Care Sheet for Bearded Dragons

March 19, 2017

Care Sheet for Bearded Dragons

For the top seller in the reptile genre in the industry of pets, we present, the Bearded Dragons. This is because of Bearded dragons are super adorable, they showed truly different personalities and they can be highly domesticated. It is well known that Bearded Dragons love the attention and handling. They truly enjoy being pets.Bearded Dragons are relatively simple to care for as long as you follow the guidelines regarding its food and its enclosure. Breeding them is also a simple feat and you can expect a gentle and docile nature compared to those bred in the wild. They have a lifespan of 8-12 years.

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HOUSING

With about 40 gallons or in an enclosure measuring 36"x18"x13", you can comfortably house a couple of babies or young Bearded Dragons. For adults, however, you will need, at the very least, 70 gallons or an enclosure measuring 36"x18"x25" and the recommended size would be 90 gallons or an enclosure measuring 48"x18"x25". All enclosures must have a securely fitted screen cover on top to prevent the Bearded Dragons from going “Prison Break” on you. It is possible to have several female Bearded Dragons of about the same size in one enclosure but male Bearded Dragons can’t be in the same enclosure because they are territorial and will most likely fight. Generally, a harem of female Bearded Dragons and one male can be housed in one enclosure but with such a complex environment, only seasoned enthusiasts should attempt it. It is also important to note that Bearded Dragons, male or female, will battle for resources like food, water, heat, etc. thus a level playing field of similarly sized reptiles is recommended for a communal enclosure.

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SUBSTRATE

Paper towels and similarly absorbent products can be used as substrates for your baby Bearded Dragons. These can be used until the young Bearded Dragons reach 10”. It is important that these young dragons remain on this substrate until they reach 10” or more because smaller dragons have ingested other substrate material that has caused their health to suffer. Being active feeders, eating their meals can sometimes include the substrate and these young ones just cannot tolerate it. When grown into subadult and adult-sized dragons, the substrate of choice is now sand but not just any sand. The sand must be fine yet still grainy but not dusty. Zoo Med Repti-Sand or Zoo Med Vita-Sand are the two recommended choices but play sand can be used as well.

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HEATING

Reptiles need a hot and cool side and since Bearded Dragons are reptiles they will need a Hot Spot or Basking Spot that has a temperature range of 100°F-110°F and for the Cool Side, it should be 80°F. Heating the Bearded Dragon’s secured enclosure is best attained with a combo of a heating mat and a ceramic heat emitter. Our recommendations for the heating mat would be the Intellitemp Heat Mat and for the ceramic heat emitter, you can go for the Big Apple Black Heat Infrared Ceramic Heat Emitter. Place both of the thermal heaters on the Hot Spot which is only on half of the enclosure and the other half should be the Cool Side which does not have thermal heaters. A thermostat would be best in controlling and tracking the temperatures of the ceramic heat emitter. Use a thermometer as well to keep an eye on your Hot Spot and Cool Side.

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LIGHTING

Daylight may not always be available for your Bearded Dragons but they must a source of ultraviolet light to keep their health in top shape. The UV Mercury Vapor Bulb or the Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 bulb would do just fine in providing the necessary UVA/UVB needs of your bearded Dragons. A quick note on the Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0, it should hit the Bearded Dragon within a distance of no more than 15”. UV bulbs must be replaced after 6 months to maintain UVA/UVB efficiency.

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SHELTER

Hides that Bearded Dragons can move around in is a must-have for an enclosure. A hide is essential for both the Hot Side and the Cool Side and it must be strong to prevent it from collapsing on your precious Bearded Dragon. It can be a simple box with entry points, a nice and fancy decorative shelter or a cave (bought or self-built). Keep your dragon’s well-being in check and provide a couple of hides.

