How to Care for Bearded Dragons (with Pictures)

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How to Care for Bearded Dragons (with Pictures)
How to Care for Bearded Dragons (with Pictures)

Bearded dragons, also known by the Pogona genus name, are well-behaved little animals whose natural curiosity and apparent taste for human companionship make them good pets. Below, you will learn how to properly care for a bearded dragon. It should be noted that such animals are legally traded in Portugal, but their trade is prohibited in Brazil by IBAMA, despite them being found in many Brazilian homes.


Part 1 of 6: Choosing a Dragon

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 1

Step 1. Be well informed about dragons before purchasing one

Bearded dragons have specific care needs, so it's good to meet them. Surveys will help you decide if he's the right pet for you and prepare for his arrival home.

As cute and messy as they are, dragons are not good pets for children. It is necessary to be very careful in their creation, especially in terms of lighting and temperature control of the habitat

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 2

Step 2. Choose a dragon that is at least 15 cm long

Puppies are very fragile and are more at risk of getting sick or stressed. It's much easier to take care of an adult.

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 3

Step 3. Look for an alert specimen

When you go to a pet shop to buy the dragon, see if it looks at you with interest and alert eyes. Never buy an animal that looks limp or lethargic.

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 4

Step 4. Look for apparent deformities

The pet must not have injuries, burns, parasites or anything like that.

Many dragons are missing toes or missing pieces of tails, but this doesn't affect them as long as the wound is healed and there is no sign of infection

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 5

Step 5. Take the pet to a veterinarian specializing in reptiles

The practitioner should check the dragon's overall health.

  • If possible, take a stool sample at the first visit. Talk about it when scheduling phone service.
  • There are no recommended vaccines for bearded dragons.

Part 2 of 6: Creating a Suitable Habitat

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 6

Step 1. Know that most bearded dragons are bred alone

Larger specimens can be aggressive with small ones; besides, males are quite territorial. As it is difficult to identify their gender during childhood, it is better to leave the animal alone.

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 7

Step 2. Buy a nursery

Unlike the terrarium and aquarium, which have four glass sides, the aviary has solid walls on three sides, with a glass front. This is the ideal option, as it is more difficult to maintain the temperature in terrariums and aquariums; as much as possible, your electricity bill will be absurd. The ideal size is 120 cm x 60 cm x 45 cm.

  • If you can't find a pond to buy, opt for a glass aquarium with a top screen.
  • If you are going to build the house yourself, think carefully about ventilation and choose materials that are easy to disinfect and capable of maintaining high temperatures.
  • Wooden-sided cages need to be sealed with polyurethane or other similar heat to facilitate cleaning and disinfection. Before placing the dragon in the habitat, allow the heat to dry for several days to avoid poisoning.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 8

Step 3. Choose an appropriately sized habitat

Bearded dragons can reach two feet in length and love to climb, so they need a lot of space. If you can't find a properly sized aviary, look for a 40 liter tank for a baby dragon; as it will grow in a few months, it might be a good idea to already look for a tank capable of housing an adult dragon, with 200 to 450 liters.

  • If you are going to build a nursery, it must be at least 120 cm long, 60 cm wide and 45 cm high.
  • Save money by purchasing a habitat for an adult dragon. Install adjustable compartments to increase the dragon's space over time; that way, you don't have to leave the puppy in a huge environment.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 9

Step 4. Use a screen to cover the habitat

Do not use glass or wood, or you will hinder air circulation and trap moisture inside the dragon's home. The screen allows airflow, light to enter and heat sources to work.

It is important that the cover fits snugly over the habitat

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 10

Step 5. Take care of the substrate

The habitat soil should be lined with an animal-safe and easy-to-clean substrate. Never put your pet at risk by purchasing a liner of small particles that can be eaten, as this can be fatal. Use whole sheets of newspaper, paper towels or a reptile mat. Such options are cheap, easy to clean and pose no risk to the animal.

  • If you're going to use a reptile mat, look for a type that resembles artificial grass. Models that resemble felt may end up catching in the dragon's claws.
  • Never use sand, wood chips, corn kernels, fibers, earth with vermiculite, pesticides or fertilizers and any other loose substrate.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 11

Step 6. Create an environment in which the dragon can have fun

It is important that the pet has something to climb, where to hide and a place to rest.

  • Install some logs and branches to climb and lay down when you want to rest. Place them under the secondary heat source (we'll explain this later) and choose models the width of the dragon's body. Oak is a good option; avoid wood with sap.
  • Also spread some smooth stones for the lizard to lie down on and file its nails.
  • Give the pet a hiding place, be it a cardboard box or a potted plant. It should be high up in the habitat, with a size suitable for the dragon; if he doesn't hide, change position or switch objects.
  • Spread a few plants around the habitat to act as shade, enhance moisture, and provide a sense of security. Obviously, look for species that are not toxic to the lizard (such as dracena, Ficus benjamina and hibiscus); buy only plants and soil that have not been treated with pesticides, vermiculite, fertilizers or wetting agents. Wash plants and soil with water before placing them in the habitat to remove possible toxic residues. Keep newly purchased plants in a separate part of the house for a while before installing them in the habitat.

