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Care Sheet for Bearded Dragons

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.50    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 01/21/2006

Main Category:

Lizards

Sub Category:

Bearded Dragons

 Care Sheet Submitted By:

Vertigo

Years Experience:

Under 1 Year

Species:

Bearded Dragons

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

N/A

Sexing and Characteristics:

Males have two hemipenes just past the vent. These are visible by gently lifting the tail up with the dragon in the palm of your hand, facing away from you. If you see two bumps (one on each side) and a dimple in the middle, you are looking at a male. Males also tend to have larger heads, larger fat deposits behind the head, and thicker tails at the base. They also tend to be larger in general.
Characteristics in Males:
Some Say, The heads are usually bigger. They have a thicker tail. In breeding season, their beards will turn black, especially when he sees or comes in contact with the opposite sex.

Females are harder to sex, as sometimes you think you are looking at a female (again, dragon in the palm of your hand, lift tail up) and she will appear to have one or no bumps. Sometimes this may be an immature male whose sex organs have not developed yet.
Characteristics in females:
The cute arm wave. (Babies do this more often than juveniles and adults will, so you canít really say a baby is a female because it waves). The arm waving means "You are the boss, I am not worthy. Please donít hurt me, Iím harmless!"

Mostly Active During:

Day

Substrate and Water Needs:

My recommendations for substrates are as follows: Paper towels, newspaper, indoor-outdoor carpet, textured tile, non adhesive shelf liner, computer paper, and slate & Reptile carpet. NEVER use sand because it causes impaction and may need to take a trip the vets and if impaction keeps up it could lead to death. If you care for your Dragon at all you will never use sand.
Some use a shallow water dish in their enclosures, but that is not always needed. If your tank has too much water it will raise the humidity and risk respiratory infections. If your dragon is eating well, and getting a bath or spraying regularly with a spray bottle they should be fine and they will usually drink off there nose or lick the leaves or rocks... They get a lot of moisture from the food they eat. If they are sick and/or not eating, fluids may need to be given more aggressively.

Lighting and UVB:

Take them out every other day or so and let them get some real sunlight. If you can do this, it is the best thing for them. You can either hold them while outside, or put them in a cage where the sunlight can reach them. DO NOT put them in a glass cage while outside, as they heat up quickly and will "cook" your dragon. For nighttime, itís all lights off. I do not use a nighttime light, but that is strictly preference. I feel they need it completely black in the room so as not to disturb their sleep pattern. Never place basking lamp you heating you are using on the outside of the glass cage as the heat will have a harder time getting in.

For Heating, you will need either of the following choices:
*UVA Basking Spot bulb (get a watt that will get to the right temp)
*A regular household bulb (100 watts)
*Indoor Flood Light (50 watts)
UVB I would re0commend Repti-glow 8.0 or 10.
They need UVB its best to have the porcelain lamps because they produce heat too.

Temperatures and Humidity:

The basking area should be between 105-115 degrees for babies and 100-105 for adults. Beardies need 95F to digest food. The temps on the warm side are roughly 90-95, and the cool side is a constant 80 degrees. the temp at night should get no lower than 60 but if it does get cooler where u live u can use a heat pad but be very careful because Beardies sense heat from above not below and NEVER use hot rocks.

If you live in an area where you have low humidity, but the percentage in the dragon tank is still high, you can try to lower it by using a smaller water bowl, and keeping the substrate dry. If you want to add humidity, you can put a larger water bowl in the tank, and/or put it under the light so more will evaporate into the air.

Heating and Equipment:

Enclosure, for babies, best to start off with something small like a 10 or 20 gallon tank, or if you get a larger tank, make sure you can section it off. A big tank for a baby can be stressful to them. For one adult, it is recommended at least 4í x 2í x 2í. If housing more than one (two females, never two males), then at least 6 ft in length, and a bit wider also. You will need basking spots for the number of animals that you are keeping, ceramic fixture domes

HEAT: Heating your dragon may be one of the most critical parts in husbandry. They need to have a basking area of no less than 95 degrees, but no more than 110 degrees. This can be accomplished with a ceramic heat emitter or basking light. This is important so the dragon can properly digest its food. Once again DO NOT use heat rocks or under tank heaters. There have been many cases of dragons being severely burned by these. The dragonís heat sensors are at the top of their bodies, they cannot tell when the temperature beneath them is causing burns. Most of the time the Beardies wonít even know that they are getting burned. A rock at least 8 inches from the lamp is perfect because the rock warms up so when the bearded dragon lays on it heat is on their stomach which is important for digestion. The reptisun 10.0 is a really good UVB light; you could also use a 5.0 or higher.

