. Caring for bearded dragons is relatively simple, but there are some general guidelines to follow for feeding and
Housing for Bearded Dragons.
In addition, they are easy to raise and, if properly cared for, can live for eight to twelve years. Captive-bred bearded dragons (unlike those captured in the wild) tend to be docile and gentle in nature.
A juvenile bearded dragon or a pair of hatchlings can be installed in a medium-sized terrarium of approximately 40 to 50 gallons (36″ x 18″ x 18″ H). For adult bearded dragons we recommend a larger enclosure, with a minimum of 67 gallons (48″ x 18″ x 18″ H) up to the recommended 90 gallons (48″ x 24″ x 18″ H), which is an excellent size for adults. A secure mesh cover is required to prevent your dragons from escaping from the enclosure.
You can hold several similarly sized female Bearded Dragons together, but the males are territorial and usually fight each other. A male and several females can be housed together, but we do not recommend it. This can cause multiple problems such as fighting and stress, shortening the life of the reptile, etc. Remember that bearded dragons are solitary reptiles. Although females are less territorial, they will still compete for food if you have several females. Make sure that the smaller dragons get their share of food, water, and heat, etc. You may want to consider separating smaller or larger animals.
Bearded Dragon Substrate
Sand is usually the best substrate for juvenile and adult bearded dragons. At that age, the risk of consuming sand and suffering impact has passed. You can use previously washed industrial sand to remove the dust but the risk-benefit does not merit it. I recommend that you use quality sand. The one provided by Zoo Med Repti-Sand or Zoo Med Vita-Sand is excellent. If you decide to use play sand, use only fine sand. Quality sand, with fine grain and no dust, is difficult to find, so we recommend that you keep the Repti-Sand or Vita-Sand products.
Bearded Dragon Breeds should be kept on absorbent paper towels or similar products until they reach 10 inches in length. As active eaters, they usually ingest some of the substrates while catching crickets or food worms. While adults can usually digest some fine sand along with their food, the youngsters can’t handle this as well or at all. We have heard that baby dragon are impacted by sand and cannot pass it, so please follow this advice.
Bearded Dragon Terrarium Heating
Like most reptiles, bearded dragons need external heat sources. These must be able to create a temperature gradient ranging from (100° to 110° F) and a cold side (80° F). The best way to heat your dragon enclosure is with a combination of a heat mat and a ceramic heat emitter. We recommend the iPower heat mat and the ceramic heat emitter from Fluker’s, REPTIZO or BYB to heat your dragon cage. The heat mat and ceramic heat emitter should be located on one side while the other side should have no heat source. We recommend using the ceramic heat emitter in conjunction with a thermostat, such as the BN-LINK digital thermostat, to control the temperature. In addition, the temperature should be monitored with a thermometer to keep track of its hot and cold sides.
Lighting for Bearded Dragons Enclosures
Bearded Dragons are daytime animals. Unlike reptiles like the leopard gecko, they need ultraviolet light for a healthy metabolism. Apart from the heat, Bearded Dragons must receive enough UV B A to synthesize vitamin d6. This helps fix calcium in the bones and prevents metabolic bone disease. We strongly recommend a Zoo Med UB fluorescent light bulb and a 150w Mega-Ray mercury vapor bulb. Your dragon should be within 15 inches of the bulb and don’t forget to change the UV bulbs every 6 months to maintain proper UVA/UVB.
Bearded Dragon Shelters and Hides.
The Bearded Dragons MUST have hiding places in their compound. This is essential for their well-being. The shelter can be anything from a basic Big Apple reptile hiding box to a decorative reptile shelter or a homemade cave. It’s always a good idea to have one shelter on the hot side and another on the cold side. If you decide to make a hideout yourself, make sure it’s strong enough so there’s no chance of it collapsing and crushing your dragon.
