Table of Contents
- Habitat Tanks
- Tank Decorations and Accessories
- Temperature & Lighting
- Types of Food Bearded Dragons Eat
- A Baby Bearded Dragon’s Diet
- The Juvenile Bearded Dragon Diet
- Adult Bearded Dragon’s Diet
- Food List
- Behavior & Physical Characteristics
- Different Types of Bearded Dragons
- Where to find bearded dragons for sale
- Baby Bearded Dragon Care Guide
- Bearded Dragon Facts
Bearded Dragons are a native Australian reptile belonging to the Agamidae family. Mostly found throughout inland Australia, they’re a desert dwelling lizard, but can also be found in open woodland areas along the coast.
The name bearded dragon is the broad term for some 6 species and 2 subspecies. However the name is generally used to refer to the Inland Bearded Dragon, the most common and readily available dragon in the pet trade. With an average lifespan of 10 years this dragon grows to lengths of up to 24 inches and is extremely popular amongst reptile enthusiasts. Perfect for beginners and experienced keepers alike because of their gentle nature and successful captive breeding.
In order to keep your beardie happy and healthy for years to come, a proper bearded dragon habitat must be correctly set up. This is the home where your pet reptile will be living throughout its entire life, so make sure you’ve done a thorough job to suit all its needs. Believe it or not, providing the perfect home for a bearded dragon isn’t a difficult task. This page will provide you with the information you need to ensure habitat setup goes smoothly.
For a baby bearded dragon (hatchling or juvenile), a 20-gallon tank will be enough. However, when buying a tank, you should keep in mind that they will not stay small forever. In fact, they can grow rather large within a span of a few months. That being said, an adult will need an absolute minimum of a 40-gallon tank. If possible, I would recommend a 50 to 60 gallon tank for adult dragons. This will allow them to run around with ease and get some exercise in. Feeding time will also be more fun to watch, as they’ll chase down their insects like a reptile predator.
From personal experience, size is important when it comes to your beardie’s habitat. If you think about it, these reptiles in the wild will roam around for hours while hunting for food. They have curious personalities and like to explore and roam in a natural setting. If you were to stick multiple dragons in one cage, you would be limiting their life experience by confining them within a small enclosure.
Many owners do decide to keep multiple beardies in a space smaller than what I recommend, and they go on and live a healthy lives. And although they may be healthy, will they be happy dragons? Most likely not. Of course not all reptile owners will have the resources or space to provide them with a large tank. So, if space permits and you can afford it, definitely treat them. If not, it’s not the end of the world for your beardie.
Types of Tanks
During the process of selecting the perfect tank, you’ll be presented with a few options to build a wonderful habitat. There are many tanks to choose from, but these are the most popular for various reasons.
Glass Aquarium Tank
This may be the most popular choice, and for good reason. A clear glass enclosure lets you view your bearded dragon from all angles. This feature will come in handy if you have a lot of tank accessories where they can hide in. They are often very cheap and can sometimes be free if you look at local listings such as craigslist.
Aquariums have an open top, which makes it convenient for access to your reptiles. However, I wouldn’t leave it open. Make sure you cover the top with a metal screen to ensure nothing escapes (insects or dragons), while keeping constant air circulation within the enclosure.
Melamine Wood Cages
These enclosures are made out of wood, with a clear glass side panel for easy viewing. If you decide to go with a wooden cage, I’d suggest getting a white one so light reflects off the non-glass sides, providing more light for your dragon. However, these enclosures are heavy and may not always be the cheapest option.
PVC Plastic Cages
If you plan on moving your bearded dragon’s cage around a lot, I would recommend this option. Because they’re made from PVC plastic (same material as PVC piping), they’re a much lighter option. The plastic material makes them much cheaper than say, melamine cages. The one problem with these cages is the material will produce a faint plastic odor that may be a nuisance.
Can you keep multiple bearded dragons in one enclosure?
A common question among new owners is: can you fit multiple bearded dragons within one enclosure? In order words, will they fight? Generally speaking, bearded dragons are very friendly reptiles. Given the right conditions, there should be very minimal fighting, if any.
If you have multiple baby bearded dragons, they won’t have any problems with each other no matter what sex combination. As long as there is reasonable space and enough insects and vegetables to go around, there should be no problem.
Once these reptiles become old enough, fighting may occur. Having multiple juveniles or adults in an enclosure may lead to fights between males. Due to their aggressive nature, two male beardies will likely fight for dominance at one point or another. If you have two females, the chance is drastically lower, but it can still happen.
Make sure your enclosure is around the 60-gallon range if you plan to raise multiple beardies, especially males. This way, there will be plenty of room for each to claim as its own territory.
Your Bearded Dragon will be spending most of his time in the ‘home’ you provide for him, so it’s important that it’s setup correctly when he’s ready to move in! This ‘home’ is usually referred to as an enclosure, however it can also be called a terrarium, vivarium or tank as each one is equally appropriate.
