Bearded dragons make great pets! They are relatively low maintenance and can be a lot of fun to watch. If you’re considering getting a bearded dragon, there are a few things you should know about their care.
Feeding Your Bearded Dragon
Your bearded dragon is omnivorous. This means your beardie eats plant matter and insects. When it comes to bearded dragon care, make sure you educate yourself on the do’s and do NOTS of feeding your lizard.
Dragons will eat anything from pinky mice to small lizards if given the opportunity. According to Sophia from thebeardeddragonblog, feeding them the pinky’s and small lizards isn’t really a good idea. We will get into why in a little bit.
As the beardies grow, their dietary needs change a lot. It’s important to provide your dragon with a variety of both insects and green matter (vegetables). A good breeder will start the hatchling dragons (under 2 months old) on a salad mixture as soon as they are ready to eat.
Feeding bearded dragons should go as follows, Hatchlings should be fed 3-4 times a day when they start eating. Hatchlings will eat plant matter also, but sparingly. Juveniles (up to 6 months) should be fed 3 times a day, offer plant matter once a day. Adult dragons should eat insects every other day (twice) and plant matter on the days they aren’t eating insects.
Bearded Dragon Care – Vegetables and Fruits
DO chop up your bearded dragons greens into semi small bites. The easiest way to achieve this is to use a hand chopper or a food processor. Beardies have the ability to pick and choose what they want and will grow to dislike certain things if the greens aren’t chopped up and mixed all together. You do NOT want this to happen.
If this does happen and you stop giving them that one thing that they will ONLY eat, they will starve themselves. Mixing at least 3 of the following vegetables provides your dragon with a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients they need. DO feed your dragon these:
Kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens (not the kind in your yard), carrots, collard greens, peas, green beans, red leaf lettuce, escarole, clover, parsley, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, a little corn, okra, squash, zuccini.
Do NOT feed your dragon spinach, this will block their calcium intake. Due to the lack of nutritional value in ice berg or romaine lettuce.
DO feed them these fruits with the vegetables and greens. Bananas, figs, strawberries, grapes, apples, peaches, melon, papaya, dates, apricots, kiwi, jicama.
Do NOT feed the dragon pinapple, oranges, tomatoes, lemon, lime, grapefruit, or anything else that’s citrus.
DO use their vitamins and calcium supplements in the mixture. The multi vitamin should be mixed in once a month. The calcium minus the D3, every time you mix the plant matter.
Mixing Insects Up With Your Bearded Dragons Diet
Offering a wide variety of insects is important in your bearded dragons care. They need the protein. When offering insects, you want to make sure the insect is NOT larger than the dragons head.
You want the insect to be about the same size as the space between the dragons eyes. The exception to this is the worms you offer. Worms are long and thin, like noodles. The dragon will eat them either by their head or the tail part. Like the plant matter, you don’t want to keep offering your dragon the same thing over and over again. They will grow bored and will stop eating all together.
Also, if you offer them something like grasshoppers (they love them) do it only as a treat. If they are fed too much of something they really like and you can’t supply their demand, they will starve themselves.
DO offer your reptile: Earthworms, cockroaches, superworms, king worms, wax worms (sparingly because they are high in fat), crickets (a good staple food), and mealworms.
Do NOT give your bearded dragon fireflies as these are extremely poisonous.
Do NOT give bearded dragons pinky mice UNLESS it is a gravid (with eggs and only before she lays, one will suffice). Some small lizards can be poisonous to your dragon. It’s best just to avoid the situation. Just because the can eat these things, doesn’t mean they should.
DO dust the insects you offer to your dragon with a calcium supplement EVERY feeding. Use a calcium supplement with the D3 ONCE or TWICE a month. You can also dust the insects with the multi vitamin ONCE a month. Use the supplements to ensure proper bone growth and avoid metabolic bone disease.
Do NOT feed MEALWORMS to a hatchling dragon PERIOD. They can cause a hatchling to become paralyzed, have seizures, and death. Juvenile dragons UNDER the age of 4 months should NOT eat mealworms either. For the same reason.
DO feed your dragon as many insects as they can eat in 5 minutes. It’s important not leave too many insects in the habitat after they eat as they will chew on your lizard.
Bearded Dragon Habitat Basics
Bearded dragon care also starts with providing a safe and comfortable habitat. This starts by finding out what a dragons needs are. You have to make sure you can provide your dragon with a reliable source of heat and humidity as well as lighting. You should have no less than a 60 gallon aquarium for your dragon. Basically, you need at least a 4 foot tank.
You can always use a partition if the dragon is a hatchling (up to 2 months) or a juvenile (3 months to 6 months old). Bearded dragons can grow up to 2 feet in length. It’s best to buy a big aquarium so that the dragon can grow into it. If you have too small of an aquarium, the dragon will not grow properly and this will ultimately lead to health issues. Bearded dragons are fast on their feet and love to climb.
Providing your dragon with climbing branches is essential in their care because this is their way to benefit from the heat source you provide. This is called their basking spot. You do not need to put real plants in the habitat, they could be harmful to your pet. It’s very important to keep one side of their habitat at least 10 to 15 degrees hotter. The other side of the habitat should have something like a half log so that the dragon can have privacy to get cool or just to sleep. Also, the water dish and food should stay on the cool side too. You will need to have a temperature gauge and hygrometer.
The substrate can be ingested by your dragon when they eat. It’s best to provide something safe like reptile carpet, newspaper, and paper towels. Pet stores sell specialty substrates, some of which are quite reasonable to purchase. You might have to use the trial and error approach to find out which ones are better suited for your dragon. Be careful when using these, pay attention to signs of impaction.
Bearded dragons like to stay on a schedule similar to people. They do all their normal activities during the day and enjoy sleeping during the night. The lights you need are to keep a 10.0 UVB bulb on for no more than 12-15 hours. Mark the date of purchase on the ceramic base of the bulb, you will be able to keep track of the 6-8 month period when the bulb starts to lose its effectiveness. This type of light provides your dragon with the D3 that he needs to absorb calcium. A good way to make sure your dragon is getting his required amount of “sunlight” is to use a timer for the bulb. If you want to enjoy seeing your dragon while he sleeps, you can use a night glow bulb (made for reptiles) that simulates the moon’s natural glow.
Taking care of a bearded dragon is not as difficult as you may think. They are very rewarding to have and make great pets. Just remember to take your time, do your research, and get everything ready before you bring your new pet home. Good luck!