Caging Provided:

65 gallon long acrylic terrarium adults
40 gallon breeder tank (glass) juveniles
20 gallon tank (glass) for babies
Try to provide the biggest cage u can provide.

Babies can be in a 20 gal, Cage for a small amount of time due to the effects of Beardies growing so fast.

Juveniles I would recommend 30-40 gallons.
Adult, the absolute minimum size for an adult is a 40 Gal breeder cage. But keep in mind bigger is always better.
90 gallon reptarium Are great for your Dragon

Home built cages are great. Nothing like building your own cage to the size you would like it to be. Just make sure if you use would to use water-based polyurethane to seal the wood. Also only use aquarium sealant (as recommended by the silicone manufactures). Another good material to use is melamine boards.
You can also use shelving units to make a cage out of by sealing the edges and using sliding glass or plexi-glass doors. As far as lighting fixtures are concerned. Some use fixtures for heat bulbs (such as Mercury Vapor) with a ceramic fixture to avoid any fire hazards. All true lizard lovers do and build your own cage.

Diet:

Omnivorous

Description of Diet:

Feed a staple of crickets and silkworms. Some rotate greens, veggies, and fruit. Leave fresh greens in their tank all day. Changing greens 3 times a day is recommended, so if you feed them crickets 3 times a day, change the greens at the same time.

Insects: crickets, silkworms, and lobster roaches. Treat insects are super worms wax worms or hornworms.
Greens: collard, mustard and turnip greens, escarole, watercress, and dandelion greens.
Vegetables: Snow snap peas, carrots, cucumber, corn, and squash.
Fruits: Bananas, papaya, kiwi, watermelon, strawberries, and more. DO NOT feed any citrus products. < FRUITS ARE TREATS ONLY>

Make sure the size of the prey/food is no larger than the width between their eyes. If they chew their food well, they can take only SLIGHTLY larger food, but wouldnít recommend it. Feeding food that is to large could result in death!

Each dragon is different in how much they eat. If possible, the best thing to feed them is silkworms, but they are quite costly, and are hard to keep, as they can only eat mulberry leaves. Also a special meal that you can buy for them. But they have the nutrition value of 3 crickets.

Dust their prey daily with Rep-Cal Calcium with Vitamin D3 (in the pink jar), ultra fine, phosphorous free (this is VERY IMPORTANT = DO NOT USE ANY SUPPLEMENT WITH PHOSPHOROUS). I also use Rep-Cal Herptivite with Beta Carotene Multivitamins (in the blue jar) once a week.

(Always be sure to gut load your prey for 24 hours before giving them to the dragons to ensure they are getting the most nutrients out of them. Also keeps the crickets hydrated and help them live longer. Also with crickets itís good to keep fresh cut potatoes and that will help them live longer also.

Babies can eat from 20 Ė 100+ crickets a day. Offer babies and Juveniles as many as they can eat in a 10-20 minute period. Some will not eat up to 100, I assure you.
Adults should be offered at least 12-24 crickets 3 days a week.

DO NOT: Feed your dragon Mealworms OR pinky mice. There shells (The chitin exoskeleton) are not easily digested and may cause impacting and could cause paralysis or death!
DO NOT: Feed fire flies they will kill your dragon in about 15 minutes. Only one report of a Beardies eating a firefly and living and that was with extreme veterinary procedures!
DO NOT: Feed wild insects, they can be packed with parasites and can be contaminated with pesticides.
NOTE: Hatchlings will most likely not take to veggies very well, you may have to wave your hand around crazily with the veggies before they take it (some hatchlings will not eat it unless itís moving)

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

Calcium (no D3, no phosphor), one time a day, multivitamin such as Herptivite one time per week. I would only offer a D3 supplement if there was a problem with the UVB lighting, or some other bone disease going on. Rep-cal, Flukers, Repto-life are 3 main brands you should use.

Use calcium every day for babies and every few days for adults. Multi-Vitamins about once or twice weekly should be used. Some feed repcal Dragon pellets every day also.

As stated in the Diet Description, it is important that your dragon get calcium daily. For this, I use Rep-Cal Calcium with Vitamins. D3, ultra fine powder without phosphorous (in the pink jar). They should also be getting multi-vitamins once or twice a week, I use Rep-Cal Herptivite with Beta Carotene Multivitamins (blue jar). Dust their prey items before feeding, and also sprinkle it onto their salad. Some may not like their greens dusted. And they wonít eat at all.

