Bearded dragons make some of the greatest pets and they are not super difficult to handle. When it comes to bonding with them, it’s not too hard. However, bearded dragons do have some specific environmental needs that have to be met.
Although these lizards are fantastic pets, they have complex environmental and nutritional needs. Bearded dragons require time, food, and a great habitat. They need a comfortable living environment to stay healthy and happy. Taking care of a bearded dragon is easier than it seems. Once you have the whole setup, they are easy to care for.
If you would like to get more information on how to care for a bearded dragon, keep reading down below!
What should I feed my bearded dragon?
Bearded dragons eat a variety of different foods. They need a food dish for their diet. Bearded dragons only need to be fed once a day or every two days. If they do not eat all their food, plan on feeding them less the following time. Baby bearded dragons may eat up to three times a day. The best time to feed them is in the morning so they can digest their food during the warmest part of the day.
The great part about having a bearded dragon is that their food is relatively cheap. Feeding a bearded dragon does not require a lot of work. Feed bearded dragons a variety of foods such as worms, vegetables, leafy greens, and a limited amount of fruit. They need plenty of protein, calcium, and water. Their diet should consist of 30 percent vegetables and 70 percent protein.
Here is a guide to feeding your bearded dragon:
- Feed your bearded dragons protein. This can consist of a wide range of worms and crickets. When it comes to feeding crickets, make sure they are not too large. Do not feed them any crickets that are bigger than the distance between their eye. Bearded dragons also eat plenty of worms including wax worms, silkworms, red worms, earthworms, and mealworms.
- Bearded dragons eat plenty of vegetables. They will eat a mixture of leafy greens, dandelions, zucchini, carrots, beet tops, and squash. These can be chopped or mixed together like a salad. These vegetables need to be chopped finely. Greens that can be fed occasionally consist of lettuce, spinach, and avocado.
- Calcium is important to their diet. Supplements should be provided to your bearded dragon. Multivitamins are essential for nutrients and calcium and vitamin D3 should be provided to keep them healthy. Powdered supplements can be sprinkled on food. They should receive a multivitamin three to five times a week. Calcium should be given four to seven times a week and vitamin D should not be given more than three times a week.
- Water should be changed daily and provided at all times. Put water in a shallow dish for your bearded dragon. You can put a larger dish in if your bearded dragon likes to soak in the water. Make sure there is always clean water. If your bearded dragon does not drink regularly from their water dish, keep a spray bottle on hand and gently spray it with mist. Your bearded dragon will most likely lick the drops of water from its nose. Continue misting until your pet stops drinking.
For the complete guide to feeding your pet bearded dragon then head over to our informative article all about bearded dragon dietary requriements.
What Kind of Environment Does my Bearded Dragon Need?
If you are thinking about getting a bearded dragon, set up a habitat before you bring it home. For a home, a plexiglass aquarium or terrarium allows for great viewing. Keep in mind that no tank is too big, but some tanks may be too small. There needs to be enough space to live in or your bearded dragon will get stressed out. This can cause health problems and stunted growth. For a four to a six-inch baby bearded dragon, providing a 25-gallon tank will offer plenty of room. These tanks are simple to heat and light properly.
Remember that your baby bearded dragon will end up outgrowing the tank once it is older. When your bearded dragon is six inches and no longer than 10 inches, they will need a 40- gallon tank. Once your bearded dragon hits 15 months, you should give them a 75-gallon tank for a comfortable living space. If you would like, start off with a larger tank to save time and money. Bearded dragons want a comfortable place to live and roam around. Remember that this is their home and where they will be living forever.
Tanks can also be decorated to give your pet the best living experience. Here are some other ideas:
- Tank backgrounds can make the tank look similar to a natural environment. A desert background would be a great option for a tank.
- Rock dens or hides provide shade for your bearded dragon. When your pet needs to be out of the direct sunlight, this is a great spot to hide for some alone time.
- Shallow food and water bowls are great for the habitat. Lizards like to lay in the water bowls to keep cool. Be careful of bowls that are too deep because they can increase the humidity levels.
- Sturdy rocks or branches are great for the environment because they give the lizard something to climb on. The more you provide in the environment, the more the lizard has to do.
For the floor of the tank, use a substrate or soil. Some stores sell sand, pebble, and wood chips. These are dangerous in a tank because they could get into your pet’s digestive tracks. Young lizards may even eat the sand. Reptile carpet offers great footing. Another option is a newspaper or paper towels.
For light and heat, get a basking bulb for the tank. Lights can be turned off at night. Lizards are active during the day and sleep during the night. In order for your lizard to live long and be healthy, it will need a lot of heat. A thermometer is good to buy to measure the temperature of the tank. Make sure one side of the tank is cooler than the other side. Make sure there is a way for your lizard to reach the heat.
