Bearded Dragon General Information

Bearded Dragon Caresheet

PLEASE NOTE

All information in this caresheet has come from our personal experience and/or research. Many ‘opinions’, in many areas of care, vary from one person to another and can be controversial. Please remember though, these are all opinions and contained here are ours.
General Description

The Inland, or Central Bearded Dragon certainly inherited their name in all honesty. it was derived from the way they can enlarge or ‘blow out’ a flap of skin under their lower jaw when upset or disturbed. Aside from blowing their beard out, they may also darken the color there to almost black which creates a bearded display. The Bearded Dragon is native to many different habitats and regions of Australia.
They thrive in deserts, grasslands and woodlands… in both unpopulated and populated areas. It is said by many herpetologists who have come across Beardies in the wild, that one can walk right up to one and the little guy would not mind… and possibly even pick it up with little or no fuss being raised by the animal. Their temperament is extremely docile and trusting, therefore making it an excellent pet – even for children and beginners. The adults can reach up to approximately 2ft in length, with the average being 18 – 20 inches. Hatchlings are approximately 3 to 4 inches in length (head to tail) and should be 5-6 inches at the end of their first month. By the end of their second month, they should be at least 6-7 inches in length with considerable more body weight. We have found that with proper care and a little luck, dragons can reach 9 inches within 2 months, with the average being 8 inches. From 2 – 6 months, we have found the average growth rate to be approximately 1/2 inch a week, with some weeks being 1 inch or more to 1/4 inch or less.

General Care

Once the basics are learned in caring for the bearded Dragon and they are acclimated in their home, they are low maintenance pets.
Selection

Selecting the animal to be your new pet is one of the most important steps toward success in maintaining bearded dragons. When purchasing a dragon online, it is basically done through an ‘honor system’. The animal you receive should be robust appearing with ample fat stores at the base of its tail (generally, it is possible to determine the overall health of all lizards by examining the base of the tail for fat stores). Beware of protruding bones at the base of the tail. Take notice to the dragons eyes in particular – are they noticeably recessed? If so, it is possible that the dragon is becoming dehydrated. A healthy dragon should appear alert with both eyes wide open and attentive to its environment.

Bearded Dragon Housing

Baby/Juvenile (0-12 months)
A minimum of a 20 gallon long (30 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 12 3/4) vivarium is needed to achieve a reasonable gradient of temperatures. Aggressive tendencies, injuries and other complications such as the loss of limbs and tails and even death have been noted when attempting to house more than one dragon together.
Adult (12 months +)
A minimum size of a 40 gallon breeder (36 3/16 x 18 1/4 x 16 15/16) to house one adult is recommended. Bearded dragons are not social creatures by nature and only gather together for mating purposes. Aggressive tendencies, injuries and other complications have been noted when attempting to house more than one dragon together.

Substrates

Substrates are a highly debated topic among experienced owners, keepers and breeders. Opinions vary with experience and skill.
Baby/Juvenile (0-12 months)
Babies are safely raised on a non particle substrate material such as reptile carpet, shelf liner, butcher paper, paper towels, or ceramic tiles. By using a non particle substrate the chance of impaction from the substrate is gone. Additionally, the possibility of bacteria forming is greatly reduced.

Adult (12 months +)
Adults may use reptile carpet, shelf liner, butcher paper, paper towels, or ceramic tiles. With proper care, adults can safely live on sifted washed play sand purchased from your local retail store or hardware store. Avoid all pet store substrates; these will include Reptisand, Calcisand, Vitasand, and Lizard Liter (English walnut shells).

If you choose to use a particle substrate then please remember that the consumption of such a matter can cause impaction problems. The use of a separate feeding tank is recommended.

If you choose play sand, ensure poops are removed immediately. This will lessen the likelihood of bacteria forming. Sand should be replaced monthly.

Cage Accessories

If you find a unique rock or piece of wood outside that you would like to use, simply bake it in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours.
Rocks

We choose to use River Rocks for basking areas in our enclosures. They are smooth for easy cleaning and when placed under a basking light, get very warm and provide heat to the beardies underbelly, which aids in digestion. This way they receive heat from the top – via a basking light, and from the bottom – via the heated rock.

Branches

These make beautiful additions to a cages set-up. A few things to keep in mind when choosing to add branches to the environment is that the branch will not conduct/absorb heat as well as a rock. You will need to monitor the temperature to be sure it is adequate for your dragon to digest its food. Branches also make a great hiding place for small crickets. Crickets will crawl into any split or peeling bark that they can find… so be sure to shake out the branch in the evening to avoid excess crickets running around when the lights go out.

