- The scientific name of the Bearded Dragon is Pogona Vitticeps.
- Even though bearded dragons may look somewhat threatening, they are very personable lizards.
- Bearded Dragons are hardy lizards that attain a moderate adult size, and you can care for them rather easily.
- Bearded dragons have become one of the most popular pet lizards because they make a great kid’s pet or first-time herper pet.
- Many things influence a dragon’s color, including stress, genes, and time of day. Many dragons seem to show their best color when sleeping or soaking in water.
- Breeding often requires a period of hibernation or brumation prior to the breeding season (see the section on hibernation).
- When bearded dragons emerge from hibernation, breeding usually takes place quickly, so it is important to be prepared.
- We suggest that your dragons (especially the females) be at least 18 month-old prior to breeding.
- Any small, sick, or young females should be separated from all males to prevent cycling, breeding, and potentially a loss of life.
- Dragons that are bred before mature can wind up with serious health problems, including death from egg binding.
- We cannot stress enough how important it is to have a healthy, mature female.
- Dragons bred before maturity will divert energy used for growth and maturity into making eggs, disrupting her growth process and altering her health.
- Female dragons bred at a very young age often will live shorter lives.
- We also highly suggest steering clear of inbreeding, especially siblings.
- Breeding behavior often appears violent. Head bobbing and black beards are among the breeding behaviors associated with males (*note: these behaviors are also typical of territorial disputes between males). Females often perform arm waving and slow head bobbing. The male usually bites the female around the neck to secure her and attempts to get the female to lift her tail for copulation.
- Gravid females will get quite large and often appear lumpy. Feed gravid females often and supplement with calcium more frequently. The eggs can often be felt in the female’s stomach when she is close to laying.
- As soon as you see breeding behavior, it is a good idea to have a lay area in place and an incubator prepared.
- A good lay area is imperative to ensure that your bearded dragon does not egg bind. Lay areas may consist of a large area filled with one foot of a mixture of moist, somewhat packed sand and soil, peat moss, or bed-a-beast.
- You may set up this lay area inside the enclosure or prepare a separate lay enclosure to place the female in when you notice digging behavior.
- Females will tunnel into this area to deposit their eggs. Some dig for several days before they decide to lay.
- They like to be fully protected by their burrow (cat litter pans with an opening work well for this cave-like structure). Only her head will stick out while she deposits their eggs.
- After laying, the female will emerge and bury her eggs back up.
- Females may lay clutches as often as 3 weeks apart and can retain sperm for several clutches.
- Unearth the eggs GENTLY.
- Fertile eggs should be a nice white color and leathery in texture. If candled, fertile eggs will appear pink, and the round embryo should be detectable.
- If the eggs appear yellow when candled or gelatinous, they are probably infertile (this is somewhat common for the first clutch of eggs).
- Fertile eggs should be placed in a dish with moist vermiculite (and perlite if you wish) about one inch apart.
- This dish is then transferred to your pre-calibrated incubator. We suggest a “Hovabator” incubator. (You can find these at some pet stores, feed stores, and online).
- Make sure that your incubator is set at least 24 hours prior to use to avoid drastic fluctuations in temperature.
- We recommend incubating at around 84°F. Do not let the temperature range out of the 80s.
- Spray egg containers to maintain the moisture level in the vermiculite.
- Eggs should hatch about 60 days after incubation.
Hatchling and Baby Bearded Dragon Care
- Only house hatchlings of similar size together.
- Quarantine all new animals from different sources, especially with the new information on adenovirus in hatchlings
- Make sure to supplement every day with calcium and vitamins.
- Small dragons can stress easily, especially when acclimating to a new environment.
- Vitamin B is a great stress combatant and helps the acclimation process. If your young dragon still seems stressed, administer vitamin B drops such as “stimulus”, but try to leave them alone as much as possible.
- We recommend a 1.3 ratio of vitamins to calcium offered once daily to babies. See the supplementation section of the care sheet for more info.
- House hatchlings in an enclosure that they cannot see out of to limit stress.
- House hatchlings on paper towels or newspapers to prevent problems with impaction.
- Spray hatchlings 2 times daily.