A hydrometer is another great option to have. Bearded dragons need 12 to 14 hours of light a day. UVA light is also known as long wave ultraviolet a. This is a visible light that generates heat on a day and night cycle. A UVB light is also known as a shortwave ultraviolet b. This is radiated energy that gives dragons vitamin D3. The best environments are kept at 95 to 110 degrees. At night, the basking lamp can be in the low 70’s.
A bearded dragons tank should always be cleaned to make sure the environment is healthy. Here are some tips for cleaning the tank:
- When cleaning a tank, remove feces or uneaten food daily. You will not need to perform a full habitat cleaning daily, but cleaning up each day will make the environment healthier. Make sure to clean hard surfaces once a week. This can be cleaned with a solution that contains white vinegar and water. This works well for cleaning glass surfaces. If needed, remove items from the habitat for a deeper clean. You can soak these items in bleach water and soap. The tank should be fully cleaned once a month.
- For full cleaning, clean the entire habitat and all the accessories in the habitat. To do this, put your bearded dragon aside in a temporary disclosure. Move all the accessories and deep clean them for 20 minutes. Scrub the cage with dish soap and a sponge. Make sure to completely rinse the cage and allow it to dry. The tank needs to be scrubbed on all corners, the bottom, and inside and out. Your bearded dragon will be in a healthy and happy environment.
For a full guide to setting up a tank then why not read our recent article all about how to setup a bearded dragon tank.
How Much Will It Cost to Care for my Bearded Dragon?
Pets can be a commitment because they may take up time and money. To buy a bearded dragon, the cost usually ranges from $60 to $100. Some can cost more depending on different factors and genetics. The price of a bearded dragon depends on the color, breeder, and availability. The most common color for a bearded dragon is a brown or tan color. Some bearded dragons are sold in pet stores, while others are sold by private breeders. The initial setup for your pet will range from $200 to $400. For a vet visit once a year, it will cost around $75 and $35 for food monthly. The total investment during your first year of having a bearded dragon is around $600 to $800.
For a cage, prices all range differently depending on the size. You may be paying a few hundred for your cage and accessories could cost up to $100. This will include your thermometers, branches and rocks, heating pads, food dishes, and dietary supplements. Digital thermometers and humidity gauges cost around $5 to $15. Things will be priced differently depending on what you are purchasing.
Calcium and vitamins will only cost a few dollars. If you take care of your pet property, you will spend little money on health care. Food will only cost $5 to $15 a week. Crickets and worms will cost 5 to 20 cents. To spend less money, look for deals. these are all the main things that your bearded dragon needs to be cared for. These are sold at pet stores or online.
What Health Problems Can Bearded Dragons Have?
There are several problems that bearded dragons can have. With proper care, bearded dragons can live 10 to 15 years. It is always important to examine your bearded dragon for health problems.
When examining your bearded dragon here are a few things to ask:
- How long is my bearded dragon? Make sure your bearded dragon is at least four inches long.
- Is my bearded dragon responsive? Make sure your bearded dragon is healthy and moving around like normal.
- Is my bearded dragon’s belly full and round? Pay attention to your bearded dragons eating routines and make sure it is eating properly
- Does my bearded dragon’s skin look dull or loose?
- Is my bearded dragon missing any limbs?
- Is there any weight loss on my pet? Pay attention to if your bearded dragon is spending more hiding time than usual.
Here are a list of health problems a bearded dragon could have:
- The metallic bone disease results from imbalanced calcium to phosphorus ratio. It is from a lack of vitamin D or calcium. Some signs include jerky movements, a swollen jaw, and bumps on the leg or the back of the tail. This can lead to softening of the bones.
- Mouth rotting is when there is a yellow or white substance appearing on the mouth. A sign of this is a decrease in appetite. This requires mouth washing or antibiotics.
- Respiratory infections have symptoms that include wheezing, excess mucus, and visible breathing difficulty. There may also be mucus around the mouth or nose. An upper respiratory infection is a bacterial infection in the lungs. It is important to take your pet to the vet if you think they may have this problem.
- Dehydration is another common health problem. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, perking up significantly after drinking, wrinkled skin, your bearded dragon acting less active or energetic. To encourage your lizard to drink, mist the bearded dragon with water until they are no longer dehydrated.
- Lizards often have common problems with their digestive system because of their diet. It is important to feed some things in limited quantities. Crunchy bugs like mealworms should be limited.
- Paralysis is a major problem. Food that is too large can put pressure on the spinal cord during digestion which can lead to paralysis or death
There are a few signs that your bearded dragon is healthy and cared for. If they are healthy, their muscles should be well-rounded. They are able to stand on all four limbs high and they will run away when you are trying to catch them. They will also alternate between going in the sun and the shade.
Always stay on the lookout for health problems and make sure your bearded dragon is getting the proper care needed. If your bearded dragon has any of these symptoms, talk to your vet. The quicker you take care of something, the less likely it is for there to be a bigger problem in the long run.