After reading this caresheet, if you would like to know specific
brands or types of products we use, please read, "Setting
up your first Dragon." There are links on
that page to the places we purchase our products. There are
also some links on this page to a couple of product. They
are in orange type like this.
for your Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are one of the best reptile pets. They grow
to a modest size of about 24 inches or less. They live a long
time with an average of 7-10 years when properly cared for.
They are smart, friendly, and very personable. Most are very
tame and can be held and petted. They look equally cute wandering
around your supervised living room, or swimming in partially
filled bathtub. Although they do have specific care requirements,
they can be a fun and fairly easy addition to the family.
Finding a good reptile vet is the first thing you should do
when you get your dragon. Bearded dragons can get many kinds
of parasites and when left untreated can kill your pet. Taking
a fecal sample in is the cheapest way to solve this problem.
Ask if they will check the sample without seeing the dragon
first. Many will do this but will not give out meds until
the reptile is seen. Finding a good reptile vet in your area
is not always easy but is necessary. Check out this site for
a good list of vets: Anapsid.org.
If you live local to us please email us for a reference to
the vet we use and love!
Baby bearded dragons can be kept in small 20 gallon long tanks.
Reptile tanks are usually wider and lower in height to give
the maximum floor space. Juvenile (4 months or so) and adult
dragons are very active and need larger enclosures to keep
them happy and healthy. Once your dragon is 10-12 inches it
really needs to move up to a bigger tank. The smallest size
tank a juvenile or adult can be housed in is a 40 gallon breeder
tank. A pair should be kept in a minimum 75 gallon tank. Tank
size can also vary according to the size of your dragons.
A 24 inch male will need more space then an 18 inch male.
The larger space you can give your bearded dragons the happier
they will be.
Males and females
should be kept together ONLY as babies! Once they
reach Juvenile age they should be separated. Males should
live alone at this point, but females can usually live together.
But watch closely for any dominance issues, or one of the
dragons hiding too much. If one is doing poorly, then separating
them will most likely help. We don't recommend keeping more
then 2 females together.
You can also custom build
wooden enclosures or buy specially made PVC or Melamine cages.
There are many cages available on the market today that are
suited well for bearded dragons. A quick search online should
turn up many results. Please visit our "Setting
up your first Dragon" caresheet for pictures
and more info on cages.
A tank will need a screened lid, not a glass one. Some companies
spell special sliding ones. Most stores sell lids for standard
sizes. If you can’t find the size you need, you can
custom build one using wood and hardware cloth.
What to use on the bottom of your bearded dragon cage is a
highly debated topic. We keep our babies with no substrate
at all. When they grow to 10 inches or more they can be introduced
to a substrate if you wish. You can use paper towels, newspaper,
washed play sand, outdoor carpeting (without loops for the
toes to get stuck in), reptile carpet, non-adhesive, non-slip
shelf liner or what we use at Sunshine Dragons, indented kraft
paper. It comes in rolls that can be cut to size for your
cage. It’s not the best looking of the substrates but
it is easy to change often. Changing your cage often will
cut down on the chance of your dragon getting sick.
Some dragons ingest a lot of sand while
eating. If you notice this you may want to feed your dragon
in a separate feeding container.
The best place to get sand in at your
local home improvement store because it is far cheaper then
anywhere else. Buy a 50 lb bags of washed and screened play
sand, or 2 bags for large tanks. Fill the tank with a couple
of inches of sand. This will allow you to anchor rocks and
branches into the sand, and also most beardies like to dig.
Most substrates such as Calci-Sand, walnut shells, and lizard
litter sold at pet stores can harm your pet.
You want your beardies to be happy but try not to go overboard
and crowd the cage. Remember that furnishing take up space
and so you want the furnishings to be functional. Branches
large enough for the beardie to lay on are good to get your
near his basking site. If your cage is tall find a way to
use the space up high. Beardies love to climb up high. Hemp
rope can be wound tightly around to make the branches easier
to grip. Rocks are also wonderful because they warm up from
the lights. Make sure the rocks are stable and that your beardie
can’t dig under them and hurt themselves. You can also
include real or artificial plants. Ponytail palms, snake plants,
jade, and pothos, all seem to work well. Make sure they are
free of chemicals because your beardie might eat them. Be
prepared to replace them as they can be hard on the plants.
You do want a hiding spot for your beardie as they LOVE to
hide. Half logs that are sold in pet stores work well (get
a large one since they grow fast) and so do flower pots turned
on their sides. Be creative. It can be a low space. They like
to squeeze in places. For more ideas for cage furniture please
read our “Setting
up your First Dragon” care sheet.
You will need to scoop the feces out of the cage daily. You
can use a small cup. I take some of the sand from around the
poop also to keep the cage cleaner. The sand should be changed
about once a month depending on the size of the enclosure
and the number of beardies. A small cage with 2 dragons will
have to be changed much more then a large cage with one dragon.
