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Bearded-Dragon Pet Care

Updated on April 12, 2013

Bearded Dragon Care

The Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps, is one of the most popular, if not the most popular first pet lizard. The Bearded Dragon has a reputation of being highly tolerant of handling, hardy, and an avid captive breeder. I recommend this reptile as a great first lizard because of its relative size, personality, and quality of care needed.

Bearded Dragons come from Australia. They usually attain an overall length of 15-20 inches, and some even reach 25 inches. Most reach an average weight of 385 grams. Bearded Dragons are diurnal and ground dwellers. Bearded Dragons are usually in pet stores and there are many private breeders who have animals for purchase.

The following information is how I raise my Bearded Dragons. Please leave a comment or question if you have any, or if you feel there needs to be any corrections. Requested by Hubber: cool2s

Bearded Dragon Habitat

A single Bearded Dragon adult will need a cage that has plenty of floor space. Bearded Dragons are ground dwellers and from my own experience, do enjoy being able to run around. It is common to provide a Bearded Dragon with a 55 gallon tank, and they will do well in this tank. I prefer to use a 40 gallon breeder (has more floor area) or my own fabricated tank. If you are able to build a tank that is 4 feet long by 3 feet deep by 2 feet tall, do so. Provide a few objects for your dragon to climb on and over and a few hiding areas to provide shy dragons a place to feel secure. Use reptile carpet, paper towels, or newspaper as a substrate. Many people put sand in the cage and all this does is give your dragon something to eat that will get impacted in its gut which could lead to death. DO NOT USE SAND.

Bearded Dragon Lighting

Bearded Dragons are diurnal. Because of this, they require UVA/UVB lighting. Keep Bearded Dragons around 80-85 degrees. A hot spot just around 92 degrees is enough for them to digest their food well. At night, the cage can drop to 75 degrees without any harmful effects. DO NOT USE heat rocks for this animal. Heat rocks tend to overheat and will burn your animal. I find that my dragons enjoy a basking spot that is slightly elevated off the ground. Whether they are on top of a half log hide or a small ramp, place the basking spot there.

Bearded Dragon Humidity

Bearded Dragons require humidity levels around 40%, which is easy to achieve. Levels lower than 40% can cause shed retention and levels over 50% can cause bacterial and mold growth, and respiratory infections. The best way to keep the humidity near 40% is to only keep a shallow water bowl in the tank and refrain from misting the tank.

Bearded Dragon Diet

Bearded Dragons mainly eat insects, but will also eat a bit of vegetation. Bearded Dragons will readily eat crickets and roaches. My adult dragon will eat about 40 large crickets a week. I usually feed about 20 on Wednesday and then 20 more on Saturday. I also provide a small vegetation plate with kale, collard greens, green beans, sugar snap peas, carrot, and parsnip. Some dragons will eat fruit and other vegetables, but the ones I have listed are the staples. I offer the vegetation on Saturday and leave it in the cage until Monday. By Monday, it is getting too dry for the dragon to eat. You can also offer pinkie mice as a treat only given every three months. Pinkies are high in fat, so it is not recommended to be a staple part of a dragon’s diet.

TIP: Because of the large cage size needed for Bearded Dragons, I recommend putting the insects in deep feeding bowls so they cannot escape.

Bearded Dragon Temperament and Handling

Bearded Dragons seem to be highly tolerant of handling. They also tend to be extremely aware of their owners. When handling your dragon, be sure to have your hand approach from the side, and place one hand underneath your dragon’s belly and then use your other hand to support his legs.

Bearded Dragon Sex Determination

In adults, it is easy to tell what is male and what is female. Males have two large bulges in the fattest part of the tail, just past the vent. Females will have no bulge or a centered, single bulge. You can start to successfully determine sex once they reach about 8 inches in total length.

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    • Reptile Joe profile image
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      Reptile Joe 3 years ago from Illinois

      @Tamara: when did you notice that it became swollen? Did she fall or get burned? If you could email me pictures or or just email me with a phone number to text the pictures, I'd be happy to help. I hope to hear from you soon. Reptilejoey at g mail.

    • profile image

      tamara 3 years ago

      my baby breaded dragon hurt her foot its swollen what should I do for her ?

    • cool2s profile image

      Sevi 3 years ago from Kewaskum, WI

      ok thanks joe

    • Reptile Joe profile image
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      Reptile Joe 3 years ago from Illinois

      @cool2s: With lower temperatures, she is going to be less active. Try to get them back into the perfect range and she should get active again. Are the lights on a 12 hour on 12 hour off cycle or have you shortened the daytime cycle? There are many factors to think about. Do a double check on all of your husbandry techniques to pinpoint the exact cause next time. Cheers.

    • cool2s profile image

      Sevi 3 years ago from Kewaskum, WI

      Well the temp might be a little lower and we moved but that was a month ago and she is defecating good but she is ok with her new surroundings and I take her out of the cage every few days

    • Reptile Joe profile image
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      Reptile Joe 3 years ago from Illinois

      @cool2s: Are the temperatures still nice and warm, or have the temperatures dropped because of the winter? If it is too cold, it may be going into brumation. Is she still defecating regularly? Any diet or cage changes?

    • cool2s profile image

      Sevi 3 years ago from Kewaskum, WI

      hey joe my dragon is sleeping all day and night long and she will only eat her live foodand she wont get up unless I take her out of her cage what should I do?

