Dragon Care Guide

Bearded Dragon Care

  1. Cage setup: I house all my dragons, babies to adults, in custom 2ft by 3ft by 16 inches high cages. There are side vents to provide air flow with sliding glass front doors. Custom enclosures are superior in my opinion to glass aquarium tanks because they are easy to keep clean, dragons cannot escape from the top, they hold heat well, and they are stack-able which saves space. That being said, glass tanks are a good option for housing dragons, although I have found that some dragons do not like the fact that all sides are open for viewing. Sometimes it is recommended to cover 3 sides of the  glass tank with paper or some sort of blocker so they feel more safe. I do not recommended using less than a 40 gallon breeder tank. Anything smaller and it becomes very difficult to create the proper temperature gradient a dragon needs (~100F on the hot side and ~75-80F on the cool side.) Every dragon will need two bulbs, a white heat bulb (Zoo Med Repti Baskings Spot lamp or Exo Terra Intense Basking Spot) and a UVB bulb (Reptisun 10.0 UVB tube). We do not use red or black lights, especially over night as they can interfere with a dragons sleep and overall health. A dragon needs to be able to cool down at night. If the temp in your house gets bellow 60F at night you can consider using a ceramic heat bulb to provide some heat during the night. The wattage of the heat bulb you use is really trial and error so you WILL need a thermometer. I use a 25 watt light in all my cages since my room is around 80F. That provides the adequate 100F basking temperature. Other people may need a 50-150 watt heat light, just depending on cage type. An open glass aquarium usually will need a hotter heat light. I use craft paper as substrate in all my cages, but packing paper, newspaper, paper towels, tile, reptile carpet, shelf liner, etc are all good options. I do not personally use loose substrate such as sand or walnut shavings because there is a risk that the dragon will ingest particles of the substrate while they eat. That being said, I do believe adult bearded dragons may be housed safely on sand if done the right way. That requires weekly-monthly sand changes and impeccable husbandry. Giving a dragon something in the cage to climb on is always a good idea. I do not personally use “hides” because I have found some dragons will spend all their time hiding and not come out to eat or bask. The only time I would offer a hide is if you suspect your dragon may be going into brumation. We also offer a raised tile for our adults, which is a good source of belly heat and helps to wear down their nails. Do not use a heat rock or any sort of electric heating pad.
  2. Housing Extra: Do not house males and females together. Do not house males with males. Do not house dragons of different sizes together. Males will breed females. Too often I hear how someone has a male and female that get along fine, but the female will almost always end up dominated and bred repeatedly which can be extremely stressful for her. It is also stressful for a male to always be worked up around a female. I only ever have males with females for the few minutes that it takes for a breeding to happen. I do house certain females together successfully. It really depends on the females though. Some can be dominant and pick on others. If you do not know what behaviors to watch for, please house your dragons individually. Do not house males with males ever. When it comes to babies, most do fine living together for a few months. Watch for signs of food dominance or aggression. Housing babies together will always pose a risk for bites and nips. Some dragons may out-eat other dragons which will cause big size differences. Make necessary adjustments immediately. Remember, babies should only be housed with babies of similar size to avoid dominance issues. Also, do not keep too many babies in an enclosure. Keep your babies housed appropriately spaced (i.e. do not have 20 baby dragons in a 20 gallon tank.)
  3. Feeding: Dragons need both bugs and greens. We only offer LIVE feeders. Please do not offer your dragon freeze dried bugs or pellets. When it comes to feeding dragons, variety is best. You will find that if you only offer one food source, a dragon may tire of it quickly and eventually stop eating it. Throughout the week, we offer dubia roaches, superworms, mealworms, crickets, black soldier fly larvae, and hornworms. Yes, we have started offering mealworms, which we believe is safe as long as the proper temperatures are provided to digest them. Feed bugs that are appropriately sized. Babies will need small dubia, small superworms, small crickets, etc. Most of the superworms you find at pet stores are fully grown and not appropriate for babies. Some suggest that you feed bugs the size of the space between the eyes. All bugs are dusted in a calcium plus d3 powder (we use miner-all by sticky tongue farms.) We also offer collard greens and spring mix, which we sometimes dust with bee pollen. We gutload our feeders with greens as well as vit-all (by sticky tongue farms.) You may want to dust your feeders with a multivitamin once or twice a week as well. Baby dragons under a year old will eat a lot. Expect to feed bugs 2-3 times a day as well as a daily salad. If a younger dragon doesn’t want its greens, that is not a huge concern. They typically start going for greens as they get older. If you have concerns just reach out and I can offer suggestions on how to get them more interested. Also, please realize, if a baby dragon gorges itself one day on 50 dubia, it may only want 10 the following day. This is normal! Also, if your dragon is eating 50 dubia roaches, that could be a sign you need to up the size of the roaches you are feeding. A dragon may eat 50 small dubia or 10-15 mediums. The stress of shipping can always affect the appetite of your dragon initially. If you dragon is eating at all, this is a GOOD sign!! Too often I get messages that the dragon someone just bought is “only” eating 5 dubia right out of the box. That is not something that concerns me. If your dragon is not eating for 1-3 days then definitely message me! I have seen instances where a person is so worried about a dragon not eating what they consider the “right” amount that they start force feeding or handling way to much and become the reason the dragon starts majorly declining in health. Don’t stress yourself and your new dragon out. Please try to keep calm and communicate with me if you have any concerns. Adult dragons only need bugs 2-3 times a week and greens can be fed daily. Too much protein in an adult dragons diet and they risk getting gout, fatty liver disease, obesity, and other such issues.
  4. Baths: We give our babies baths 3 times a week. We fill the tub/sink/bath with enough lukewarm-warm water to reach their bellies. This is a good time for them to hydrate. It’s also when they are very likely to poop. If a poop happens, just clean out the tub and refill it so the dragon doesn’t drink contaminated water. The same applies with our adults however we only give them baths 1-2 times a week. Dragons get the majority of the water they need through their food. The bath is just an extra opportunity to hydrate. If your dragon never drinks, that’s not a bad thing. They are probably getting all they need from their diet. Watch for wrinkly skin and sunken fat pads. These could be signs that your dragon is dehydrated and needs water. It’s also always a good thing to offer a bath while a dragon is going through shed.
  5. Cleaning: We clean with F10. Chlorhexadine is also a good cleaner. We remove the dirty paper, wipe out any loose debris, and then spray the cage down with the F10 solution. We scrub any stuck stains and then respray and let it air dry. New paper is then put down. Clean as often as the cage is dirty. Do not let poop accumulate in your cages.
  6. Handling: Please let your new dragon acclimate to its new home for the first few days. It can be stressful to relocate so letting them just relax in their cage can help with any stress. If your dragon is eating well and active, you can feel free to start enjoying your new animal. Bearded dragons love to hang out with people. But be aware, all have different personalities! I have found that males can be a bit more active and energetic than females. The more your handle your dragon, the friendlier and more well behaved it will become. Sometimes dragons can go through a feisty phase which can be a challenge for some owners, but just stick it out! Try to hand feed food and don’t be anxious when handling. Try not to grab at your dragon from above, but instead reach in from the side so it does not feel threatened. Bites can happen, but they are pretty uncommon in bearded dragons.
  7. Extra: It’s always good to have a good reptile vet on hand. These are animals. Anything can and sometimes does happen. It is not uncommon to have to deworm your dragon.

Message me anytime for questions that aren’t covered here! There is a lot that goes into taking care of animals and it would be impossible for me to cover it all in a care sheet. My number is 210-846-9225. Text or call. If I don’t answer, please leave a message.