Southern Bearded Dragons

Care Sheet

 

BEARDED DRAGON CARE SHEET

General Description -

The Inland Bearded Dragon is native to many different habitats and regions of Australia.

They thrive in deserts, grasslands, and woodlands. Their temperament is extremely docile making it a wonderful pet for children and beginners. Adult beardies can reach up to approximately 2ft in length. Baby beardies are approximately 3 to 4 inches in length and should be 5-6 inches at the end of their first month. Bearded Dragons require very little care other than the daily maintenance. A schedule should be setup right away (lighting and feeding) to emulate their natural settings. This will help keep your dragon from becoming stressed.

Housing

Having the right size enclosure for your bearded dragon is very important. The tank or enclosure should be big enough that your dragon can grow and not be stressed. A baby dragon can be housed in a 15 gallon tank for a short period of time depending on its growth rate. This will give them room to run and exercise, but small enough to catch their dinner. As your dragon grows, so should its home. A 55 gallon tank is ideal for one or two adult dragons. Furniture should be kept to a minimum until about 6 months of age. For babies, the cage should have a very simple setup. A basking platform that holds heat like a dark river rock, tile or brick should be use. There should be a basking platform that crickets cannot get under because they can hide and wait until nighttime to make a meal of your baby bearded dragon.

Heating and Lighting

Knowing your dragon’s temperatures are very important, don’t guess! To provide enough heat for your bearded dragon, the basking spot should be between 100-105 F for babies up to 2 months, and the cool side of the tank should remain between 80-85 F. A gradient is absolutely critical in maintaining the health of your dragon. The wattage required to provide these temperatures depends on the enclosure size and proximity of furniture to the bulb. Bearded dragons need to be within 8-12 inches of the source of Ultra Violet light (UV). UV-A and UV-B helps to synthesize vitamin D-3 which is necessary for the proper absorption of Calcium. Halogen or Flood bulbs can be used with good results over your dragons basking spot. Don’t go out and purchase expensive reptile marketed basking bulbs; they are overpriced. Halogen or Flood bulb used in conjunction with an overhead strip UVB is what we use in most of our enclosures. We cannot stress how important it is to provide a source of UVB. We recommend you buy a tempgun in order to keep an eye on your dragon’s temperature. We feel like this is the easiest way to monitor your temperatures especially if you have several enclosures. You can also buy an indoor/outdoor digital thermometer from Home Depot or any Hardware store. Do not use the sticker or stick on Zoo Med thermometer; they are not accurate enough. Baby dragons can drop down into the mid 60’s at night, but no lower. Baby dragons need to be kept on a schedule of 14 hours of light and 10 hours of dark. You can put the lights on a timer so that it’s easier to keep your dragon a regular schedule. Never use a hot rock or any other heat rocks in your bearded dragon’s enclosure. Hot rocks are dangerous and can burn your baby or adult dragon.

Substrate

We recommend paper towels, Shelf liner, or newspapers for raising baby dragons. If you decide on using shelf liner, make sure you use a light or white colored lining. A dark color will pull light from the enclosure, plus your dragon will look better on a lighter color. Avoid Calcisand, Reptisand, Corkbark, and Reptibark; these are all substrates that are extremely dangerous to dragons and can cause the death of your dragon. Sand should not be used to raise babies because of the risk of impaction, which can lead to serious complications or death of young dragons. The dragon should be at least 12 inches long before using sand, and then there is still a risk of impaction. Sub- Adult and Adults can be kept on sifted sand with a low chance of impaction problems.

