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Care Sheet for Bearded Dragons

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.36    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 11/04/2004

Main Category:

Lizards

Sub Category:

Bearded Dragons

 Care Sheet Submitted By:

SugarFox03

Years Experience:

15 to 20 Years

Species:

Bearded Dragons

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

N/A

Sexing and Characteristics:

Sexing cannot be done until the dragon is a few weeks old, and even at that time, it is not always 100% accurate. To sex a dragon, flip on its back, or lift tail, to view the vent. Males will have larger pre-anal pores and femoral pores, they will look like bumps running down each of the back legs (femoral pores), and as two large bumps just passed the vent (pre-anal - the side closer to the tip of the tail.) Females will have a single bulge just passed the vent (pre-anal). Another way to sex dragons is by the tail taper. A females tail will taper more sharply from the base where as a males will be slightly thicker.

Mostly Active During:

Day

Substrate and Water Needs:

SUBSTRATE: Many things can be used. For hatchlings to juvies, paper towels or newspaper (non-toxic ink, you may have to call your local newspaper and see what they use) is recommended. SIFTED Play sand or Calci-sand can be used when they reach adulthood (I wouldn’t recommend). The sand is hard to clean, and after long periods of use, small amounts of fecal matter will build up and the dragon will be living in his own waste. I only use paper towels as they are the cleanest and easiest to use.

WATER: I would recommend always keeping a shallow dish of water in the cage. I have never viewed my dragons drinking from it, but they do go in it to cool off. It was recommended to me by a very well known herpetologist in my area to use ONLY Zephyrhills bottled spring water, as he has never had a case of any reptile having stomach issues that only had access to this water. It is also important to mist the dragon or soak them daily so they can stay hydrated. The soaking will also help when they shed, as it makes the skin come off easier for them.

Lighting and UVB:

LIGHTING & UVB: I use a 100 watt basking light and an ESU Slimline Reptile Fixture with Desert 7% UVB. I also 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, its 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. Mine always go underneath the paper towels to sleep at night.

Temperatures and Humidity:

TEMPERATURE: There is much debate on temperatures for the cage. I keep mine at 85 degrees ambient temp (temp through out the cage), 95-105 in the basking area, and 80-85 at the coolest end. At night, I turn all lights off, and let the tank get to room temp, which is about 73-77 degrees. The temp can drop safely down to 65 degrees without having to worry.
HUMIDITY: I live in south Florida, so the relative humidity in the tank will be higher than someone in an area of less humidity. My Hygrometer reads between 40-50% humidity, which is completely normal for my area, and a safe level. 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:

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. DO NOT use heat rocks or under tank heaters. There have been many cases of dragons being severely burned by these. The dragons heat sensors are at the top of their bodies, they cannot tell when the temperature beneath them is causing burns.

Caging Provided:

I currently have three dragons, all 10-18 weeks old, and in the same tank (two females, one male). When the male gets to be 8-10 months old, he will be removed and put into his own tank. The tank they are in now is a 24" X 24" X 12". I am soon purchasing a 55+ gal tank for the male, and an 18" X 48" X 12" tank for the females. It is a good idea to keep cage furniture to a minimum for young dragons. I have 2 smoothed and flattened river rocks and a grapevine in the tank so they may get closer to the basking light, and its it. If you have more than one dragon in one tank, it is a wise choice to have a back-up tank in case they ever need to be separated.

Diet:

Omnivorous

Description of Diet:

PREY: My young dragons are currently eating a mixture of both 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch crickets twice daily, as well as freshly molted meal worms. (ONLY use molted mealies, as too many unmolted mealies will cause impactions). If possible, feed cockroaches, as they will make the dragon grow quickly. Make sure the size of the prey is no larger than the width between their eyes. If they chew their food well, they can take only SLIGHTLY larger food, but wouldn’t recommend it. Each dragon is different in how much they eat. I go through about 200 crickets a week and about 50 molted mealies. They also get wax worms (2-3) once a week for treats. These can also be used to put some weight onto a skinny dragon. If possible, the best thing to feed them is silkworms, but the are quite costly, and are hard to keep, as they can only eat mulberry leaves. I dust their prey daily with Rep-Cal Calcium with Vitamin D3 (in the pink jar), ultrafine, 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 gutload your prey for 24 hours before giving them to the dragons to ensure they are getting the most nutrients out of them.
FRUITS/VEGGIES: I currently feed my dragons a daily salad of at least two different greens, always switching out one or two every other day or so. I always keep kale, collard and mustard greens on hand. Be sure to cut the greens in appropriate sizes for the age/size of your dragon. They also enjoy grated yellow squash. Some fruits they like, but only get as treats, are raspberries, bananas, and watermelon. DO NOT feed any citrus products.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

As stated in the Diet Description, it is important that your dragon get calcium daily. For this, I use Rep-Cal Calcium with Vit. D3, ultrafine 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). I dust their prey items before feeding, and also sprinkle it onto their salad.

Maintenance:

Fairly low maintenance, just keep cage clean, and food fresh. They should get daily exercise, so as not to be overweight. An hour or two daily playing on the sofa or on the floor will suffice. Daily exposure to real sunlight is also very beneficial if possible. Once weekly soaks are also helpful in keeping the dragon hydrated, to do this, fill a container/sink the the height of the dragons shoulder with warm water. Slowly place the dragon into the water. A lot of times, they will defecate in the water, if this happens, immediately clean it out and refill with more warm water. Soaks can also be done when the dragon is in shed, as it will make the skin come off easier.

Some Words on this Species:

Great animals for first time reptile owners. They love to be handled, are naturally calm, and all have different personalities. They do brumate (the reptile version of hibernating), so don’t be alarmed if your dragon seems to sleep for a long time, they can brumate for months! Dragons under a year old should not be allowed to brumate, and you can ensure this by keeping their daylight on longer than 12 hours. If you are going to breed your dragons, let the females brumate before being bred. This will ensure healthier, larger clutches. If your dragon is brumating, do not force feed! You can hurt the dragon by putting food into their stomach as it will not be digested, it will sit in there and rot.
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DISCLAIMER:
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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