Many people don’t realize that bearded dragons are actually very fun, active reptiles to keep. In their natural habitat, they love to run, climb and move about so it’s important to try and replicate these conditions in their enclosure as much as possible. So there’s a general rule when it comes to keeping bearded dragons. That is, the bigger the space, the happier the dragon. Keep in mind that beardies come from the open landscape of Australia, which means they have almost unlimited space. So you can be sure that a bigger enclosure will make for a much happier bearded dragon.
How big should a bearded dragon tank be?
As a minimum guideline, your beardies tank should be 6 feet long, 2 feet high and approximately 2 feet wide. This is so they have plenty of room to run, turn, climb and bask on branches for warmth. Reptile enclosures usually come with their own cover. However, if you have a custom-made cage, or wish to make your own, materials such as metal mesh or hardware cloth will do just fine. The main key here is ventilation. The cover must be made out of a ventilated material to allow air to flow through the enclosure. The enclosure itself may be made out of glass, plastic, wood, etc and ready-made reptile enclosures should be available at your local pet store.
Next you’ll need to add a substrate. Now if you’re confused by the term, don’t worry, it’s just another word for the stuff you put on the bottom of the enclosure. You have plenty of options to choose from here:
- Paper towels
- Aquarium gravel
- Alfalfa pellets
are all able to be used as a substrate on your enclosure. However each one comes with its pros and cons and you may find one to be more suitable than others. This though, is up to your own judgment.
When deciding what kind to substrate to use, ask yourself two questions:
- Will this be dangerous to my bearded dragon?
- Will this absorb liquid?
All different materials used for substrate have their pros and cons, but the one I personally use is beach sand. It’s very absorbent and extremely cheap to get (just a drive to the beach). The problem is they may accidentally eat the sand. However, my 3 dragons have never had any problems with natural beach sand.
Paper towel or unprinted paper is generally only used for baby bearded dragons as a cheap and easy to clean alternative. It can’t be ingested by the juvenile (in case he decides to eat it), which makes it a very safe, convenient choice.
Note: Baby beardies should not be housed on sand or anything large that is not easily digested as this can cause intestinal blockage.
Sand, aquarium gravel and pebbles is usually the substrate of choice for adult beardies. These substrates replicate their natural habitat, which is most ideal and sand can be safely ingested by adult beardies in small amounts. You may wish to use commercially available substrates as these are the safest option. They are digestible and some even provide extra calcium, which is good and necessary for bearded dragons. Some of these include bone-aid and calci-sand, however there are many more available.
Carpet is also a great option. The only downside to this is that bearded dragons can get their long nails caught in the material. This can be avoided though, just ensure you purchase a carpet with a tight, short weave.
The other, less expensive alternative is alfalfa pellets. Although they are a cheap, digestible option, they can be difficult to clean and just generally don’t look very appealing.
Tank Decorations and Accessories
Cage accessories are essential to keep your beardie a happy dragon. As they love to climb, ensure they have a branch or log placed in the enclosure for your beardie to perch on. It’s also a good idea to provide a basking rock. This will be placed under a heat source which your bearded dragon will use to regulate his body temperature. It’s also important to provide a cave for your beardie. This gives him a place to ‘escape’ and feel secure. All these accessories should be available at your local pet store.
Wooden branches will not only make your terrarium look nicer, but it can be great for your lizards to run around on. If you plan on putting in branches from the wild, make sure you disinfect them with a 10% bleach solution. There can be unwanted parasites and bugs that can harm your beardie if you don’t.
Also make sure you shake off the branches after feeding your dragon crickets. These sly insects are known to hide in the branches from time to time. The last thing you want is for your reptile to find one right before their night cycle and sneak in a midnight protein snack before bedtime.
Flat rocks are great for your dragon to relax on and soak in the bright lights. However, I wouldn’t recommend getting a heated rock like so many other owners do. A heated rock combined with the heat from their lighting may just be too hot for them to handle.
When a dragon is startled or scared, its natural instincts will kick in and it’ll hide. Make sure you provide them with a hide box so they’re able to hide from any stressful stimuli within their environment. It’ll be sort of a safe haven for them. Don’t forget to check these boxes for crickets as well. Like your beardie, crickets will hide to avoid stressful situations, such as being eaten by a lizard.
Temperature & Lighting
What temperature do bearded dragons prefer?
Bearded dragons are cold blooded and depend on external sources to keep them warm. You’ll need to maintain temperatures of between 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60-70 degrees during the night. Bearded dragons also require a basking area and this will need to be kept at 88-100 degrees Fahrenheit.
There should be two sides to a terrarium, one for basking and another that is slightly cooler. Your bearded dragon will sometimes need to “cool down” by going to a less heated area.
Perhaps the most crucial factor in habitat setup is getting the lighting and temperature just right. Without a UVB lighting system in an enclosure, a beardie will slow down their metabolism and be at risk for MBD, or Metabolic Bone Disorder. They also use UVB light (ultraviolet light) in order to produce Vitamin D3 which allows them to be able to metabolize the nutrients from digested food.
