So you’re interested in a baby bearded dragon, the legendary, laid back lizard with a hilarious personality? Great choice! If you’re serious about raising a friendly, healthy and happy bearded dragon, read on, because in this article, we’ll discuss a basic baby bearded dragon care checklist. Bearded dragons aren’t difficult reptiles to care for. However, they do have specific requirements and this article provides the important information you need to know BEFORE taking a baby beardie home!
To begin, how do you choose a healthy bearded dragon? Whether you buy from a breeder, a friend, a pet store, or a rescue, there are several factors you should take into account. The dragon should be bright, alert, and active, with clear eyes, nose, and vent area. They should have plump little bellies and be willing to move around, aware of their environment. Avoid the smallest babies out of the group, with nipped toes and tails.
Reputable breeders who care about their dragons will only sell babies that are eating and shedding well – at a minimum age of 4 weeks. NOTE: It is not a bad or uncommon thing for breeders to wait until the dragons are older. In fact, it’s often better for you as they will be stronger, with brighter coloration and notable personalities 🙂 To learn more about buying a beardie from a breeder, pet store, or rescue, watch Module #1 in RBD: The Ultimate Care Guide!
Now, co-habitation (or the housing of 2 or more dragons together, after they leave the breeder’s home) is a heavily debated topic in the reptile world – unnecessarily so! At RBD, we prioritize caring for reptiles in the best, most natural way possible. That means studying their environment and how they behave within, then replicating that in captivity. The fact of the matter is, bearded dragons are solitary creatures. They are very territorial and really only interact socially when mating or fighting. This is in accordance with their instinctive nature – it doesn’t matter if they’ve “grown up” together or are “brothers/sisters.” I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…don’t house baby or adult bearded dragons together! 🙂
Ask yourself these questions before bringing your baby bearded dragon home. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies! Remember, it’s FAR better to save up a little and pay more for a high quality set up starting out, than to wrestle with your dragon’s potential health issues (and vet bills) and future setup upgrades.
Is your enclosure a minimum of a 20 gallon aquarium/terrarium? Is it at least 30”(76cm) long if you’re building it yourself? Keep in mind, this will need to be upgraded after 6 months (max.). If you want to skip upgrading, it’s perfectly fine to start off with an adult size enclosure!
Are you using either regular Slate Tile, Sand Mat, or paper towels? Never use substrates likes calcium or play sand, crushed walnut shells, potting soils, or cedar shavings.
Lighting and Heat
What type of lighting and heat bulbs are you using? Bearded dragons must have a source of UVB Lighting as well as a Basking Bulb. This is so your dragon can properly digest its food, metabolize nutrients, and grow majestically! If you don’t provide these essential elements, your dragon will develop a crippling condition called Metabolic Bone Disease. This disease is extremely painful and often results in the death of your dragon…If you are going to invest in anything, invest in high quality lighting! Learn about how to setup your lighting and heat properly, plus how to achieve the right temperatures in Module #4 of our Video Series..
Do you have climbing structures and hides? Make sure you add an elevated basking spot for your beardies, plus other fun accessories! Especially while they’re young, it’s beneficial to give them plants or cage furnishings they can hide in, such as Rock Outcrops, Habba Huts, Grapevine, and Cork Rounds!
Do you have food and worm dishes? It’s important to have a dish you can put their salads in so they’re available throughout the day! Worm dishes are also beneficial for free feeding calcium rich Phoenix Worms in. We only recommend employing water dishes if you have a well ventilated enclosure with the proper temperatures. You’ll learn how to keep your new beardie hydrated further down the article 🙂
Knowing Your Temperatures
How are you reading the temperatures? We highly recommend using a Digital Thermometer or a Temp Gun so you know your precise basking and cool end temperatures! Never guess at the numbers!
Food & Hydration
Do you know how many times per day baby beardies need to eat? Or how many insects they can chow down in a sitting? Baby bearded dragons can eat 2-3 times per day and will devour as many insects as they can within a 10-15 minute period. For healthy dragons, this general means 20-60 roaches or crickets each day!
Are you ready to buy and house all of the necessary feeder insects to keep your beardie plump, happy, and growing like crazy? Dubia Roaches are by far the HIGHEST quality staple feeder out there. One dubia roach has the nutritional equivalent of about 5+ crickets!
Do you have the proper supplements? You’ll need 2 types: Calcium and Multivitamins. We highly recommend Repashy products as they embody quality! 🙂 These will be dusted on the roaches or crickets – Calcium on a daily basis; Multivitamin several times a week. You’ll find a complete supplementing schedule within the Food List PDF in RBD: The Ultimate Care Guide!
Baby bearded dragon’s diet comprises of 80% Insects and 20% Greens and Vegetables. They are often picky when it comes to eating their greens (like kids, eh?) but it’s important to always provide them. They receive a large amount of moisture from eating nutritious greens such as Dandelion, Turnip, Mustard, and Collard. Avoid feeding lettuces such as Iceberg as these lack nutritional value!
To ensure that your baby is properly hydrated, soak them several times a week in warm water for about 10-15 minutes. Use either distilled or RO water, or a dechlorinator like ReptiSafe to make your tap water safe. You should also gently mist the baby dragon once a day.
We’ve just gone over some of the basics of baby bearded dragon care! When you first bring your new beardie home, let him settle in before handling. These are generally mellow, laid back lizards that don’t get stressed out easily and enjoy human interaction. Nevertheless, take things slow – build trust with your dragon by placing your hand in the terrarium, letting him lick you (they lick EVERYTHING!).
Lastly, find a reputable herp veterinarian in your area and make plans for when your dragon gets bigger! They can easily reach sizes of 18-24” so you must account for that. Above all, love your new beardie, do what’s best for it, and don’t ever settle for “bare minimum” care!
We covered a lot with this article, but it’s vitally important that you truly understand how to care for a baby beardie, from its various behaviors to possible health issues, what to feed it and when…Save yourself extensive time and effort researching, by watching our completely FREE Video Interview! Within this interview, you’ll learn how to avoid the tragic mistakes most new beardie owners make when starting out, what it takes to raise a healthy and happy dragon, plus much, much more!