The Complete Guide To Bearded Dragon Care
What Do I Need To care For A Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are hardy animals that require very little maintenance. All bearded dragons require are store bought insects, veggies, a spacious terrarium, heat, UVB light, water, and safe handling.
Unlike cats and dogs, bearded dragons do not need constant care all day long. We are going to go into depth about the food your bearded dragon needs, how to give them water, their lighting fixtures, terrarium care, and safe handling.
The greens that your bearded dragon will love are kale, collard greens, and mustard greens.
Bearded dragons enjoy squash, zucchini, and chopped carrots too.
Whatever your bearded dragon eats ultimately depends on their preference. Some bearded dragons will eat anything you put in front of them. Others may only like one or two foods.
You can chop up their greens and vegetables to place in their food bowl. Their food always needs to be sprinkled with a little bit of calcium powder to prevent metabolic bone disease.
Insects such as mealworms, super worms, hornworms, dubia roaches, and crickets are a staple in a bearded dragon diet. Just sprinkle some calcium powder in the container with the insects and shake it around so the insects are properly dusted.
Baby bearded dragons will need small crickets or super worms. The rule of thumb for feeding a bearded dragon is that their food cannot exceed the width of their head.
Hornworms and large crickets are better for older bearded dragons because of their size. Pinky mice are also best for bigger bearded dragons.
Baby bearded dragons need to be fed around 30-50 small crickets every day. Greens also need to be given to baby bearded dragons on days that they are not fed crickets.
As your bearded dragon becomes older, their metabolism will slow down enough to where they won’t need to eat every single day. You could put crickets in their tank and they might not try to hunt all of them right away because they are not hungry.
50-100 large crickets every few days is the recommended amount to feed an adult bearded dragon. 10-15 super worms is a good amount to feed your adult bearded dragon in one sitting as well. Only one hornworm is recommended per meal.
Any insects, pinky mice, or dandelions that you feed your bearded dragon need to be store bought. Anything caught in the wild can make your bearded dragon sick or give them parasites.
Banana, mango, and raspberries are a sweet treat for beardies too. They also love dandelions, which needs to be bought from the pet store.
Watering your beardie is super easy because they don’t need sprayed all day. You just need your water bowl for your beardie to drink or soak in.
A 10 minute bath a couple times a week is good for them as well. If you give them a bath, make sure the water is warm, but not too hot. If the water burns your hand, then it is going to hurt your beardie too.
The water should not be very deep either. About an inch or less of water is the perfect amount. Bearded dragons soak up water through their skin more to stay hydrated too.
The other reason why it is important to bathe your beardie is because it helps them defecate. Defecating a 2-3 times a week will help prevent them from becoming impacted.
After a bath, be sure to wrap them up in a towel to dry them off. You don’t want any loose substrate to cling on to them.
You can spray you beardie about once a day with some water too, but don’t overspray them. You don’t want their tank being too drenched in water because it will cause the humidity to be too high. Humidity needs to be at 30%-40%.
If your tank has sand, then a lot of it will cling to your beardie when they walk around drenched. A few droplets on the glass will be just fine for your pet too and they will simply lick it off the glass.
Some bearded dragons will drink straight from the spray bottle nozzle if you have it on a soft setting.
When watering your beardie, it only takes a few seconds a day to spray them and just 10-15 minutes a week to bathe them total. It is so easy!
Bearded dragons are originally from Australia. When you think about the climate in Australia, it is very hot and in most places, low humidity. Since they are used to getting blasted with the sun on a daily basis, their terrariums need to mimic their habitat.
You will need the UVB and ceramic heat bulbs. For smaller terrariums, you do not want to use a super high watt because it will be way too hot for your bearded dragon. Even though they are cold blooded, they can still get too hot.
In a bigger tank that is 30-50 gallons, you should use about 100 watts for a UVB bulb. Your beardie also needs to be able to be within 6 inches of the UVB bulb to get proper light.
For your heat lamp, a good temperature is around 90-100 degrees fahrenheit for babies and between 85-95 degrees fahrenheit for adults.
I prefer using a ceramic heat bulb because it is safe to use and handles heat well. It seems to last a long time as well. It does not provide light, but it does provide heat.
In order to properly gauge the temperature in your tank, you can use a digital thermometer. It can also show you humidity as well. Some light fixtures will actually have a built in thermometer to show you how hot the bulb is.
Bearded dragons need light for 12 hours a day. You can purchase a timer that automatically turns their lights on and off. Set the lights to come on around 8:00am and go off at 8:00pm.
A mercury vapor bulb can be used for night lighting as an extra accessory.
When bearded dragons are babies, they are small and delicate. They are also very squirmy and not wanting to be held. If you want to have a well socialized bearded dragon, you are going to have to teach them to tolerate being picked up and sitting on your shirt without wanting to run away.
Hand feeding your beardie can create a bond. The purpose of getting a bearded dragon is to have a very hands on pet. They are not meant to just be a display animal in a cage. One of the biggest reasons they are so popular is because they are extremely friendly.
If you do not handle your beardie with care at all, they will be aggressive towards you and puff up their beards. They will feel threatened and it will actually be harder to take care of your beardie. Bathing, cleaning, and feeding time will always be stressful.
When handling your bearded dragon, you want to pick them up by sliding your hand under their belly. It gives them support and they can see you hand coming. They will learn that you are friendly and will even crawl onto your arm to hang out with you.
Try not to reach from the top because they might think a predator is going to get them. When petting your bearded dragon, just take a couple fingers and run your hand down their back.
At the end of the day, they want to be social with you if you give them proper care and love.
Keeping a terrarium clean is easy, but you will have to clean it almost every day. Bearded dragons can be little messy eaters with their greens.
Bearded dragon poop has a horrible smell that needs tending to right away. When they are babies, their terrariums will need to be cleaned almost every day. As they get older, clean up might only need to happen a couple times a week because they will not use the bathroom as frequently.
I recommend purchasing a substrate that is easy to clean. I use a reptile mat that has sand and small pebbles fused to it to mimic the desert floor. Any food or beardie droppings will be easy to pick up with a paper towel with this substrate.
Reptile carpet is another good substrate. The carpet would need to be hosed down once a week. The carpet is also soft on their bellies when they walk around.
Any other type of loose substrate would need to be cleaned or replaced, so it is important for you to pick a substrate that works best for you.
Maintaining a bearded dragon is very easy. Like I said before, you’re only going to spend at most 30 minutes a week actually caring for your beardie.
Bearded dragons make great pets because they can be very social if handled properly. They eat the same fruit and vegetables that we eat too so it is not difficult finding them food. Dust their food with calcium powder and give them the proper lighting.
If you follow all of these steps to care for your beardie, you will have a great scaly friend for 10-12 years. Maybe even longer than that!