Installing a UVB lighting system for your habitat is simple to do if you know what to do. First, you want to make sure the light shines from the top to bottom and not scattered through the side of the glass. To do this, just hang the lighting system overhead. You want as little UV rays to escape the terrarium as possible. Keep in mind that the further away the lights are, the less UV rays your dragons will be absorbing. Although you might not be able to tell, the effectiveness of the UVB lamps will deteriorate over time. Make sure you replace them periodically.
You can purchase artificial lights from all good pet stores, but make sure you purchase a full spectrum UV light as this provides the necessary UVA and UVB rays. It should be placed at least 2 feet above your bearded dragons basking spot, so putting it on the top of the cage will do just fine.
Note: be careful not to place the heat source above an elevated perch, as this runs the risk of your bearded dragon getting too close to the heat. Too much heat can be fatal to your bearded dragon.
Allow your bearded dragon to bask in UVB for a couple hours in the morning, which will prepare them for their first meal of the day. If possible, let them bask in natural sunlight in a controlled and safe environment from time to time.
Always ensure the enclosure has areas that are hot and areas that are cool. Your bearded dragon will use this to thermoregulate. This means he’ll move from hot to cool to control his body temperature. Doing this will prevent him from overheating and keep him happy and safe. Make sure to keep two thermometers in the cage to measure the temperature of both sides.
Among all the pets in the reptile word, the bearded dragon is often regarded as one of the easiest to take care of. These “beginner lizards” have been so widely domesticated that crucial tasks, such as preparing a bearded dragon diet, have been made extremely simple.
Seriously, any local pet store, along with your nearest grocery, will have all the necessary ingredients for a proper beardie diet. The hardest part may be finding accurate information on feeding your bearded dragon in order to maintain a healthy and happy lizard. All of which, I will cover extensively in this guide.
Types of Food Bearded Dragons Eat
A common misconception is that all reptiles are herbivores, meaning they strictly eat greens (think fruits and vegetables). While it’s true that most pet reptiles are herbivores, the bearded dragon is not. In fact, they are omnivores, which means that they’ll be more than happy to munch on fruits and vegetables in addition to protein (such as insects). With that being said, a bearded dragon’s diet should be comprised of vegetables, certain insects and (non-citrus) fruits.
A Baby Bearded Dragon’s Diet
A baby bearded dragon, also known as a “Hatchling” in the beardie circle, should not have the same diet of an older beardie. Let me first clarify that a hatchling is a baby dragon that’s less than 2 months old.
This rule should be no surprise because a larger reptile will, without doubt, eat more than a smaller reptile. However, the difference in their diets is not just the quantity of food, but also the ratio for types of food given to them. Let me elaborate.
A hatchling should be given approximately 5% – 10% plant matter (fruits and veggies) and 90% – 95% protein (insects). If you were to apply this same diet plan for your adult bearded dragon, they will certainly have intestinal impaction in a matter of hours. Bearded dragon impaction is no joke, as it can cause serious health issues and in several cases even death.
But don’t worry about your hatchling. They can handle the high percentage of protein if you follow the proper feeding guidelines.
The Juvenile Bearded Dragon Diet
A juvenile bearded dragon is a young “teenage” dragon and classified as at least 2 months old. It’s recommended that you feed them insects about 3/8 of an inch in size. And as far as food ratios, I would keep it around 20% to 30% plant matter (vegetables) and 70% to 80% protein matter (insects). As a juvenile dragon gets older, slightly increase their intake of vegetables and decrease their intake of insects.
Adult Bearded Dragon’s Diet
The adult beardies do not and should not eat as many insects as their younger counterparts. If you’ve gradually added vegetables to a juvenile’s diet, then they should be used to eating little protein as a full-grown adult bearded dragon.
You really only need to feed them insects once per day. The maximum number of insects your adult dragon should be eating is 50 to 60 insects. Many owners think it’s time consuming to count how many insects they’ve eaten, but it’s not. Just don’t put in more than 60 insects into the cage when feeding them. And, if you’re worried about them eating too little: count how many insects are going in and subtract that by how many are left (post meal) to get the number of insects they’ve eaten.
If your adult bearded dragon is eating less than 20 insects per day, something may be wrong. It could be because of impaction of even an illness. Regardless of what it is, consult a veterinarian with experience in dragon care.
Bearded Dragons are omnivores that can eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and insects. Here are some ideas for foods to feed your dragon. If you’re ever unsure about whether they can eat something, make sure to look it up beforehand.
Fruits & Vegetables For Your Dragon
After your baby dragon has grown into a full sized adult, they will start to eat much more fruits and vegetables than insects. In fact, plant matter will make up the majority of their diet. This is why it’s important to find nutritious greens that are safe for your bearded dragon to eat.
What vegetables can bearded dragons eat?
- Bok Choy
- Turnip Greens
- Collard Greens
- Raw Cabbage
- Acorn Squash
- Sweet Potatoes
What fruits can bearded dragons eat?
Don’t forget to wash these fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cutting them up and feeding it to them. If pesticide is present on them, the toxins will certainly affect them sooner than later. Because beardies are such small reptiles, their bodies will react much more severely to toxins than humans will.
What insects and worms can bearded dragons eat?
