Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)
This is a very general care sheet, we strongly recommend gathering as much information as possible regarding captive husbandry for bearded dragons, as well as connecting with other keepers via online groups for the long term care of your new pet.
Basking(Surface temp)- Approx 100-120 F measured with a temperature gun
Ambient Temps- Hot side of cage should be 85-90 F (thermometer placed on ground, not on the wall)
Cool side of cage should be 78-82 F (thermometer placed on ground, not on the wall)
Nighttime Temps- 75-78 F - during colder months you can cover the top of a screen cage with aluminum foil to trap in more heat or consider getting a front opening cage. We recommend that you keep thermometers on both the hot and cool side of the cage at all times.
* If cool side and night time temperatures drop below the above temps the dragon may start to brumate (hibernate) and may lose interest in food because they think winter is coming.
We recommend keeping a water dish on the cool side of the cage at all times. Bearded Dragons rarely recognize standing water as a way to drink so some owners soak their beardies in lukewarm water periodically. Another way to get them to acknowledge their water bowl is to place an airstone in the water to attract them to it. Spraying your animal and their environment is one of the most efficient ways to make sure your animal is hydrated. The ideal time to spray the cage/ furnishings is in the morning about an hour after the daytime lights come on. Mist lightly and avoid spraying the cage the hour or two before the lights turn off for the evening. Veggies can also be lightly misted to increase moisture content.
UV lights should be on for 12 hours a day and 12 hours off at night to simulate day and night. UVB lighting is essential for proper bone growth. We recommend a 10.0 UVB Fluorescent light that provides as much coverage as possible. Cage furniture should be arranged in a way that the dragon can easily get within 10 inches of most UVB bulbs for maximum benefit. Generally UVB bulbs should be replaced every 6 months as they emit less UV over time. We recommend writing the purchase date somewhere on the bulb to keep track of how old it is.
We recommend you start baby bearded dragons in cages that are approximately 12”x 24”. Once the animal is longer than a third of the cage we recommend you size up. We recommend you keep adults in a cage that is 3’ x 2’ minimum.
It’s advisable that dragons under a total length of 6 inches should be kept on paper towels or newspaper to avoid impaction. Once the animal is larger it can be kept on a mixture of sand and soil to emulate their natural environment.
Bearded dragons are omnivores and require both live insect prey along with plant matter. Young Dragons diets primarily consist of live insects and may gradually skew more towards vegetation as they mature.
The most common feeders for young dragons are crickets and Dubia roaches. Prey items must be smaller than the width between their eyes. It’s always better to feed more smaller items vs. fewer larger ones.
As the dragons grow larger you can incorporate other feeders into their diet to add variation to their diet. Some options include king mealworms, hornworms, silk worms and wax worms. If you choose to offer pinkie mice to your dragon, we recommend you only offer them on rare occasions as a special treat.
It’s highly recommended that all feeder insects are “Gut Loaded” which is basically feeding the feeder insects healthy items for 24 hours before offering them to your dragon. All the nutrition the feeders have taken in will be passed on to the dragon.
East Bay Vivarium offers several premixed gut loads for your feeders
Recommended veggies are most leafy greens, fresh vegetables, pesticide free edible flowers and non citrus fruits(in moderation).
Avoid avocado, citrus, mushrooms, spinach, swiss chard, onions, rhubarb and beet tops
No matter how well we gutload our insects they will never offer the nutrition a dragon in the wild would get, therefore we must supplement their diets with both a calcium +d3 supplement and a multi-vitamin supplement. This requires dusting insects beforehand in a bag or plastic container. (imagine breading a piece chicken in flour)
We recommend any reptile you own sees a vet once a year but with appropriate and consistent husbandry you shouldn’t need to consult a veterinarian unless unforeseen health issues arise. Examples of health concerns are tumors, cysts, eye infections, rapid weight loss, runny stools, prolonged constipation, trembles, bubbling/whistling from nose/mouth or if the animal stops using one of their extremities entirely.
Please visit our website and click the resources tab to find several Bay Area reptile vets as well as a nationwide reptile vet search.