Bearded Dragons

 

Bearded dragons as pets

  • Frequently asked questions about bearded dragons
  • Bearded dragon facts you need to know

There are seven different species of bearded dragons, all with varied characteristics and attributes.  This makes it difficult to generalise about them, so we will focus on the ones that are most popular as pets – especially for those people starting off with their first bearded dragon. 

Bearded dragons make good pets and are one of the most favourite reptiles to be kept by enthusiasts.  These unusual and fascinating creatures are low maintenance, quiet and don't need exercising, which can make them ideal pets for today's busy lifestyle.  Bearded dragons make great pets for people with allergies and don't require much space.

Bearded dragons are members of the Lizard family and Geckos are also types of lizards:

  • View our Gecko Care Advice section to learn more
  • View our Lizard Care Advice section to learn more

 

Frequently asked questions about bearded dragons

How long will my bearded dragon live?  Some bearded dragons can live for 10 years or more!

How big will my bearded dragon get? Most bearded dragons are 24 inches (60cm) when full grown.

What do I feed my bearded dragon? Bearded dragons can be fed complete dry bearded dragon-specific food, live insects and fresh greens, fruit and vegetables.

Will my bearded dragon need company?  Bearded dragons can live quite happily on their own.

What sort of housing will my bearded dragon need?  Bearded dragons can be housed in vivariums which are indoor glass fronted enclosures that allow you to recreate the bearded dragon's habitat on a smaller scale under controlled environmental conditions.   There are a wide variety of vivariums available to choose from and some are oak panelled with a transparent front, others are made of glass or tough acrylic.  There are also stands, cabinets and vivariums that come with rock backgrounds.  

What sort of heating, humidity and lighting will my bearded dragon need?  Your bearded dragon will need the temperature in their vivarium between 20°C – 35°C.  They will need special 10 -12% UVB lighting and low room humidity.  Our staff in store will be happy to advise you of the correct settings for your bearded dragon's environment.

Does my vet cover reptiles?  Not all vets cover reptiles.

 

Bearded dragon facts you need to know

Bearded dragons are cold blooded which means that they are unable to regulate their body temperature by generating heat themselves.  They warm themselves by basking in the sun or on hot rocks that hold their heat.  When the temperature is too hot they seek shelter in the shade.  This process of shifting from one temperature to another is known as thermo-regulation.   

  • View our Reptile products for a wide range of heat mats, lamps and heating equipment.
  • Bearded dragons must have 10 – 12% UVB lighting in their vivariums or they will develop bone deformities.
  • View our bearded dragon Lighting advice to learn more
  • Bearded dragons come from hot, dry and arid desert / semi desert regions of Australia.  They get their name from the spikey scales that protrude from their throats!  When bearded dragons feel threatened they will inflate these spikes to warn off predators.
  • As your bearded dragon grows it will shed parts of its skin around once a month.  You will know when your bearded dragon is preparing to shed because their colours will get duller, and then they will turn whitish immediately before the shed.  Bearded dragons shed their skin in stages rather than all in one go as snakes do.
  • Visit our bearded dragon Health advice to learn more about shedding
  • All reptiles carry salmonella and therefore hygiene is very important when keeping a bearded dragon as a pet.  Always wash your hands immediately after feeding or handling your bearded dragon and after any contact with their equipment.  We do not recommend that children under 5 handle bearded dragons and older children should always be supervised when with the bearded dragon.  
  • View our Reptile products for a range of hygiene and cleaning products

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Feeding your Bearded Dragon

  • What should I feed my bearded dragon?
  • How much do I feed my bearded dragon?
  • How often should I feed my bearded dragon?
  • Water

Bearded dragons are omnivores and will eat insects, greens, fruit and vegetables.

 

What should I feed my bearded dragon?

Dry bearded dragon-specific foods

There are bearded dragon pellets available that have been specifically designed to give your bearded dragon all the nutrients and minerals that they need for a balanced diet.  You will still need to feed your bearded dragon live insects even if fed pellets, jut not as many or as frequently.  Our staff are happy to advise you of the best varieties available in store.