    • Reptile Joe profile image
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      Reptile Joe 4 years ago from Illinois

      @cleo: There can be a couple of reasons why your bearded dragon is rubbing his nose against the glass. First, he may want a bigger tank. He might want a bigger tank because he is either too hot or too cold, and he is looking for a way to get out of the tank to find heat/cold. He may also be looking for a hiding area because he is stressed. He may be stressed if there are other animals near him or too much traffic near his cage. Lastly, like Chinese Water Dragons, some reptiles do not understand the concept of glass. The see through it and assume they can go through it.

      So, here's what I suggest. Check all of his temperatures, hiding areas, and approximate stress levels to determine if any of those are playing a role in this behavior. If you can rule them all out, I would move him into a new cage where he cannot see through the sides of his cage. A large plastic storage bin would work well. Most reptiles prefer less distractions, and without being able to see anything around him, he may feel safer. Hope this helps. Cheers.

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      cleo 4 years ago

      my bearded dragon is rubbing her nose on the walls of her tank. and I've heard that bearded dragons can hurt themselves when they do that, and if that's true is there any way I can get her to stop or any reason she does that?

    • Reptile Joe profile image
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      Reptile Joe 4 years ago from Illinois

      @bpkitty (cool2s): the beetle was probably a mealworm or superworm that was transforming into a beetle. You found a pupa. The pupa is the stage in between the worm and beetle stage. Read the hub I linked in my last answer and it should help your dragon to start feeling better. I highly recommend you stop the worms and stick to the wet-dragon food. The worms are probably causing impaction.

    • bpkitty profile image

      bpkitty 4 years ago

      yes I meant meal worms and superworms. I feed her the lettuce because she has been dehydrated and is actually drinking water out of her water bowl and wont eat anything but lettuce, worms, and wet bearded dragon food+ vitamins. and I found a weird bug in her cage, first it looked like a cricket with its arms all curled up like a dead spider so I picked it up with tweezers an it wiggled so I put it in a jar and it turned into an orange beetle. do you have any idea what it could be?

    • Reptile Joe profile image
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      Reptile Joe 4 years ago from Illinois

      @cool2s: When you say worms you mean mealworms or superworms, not earthworms, correct? Also, if you are feeding regular romaine lettuce, it has no nutritional value because it is 90% water. Feed her kale or collard greens instead. However, because she is only eating worms, it sounds like she is impacted. Too many worms can cause her body to work really hard to break down the hard shells of the worms. So, basically, she has a bunch of worm shells inside of her that are not moving. With her being lethargic, it is almost certain she is impacted. The hub below may help you greatly.

      https://hubpages.com/animals/Impaction-in-Bearded-...

      Also, I appreciate you asking me to use my lizardlover answer to post on your hub, but I would ask you to refrain. Feel free to redirect visitors to my hub, much in the same way I just did for you. Thanks. Cheers.

    • cool2s profile image

      Sevi 4 years ago from Kewaskum, WI

      and is it ok if I use the info that you wrote for lizardlover on my dragon hub?

    • cool2s profile image

      Sevi 4 years ago from Kewaskum, WI

      well, I have tried to get her to eat crickets but she refuses to eat them. she only eats worms and lettuce she wont eat anything else. she is on reptile carpet. and I have tried to give her a bath but she just sits there and after a few minutes she try's to get out. the cage is completely clean but there are three crickets that never come out of there hiding spot. she isent alert, most of the time she sleeps.

    • Reptile Joe profile image
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      Reptile Joe 4 years ago from Illinois

      @cool2s: I need to know a few things. What has it eaten in the last two months? I need to know everything from veggies to mice. Also, is your dragon on sand or bark? In the meantime, place your dragon in a shallow bowl with warm water up to his elbow, making sure the belly is getting warmed. I have had great luck placing constipated animals in these shallow tubs to help them defecate. If it is on sand or bark, take them off of it. Only use newspaper, reptile carpet, or paper towels. Also, check the enclosure thoroughly to make sure you have not missed any poop. If it is on sand or you allow the feeder bugs to free roam, they may have consumed it. Write me back soon. Cheers.

    • cool2s profile image

      Sevi 4 years ago from Kewaskum, WI

      my bearded dragon hasn't pooped in about 2 months what should I do?

    • Reptile Joe profile image
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      Reptile Joe 4 years ago from Illinois

      @Lizzardlover07: Thank you for your response. When picking out a Bearded Dragon, I avoid any dragon under 8 inches. Babies are usually highly stressed from being shipped to a store, and if you then buy and place the baby into a new tank, its chance of survival is small. I prefer older dragons because they are able to go a bit longer without eating while they acclimate to their new cages. I usually only buy adults, or dragons 1 year of age.

      When you buy a dragon, you want to see full bodies, clear eyes, and some meat on the legs. You want to see a clean jaw line with no bends or stuck on food. When you approach the cage, you want the dragon to immediately notice you. It should tilt its head and focus on you. Also, make sure there is no mucus around the nostrils as this could be a sign of a respiratory infection.

      There are several morphs of Bearded Dragons. The colors include reds, yellows, oranges, blacks, greys, and whites. There are also leather-backs which are dragons with less spikes or spiny skin. Their skin is smooth, hence, leather-back. Be prepared to pay more for more desirable or more unusual morphs. Bearded Dragons may be aggressive with one another or may ignore each other. In any situation, I do not house any animals together. They only time two animals would occupy the same enclosure is for breeding purposes and that only lasts for a couple of weeks.

      Hope this helps. Write back if you need more info. Cheers.

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      Lizzardlover07 4 years ago

      Maybe you could include some stuff on picking out a bearded dragon, like what age would be best to get one at, or a good place to get a dragon at. And what types there are or how they act towards other dragons. Thanks!

    • cool2s profile image

      Sevi 4 years ago from Kewaskum, WI

      awesome hub! had awesome info!