Bearded Dragon Care Guide
Updated: Jan 31
The Species: Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are one of the most common reptiles to be kept as pets and in fact make great beginner reptiles. These animals are native to Australia inhabiting deserts and arid environments. Bearded Dragons are solitary by nature and are only usually housed together for breeding purposes.
Enclosure: Bearded Dragons are terrestrial and should be housed inside a vivarium, ideally made from wood however glass is also an acceptable material as long as the sides and back are blacked out to prevent them from rubbing their nose against the glass. A minimum vivarium size of 4x1x1ft is acceptable however an ideal size would be 6x2x2ft.
Being an arid species, these animals need suitable substrate made from either sand or an arid earth. Recommended substrates are ProRep Leo Life or Arcadia Arid Earth Mix however other alternatives work as well. Tropical substrates, calcisand and newspaper are considered unacceptable substrates to use. Reptile Carpet, paper towels and newspaper is acceptable if quarantining or rehabilitating these animals.
Various decor and apparatus should be included to provide as natural of an enclosure as possible. Woods, rocks, ledges and hammocks are all suitable to use for this species along with a large bowl for water and a feeding dish should be readily available as well.
Heating: These animals should be kept at a temperature range of 26-31 degrees celcius (80-90 degrees farenheight). They should be provided with a hot and cool end and with a basking spot to reach peak temperatures. Heating should be provided by a heat lamp on a thermostat with a cage guarding the lamp to prevent the animal from burning themselves, all heating should be on a 12 hour cycle, turning off at night to provide a natural drop in temperature.
We do not recommend using heat mats for Bearded Dragons as they do not reach the temperatures required as easily and can become fire hazards inside wooden vivariums. Suitable bulbs are ceramic, true infra red or white/yellow light bulbs however any bulb producing a red light should not be used as they can cause the animals to go blind after extended usage.
Lighting: Bearded Dragons, along with majority of other reptiles require UVB lighting to simulate sunlight and prevent deformities and MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) from setting in. This lighting should cover approximately 3/4 of the enclosure to ensure that the animal receives adequate levels of UVB as much as possible. These lizards should have a 12% UVB bulb and they should be replaced every 6-12 months to ensure that the UVB doesn't run out within the bulb. All lighting should be on a 12 hour cycle to provide a natural day/night sequence.
Humidity: Being an arid species, Bearded Dragons should have lower levels of humidity of approximately 30-40% and should ideally not raise above that. When in shed, it is best to keep the humidity higher, closer to 40%. Some substrates may raise humidity levels to begin with when first added to the enclosure however this should be easily resolved by leaving the doors of the vivarium open to air out.
Diet: Bearded Dragons are omnivorous meaning they eat both vegetation and protein. As juveniles they will eat more protein, consisting of insects such as locust, crickets and cockroaches however it is important that they also eat a suitable amount of vegetation. As adults they should eat more vegetation instead of insects to ensure a suitable nutritional balance.
Vegetation should consist of kale, salad leaves, and other vegetation in moderation such as some fruits, carrots etc. Foods to avoid are mealworms, iceberg lettuce, cucumber and other foods with a low level of nutrition as these foods can cause MBD to set in.
It is important to supplement your Dragon's food which will help in preventing MBD, calcium is the main priority supplement however others are also important such as Vitamin A. We recommend Arcadia's supplements provided on rotation including Calcium with Magnesium, Earth-Pro A Supplement and Dragon Fuel. All three of these will provide a complete level of supplements.
Water is also an extremely important aspect to an animals diet and constant water access should be provided in a water bowl and should be changed daily, we generally recommend RO water or mineral water due to tap water containing chlorine which can be harmful to some animals.