  • Visit our reptile products for a selection of bearded dragon foods

Live Insects and gut loading

Insects should be fed live to your bearded dragon as they tend to refuse dead prey.  Any uneaten insects should be removed from the vivarium.

  • Bearded dragons enjoy crickets and locusts.  Don't feed your bearded dragon meal worms too often as they are crunchy and hard to digest or wax worms as they are high in fat.
  • As insects are eaten whole the general rule is that you should not feed any insect that are bigger than the width of your bearded dragon's head to prevent them from choking and impaction.  
  • The insects should be gut loaded 24 hours prior to feeding.  Gut loading means that the insects have been fed a nutritious diet that will benefit your bearded dragon when it eats them.

Greens, fruit and vegetables

You can feed your bearded dragon dandelion leaves, mustard greens, carrots, peas, kale and green beans.  Avoid feeding spinach, tomatoes and broccoli.  Lettuce can be fed but only occasionally as it has little nutritional value.  Recommended fruits are strawberries, apricots, mango, melon, peaches, apples, pears and grapes.  Avoid feeding citrus fruits such as lemons or oranges.

Calcium and Multi-Vitamin Supplements

Your bearded dragon will need Calcium and multi-vitamin supplements. If they are lacking in Vitamin D-3 then they could be prone to metabolic bone disease, which can be fatal. The supplement is a powder base so it is easy to coat food with it.   

  • Visit our reptile products for a selection of bearded dragon foods
  • View our bearded dragon Healthcare advice to learn more.

 

How much should I feed my bearded dragon?

How much you should feed your bearded dragon depends on how old they are.  Their diet should either be dry bearded dragon pellets or insects and greens, fruit and vegetables. 

Babies and juveniles (up to a year old) should be fed as many insects and greens, fruit and vegetables (feed more insects than pellets to help them grow) or pellets as they can eat within 10 – 15 minutes, twice a day, morning and afternoon.  Adults should be fed between 50 – 60 insects over the course of a week as greens, fruit and vegetables should be available daily.

  • Visit our reptile products for a selection of bearded dragon foods

How often should I feed my bearded dragon?

Adult bearded dragons should be fed bearded dragon pellets or insects every 1 – 2 days and juveniles should be fed 2 – 3 times a day.  Greens, fruit and vegetables can be fed daily.

Visit our reptile products for a selection of bearded dragon foods
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Water

A shallow dish of fresh water should be provided daily (ensure the dish is small so that it does not increase the humidity).  You can also spray your bearded dragon daily with a water spray so that they can drink the droplets off their nose. 

 

Lighting your Vivarium

  • Ultraviolet light
  • Metabolic Bone Disease

Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet light (UVB) is essential for your Bearded Dragon as it provides Vitamin D-3.  Without Vitamin D-3 your Bearded Dragon will develop deformities and become ill.  Specialist 10 - 12% UVB lighting is available in store and our staff will be happy to advise you on the best types and sizes for your vivarium.

  • UVB lights are usually run the length of the vivarium, but be sure they overlap your bearded dragon's basking area. UVB basking lamps and bulbs are also available.
  • Your bearded dragon should be able to get within 12 inches of the UVB lights to benefit from the UVB emitted.
  • The amount of UVB produced by lighting decreases over time so the lights need to be replaced every 6 – 12 months.
  • It is important that UVB producing lights be directed through a screen top rather than glass so the UVB rays can reach your bearded dragon.
  • The UBV lighting will need to be on between 12 – 14 hours a day and you can use a timer to turn the vivarium lighting off at night.  
  • Light can give off heat so it is always advisable to check the temperature in the vivarium with a thermometer in case your lighting is making it too hot.  
  • View our reptile Products range for a selection of UBV lighting for bearded dragons

 

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic Bone Disease (MTB) is caused by insufficient UBV light.  Without UBV light your bearded dragon can not digest Calcium properly.  Calcium is very important in the building of bones and muscles, as well as the functioning of nerve endings.  