There are a number of insects that provide a great source of protein for your beardie. Most of the time, you can find live insects anywhere you can find bearded dragons for sale, such as a local pet store. I’ve heard of a lot of beardie enthusiasts that have actually raised insects themselves to provide their pet with “organic” insects. It may be a good idea if time permits, but not everyone has the time or will. And, it is by no means necessary.
Here is the list of safe worms for your dragon:
- Meal Worms
- Wax Worms
- Phoenix Worms
- Silk Worms
- Butter Worms
- Red Worms
- Earth Worms
- Super Worms
I want to note that worms should only be given as treats, and not as a main source of their diet. These worms, especially silk worms, are considered to be very fatty. Having your pet reptile take in a lot of fat is never a healthy choice. Instead, insects should be the staple of your dragon’s diet.
Here are some safe insects for your dragon’s diet:
- Deathhead Roach
- Lobster Roach
- Discoid Roach
- Dubias Roach
Can I Feed My Beardie Insects I Catch?
The short answer is “no,” I wouldn’t recommend it. Unless you’re living in a cabin in the wild somewhere, do not catch insects for your bearded dragon. In a residential area, there’s a good chance that any insects wandering around have already been exposed to toxins. And, like I’ve mentioned before, your dragons are extremely sensitive to toxins.
Sure, you can make the argument that wild beardies eat insects that are in the wild. And although that’s true, the natural habitat of this particular reptile is not in a residential neighborhood.
Gut Loading Your Insects
An important step when it comes to your bearded dragon’s diet is gut loading. This refers to the process of feeding the insects before you let your dragons eat them. Although it does require some time and a little more money, I do highly recommend it.
Just like how humans like to eat animals that have been fed well (think Kobe Beef), so do your bearded dragons. This ensures they receive high nutritious insects in their diet, which will lead to better overall health.
You can mash up vegetables that are safe for your dragon (refer to the vegetables list) and feed them to the insects/worms. Do this roughly 24 hours before you plan on feeding the insects to your reptile.
Behavior & Physical Characteristics
Popular reptiles because of their unique appearance and good temperament, bearded dragons also have some of the most bizarre ways of communicating with one another. And I’m sure, when you read below you’ll agree, that it’s never a dull day with a bearded dragon in the house!
No matter how much you enjoy these unique characteristics of the bearded dragon, you’ll have to learn to interpret their language, so to speak. Although they rarely vocalize, bearded dragons can display some intense emotions through their behavior and it’s important to understand what it means. Some behaviors show aggression, some submission and some vary in meaning depending on who’s talking to who. As you might realize it can get a little complicated, but all these behaviors are normal and make up just another day in the life of a bearded dragon.
There can be no doubt that this is where the bearded dragon got its name. The bone-like structure under the neck is expanded, giving the appearance of a beard. Both males and females show this behavior, however it is most often used by the male. When a bearded dragon feels threatened it will flatten out its body and inflate its beard. Defensive bearded dragons have also been seen to open its jaws and hiss. Dominant males regularly use it to show his authority and superiority over other females and juveniles. The beard can become very dark when they do this, to the point where its almost black. You’ll see this behavior often during breeding season. The male will be defensive against rivals and try to impress the females.
Commonly seen during the breeding season, this behavior is used by both male and females all year round. Sometimes used to show dominance, often with an inflated beard, or just before mating. The head bob can vary in speed and intensity and subsequently have many different meanings. A very rapid, intense head bob means that the dragon is ready to mate. A fast but less jerky bob is usually an aggressive gesture whilst a very slow bob, can be recognized as more of a nod, shows submission. For this reason it is frequently used by females and juveniles. Owners have also noticed the head bobbing behavior when they approach the enclosure, as though welcoming its visitor and saying ‘hello’.
Strange but amusing. Yes, bearded dragons literally ‘wave’ or rather move their front leg in a circular motion. They’ll do this whilst standing on three legs and might even swap legs during the movement.
Juveniles will do this to show submission to a larger or dominant bearded dragon. It is always used to show obedience or submission and generally in response to a dominant dragons head bobbing display. Not being limited to small dragons, it is also used by adult dragons, both submissive males and females.
This is a sign of a healthy dragon. Although not as amusing as arm waving, you should enjoy this behavior as this is when your bearded dragon is most alert. Its tail will be curled up and point forwards towards its head. Often they will focus intensely on something such as their food at meal time, or anything else that has their attention. It is seen during the breeding season, as the females communicate that they are willing to mate. It might also be seen if the bearded dragon is placed in a new environment or any other change its surroundings.
Each bearded dragon has its own unique personality, so it’s important to get to know your dragon and learn the visual cues that tell you how its feeling. This way you’ll improve your ability to care for your beloved pet and prevent unnecessary stress. You might also be able to predict its behaviors and identify what triggers them.
Although bearded dragons appear to be incredibly hardy pets, unfortunately they still get sick. Many health problems are preventable, so it’s important to know how to properly care for them.
Just like any pet, beardies need to be treated when they’re sick and may require a visit to the vet. Be sure you don’t overlook the signs of an unhealthy dragon as symptoms may worsen and potentially lead to death.