When emptied, the tank should be scrubbed with soapy water,
Nolvasan, or very diluted bleach (10% bleach, 90% water).
It needs to be rinsed off well and dried. Nolvasan is a veterinary
disinfectant that can be bought online at www.beanfarm.com.
The generic version is chlorhexadine diacetate and is cheaper.
Nolvasan needs to be diluted so a gallon will last forever.
It also will not leave any smell as bleach can if not properly
rinsed. No matter what you use make sure you soak all rocks,
branches, and other things in the cage in the cleaner and
then rinse and dry well. Make sure the food bowls are washed
in soapy water daily.
You will need two types of lighting, UVB and heat
lighting. UVB light is essential for many kinds of
reptiles. The bulbs simulate the sun allowing the dragons
to produce Vitamin D3 which helps them metabolize the calcium
they need to maintain health. Without UVB many reptile get
Metabolic Bone Disease. We use special reptile florescent
bulbs like the Reptisun 5.0 or the Reptisun 10.0, they come
in different lengths. The new Reptisun 10.0 is better in tall
cages as it gives off more UVB. It is also useful with a screen
lid, as the screen does block out some of the UVB light. We
get our bulbs www.bigappleherp.com
for a much lower price then in a pet store.
These lights need to be within 12 inches
of the basking spot and need to be replaced every 6 months
because the amount of UVB diminishes. There is a new type
of light called a mercury vapor light, some popular brands
being T-Rex’s Active UVHeat, Zoo Med’s Powersun,
Or Mega-Ray. These combine UVB and heat in one bulb. We don’t
use these bulbs, as our cages are not high enough to accommodate
them. They are also very expensive and have been known to
break easily. There is also some controversy whether they
are safe. Research the two types and make your own decision
on what is best for you.
For heat you can use your standard
household bulbs, reptile basking bulbs, or standard spot lights.
If you need larger then 100 watts you can find 150 and 200
watts at home improvement stores. In a taller cage a spot
light or basking bulb is best to make sure your basking spot
is warm enough. Standard light bulbs work well in cages that
are low in height.
Make sure the bulbs are over what will
be your dragons basking spot. This should be at one end of
the cage. This area needs to be between 100-110 degrees. Babies
usually need a warmer spot than adults. Beardies need this
heat to be able to digest their food. Use a thermometer
like this one in the cage to monitor temps
or better yet, buy a non
contact temp gun and
use it to check your temps frequently. The cooler side of
the tank away from the basking site should be around 75-80.
At night you should not need heating unless it goes below
65 degrees. Then you can use special night heat lights or
undertank heater attached to a thermostat on low.
Without the thermostat the undertank
heater will be really hot.
Your lights should be on a cycle of
about 10-14 hours on in the summer and 10-12 hours on in the
winter. We prefer to keep them as close to what is happening
here. You can regulate the lights with simple timers.
Leafy greens must be offered daily. Greens include
mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, dandelions,
escarole, chicory, and arugula can be staples in their diet.
Lettuces does not have much nutritional value and should not
make up their whole diet or even a large part. Romaine could
be given occasionally if you can’t find the other greens.
Spinach, kale, and
swiss chard are both high in oxalic acids that bind calcium.
They can be given, just not too frequently. Variety is a good
idea though. Remember, you don’t have to buy the whole
huge bunch of greens. They will weigh whatever you separate
out of a big bunch. This is a good way to get a big variety
without buying too many greens. Make sure you wash all the
veggies to get any pesticides off. Remove large stems (like
collard stems), and any rotten parts and then rip the greens
into pieces about the size of your dragons head. We cut up
all our greens at once and place them in a tupperware container
lined with paper towels. This should last about a week in
the fridge. Before feeding make sure to rinse the greens you
are going to give to your dragon that day if you haven’t
done it before. Also wetting the greens before giving them
to your dragon is a great way to get extra water into them.
Vegetables like winter squashes,
green beans, parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, and others can
be grated up and added to the salad. They need to
be in chopped very small or grated pieces. Dragons can not
chew large chunks and it will be hard for them to digest.
Fruits such as all the berries, mango, papaya, grapes,
can be added in a small amount. Offering greens in
the morning before they get insects is a good way to make
sure they eat their vegetables.
We do not provide water dishes for our dragons. We find they
either defecate in it, the crickets drown in it, or they just
kick up sand into it. You can wet their greens when you feed
them. You also should mist them with a spray bottle daily
or put them in the tub weekly. Make sure the beardies can
stand in the water so they don’t have to swim the whole
time. Make the water lukewarm. Make sure to watch them while
in the water. They really seem to enjoy bath time. Some dragons
will drink from a spray bottle. A light spray dripped on there
nose will usually run into their mouth. It’s tricky
to figure out, but once your do most dragons will drink this
Insects should be offered to babies two or three times a day,
and to juveniles and adults daily. As your beardie gets older
he or she should be eating less and less insects and more
vegetables. Too many insects all through their life will cause
kidney damage. Veggies should make up about 10-25% of hatchlings
diet and about 50% or more of adults diets. You can feed insects
such as crickets and silkworms as a staple. We buy our crickets
Superworms can be feed occasionally to beardies over 12 inches.