- Feed babies 2-4 times per day. Steer clear of mealworms. They can be hard for young dragons to digest. Stick to small crickets and finely chopped greens.
- We know that these little guys are cute, but when first adjusting to a new home (the first couple of days), handle these babies minimally.
- Because food sources are likely carriers of parasites, we recommend using Parazap as a preventative.
- We suggest only using the medication as a last resort for babies.
- Adult 15 to 24 inches in length.
- Hatchlings are 3 to 4 inches at birth.
- 6-12 years, maybe longer.
- Young dragons grow fast and are sexually mature by one year of age. Juvenile bearded dragons usually start showing their coloration by two months of age.
Bearded Dragon Diet and Food Feeding
- Bearded dragons are omnivorous and should feed on both vegetation and protein. Crickets, mealworms, superworms, and a salad mixture should be the staple food sources.
- Dragons require a variety of greens, including collard greens, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, mustard greens, turnip greens, and dandelion greens.
- Stay away from iceberg lettuce, large amounts of kale, cabbage, or spinach.
- We also suggest a variety of vegetables such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, and fruits offered in small amounts.
- Other specialty additions can include cactus fruit, dandelion flowers, and hibiscus flowers. This salad mix can be offered daily using different combinations of ingredients.
- Never feed your dragon too large of a prey item. We suggest feeding prey 1/2 to 3/4 the size of the space between your dragon’s eyes.
- When feeding crickets, make sure your source of crickets is clean. You may gut load your crickets with commercial cricket, and/or we suggest offering your crickets fresh fruit, greens, and water. Remove all old food from your cricket container. Mold can be toxic to your lizards. We suggest using a moistened paper towel/sponge, citrus, or carrots to provide water for your crickets.
- We feed all of our hatchlings a minimum of three times a day to ensure optimum growth and health. As dragons get older, their appetite will decrease. For adult dragons, you can offer greens daily and crickets or worms 3-4 times per week. As dragons get older, they reduce their protein and increase their vegetable or fruit intake.
Habitat and Housing
- Do not house bearded dragons of different sizes together–this is a sure problem for the smaller dragons’ health.
- We recommend housing males separately.
- You may even need to prevent males from seeing each other across cages.
- Keep your cages and food CLEAN! Clean and sift poop often.
- Remove all old food.
- Wash your hands before and after handling your lizard.
- Be sure to sanitize hands in between handling different reptile species.
- We suggest misting your dragons once a day, especially as hatchlings. Dragons will drink during spraying and may also be “trained” to drink and soak in a water dish inside the enclosure.
- They also enjoy an occasional warm (not hot) bath.
- Bearded dragons are one of the hardest reptiles available in the pet trade, yet they still can succumb to numerous diseases and problems.
- If you notice that your lizard is ill, do not hesitate to make an appointment with a reptile specialist.
- Too little D3 and calcium can lead to metabolic bone disease.
- Some early symptoms of this problem include shaking, twitching, or stiffness of limbs (especially rear legs), separation of the mouth, and difficulty chewing food.
- If this problem is caught early enough, supplementation and exposure to the natural sun can be good remedies.
- Calcium deficiency is often seen in older dragons or under-supplemented dragons. There is also the possibility of over-supplementing your dragons, causing a myriad of problems all its own.
- Parasites: There are numerous parasites that can become a problem for a bearded dragon.
- Many dragons live with these parasites without problems, but symptoms can often be triggered by stress (such as contact with another dragon or animal, change of enclosures, hibernation, breeding, etc.) Parasites often come from insects, greens, and/or unclean cage conditions so that it is imperative to keep proper hygiene in these areas.
- Even fresh greens and fruit can harbor parasites, so wash them well.
- If you feed your dragon live insects it is probable that your dragon carries some level of coccidia and maybe pinworms.
- The idea is to keep the levels low.
- Mites: Since all bearded dragons are captive bred, mites should not be a problem.
- Although some pet stores keep less than sanitary conditions and mites may spread from animal to animal.
- These are small bugs that can be seen on the dragon.
- There are several products on the market that can take care of the problem.
- We recommend checking with your vet before administering these products.