  • MBD can result in thin bones that affect your bearded dragon's ability to walk and climb, broken bones, swollen joints, deformities, paralysis, stunted growth, tremors, constipation, inability to eat and death.  
  • If you think your bearded dragon is suffering from MBD contact your reptile vet immediately.

 

Getting Started

  • Check List
  • Settling in your bearded dragon
  • Daily maintenance
  • Monthly maintenance

We have a great guide to help you make bringing your bearded dragon home stress free and smooth with some handy tips for you to help settle your bearded dragon in to their new life happily. Our check list below will ensure that you have everything for your new bearded dragon's arrival.

  • View our bearded dragons As Pets Advice  to learn more about keeping bearded dragons as pets

Check list

  • Vivarium (housing)
  • Heat mat and / or heat bulbs
  • Thermostat
  • 2 thermometers
  • 10 – 12% UBV Lighting
  • Lighting guard or hood
  • Substrate (material for the floor of the vivarium)
  • 2 hides
  • Décor  (branches, rocks etc)
  • Shallow water bowl
  • Live insects for food
  • Gut loading products for live food
  • Bearded dragon complete dry food
  • Calcium and Vitamin D-3 powder
  • Reptile-safe cleaning products
  • Cricket Keeper
  • Visit our reptile Products range for a selection of gecko housing and equipment

 

Settling in your bearded dragon

Once you have arrived home place your bearded dragon into the vivarium, make sure the lid is secure and leave your bearded dragon alone for 24 hours. Bearded dragons can easily get stressed moving from one place to another and they need time to adjust to their new living situation.  

 

Daily maintenance

Bearded dragons are not demanding creatures to keep but daily maintenance keeps them in good shape and allows you to spot potential problems early.

  • Check the temperature and humidity of the vivarium on a daily basis.
  • Spot clean faecal matter.
  • Change the water in the bearded dragon's bowl with fresh clean water.
  • Check the condition of your bearded dragon.
  • Provide fresh food
  • View our bearded dragon Housing Advice to learn more about temperature and humidity
  • View our bearded dragon Healthcare to learn more about keeping your bearded dragon healthy

 

Monthly maintenance

At least once a month all the substrate should be removed and disposed of and the entire vivarium cleaned and disinfected before new substrate is placed inside.  All reptiles carry salmonella and therefore hygiene is very important when keeping a bearded dragon as a pet.  Always wash your hands immediately after feeding or handling your bearded dragon and after any contact with their equipment.  

  • View our Reptile products for a range of hygiene and cleaning products

 

 

Housing your Bearded Dragon

  • The vivarium
  • Habitat
  • Substrate
  • Humidity
  • Small amount of water
  • Hygiene

 

The Vivarium

A vivarium is an indoor glass fronted enclosure for housing your bearded dragon.  It allows you to recreate the bearded dragon's habitat on a smaller scale under controlled environmental conditions.   There are a wide variety of vivariums available to choose from and some are oak panelled with a transparent front, others are made of glass or tough acrylic.  There are also stands, cabinets and vivariums that come with rock backgrounds.  

Whatever type of vivarium you choose must be escape proof, ventilated and large enough for your bearded dragon to live in comfortably.

What size vivarium should I have?

The size of your vivarium depends on the adult size of your fully grown bearded dragon.  Your bearded dragon must have enough space to thermo-regulate (regulate their body temperature by moving from the hotter part of the vivarium to the cooler).

  • Our staff in store will be happy to give you advice on the right sized vivarium for your bearded dragon.  
  • Bearded dragon's love to climb so the vivarium should be of sufficient height to let them climb up branches or rocks placed as décor.  


Where is the best location for the vivarium?

The vivarium should be in a quiet, draught free spot away from direct sunlight and hot radiators as the vivarium can heat up quickly during the day.  Don't forget to have an electric socket point nearby to plug your heating and lighting equipment into without trailing cables.