Mealworms and waxworms are high in fat and not recommended.
We choose not to give our beardies pinky mice because of the
risk of parasites from them. Also they are high in fat and
most dragons do not need them. Instead we use silkworms and
superworms to fatten them up after hibernation and for the
egg laying females. Silkworms are also a yummy option to crickets.
They eat them up like candy. They can be purchased at www.mulberryfarms.com
Giving them as many crickets as they can eat in a 5-10 minute
period is a good idea. Many baby dragons will eat 25-50 crickets
in a sitting. Never leave crickets in the cage overnight,
especially with babies. They can serious hurt babies by munching
on them as food. Some people choose to feed their beardies
in a separate tank to avoid this. Never give babies large
crickets. They need to be no bigger then the space between
their eyes. Serious harm can be caused by hatchings eating
large crickets. NEVER FEED FIRE
FLIES – THEY ARE TOXIC TO YOUR DRAGON AND WILL CAUSE
We suggest buying crickets online when your
dragon is young since they can eat so many crickets in a week.
We buy our crickets from www.premiumcrickets.com
You can buy a box of 1000 cricket and keep it fairly easily.
We use rubbermaid tubs to keep our crickets in. You can cut
part of the lid out and glue a piece of screen over it for
ventilation. You could also use a 10-15 gallon fish tank with
a screen lid. These are very cheap to buy and easy to clean.
When your crickets arrive, cut one side off and quickly lower
it into the container and bang on the top and shake all the
crickets out. In warm weather, doing this outside is best,
but with a little practice, you won't lose any crickets. Place
some of the egg crate that came with them in the container
for them to hide in. Add a couple of paper towel rolls also.
The crickets will hide in the rolls making it easy for you
to just shake them into your feeding container to dust with
You need to add a gutload
product to the container for food. You
can buy this either from the cricket company or from the petstores.
If you run out of gutload you can always sprinkle in some
baby cereal or cheerios but gutload is best. It is fulled
with all the good nutrients your beardies need. The crickets
eat the gutload and then when the dragon eats the cricket
it will get all those nutrients.
You will also need to add something
for them to drink. We use a potato cut up into a couple of
pieces. You can also use the stalks from your greens or some
orange slices. Just remove and replace if they become moldy.
Superworms can be kept the same way.
We usually add an inch of Cheerios with the gutload because
the worms bury in it. The superworms can be kept in a low
rubbermaid without a lid. They can't climb the sides. They
can live for a VERY long time like this. Up to two months
Silkworms are the hardest to care
for and you really need to learn about them before you buy
any. They are more expensive then crickets or superworms.
Dust insects with a calcium with D3 (Rep-Cal) vitamin daily
or whenever live insects is offered. We put the crickets in
a large yogurt container and shake them up with the vitamin
dust and then serve them to the beardies. They get very excited
when they see this container. About 2 times a week you should
dust with a multivitamin instead of the calcium. We use Herptivite.
Brumation is a form of hibernation your dragon might do during
his second winter. It is not a complete hibernation, it’s
more of a semi-dormant state that your beardie might be in
for the winter months. Most beardies will naturally do this,
but do not force it if they do not. In many houses the temperature
will drop in the winter months and you may notice your dragon
is eating less and hiding more. This can be your dragon responding
to the change in season and brumating.
Never brumate a sick dragon or one
that has recently had parasites. They may not make it through.
If you have any doubts please see your vet for a fecal check
before brumating your dragon. If you want to be in control
of your dragons brumating (important if you are going to breed
them) then stop feeding him for about 2 weeks before the brumation
begins. Give him about 2 weeks to empty out all his stomach
contents and then lower the temps of the heat lights to about
85 degrees. Keep the lights on for only about 8-9 hours a
day. Then turn off the heat lights and leave the UV lights
on their cycle. We do this for a couple of weeks and then
turn off the UV lights and cover their cages to keep it dark.
Check them occasionally to make sure they still look healthy
although they will lose weight. 2-3 months later I turn on
the lights again and start feeding them. If you only have
one or two dragons, just watch them and when they emerge,
start the normal light and feeding cycle.
Almost all reptiles carry salmonella
naturally. Make sure adults and children wash their hands
after contact with your dragons and make sure you don’t
wash your reptile dishes with your dishes.
If you have more questions about your bearded dragon you can
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also join the Yahoo group called
Pagona located here http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pogona/
There are over 2000 members currently on that group all talking
about bearded dragons!