Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
Other names: central bearded dragon, inland bearded dragon
40-50cm (16-20 inches)
Bearded Dragons also enjoy the occasional locust. They love chasing this bouncing snack.
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We believe Reptisun bulbs are the best UVB tubes around. Perfect for desert animals like Beardies.
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We advise using wooden vivariums rather than glass as they retain heat more efficiently keeping your pet nice and warm. As Bearded Dragons can grow to adult size within a year it is advised to buy an adult vivarium from day one. We would recommend a vivarium of 120x60x60cm (48"x24"x24"). This will ensure your Bearded Dragon has enough room to explore and run around.It is also difficult to provide an adequate temperature gradient in anything smaller.
Substrate & Decor
Any loose substrate inherantly has a small risk of being swallowed, we use beech woodchips with our Bearded Dragons as they generally do not swallow it whilst feeding on live insects. This is based on experiences of thousands of dragons over 20 years.
Sands, such as calcisands can be ingested easily, building up inside the animal potentially causing health problems and distress to your pet. To be 100% safe you may wish to use a non-lose substrate such as reptile carpet. Bearded Dragons are not shy and will be out basking during the day. Wood, rocks and artificial plants should be used to create a basking area as well as areas to climb and lounge around.
Night time heating is provided by a ceramic bulb one end of the vivarium controlled by a thermostat, about 80oF is fine. The ceramic bulb should be installed using a ceramic bulb holder and covered with a ceramic heater guard to prevent the Bearded Dragons from getting burnt. During the day two spot bulbs are used to raise the temperature to about 100oF. These should be at the same end of the vivarium as the ceramic heater to create a hot end and a cooler end. The spot bulbs will also provide a day and night cycle. Temperatures should always be checked by a reliable thermometer.
Day light is provided by the spot bulbs used to raise the day temperate. All day time basking lizards require additional UVB lighting. As desert animals, this must be at least 10% UVB. Bearded Dragons required UVB light in order to synthesise vitamin D. Without vitamin D (in particular D3) Bearded Dragons are not able to metabolise calcium properly causing problems with bone growth. This can lead to serious disease problems such as metabolic bone disease, which kills many Bearded Dragons. The UVB light should be turned on and off with the spot bulbs and placed no further than 30cm (12 inches) from the animals. The UVB tube should be replaced every 6 months, as the UVB output is not effective after that time. Ensure you get the right size starter unit for your UV.
Feeding and Water
Bearded Dragons are omnivorous meaning they eat live food and vegetation. Brown crickets are particularly nutritious, locusts, mealworms and wax worms can also be used to supplement their diet and add variety. Your pet deserves the best foods possible so look after your live foods. Keep your crickets and locusts fresh, plump and full of vitamins by feeding them with Bug Grub and fresh vegetation. Remember, your Bearded Dragon also eats whatever is in your live food's stomach. Also, don't allow your live food to dehydrate, you don't want to give your animals dried up half dead insects for dinner! Hydrate them with Bug Gel to keep them alive longer and mouth wateringly juicy. Care for your live food in their own enclosure, such as a Cricket Keeper. Live foods should be coated in a vitamin and mineral supplement such as Nutrobal to ensure the Bearded Dragon is getting the best nutrition possible. As as youngster around 80% of their diet should be live foods. As adults it should be 80% vegetation. Good vegetables include dandelion, clover, honeysuckle, leafy salads, watercress, curly kale, brussel tops, spring greens, coriander, parsley, rocket, carrot, parsnip, courgette, peppers and small amounts of non citric fruit. Ones to avoid include cabbage, spinach, onion, tomato, buttercup, citric fruits and iceberg lettuce. Also dust the vegetables with Nutrobal before putting them in a food dish.
Pre-made Bearded Dragon diets are also now available to buy.
Drinking water should always be made available to the Bearded Dragon from a water bowl. Although many wont drink standing water they will still use it to bath in. Bearded Dragons naturally lick the morning dew from rocks and plants for hydration, it is therefore important to mist the vivarium one daily using a water sprayer.
Bearded Dragons are a good lizard for handling. They should be treated gently, with love and care allowing it to sit on the hands. Young Bearded Dragons can be quick so keep a loose grip on them. They soon become used to being handled but if you ever notice your Bearded Dragon becoming agitated carefully put them back into their vivarium.
Males do not get on with each other as adults and will fight so only keep one per enclosure. Males can be kept with a harem of females providing the vivarium is large enough to accommodate them. Females are ok to be kept as a colony. These are general guidlines, all bearded dragons that are housed together should be monitored closely and separated if necessary.
Regular spot cleaning of the vivarium should be performed to keep it hygienic for both the animal and the keeper. Dead live foods and the Bearded Dragon's faeces should be removed when noticed. Change the substrate once a month or as required and clean the vivarium with a reptile disinfectant.