Be on the lookout for some of these bearded dragon diseases and other health problems:
Metabolic Bone Disease
This is the most common and well known disease found in bearded dragons. Its symptoms are quite nasty and can cause a great deal of discomfort and pain. They include soft, swollen or broken bones, soft or ‘rubbery’ jaw, tremors, spinal deformity, paralysis, weight loss and lethargy. It’s really important that you visit a vet if you notice these signs as this disease can be fatal.
Calcium and phosphorous deficiency and the lack of vitamin D are the causes of this debilitating condition. Without a calcium rich diet and sufficient UVB exposure, the body compensates by drawing it from a calcium rich source (e.g the bones). This can be treated by providing a calcium rich diet and sufficient exposure from a UVB light.
This contagious and potentially fatal disease is believed to be caused by a yeast infection developed through the lack of good bacteria. This usually occurs when the bearded dragon has been treated with antibiotics. It infects the dragon both internally and externally as it is excreted through the faeces and makes contact with the skin. You can identify the disease by yellow patches of fungus on the skin which in most cases will begin at the vent area.
It’s very important that you take your dragon to the vet ASAP as it will die without proper medical treatment! The disease is often avoidable by giving pro biotic supplements after treatment, in the case that antibiotics have been used.
This infection is also known as Mouth Rot. If your bearded dragon is affected, you’ll notice a whitish, grey substance lining the soft tissues of its mouth. Other common symptoms include bleeding gums, loose teeth and a loss of appetite.
This infection is quite often preventable. Improper diet and injury are the main causes however parasites may also be to blame. For this reason it’s a good idea to visit your local reptile vet. Antibiotics are a common method of treatment for this condition.
Poor cage conditions are the major cause of this infection. Temperatures that are too low or a highly humid enclosure may cause your bearded dragon to experience the following symptoms:
- Gaping mouth
- Mucus excretion from mouth and nose
The best thing you can do for your beloved pet is to correct its living conditions. This will help to control the infection and prevent it from happening again. It’s important to see your vet as antibiotics may be necessary.
These are just a few of the many health problems to watch out for. Most are caused by poor nutrition and living conditions, so make sure you do your research. There’s plenty of information to be found in books or on networking forums (it’s always good to talk to beardie lovers just like yourself). Also pay special attention to your healthy dragons’ appearance, behavior and eating habits, as these things will tell you if your dragon is sick. Most importantly if you keep yourself informed you’ll be able to confidently raise a healthy beardie.
Different Types of Bearded Dragons
Bearded Dragons are a popular pet among reptile enthusiasts. They’re a manageable size, keep well in captivity and have a pleasant temperament, making them the perfect indoor pet.
All Bearded Dragons originate from Australia and their habitat varies depending on the species. Affectionately known as ‘Beardies’, these reptiles are named after the distinctive ‘beard’ under their throat. This ‘beard’ is actually a defensive mechanism used when feeling threatened. They puff up the spines, making them appear larger, more threatening and less edible to predators.
There are six species and 2 subspecies of Bearded Dragons. Each has its own scientific name, which is given to classify each dragon into a genus and species. For example, the Eastern Bearded Dragon’s genus is Pogona and its species name is barbata, therefore its scientific name is Pogona barbata. This name is universal, which means it remains the same in all countries and languages around the globe. Each Bearded Dragon also has a common name. This is the most commonly used and preferred name, however you may still hear hobbyists referring to their Eastern Beardie with the namebarbata. This may be because there can be many variations to a species common name, and using the scientific name prevents confusion.
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Eastern Bearded Dragon||Pogona barbata|
|Inland Bearded Dragon||Pogona vitticeps|
|Lawson’s Bearded Dragon||Pogona henrylawsoni|
|Drysdale River Bearded Dragon||Pogona microlepidota|
|Nullabor Bearded Dragon||Pogona nullabor|
|Dwarf Bearded Dragon||Pogona minor minor|
|Western Bearded Dragon||Pogona minor minima|
|Mitchell’s Northwest Bearded Dragon||Pogona minor mitchelli|
Top quality colors and patterns have been selectively bred into the pet trade and there is now a large range of rather unusual, but spectacularly colored bearded dragons. They range from bright reds, oranges and yellows to pale and pure white. These different colors are divided into groups according to their color and can be distinguished by the terms fire and ice. Fire refers to the large variety of different colored dragons whilst ice refers to almost exclusively snow white dragons. For the best quality, find a breeder who specializes in color morphs.
Distributed along the east coast of Australia, the Eastern Bearded Dragon inhabits a variety of terrain from open forests to arid scrubland. Due to its widespread occurrence in populated areas, the Eastern Beardie is often found on farmland, in people’s backyards and basking on roads to maintain body heat – a dangerous hobby for these impressive animals. Growing up to 2 feet, they are one of the largest species in the Bearded Dragon family and range in color from grey to dark brown.
Inland Bearded Dragon
This is the Beardie most commonly found in the pet trade, being a popular choice amongst breeders because of their manageable size, docile nature and robust disposition. They’re also the most common species found in the wild, claiming a large portion of central south east Australia as their own. For this reason they’re often referred to as Central Bearded Dragons. Depending on their habitat, ranging from desert to dry temperate forests, their colors and patterns can vary significantly.