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SHEDDING

Amphibians and reptiles shed in different ways and in the case of the Bearded Dragon, it sheds off all their skin in one go. The shedding is more frequent when they are young because they are growing but it will be lesser when they turn to adulthood. Under normal conditions the shedding goes without a hitch but sometimes the humidity is off and there may be patches that do not come off. A quick check and a little help should make it all better. To avoid shedding mishaps, maintaining a moist enclosure should get the humidity high enough to allow for a quick and one time peel. Help can also come from damp sphagnum moss or Zoo Med Forest Floor Cypress Bedding. Helping by direct intervention, you can help your dragon shed the remaining skin by removing it from the enclosure, putting it in a large enough plastic container with some warm and moist paper towels and letting it sit in there with the top slightly on. The moisture will be retained while allowing air exchange. It would be like the dragon is in a sauna. This loosens the remaining skin patches and you can manually assist in removing it. Repeat the sauna as necessary if there are tough patches. Be patient and do not be tempted to use hot water.

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WATER

The environment typical for a Bearded Dragon is dry but this dry climate is one with some amount of humidity. Of course, water is an essential part of a dragon’s enclosure and they should ideally always have a clean supply daily but for most, it is ok to replace the water every other day or about 4X a week. This water is both drinking water and bath water. A tip proof container which is not too shallow or too deep is perfect. Easy access in and out should also something to consider for this semblance to a watering hole. Spritzing their diet, like their veggies, with water would be a great way to hydrate. Misting the enclosure each time you change the water would be an excellent way of ensuring humidity levels but you can do it more when your dragon is shedding. Directly spritzing a Bearded Dragon would also help them hydrate as they would certainly drink some of that water around their mouths.

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FOOD

Bearded Dragons are hungry little reptiles and they will devour plenty of mealworms, wax worms, super worms, giant mealworms, crickets, and they can even eat meals as large as a small pinkie mice. They sure eat a lot but a constant fatty diet of wax worms and small pinkie mice is not recommended. Bearded Dragon babies and juveniles must be fed 2X a day and adults feed once a day. Prepare their meal and give them about 15 minutes to eat their fill and then remove the leftovers. The proper size prey meals is also an important concern. The rule of thumb in determining the right sized prey for your dragon is the distance between the dragon’s eyes. For baby dragons, it should be about 3/8" in size, for juveniles, it should be about 1/2" in size and for adults, they can eat full sized prey meals. Do not forget to remove any leftovers after 15 minutes. Bearded Dragons not only eat meaty insects and mice but dragons need veggies too. Meals become inversely proportional because babies get a lot of insects and very little vegetables but as they mature, the insects get lesser and lesser while the veggies get more and more. Veggies can be any veggie that you might see in a salad like green beans, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and squashes. For easy digestion, make them the appropriate size for your dragon by chopping them up or grating them. Fruits are also part of their diet and you can give them some mangoes, papaya, berries, grapes and the like but this would be a small part of their entire diet.

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VITAMINS

A nutritious diet is important for any reptile and high-quality meals are a must so a little trick aptly named gut loading is a little step you must do before feeding your Bearded Dragon. Prey meals fed nutritiously, as well as, prey meals dusted with vitamin powders, like Zoo Med Repti Calcium, Rep-Cal Calcium, and Herptivite Vitamins, is an important step to take before feeding.

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CAGE MAINTENANCE

Care is easy for these reptiles. Little Bearded Dragon enclosures with paper towels require a removal and change of substrate once or twice per week. Adult enclosures using sand as a substrate require removal and cleaning of fecal matter from the sand, at least, every 3 days. Easy removal using a scooper that, if you feel like it, you can do on a daily basis. Every 4 months, the sand should be removed and thrown away, the enclosure and the habitat accessories must be cleaned with detergent, rinsed well with water and dried before being put back together with the new substrate.

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HIBERNATION

Bearded Dragons hibernate in nature but it is not a function they need as domesticated dragons. They can be made to feel like winter is never there. With heating lamps, they will opt not to hibernate and continue normal activity. It is important to note that in the months of winter, a reduced feeding routine is normal and it should not be a cause for concern, unless their weight drastically goes down, and it should be back to normal when spring arrives.





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