Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
Scientific Name: Pogona vitticeps
Origin & Environment: Central Australia
Active Time & Environment: Diurnal, Arid / Semi-Arid
Adult Size / Mass: 15inch – 22inchs, 350g – 550g
UV Index Range / Ferguson Zone: 2.9 UVI – 7.4 UVI, FZ 3-4.
Temperatures Range: 95°f -110°f Basking Spot / 88°f Warm End – 78°f Cool End.
Minimum Baby Enclosure Size: 4ft x 18inch x 18inch (120cm x 45cm x 45cm) up to 15 months.
Minimum Adult Enclosure Size: 4ft x 2ft x 2ft (120cm x 60cm x 60cm) 15 months onwards.
Bearded Dragons are a species of reptile from the agamid Lizards. Originally from Australia they are commonly regarded as one of the best Reptile companions. Notorious for their tameness and amazing interaction with humans. This makes them an ideal family member and one of the most popular species on the planet.
Bearded Dragons grow relatively quickly. They can grow up to 60cm (24”) and can live between 15-18 years. Hatchlings can be housed in a minimum of a 4ft x 18inch x 18inch and adults in a 4ft x 2ft x 2ft vivarium, but ideally in a 5ft x 2ft x2ft. This is to give your animal enough space to get an adequate basking spot, warm end, cool end and UV Index in their enclosure. This will allow the Beaded Dragon to thermoregulate and regulate their UV Intake. Essential for the Dragons Bio function.
Bearded Dragons require a Basking Temperature of 95°f-110°f, a warm end of 88°f and cool end of 78°f. These temps can be achieved with a couple of deferent types of heat sources. As Bearded Dragons are diurnal, they will require overhead heating such as Reflective Filament Lamps, Halogen Lamps or Deep Heat Projectors. A rock should be placed underneath the heat source to replicate natural basking behaviour. A Dimmer Thermostat must be used to dim down the heat source, to stop overheating, and a digital thermometer to observe the temperatures effectively. Heat Lamps must always be covered with a guard to stop the dragon from burning themselves. At night-time the temperature can drop off no lower than 68°f is ideal for Bio functions like digestion, but this must not drop below this regularly. It can cause heath issues like respiratory infection. A ceramic heat plate or heat mat used on the side of the enclosure is a great way to help achieve night-time temps.
UV lighting and the correct UV Index is important for the heath of your Bearded Dragon. It works with your Heating and supplements to create a D3 Cycle to prevent one of the most common health issues in reptiles, Metabolic Bone Disease. This is easily preventable with the correct UV Index. This can be achieved with a 10% – 14% T8 or T5 Fluorescent Tube (depending on UV brand and hight/size of the enclosure) that covers at least two thirds of the enclosure, attached to the roof overlapping the heat source (see diagram below). It can be tricky to pick the correct lighting for your animal. Not enough UV or too much UV can both be dangerous in different ways. Bearded Dragons need an intermittent UV Index of 2.9 – 7.4 UVI. This can be replicated with a Reptile Systems Ferguson Zone 3 T5 Lighting Kit or Arcadia 12% ProT5 Lighting Kit (for enclosures 18inche – 2ft high). Adequate Décor/Enrichment must also be added to help their UV regulation. Light cycle should be 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
Bearded Dragons are omnivore and as hatchlings / juveniles will eat a diet of 80% protein and 20% veg. This can be achieved with daily feeds, alternating between Livefood and fresh vegetation i.e., 4 -5 times a week on livefood and 2 times a week on Veg. As adults their diet will reverse to 20% protein and 80% veg. Livefoods should be sized no larger than the distance between the Dragons eyes as it has been said to bloat and sometimes even paralyse them. A high-quality reptile branded calcium and vitamin supplements must be added to their food. This is especially important as the powders will work with their UV and Heating to help create a D3 cycle as well as adding supplements to their diet. The Calcium supplement can be considered the main powder and should be added to food between 4-5 times a week. The Multi Vitamin must be used on the alternate day from the Calcium powder, between 2-3 times a week. There are many types of proteins (livefoods), Crickets, Locust & Cockroaches are the primary protein. Mealworm, Waxworm, Morio Worm and Pinkie Mice should only be used in small doses as they are high in fat etc and can course health issues and addictive behaviour. It may seem there is an overwhelming amount of Fruit and Veg that can be offered to your Dragon, but here are a few. Spring Greens, Rocket, Water Cress, Mustard Greens & Dandelion Leaves and Flowers are great as a daily staple. Fruits, such as Banana, Grapes & Watermelon can be use occasionally.
Hatchling/Juvenile Feeding Schedule Example
- Monday - Protein with Calcium Supplement
- Tuesday - Vegetation with Multi Vit Supplement
- Wednesday – Protein with Calcium Supplement
- Thursday – Vegetation with Calcium Supplement
- Friday – Protein with Multi Vit Supplement
- Saturday – Protein with Calcium Supplement
- Sunday – Treat Day with Multi Vit Supplement
Bearded Dragons must have access to hydration daily. A water bowl should be added to the enclosure and changed daily to avoid the water from becoming stale/stagnant. Its not uncommon for bearded dragons to prefer running water. This can be replicated by using a spray bottle to provide water droplets or a small water fountain. Bowls and fountain in the cool end of the enclosure and misting kept to a minimum to avoid humidity spikes. Another great way is to Bath them at least once a week in warm water, this will help you ensure your Dragon has taken in adequate hydration. Use your elbow or a thermometer to make sure the water is not to hot or cold, it should be lukewarm at around 85f / 29c. Bathing also help with hygiene and bowel movement.
As an arid species, this lizard does not require a great deal of humidity (50%- 60%) but may require a spray during shedding periods and to hydrate your Dragon. It is important not to allow the vivarium to get wet or humid.
Essential Equipment Checklist for a Hatchling / juvenile
- 4ft x 18inch x 18inch Wooden Vivarium
- 24w - 39w 10% / 12% T5 UVB Lighting Kit
- Basking Lamp or Deep Heat Projector
- Heating Guard / Cage
- Ceramic Heat Lamp Fitting
- Dimmer Thermostat
- Digital Thermometer
- Calcium and Multi Vit Powder
- Décor to Regulating UV Intake and Basking.
- Water Dish
Lighting & Heating Setup Diagram
For more in-depth Information on the Care for Bearded Dragons please feel free to pop in and have a chat with our reptile experts.