Rankin’s Bearded Dragon
The Rankin’s Bearded Dragon (or Lawson’s Bearded Dragon) is just 12 inches long and come from the hot, dry and rocky black-soiled plains of central Queensland. To ensure the health and well-being of your beardie, it’s very important that these conditions are recreated in its enclosure. However it should also be noted that they can be difficult to breed, so finding one in captivity is uncommon.
Drysdale River Bearded Dragon
Also known as the Kimberly or small-scaled Bearded Dragon, this species can only be found in a small area known as the Kimberley Plateau, the northernmost point of Western Australia. They cannot be found anywhere in the world outside of Australia and many enthusiasts take the journey up to the Kimberley’s just for the chance to spot one of these rare beardies.
Nullabor Bearded Dragon
The Nullabor, also known as the Banded Bearded Dragon because of the prominent white bands across its back and tail also has a very small geographic range. The Nullabor Plain, best described as a barren piece of limestone in the south of Western Australia and South Australia is home to these small, attractive dragons.
Dwarf Bearded Dragon
A small beardie but ironically not the smallest, the Dwarf Bearded Dragon is native to most parts of Western Australia and through the arid interior of South Australia and the Northern Territory. These dragons actually have a very poorly developed ‘beard’, due to the absence of spines under the throat.
Mitchell’s Northwest Bearded Dragon
The smallest bearded dragon species, reaching just 8 inches in length. They’re sometimes known as a subspecies of the dwarf bearded dragon and actually share a similar habitat. They range from dry woodlands to arid scrubs and desert areas throughout northern Western Australia.
Western Bearded Dragon
These bearded dragons reach a maximum length of 20 inches. Western bearded dragons are unique and distinguishable by their slender body and long tail and legs. As the name suggest, they inhabit the western part of Australia from coastal dunes to the arid interior.
Where to find bearded dragons for sale
These are the guidelines and recommendations any potential owner should read while looking for bearded dragons for sale. Buying a bearded dragon is, in many ways, a lot like buying a kitten or a puppy. There are things to look out for upon purchase to ensure your pet doesn’t have a plethora of health problems in the future. The last thing you’d want is to spend tons of money at the vet, trying to save your new dragon. So, I’ve provided some guidelines and tips for any new beardie buyer.
Buying Bearded Dragons Online
Unless you personally know the owner, I would avoid buying dragons online at all cost. I’m sure there are great honest breeders out there who are just trying to extend the reach of their business. However, it’s impossible to tell which are the good ones from merely a collection of pictures.
If you, or a friend, have made a purchase from an online breeder in the past with no problems, then it may be okay. But even with a referral, there are still precautions you should take. Question your friend by asking about any major or even minor problems they’ve experienced. Sometimes, if owners are uneducated on bearded dragon care, they might not notice a potential health problem. Time of purchase must be taken into account as well. If the purchase of the reptile was made not too long ago, you can’t be sure there won’t be any long-term problems.
What you should look out for when getting a bearded dragon.
The main problem of buying dragons online is that you aren’t able to closely examine them and question the breeder before purchasing. Given the chance to do both will significantly decrease you odds of receiving an unhealthy beardie. There have been several online purchases where the reptiles came out just fine, but do so at your own caution. The rest of my tips are only applicable if you can examine the dragons in person.
Don’t Buy a Lethargic Dragon
A clear sign of an unhealthy dragon is one with very low energy, especially as a baby dragon. Hatchlings, like most other baby animals and reptiles, should be full of energy. If you see that the dragon is lethargic and doesn’t move around very much, you should be cautious.
This may be a sign of MBD, or Metabolic Bone Disease, which occurs in beardies that don’t get sufficient lighting or heat within their enclosures. Those that suffer from MBD have a lack of calcium and will appear inanimate.
It’s a known bearded dragon fact that these reptiles are very curious creatures. If you approach them, they should lift their heads to look at you and sometimes even come to you.
Always Check a Bearded Dragon’s Body
Always check the physical characteristics of your potential baby bearded dragon. You can tell when they’ve been neglected through any signs on their body. For example, seeing sores on the outside of their skin is a sign of bad health. These sores usually appear as a result of malnutrition. You will also see bite marks if there are simply too many dragons in a single cage.
Make sure the eyes are bright and clear. A healthy dragon will have eyes without any pus or anything that resembles it near ther eyes. If you do see some, it may mean they’re sick.
A Dragon’s Tail
How do you tell if a bearded dragon has been fed well? By checking its tail. A proper and nutritious bearded dragon diet will ensure that the lizard has a plump tail. The tail is where most of the fat from food is stored. So make sure the color of the tail looks healthy and the texture feels nice and solid.
In the wild, these reptiles can go on for quite a while without food because it is hunting or roaming around. To be able to do this, they burn the fat from their tails. However, in captivity, there should be no reason for a bearded dragon to have to burn much fat stored in its tail.