Feeding

Bearded dragons require a well balanced diet in order to be healthy and happy. Greens and vegetables should be provided for your dragon in the morning and throughout the afternoon. Greens, vegetables, and Fruits require a longer time to digest, and therefore, should not be offered in the evening hours. The greens should be cut into baby bite size pieces to aid in consumption and digestion. Remove all hard veins and anything deemed non edible. Never feed iceberg lettuce because it has very little nutritional value and you will have a mess to clean up when it comes out. Make sure that the feeding dish is shallow enough that the baby can see the greens from their basking spot. Here are just a few greens and vegetables that are dragon approved:

Mustard Greens - high in vitamin C, A, and Calcium

Collard Greens - high Calcium

Turnip Greens - High in vitamin C, A

Squash

Kale

Romaine lettuce


Dubia nymphs or crickets should be the primary source of nutrition for your baby beardie. It is not uncommon for a baby to eat upwards of 16 crickets or 12 Dubia nymphs in a day.
Dubia’s nymphs are a great insect to feed your dragon. They’re more nutritionally sound than crickets, and easy to take care. They will not breed in your house if a couple should escape, unless of course you live in the jungle! They have to have the perfect humidly in order to breed. You can contact us to order your Dubia’s if you can’t find them locally. Remember, all insects whether Dubia’s or crickets, need to be dusted with calcium, and gut loaded to increase their nutritional content.

Most of our dragons eat greens at a very young age, so they most likely will be eating greens when you receive them. It is extremely important to keep a proper schedule for your young dragon. They have hearty appetites and should be fed as much as they can eat in a 10 minute time period 2 to 3 times a day. As a bearded dragon ages, their vegetable consumption will increase at the same time as their insect consumption will decrease. Other live insects that can be included in your bearded dragon's diet are Dubia nymphs, super worms, wax worms, hornworms, and silkworms. Wax worms should only be given as a treat because of the high fat content. Superworms can be fed to dragons 3 months or older 3 – 4 times a week. Never catch prey to feed your dragons in the yard due to dangers of chemicals and pesticides. Crickets and most of the food groups can be purchased at your local pet shop or ordered online. For one or 2 dragons you can house several crickets in a Rubbermaid container for weeks given they have cricket chow and a water source such as potatoes or cricket gel packs which can be ordered online. This is more economical than paying 11 cents a cricket at the big pet stores.

All feeder insects should be gut loaded. Feeder insects should always be well hydrated with vegetables, fruits and/or cricket water bites. Remember, half of the nutrients your bearded dragon receives are from the insect's last supper!

Please make sure that the size of food offered to your dragon is not too large for them. The general rule is to feed bearded dragons crickets no larger than the distance between their eyes. This is very important because feeding babies insects that are too large can result in impaction, paralysis and/or choking that can result in death.

Water

Baby dragons need to be sprayed with luke warm water about two times a day. It is best to spray dragons directly on their head first and their body second. Most dragons will begin to lap up the water. Also, all dragons need to be given a luke warm bath at least once a week. Babies should be given a bath as often as possible. The bath water should reach their shoulders but not go over their head. Do not leave your dragons alone in the bath; young dragons can drown very easily. We also recommend spraying their greens with water. You can provide a water bowl for your dragon, but it is not essential. Make sure the water bowl is small enough that your dragon can climb in and out with ease. With bathing, spraying, and water consumed from their greens, bearded dragons will obtain enough water to prevent dehydration.

Supplementation

Supplementation with calcium, vitamins and minerals is necessary in maintaining a healthy dragon and for the proper development of strong bones. Crickets should be dusted with calcium once a day until your dragon begins to slow down its growth. You can dust your crickets by putting the crickets you want to feed in a bag or tall deli cup and then sprinkling calcium over them until they are well coated. For this, we recommend Rep-Cal Calcium with Vitamin D3. It is also necessary to dust with vitamins/minerals one to two times a week. These vitamins are also essential in keeping your dragon in proper health.

Handling

When bringing a new bearded dragon into your home, it is important to give them enough time to get adjusted to their new surroundings. We don't recommend handling your bearded dragon until they are comfortable with you and with their surroundings. This usually takes 1 to 2 weeks and can take even longer. Babies should generally not be excessively handled. Once your beardie is comfortable, they do enjoy getting out of their enclosure to check things out! When you hold them, keep them in a position so that the palm of your hand supports their body.