  • View our bearded dragon Heating section to learn more

 

Habitat

Deciding what habitat to set up for a your bearded dragon depends on:

  • where your bearded dragon would live in the wild
  • what your bearded dragon's habits are

Your bearded dragon will need places to hide, rest, climb and bask, so provide things such as rocks and logs and branches that are clean and have had their bark removed.    Petstop supply a wide range of vivarium accessories and ornaments which will help you to create an environment for your bearded dragon to live happily in.  

  • Visit our reptile Products section for a selection of vivarium ornaments

Your vivarium should have 2 hide boxes (artificial caves) for your bearded dragon to retreat into, one for the hot end and one for the cooler end of the vivarium.  The hides should be large enough for your bearded dragon to fit into whilst still touching the sides.   You may also have to provide a damp hide box and a rough stone to help your bearded dragon shed its skin.

  • View our bearded dragon Healthcare section to learn more.

 

Substrate

Substrate is the material that lines the bottom of the vivarium.  Substrates for bearded dragons can be specially treated and safe fine gravel, sand or reptile carpet.   Our staff will be happy to advise you on the correct substrate for your bearded dragon in store.   

  • Visit our reptile Products for a range of substrates and reptile specific cleaning products

 

Humidity

Bearded Dragons need low humidity, but a little more than normal room humidity should be maintained when your bearded dragon is shedding its skin.  You can mist an area of your vivarium with a water spray to increase humidity or if your bearded dragon is having difficulty shedding you can add a damp hide box to the vivarium. Hygrometers are available that measure humidity should you need to check.

  • Visit our reptile products section for a range of vivarium equipment and accessories
  • View our bearded dragon Healthcare section to learn more.

Small amount of water

All bearded dragons should have a small shallow bowl of clean water for bathing and drinking (so it doesn't increase the humidity).  Ideally the dish should be bottom heavy to prevent tipping or flipping over.  Alternatively you can spray your bearded dragon's face with a water spray so that they can lick it off.

 

 

Hygiene

Substrate should be replaced with fresh as soon as it is soiled.  At least once a month all the substrate should be removed and disposed of, and the entire vivarium cleaned and disinfected before new substrate is placed inside.

  • All reptiles carry salmonella and therefore hygiene is very important when keeping a bearded dragon as a pet.  Always wash your hands immediately after feeding or handling your bearded dragon and after any contact with their equipment.  
  • View our Reptile products for a range of hygiene and cleaning products

 

 

 

 

Heating your Vivarum

  • Thermo-regulation
  • Heat mats
  • Heat lights / bulbs
  • Ceramic Heat Emitters

Your bearded dragon will need a constant supply of heat as they are desert creatures and in the wild they have to cope with the scorching sun. The temperature in their vivarium should be between 20°C – 35°C. Different sections of the vivarium need to be at different temperatures:  ranging from the hottest part of the vivarium (where your bearded dragon can bask) which should be at least 35°C and the cooler end which should be between 20 – 25°C.   The temperature can drop at night to no lower than 15°C but ideally should be between 18 – 21°C.  Our staff in store are available to advise you on the best heating equipment for your bearded dragon's vivarium.

 

Thermo-regulation

Bearded dragons are cold blooded which means that they are unable to regulate their body temperature by generating heat themselves.  They warm themselves by basking in the sun or on hot rocks that hold their heat.  When the temperature is too hot they seek shelter in the shade.  This process of shifting from one temperature to another is known as thermo-regulation.  

As your bearded dragon needs to regulate its temperature you will need to provide a hotter part and a cooler part of the vivarium at each end.  This is called a thermal gradient.  Your bearded dragon move from one part of the vivarium to the other – if it is too hot it will move to the colder end to cool down and vice versa.  You should have 2 thermometers on each end of the vivarium to check the temperature.

  • View our Reptile products for a wide range of heat mats, lamps and heating equipment.

 

Heat mats

Heat mats are a popular way to provide a thermal gradient in your vivarium.  They   should only cover between a third and a half of the floor space to allow your bearded dragon to thermo-regulate. This heat mat should be regulated by a thermostat to ensure that it does not overheat.  