Size Does Matter
Before picking out a dragon, make that it’s old enough by examining their size. For inexperienced owners, a general rule of thumb is: if the hatchling is less than 6 inches in length, it is too young to take home.
Six inches is the minimum requirement to take home a dragon.Why is it so important that a beardie isn’t too young? It’s because young dragons tend to become extremely stressed out when they’re taken into a new environment and away from what’s familiar. They require much more care and attention, making it simply not worth the trouble to bring one home at such an early age. You’re better off going with a slightly older beardie.
Question the Breeder
If you’re going to purchase from a specialized bearded dragon breeder, you should ask them as many questions as you see fit. Any questions from what their diet is like, to how much basking time they get, should be asked. It’s really a good way to gauge the breeder’s knowledge on bearded dragon care. Those that have extensive knowledge will happily and easily answer any questions in detail. Sometimes, legitimate breeders will even provide you a care sheet to go with your purchase. Look over these to see how detailed the information presented is and ask more questions.
Picking out a brand new bearded dragon is certainly an exciting thing to do. It’s just that if health problems occur months later, it won’t be as pleasant of an experience. Make sure you follow these simple guidelines and tips wherever you can find bearded dragons for sale. This guide can save you a lot of time and money, and you’ll be glad you followed it.
If you have any more questions regarding purchasing dragons, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. Happy beardie buying!
Baby Bearded Dragon Care Guide
The day has come. You’re finally going to pick up your new baby bearded dragon you’ve been dying to get your hands on (and for good reason). But the first question many new owners have is: how do I take care of it? The last thing you’d want is for your new friend to develop a plethora of health problems or even worse, pass away shortly after. I’m here to assure you that you’re not alone in this process. Here are some things you should know.
Buying a Baby Bearded Dragon
A baby dragon is generally described as a dragon less than 3 months of age. Among the beardie circle, they’re called “Hatchlings.” When picking out a hatchling, there are a few things you want to look out for, otherwise you may be getting a reptile with health issues at the time of purchase.
Check to see how animated the dragon is. These are generally really active reptiles and will come check you out because of their curious nature. Examine their skin and physical characteristics by looking for any bite marks and sores. Any signs of these may mean there’s some malnutrition and neglecting from the breeders. Hatchlings don’t usually bite each other, unless there is a scarcity in food. You’ll usually be able to tell if the dragon has been fed well from the tail. The tail is the part where excess fat is stored, so check to see if it’s plump and has a nice skin texture.
For a detailed guideline, visit my page on important things to check when looking for bearded dragons for sale.
Finding the Suitable Enclosure
Baby dragons are small, meaning they need less room in their habitat. The most common type of enclosures, and the one I personally use, is aquariums. An aquarium is a very cheap option, and can often times be free if you look hard enough. A 20-gallon tank is all that’s necessary for a hatchling, but keep in mind that they’ll grow to become adult-sized very quickly. Adults need at least a 40-gallon tank, preferably 50 gallons. So, it might be a good idea to start with something of that size so you don’t have to purchase a new tank later on.
Unlike adults, hatchlings get along quite well with each other within an enclosure. Just make sure there’s enough food to go around and you shouldn’t really see any displays of dominance or fighting. This could change once they’ve grown up a little, especially among males. So, make sure you have a big enough tank by then if you have multiple dragons.
As for substrate or bedding, there are many to choose from, including commercialized brands. Although I usually use natural beach sand, I wouldn’t recommend them for hatchlings because they might accidently digest the fine sand.
What do Baby Bearded Dragon’s Eat?
Hatchlings eat a lot, especially protein matter. A nutritious bearded dragon diet should consist of both plant matter (vegetables and fruits) as well as protein matter (insects and worms). But because hatchlings are in a crucial developmental stage, they need significantly more protein than plant.
|Dragon’s Age||Plant Matter|
|Less than 2 months||5% – 10%|
|2 months to 4 months||20%|
The food ratio should consist of 5% to 10% plant and 90% to 95% protein. This is not a great ratio to be giving your dragon throughout its life. As it grows older, you should be slowly increasing their plant intake and decreasing their protein intake. When a dragon has reached adulthood, there is no need for so much protein because they won’t grow nearly as quickly anymore.
Hatchling are voracious eaters, so make sure to feed them 2 to 3 times a day. Drop insects into their enclosure and watch them chase them down for an entertaining show. And as a rule of thumb, feed them insects no longer in size than the space between the dragon’s eyes. This means baby insects for your baby dragon. Plant matter needs to be chopped up and sometimes minced before feeding to a hatchling.
Lighting & Temperature For Baby Dragons
Lighting and temperatures are both important factors for a healthy dragon lifestyle. But when it comes to bearded dragon care, lighting and heating are two separate things.
When setting up a lighting system, make sure you’re using UVB (ultraviolet) lamps instead of traditional light bulbs with no UVB. They should be located above the tank in a spot that shines bright throughout the tank.