Bearded Dragons are omnivorous. They require veggies/fruit every day no matter what age.

Maintenance:

You may find that dragons do require a bit of care, but less than a dog or cat. You just have to know what you are doing, and be well informed of their different care requirements before purchasing one. Just as a dog or cat, yearly exams should be done by a good reptile vet, and upon purchase of any new dragon, at least a fecal sample should be taken in, and they should be quarantined from other animals for 3 months and 2-3 clean fecals to avoid spreading parasites to your healthy animals, and monitor your new acquisitionís health properly.

Clean cage once a week and disinfect the cage every 1 to 2 weeks. And if u use a paper substrate change daily. Maintenance can be frustrating at some point, but itís mainly due to bored ness of doing the exact same thing every day...itís not really hard to keep a dragon. Clean the poop out when you see it. Clean all food dishes DAILY!!!

BATH TIME:
Use a large Tupperware container, your sink, or your tub. SOME Dragons love baths and will swim around.

New to BDís and trying to learn about baths for your BD...
How much water?
What Temp Water?
How often should you bath them?
Do you only use water to bath them? Or an expensive product?

All you do is just make sure the water is warm not too cold or not to warm. Usually put just as much water where they can still have their feet on the ground because sometimes it scares them if their just floating. You should at least bath them once a week or every day. Soak for about 20 minutes. It keeps them well hydrated and aids in shedding. Misting throughout the day is optional. As long as you give them a good soak once a week itíll be fine. A quick shower in the morning wouldnít hurt.

DO NOT use any product because it can bring harm to your Dragon.

Beardies will rarely drink from a water dish, some learn to. Keeping water bowls can also be dangerous as a caution...the water may cause humidity levels to go up to high and cause a RI (Respiratory Infection). Some use a shallow water dish in one of their dragonís cage and never have any problems. If you choose to provide one, just fill it up to where you think she could see it.

NOTE: They are like kids and they CAN DROWN.

Some Words on this Species:

Scale Rot
Redness/Blisters on the belly are signs of scale rot. Usually caused by to much humidity. You need to take your lizard to a vet ASAP.
Mites/Ticks
Mites are little brown, red, or black parasites crawling on your lizard. If you notice these black, red, or brown, creatures, get De Flea Reptile Relief, and treat your snake immediately.
Not Shedding
To help your Bearded Dragon shed, soak them in warm (not too warm though) baths every day or so until they are finished.
Respiratory Infection
Bearded Dragons can get respiratory infections if your humidity is too high. If your dragon is wheezing/has a runny nose, take your dragon to the vet ASAP.
Size
Inland Bearded Dragons can reach lengths of 24 inches. German Giants can reach lengths of up to 26 inches. While Rankings Dragons only reach 9-10 inches.
Life-Span
The average life-span for Bearded Dragons is 7-10 years.
Are Bearded Dragons a good first reptile?
Bearded Dragons are one of the easiest, most commonly kept reptiles, due to their great personalities and easy care. They are great with kids, as long as the kids are great with them.
Shedding
Bearded Dragons shed their skin when they grow. When they are juveniles, they shed more often than adults. Signs of shedding are: Loss of appetite (that could mean other things, though), and grayish/white skin.

What is Brumation?
Brumation is hibernation in reptiles. It usually occurs in winter months in 1 year or older dragons. Some brumate at 14 months when they started. Have lights on a 6/18 schedule, and when they wake up switch it to 12/12 like it used to be.
Turn off their UVB lights as well, so you wouldnít be wasting the 6 months of use...plus they like it dark. Donít offer food, but bathe them regularly every two weeks or so to keep them hydrated.
Weigh them at this time to monitor their weight loss; they shouldnít lose much at all. Not all dragons will enter Brumation, and they usually donít brumate under a year old because they need all the protein they can get. Itís really rare that they ever do this at a young age.
Some people think they may be brumating if they are lethargic during the winter months, but parasites may be the cause of the lethargy. Fecal checks should be performed before, and after Brumation.
There are several species of Bearded Dragons,
Inland Bearded Dragon, Pogona Vitticeps.
Coastal Bearded Dragon, Pogona Barbata
Lawsonís Dragon, Pogona Herny-lawsonii aka Rankin Dragons
Dwarf bearded Dragon, Pogona Minor
Western Bearded Dragon, Pogona Minima
Mitchellís Beaded Dragon, Pogona Mitchelli
Banded Bearded Dragon, Pogona Nullarbor
Drysdale River Bearded Dragon, Pogona Micropidota
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of RepticZone.com. It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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