Hide Boxes

This is a no-no for small dragons. The dragon may decide to hide instead of bask and therefore will not eat well and grow properly. This is also the favorite place for crickets to hide. Its cool and dark, which makes for a perfect gathering place… so, unless you like to chase crickets around before the lights go out, hide boxes are something to avoid.

Lighting and Heating

Baby/Juvenile (0-12 months)
UVA lighting provides heat in the form of indoor flood lights, reptile bulbs or typical household bulbs. The wattage of the bulb required to reach proper basking temperatures of 105-110F (measured with a digital thermometer) for a baby depends on the size of the tank, the ambient temperature inside your house, cage decor and it’s proximity to the basking site. Timers found at local hardware stores can make life much easier. Heat bulbs and UVB bulbs can be set up by a timer. It is recommended for lights to be on for 14 hours and off for 10 hours. There should be a good gradient temp between the basking site and the cool end. The ambient temperature for the cool side should be 70-85F with the temp closer to 85F for a baby.
UVB lighting provides rays essential for good physical and mental health. UVB fixtures should be no less than 18 inches long and should be placed directly on top of the screen top so that the dragon can get within 6-8 inches of the light. Longer fixtures reaching the length of the tank will help ensure good exposure. Some fixtures come with a plastic lens over the bulb that should be removed before using. All UVB bulbs should be replaced at least every 6 months.

Adult (12 months +)
UVA lighting provides heat in the form of indoor flood lights, reptile bulbs or typical household bulbs. The wattage of the bulb required to reach proper basking temperatures of 100-102* (measured with a digital thermometer) for a dragon depends on the size of the tank, the ambient temperature inside your house, cage decor and it’s proximity to the basking site. Timers found at local hardware stores can make life much easier. Heat bulbs and UVB bulbs can be set up by a timer. It is recommended for lights to be on for 14 hours and off for 10 hours. There should be a good gradient temp between the basking site and the cool end. The ambient temperature of the cool side should be 70-85F with the temp being closer to 80F for an adult.

UVB lighting provides rays essential for good physical and mental health. UVB fixtures should be no less than 18 inches long and should be placed directly on top of the screen top so that the dragon can get within 6-8 inches of the light. Longer fixtures reaching the length of the tank will help ensure good exposure. Some fixtures come with a plastic lens over the bulb that should be removed before using. UVB bulbs should be replaced at least every 6 months.

Bearded Dragon Feeding

Baby/Juvenile (0-12 months)
Proteins and greens are important to a bearded dragon diet.
Babies need to be fed a ratio of 80% protein and 20% greens. This breaks down to feeding a baby 2-3 times a day as many crickets as they can eat in 10 minutes. The crickets should be no bigger than the space between the bearded dragon’s eyes. If feeding in the same tank as the bearded dragon is living in, all uneaten crickets should be removed. Make sure that one feeding a day for 6 days is dusted with a calcium dust. This dust should have Vitamin D3 and should be phosphorus free. On the 7th day make sure you dust one feeding of crickets with a multi-vitamin. Offer a fresh variety of greens daily. It usually takes awhile for babies to adjust to greens, keep trying as they will eventually eat them. Salad examples are listed below.
Adult (12 months +)
Adult bearded dragon’s food ratio should be 80% greens 20% protein. Proteins can be fed all in one day or broken up between a couple of days, whichever is better for the owner and dragon. Dust with calcium one week then dust with a multivitamin the next. Offer a fresh variety of greens. Salad examples are listed below.

Proteins
The below protein chart is for daily consumption based on age and protein type. The quantities are averages based on data collected. Each dragon is different and some may eat more or less than the number listed.

Baby Adult (1-2 years) Adult (2+ years)
Crickets 75 7 3
Dubia Roaches 25 2.5 1
Silk Worms 37 3 2
Salad
A variety of salad greens and vegetables should be offered daily. Salad consists of leafy green vegetables, vegetables, and fruit. Examples of greens are collard greens, mustard greens, parsley, dandelion greens and flowers, endives, radish, carrot tops, turnip tops, escarole and chicory endive. NO lettuce should be offered.

Veggies to mix in with the greens are green and yellow squash, corn, peas, carrots (shredded), sweet potato, cucumber, zucchini, green peppers, and chard.

Fruits can be offered as a treat weekly. Examples are cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, pears, grapes, plums, raspberries. NO citric fruit should be offered. Ensure fruits are chopped fine to avoid choking.