Like all reptiles and amphibians, dragons shed all their skin at once. Babies shed more often than adults because their skin grows faster. Normally, dragons can shed their skin easily, but sometimes they have problems if they don’t have adequate moisture while shedding. You need to check your dragon after it has shed to make sure that it was able to shed all of its skin.
Providing a wet shelter will allow your dragon to have a place with high humidity when it is shedding. Use imported premium quality sphagnum moss from the Big Apple or cypress bedding from the Med Zoo floor. If your dragon has retained its skin after molting, you can place it in a small plastic container lined with warm, moist paper towels. With the top of the container, let the dragon sit for about 30 minutes. The high humidity in the container should loosen the skin enough to allow it to be easily removed with a pair of tweezers. If the skin has not loosened up enough, reheat the paper towels with warm water and provide another 30-minute session. NEVER use hot water as this can burn your Dragon’s sensitive skin.
Bearded Dragon Watering
It is true that the typical environment of the Bearded Dragon is dry, but it requires some moisture and water. The water should be available three or four times a week by bathing in a container of water. However, make sure that your reptile can easily get in and out of the container. Bearded dragons usually enjoy bath time and some will drink during their bathing periods. We also recommend that you spray the vegetables you provide for your dragon, as this is a great way for them to meet their water needs. It is a good idea for baby bearded dragons to be sprayed occasionally and for the entire cage to be sprayed several times a week. This is especially true if your Dragon is preparing to shed its skin. Also, if you mist your bearded dragon directly, he will often drink water that drips into his mouth.
Food for Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons are hardy eaters and often devour large numbers of crickets, mealworms, giant mealworms, supergorms, waxworms, and even small pinky mice. However, waxworms and pinky mice should only be offered occasionally because of their high-fat content. When Bearded Dragons are babies they need to be fed insects twice a day and when they are adults, daily. We recommend feeding them only as many crickets or food worms as your dragon can eat in 10 to 15 minutes. It is important to select the right size of prey. The general rule for selecting the right size of crickets is that cricket should not be longer than the distance between your dragon’s eyes. For baby dragons, this usually means 3/8″ crickets, for young dragons 1/2″ crickets, and adult dragons can handle full-size crickets. NEVER leave crickets uneaten in the cage with your dragon as they can cause serious damage and/or kill your reptile.
Dragons also require a large number of vegetables. As they grow from babies to adulthood, the number of insects should be reduced while the number of vegetables should be increased. Vegetables can consist of green leafy lettuce, cucumbers, squash, dandelions, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, and any other healthy vegetables you can put in a salad. Be sure to cut the vegetables into small pieces or grate them. Dragons won’t be able to chew large chunks, and it’s not easy for them to digest either. Fruits like papaya, grapes, berries, and mangoes can also be offered, but they should make up a small percentage of the total diet.
Vitamins and Supplements
It is important to feed high-quality food to your prey, which is called “gut loading”. The food that is in the belly of the prey is the food that your reptile will be eating. In addition to this, you need to cover your crickets and food worms with vitamins and powdered calcium before you feed your reptile. We recommend the vitamins Herptivite, Rep-Cal Calcium, and Zoo Med Repti Calcium.
Bearded Dragon Cage Maintenance
Bearded Dragons require minimal maintenance, so if you use a sand substrate you can quickly clean up the feces using one of our shovels. You can do this 2 to 3 times a week or as needed to clean up the debris. The sand substrate should be completely disposed of and the entire cage (including all accessories) should be washed with Quat TB Pet Area Cleaner, Deodorizer & Stain Remover or a mild detergent at least once every four or five months. If using paper towels, change all paper towels at least once a week.
Bearded Dragon Hibernation
Hibernation of the bearded dragon in its natural habitat is natural, but not necessary for pet dragons. We believe that you should warm your dragons throughout the winter so that they continue to eat, drink and be active. It is normal for a general reduction in feeding behavior during the winter months due to temperature fluctuations in your home. As long as they maintain a fairly consistent weight, this is generally not a problem and normal feeding typically resumes in the spring.
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