Heating can be provided in many ways, but I usually go with incandescent light bulbs because they’re cheap and work well. In their habitat, there should be a hotter side for basking and a cooler side when not. Baby bearded dragons need a basking temperature of about 109 degrees Fahrenheit and a “cool side” temperature of about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. So, make sure you have a thermometer on each side to regulate temperatures effectively and accurately. And don’t worry, these dragons are indigenous to Australia, so they can handle the heat.
As you can see, caring for your baby bearded dragon is not a difficult task. It’s the reason why they’re such popular reptile pets among kids. Although this page lays out the basics, I would suggest going through the other resource pages linked in this article for more in-depth information.
An increase in behaviors like head bobbing and arm waving are signals that bearded dragons are getting ready to breed. The male will become increasingly aggressive and dominant and the female will respond submissively. As a responsible owner it’s important to be prepared for the breeding season well in advance and be aware of the extra responsibility and costs involved. If you don’t want to breed your dragons, you’ll have to separate them or ideally have them spayed by a reptile veterinarian.
Males will reach sexually maturity at 1 – 2 years of age. Females will reach this at a much younger age, however it’s important to let your female dragon fully develop as breeding can be very demanding. Clutches of up to 30 – 40 eggs can be laid by an adult female. They dig tunnels for their eggs in the wild, so make sure you provide the necessary nesting materials.
The bearded dragon is a wonderful pet that has captured the hearts of reptile enthusiasts around the world. Not only are they easy to take care of, but they also have really great temperaments and fun loving personalities. It’s no surprise they’re one of the most popular reptile pets today.
From the outside looking in, people who don’t know much about bearded dragons might think they’re boring reptiles. I’m here to assure them they are, in fact, very wrong. Here are 7 surprising bearded dragon facts that make them even more awesome than you think.
Bearded Dragon Facts
Bearded Dragons Are Indigenous to Australia
When you think of Australia, you might think of common Australian animals such as the kangaroo, koala or platypus. However, there are some animals that aren’t as unusual but still really great, such as the bearded dragon.
In Australia, these animals can be found just about anywhere. They’ll be seen crawling up fences, relaxing on tree branches or basking in the sun on your drive way. They are common reptiles that co-exist with humans even in residential areas all around Australia.
They Were Illegally Exported Reptiles
Around the 1960’s, Australia decided that wildlife should not to be exported out of the continent. But that didn’t stop people from doing so. Bearded dragons were illegally smuggled out of Australia between the 70’s and 90’s. And those that got their hands on one began to breed them to become domestic pets for the common people all over the world.
Today, these reptiles are no longer smuggled out. Thank you Australia for letting us have some of your wonderful lizards.
They Actually Have a Beard… Sometimes
Have you ever wondered why these lizards are called the “bearded” dragons? At first glance, you don’t really see anything that resembles a beard. That’s because they’re in a docile or non-aggressive state.
When a dragon is displaying dominance, especially from one male to another male, they will throw out their throats and puff up. That behavior is followed by a change in the throats color, quickly going from their normal skin color to a dark blackish color – like a beard of a man.
A Bearded Dragon’s Tail Doesn’t Grow Back
When I was a small kid, I used to chase lizards around my house trying to catch them. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, and often times I just get a piece of their tail. From that experience, I believed that all lizards could regenerate their tails. Boy, was I wrong.
The bearded dragon is one of the few lizard reptiles that cannot regenerate their tail. Don’t try to grab them by the tails because it hurts them and they can’t evade you by dislocating their tail. The tail is actually a very important part of a dragon because it’s where they store their fats and other nutrients. Tails are also good indicators of how much food they’re receiving and their overall health. The fatter the tail, the better.
A Bearded Dragon Will Hibernate
A beardie will have long periods of time where they shut down for a few months. Although it’s not exactly hibernating, it’s a similar occurrence called brummation.
Do not be alarmed if your dragon brumates, as it is completely natural in captivity. Even with plenty of food and the perfect amount of lighting and temperature, they will still brumate.
Although these reptiles have been domesticated for over 20 years, they still have their animal instincts. These creatures have an amazing biological clock and will start to hibernate because it’s time to hibernate in Australia.
They Are Prolific Breeders
These reptiles are amazing breeders. A male dragon can usually have several mates and the female dragon can have up to 20 eggs at a time. Surprisingly, the female can store sperm to use when she has eggs to fertilize. So before you decide to buy a male and a female, think very carefully about what may happen. Do you really want to raise 20 baby bearded dragons within your enclosure? Many owners make this mistake and end up with more than they can handle or give away.
I should also note that constant breeding can drastically decrease the life span of your bearded dragon. So, try not to overwork a female beardie.
They’re Good at Communicating With Each Other
A big reason why so many people find the bearded dragon amusing is because of the behaviors they use to communicate with one another. These behaviors include the arm wave, flared up beard, head bob, push-ups, opened mouth and so much more.
For example, when two males meet each other, you might see one start bobbing its head up and down. This is that dragon’s attempt to establish dominance over the other dragon. Now, if the other dragon doesn’t want to fight or wants to submit, he will raise his arm and slowly move in a counter-clock direction. The head-bobbing dragon will understand and any fighting will be avoided. I guess these reptiles do a good job working things out on their own.