  • View our Reptile products for a wide range of heat mats, lamps and heating equipment.

Heat lamps / bulbs

Heat lamps and bulbs provide a basking spot for your bearded dragon to warm up in.  Make sure you have a guard for any heat source so your bearded dragon doesn't get too close and burn itself.  You will need a thermostat to make sure the temperature is not too hot or cold.  You will need 2 heat lights, each on a 12 hour cycle:  one for the day and a nocturnal one for the night.  Our in store staff will be happy to advise you of the range available.

  • View our Reptile products for a wide range of heat mats, lamps and heating equipment.

Ceramic Heat Emitters

Ceramic Heat Emitters are heating elements produce no light and very intense heat. They require a special porcelain socket to absorb the heat. Because they get so hot it is very dangerous to use them directly in a bearded dragon's vivarium.

  • View our Reptile products for a wide range of heat mats, lamps and heating equipment.

 

 

Keeping them healthy 

  • Shedding
  • Metabolic bone disease
  • Mites
  • Respiratory Infections

 

Shedding

All bearded dragons shed their outer layer of skin throughout their lives as they grow and young bearded dragons will shed more frequently than adults.

Pre-ecdysis

Pre-ecysis is the name given to the changes your bearded dragon will go through whilst preparing to shed its skin. As your bearded dragon grows it will shed its skin around once a month.  You will know when your bearded dragon is preparing to shed because their colours will get duller, and then they will turn whitish immediately before the shed.

  • Raising the humidity in the vivarium can help your bearded dragon to loosen its skin. You can help the process by misting the vivarium with water and adding a damp hide (a hide filled with damp sphagnum moss).  

Ecdysis

Ecdysis is the name given to the act of shedding, which is usually started by your bearded dragon rubbing it's head on rocks or branches to loosen the skin around its head.

  • If possible remove its skin from the vivarium after shedding.  
  • Check your bearded dragon to ensure that the shed skin has successfully been removed.   
  • If necessary bathe your bearded dragon and remove any patches of skin that have not been shed with a warm towel or tweezers, to avoid infection.
  • Visit our reptile Products for a range of hides and hydrometers

 

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic Bone Disease (MTB) can be caused by insufficient UBV light and Calcium and Vitamin D-3 deficiencies.  Without 10 – 12% UBV light your bearded dragon can not digest Calcium properly.  Calcium is very important in the building of bones and muscles, as well as the functioning of nerve endings.  Calcium and Multi-Vitamin supplements are available which you can add to your bearded dragon's food and you should always light your vivarium with 10 – 12% UVB lighting equipment.

  • MBD can result in thin bones that affect your bearded dragon's ability to walk and climb, broken bones, swollen joints, deformities, paralysis, stunted growth, tremors, constipation, inability to eat and death.  
  • If you think your bearded dragon is suffering from MBD contact your reptile vet immediately.
  • The Vet Clinic at Petstop caters for reptiles, so please call for a consultation.
  • View our bearded dragon Feeding advice to learn more about supplements
  • View our bearded dragon Lighting advice to find out about UVB lighting

 

Mites

Mites are little parasites that can live on your bearded dragon and feed on their blood. Your bearded dragon will seem lethargic and may go off its food during a mite infestation. 

Treatment for mites involves treating the bearded dragon with a special powder or spray to kill the mites, and also a thorough cleaning of the vivarium and contents with a reptile specific disinfectant.

  • Visit our reptile Products for a selection of health and hygiene treatments

​​

Respiratory Infections

Bearded dragons can suffer from respiratory (breathing) infections and symptoms include signs of mucus around the nose or mouth, sneezing, open-mouth breathing, and wheezing.  

  • A common cause of respiratory infections in bearded dragons is poor vivarium conditions, low temperatures or too much humidity.
  • If your bearded dragon shows signs of respiratory illness increase temperatures on the warm side / basking area by a few degrees. If the symptoms persist take your bearded dragon to your reptile vet immediately.