This comprehensive care guide will show you how to look after a Bearded Dragon in 3 easy steps
How long will my Bearded Dragon live? They can live from 10 - 15 years
How big will my Bearded Dragon grow? They will grow 20-25cm (Pygmy); 40-60cm (Central)
What size of tank is recommended for my Bearded Dragon? They require an enclosure of at least 90 x 45 x 60cm
What does a Bearded Dragon eat? - Live insects, fruits, vegetables and pellets
How easy is it to look after a Bearded Dragon? They are a medium maintenance pet
Bearded Dragon Housing
Bearded dragons are active, sun-loving reptiles that spend considerable time basking each day. Dragons are solitary animals and should generally be housed on their own, otherwise you may face dominance and aggression issues between dragons.
For one adult central or pygmy bearded dragon a glass or timber enclosure of at least 90x45x60cm is recommended, however a 120x45x60cm enclosure is also ideal for the larger central bearded dragons. It is important that the enclosure has sufficient ventilation as well as a secure, lockable door.
The enclosure can be furnished with a basking log or rock, background, artificial plants and a water and feed dish. An absorbent substrate is also important such as a fine-grade reptile safe desert sand or artificial grass repti-mat.
Bearded Dragon Care
Bearded dragons have a very specific set of requirements in regards to general care, however if all of these elements are provided they thrive in captivity.
Providing adequate temperature gradients within a dragon’s enclosure is essential for their health and wellbeing. Bearded dragons require a hot basking spot maintained between 35-40˚C. They should have access to an elevated piece of timber or rock ornament to allow them to bask within 30cm of the heat source. The cool end of the enclosure should be maintained between 24-26˚C and should not drop below 18-21˚C at night.
Temperatures should be checked daily and must be regulated with the use of a good quality thermostat. Recommended sources of heat include the use of incandescent, halogen, ceramic (night time) and mercury vapour globes along with a heat mat as a secondary source of heating.
Ultraviolet light (UV) plays an important role in a dragon’s growth and development. A 10.0 (or stronger) UVB tube or compact globe must be used as a source of artificial UV lighting in the dragon’s enclosure. Dragon’s should also have access to unfiltered, natural light at least once or twice a week. They also require a ‘day and night’ cycle with heat and UV lights running for approximately 10-12 hours each day, set on a timer.
It is important to maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene within the dragon’s enclosure. Daily ‘spot checks’ should be carried out, sifting substrate to remove any faeces, shed skin or uneaten food. A full substrate change should be carried out every 2-3 months (depending on what substrate is used) and the enclosure thoroughly cleaned with a reptile-safe disinfectant.
Bearded Dragon Diet
Bearded dragons are omnivores and feed on a range of live insects and plant matter. In captivity bearded dragons should be fed a variety of both live foods and fruits and vegetables. Hatchling and juvenile dragons will consume more live food than vegetables (80:20) with sub-adult and adult dragons consuming more fruits and vegetables (50:50).
Live foods for bearded dragons include; crickets, woodies, mealworms (in moderation) and silkworms. All live foods should be dusted with a calcium and multivitamin powder before being offered. Live insects should be no larger than the space between the lizard’s eyes. Fruits and vegetables for bearded dragons that can be offered include; kale, endive, parsley, Asian greens, apple, carrot, beans, broccoli, zucchini and squash. Commercially available lizard pellets can also be mixed through the chopped fruits and vegetables to provide extra nutrition to the dragon. Juvenile dragons should be fed daily (live food twice daily for very young hatchlings) and adults can be offered food every second day.
Fresh water should be available to the dragon at all times and changed daily. Young hatchlings also enjoy a very light misting of water on hot days in summer and often drink droplets of water off ornaments in the enclosure.
Bearded Dragon Licensing
All native reptiles are protected in NSW and a Reptile Keeper's licence must be obtained from the Office of Environment and Heritage to own one as a pet.
You can apply for a licence online through the OEH website or alternatively, our specialist reptile staff would be more than happy to assist you in applying for your licence in-store.
We have created a Shopping list to show what you need to look after a Bearded Dragon:
- Enclosure; 90 x 45 x 60cm minimum
- Water bowl
- Feed dish
- Basking log
- Artificial plants
- Heat fitting and globe
- UV fitting and globe
- Heat mat
- Reptile disinfectant
- Live food
- Lizard pellets
- Calcium and multivitamin powder
- Cricket keeper
- Fruit and vegetables
Common health issues in Bearded Dragons
Intestinal Parasites (worms): Bearded Dragons are susceptible to worms, including the potentially fatal coccidiosis organism. Faecal checks and worming can be carried out by an experienced reptile veterinarian.
Dysecdysis (Abnormal Shedding): Low humidity levels can sometimes result in a dragon having an ‘incomplete’ shed.
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): Calcium or vitamin D3 deficiency as a result of incorrect diet and/or lack of or incorrect UV lighting.
Is your Bearded Dragon showing any of the signs of disease or illness? If yes, please consult your reptile vet.
- Loss of appetite
- Retained skin around toes or tail tip
- Abnormal movements
At Kellyville Pets, we encourage responsible pet ownership.
CARE GUIDE © Copyright 2016 Kellyville Pets - All information found in this care guide is based upon our own experience. The information provided is not the only information available. In any medical situations, you should always consult your vet, including questions regarding your pet's diet.