Basic Dragon Care
Bearded Dragons are pretty robust and are not too difficult to care for with knowledge and understanding of Basic Dragon Care. The following is a layout on Basic Dragon Care. You can email us for further information or do your own homework and look at the great knowledge base available on the internet. You can even purchase a book or two online or at your local pet store. Be very cautious about asking any person/personnel at local pet stores about care as these people are not as knowledgeable as seasoned professionals or experienced hobbyists.
Feeding: Bearded Dragons eat a variety of greens and insects which will vary throughout its life. Younger dragons from hatchlings to juveniles will tend to eat more insects to aid in the rapid growth rate which can average a ¼ inch a week. During this stage the young dragons eat about 70% insects to 30% greens. This will switch around as the dragon reaches maturity 70% Greens and 30% Insects. Keep in mind that each Dragon does have a mind of its own and can even have different preferred tastes. When it comes to the size of the food a good rule is to never exceed the width between the Dragon’s eyes across the top of the head. This will help prevent any choking. We feed our Dragons greens in the morning 1-hour after lights on and insects in the afternoon no later than 1-hour before lights off. Younger dragons such as hatchlings to juveniles need to be feed at least twice a day more being better. Adults can be fed once a day. All of our enclosures have a shallow water dish for the Dragons to drink from and to keep up the necessary humidity. As with anything the more time you have to dedicate to the care of your dragon the better off it will be especially during the first 8 months.
Greens and Veggies: Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens and Dandelion Greens along with Yellow Squash and Carrots. Chop the greens accordingly to the size of Dragon you are feeding and shred/grate the squash and carrots and cut accordingly. We only add squash and carrots twice a week. A mixed salad of greens is offered every day. All of the necessary greens and veggies are fresh from the supermarket and never frozen.
Insects: Crickets, Dubia Roaches, Meal Worms, Superworms, Silkworms and Hornworms. Our Dragons get all of these offered at different times but our base feeder insects are Crickets and Dubia Roaches. All of our insects are gut loaded at least 24 hours prior to feeding them to the Dragons and are either bred by us or purchased from known feeder insect breeders. Gut loading is basically allowing the insects to feed and gorge themselves on nutrient rich food prior to being fed to the Dragons, in this way all of the nutrients are passed on to the Dragons. We gut load our insects with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and oats. We never buy feeder insects from pet stores as most do not care for the insects and many are full of Parasites this however will be up to you to decide as some pet stores might be reptile specialists and use proper care for their feeder insects. The insects we use are dusted 4 times a week with Phosphorus free Calcium Powder with Vitamin D3, we use and prefer the Rep-Cal brand. We also dust once a week with a Multivitamin also from Rep-Cal.
Water: A small shallow dish with fresh clean and clear drinking water should be available at all times. We mist our Dragons every other day with the younger Dragons up to 8 months being misted daily. Concentrate the mist on the Dragons head to promote a natural drinking instinct but make sure to include the entire body. Our Dragons get a bath to soak in twice a week with lukewarm water no deeper than the Dragon lying flat for at least 15 minutes. This will allow you to clean the Dragon and will help keep the Dragon hydrated.
Heat: Bearded Dragons come from the Central/Inland part of Australia which is very warm and arid. In order for the Bearded Dragon to thrive you will need to provide plenty of heat and the proper lighting. The enclosure should have a Cool Side and a Hot Side which will allow the Dragon to control its core body temperature by moving between the two sides as necessary. The Hot Side usually where the basking light is placed should be able to reach temperatures of 100-110 degrees. The Cool Side should be a comfortable 80-85 degrees. Night time temperatures should be between 60-70 degrees. Young Dragons up to 8 months can handle cool nights around 60 degrees but if your enclosure gets colder than that another night time heat source should be added. A healthy well acclimated adult Dragon can take even cooler temperatures but this is not recommended and should not be the normal.
Lighting: Bearded Dragons love to bask and should have a proper Basking Area and Basking Light installed in the enclosure. This Basking Light will produce the major part of heat within the enclosure. The lamps themselves range in wattage and you will have to figure out which will be necessary for your enclosure. Example; our 4’x2’x2’ critter condos use a 100 watt Basking Lamp which gets the basking area to a maximum of 110 degrees in the actual spot where the Dragon will bask. Bearded Dragons also need a UVA/UVB light source to produce Vitamin D3. These lights do not produce enough heat to be considered a heat source but it is vital to the Dragons health and wellbeing. We use Fluorescent Tubes in our enclosures that are large enough to emit enough UVA/UVB within the enclosure. These lights are rated in percentages such as 5.0 and 10.0. This determines the UVA/UVB output of the bulb. We use the Reptisun 5.0 and or 10.0 in our enclosures. We use the lower 5.0 when the Dragons enclosure allows the Dragon to get within 6 inches of the bulb. Enclosures where the Dragons cannot get this close to the lamp we use the 10.0.
Substrate/Bedding: This topic is a bit touchy and can be highly debated over so we’ll keep it short. From our experience we found that Paper Towels, News Paper and Tiles are easy and safe to use from hatchlings all the way up to adult Dragons. At our facility in our enclosures we’ll switch to sifted play sand once a Dragon reaches about 12 inches. Paper Towels and Newspaper can simply be replaced as needed. Tiles can be removed and cleaned as needed. Sand can be sifted and replaced as needed. We have seen Bark, Pellets, and Crushed Walnut cause problems in the past and do not recommend them. Basically it gets ingested and causes blockage in the intestines called impaction so avoid these types of Substrates and Bedding.>
Enclosures: This can get a little tricky as the options these days are staggering so here are the basics. A young Dragon only needs a small enclosure a 10-15 gallon aquarium with a screen lid will suffice. A larger adult Dragon will need a larger aquarium 30-40 gallon with a screen lid will be good. We use everything from Glass Aquariums to Critter Condos at our facility and have found that the Critter Condo style is the most versatile type enclosure. These are made of melamine and usually only have one viewing side made of glass or acrylic. They can be set up multiple ways and have endless possibilities.