Part 3 of 6: Controlling Temperature and Light

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 12

Step 1. Install a primary heat source

It is important to keep the habitat temperature at a comfortable level for the bearded dragon. They like temperatures between 25 °C and 31 °C during the day; at night, the temperature should vary between 21 °C and 26 °C.

  • Install a series of incandescent lights on top of the cage; they will need to be turned off at night, during which time you must turn on a second heat source, depending on the ambient temperature.
  • If you want the temperature at night in cooler times, install an infrared ceramic heater underneath the habitat. Do not let it come into direct contact with the animal and be aware that a malfunction can cause it to overheat and injure the dragon.
  • There are incandescent lamps suitable for reptiles that emit heat but not visible light.
  • For larger habitats, install a thermostat.
  • Also install a fire alarm in the room where you will be leaving the habitat.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 13

Step 2. Buy a secondary heat source

Bearded dragons like temperature variations in the habitat, so they can choose the most suitable spot for each moment. The secondary source creates a corner where the dragon can turn to stay warm and lie down, relaxing; it should cover about 30% of the space, with a temperature ranging between 35 °C and 38 °C. You can use a reptile heating light or a simple 30-70 watt incandescent lamp with a ceramic base. It is important that the pet cannot touch the lamp.

  • Never use hot stones as a heat source!
  • Baby dragons in smaller habitats need lower voltages or the environment will get too hot.
  • Avoid temperatures above 43 °C.
  • Install thermometers on the warm and cool side of the habitat to check that temperatures are right.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 14

Step 3. Provide UVB light

Bearded dragons need ultraviolet light to produce vitamin D and enhance calcium absorption; failure can cause metabolic problems. For this, you can use fluorescent lamps (change them every six months as the UVB values ​​decrease with time) or mercury vapor lamps. The lizard needs 12 to 14 hours a day of light exposure.

  • Choose fluorescent lamps with at least 5% UVB (check the packaging for specific values ​​before purchasing a lamp).
  • Give preference to long lamps.
  • Try a reptile black light from 290 nm to 320 nm. Do not confuse with psychedelic or plant black light as they do not produce UVB rays. Choose from models that emit white light and UVB or just UVB.
  • Ideally, the UVB light source should be about a foot from where the dragon spends most of the day. The light should not be more than 45 cm away from the dragon's favorite spot.
  • Know that UVB light does not pass through glass; it should be above the habitat, crossing the screen.
  • The sun is the best source of UVB rays. On sunny days with suitable temperatures, take the dragon outdoors in a safe, screened cage. Obviously, it's important that he have a shadow to hide.

Part 4 of 6: Feeding the Dragon

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 15

Step 1. Choose food of the proper size

One of the most important things at feeding time is to look for foods that are no bigger than the space between the pet's eyes. If the food is too large, the lizard can choke, suffer impaction, or become paralyzed.

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Step 2. Provide a feed consisting primarily of small insects

Bearded dragons are omnivores (they eat animals and plants), but the young have specific food needs. Offer how many insects the pet can eat in ten minutes. Stop as soon as he demonstrates that he doesn't want to anymore. A young bearded dragon can eat 20 to 60 crickets a day.

  • Serve small insects to a baby dragon. It will need very small prey such as grizzlies and fresh larvae. In time, you can start serving baby mice.
  • Two- to four-month-old dragons should follow a diet with 80% small insects and 20% plants (you'll find recommendations below).
  • Feed the youngsters two and three times a day.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 17

Step 3. Give lots of plants to an adult dragon

The adult bearded dragon's food must consist of 60% vegetables and 40% animals. Calcium-rich leafy green vegetables and other similar vegetables should make up the majority of your pet's diet.

  • Prepare a "salad" with kale, dandelion leaves and flowers, endive, chicory, grape leaves, mustard leaves, turnip leaves and watercress.
  • To balance the salad, also add: acorn squash, green and red peppers, butternut squash, green beans, lentils, peas, squash, sweet potatoes and turnip greens. Cook the pumpkins before serving them.
  • Give the following foods sparingly, just as snacks: cabbage, chard, and kale (rich in calcium oxalates and can cause excessive bone problems); carrots (rich in vitamin A, which can be toxic at high levels); spinach, broccoli and parsley (rich in goitrogens, which reduce thyroid function); and corn, cucumber, radish and zucchini (poorly nutritious).
  • Add some water to the vegetables to make them last longer and hydrate the dragon.
  • So that the dragon doesn't get too picky, grind the vegetables and mix them well just before serving. So he's going to eat a little of everything.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 18

Step 4. Serve fruits and some specific plants as an occasional snack

Good choices include: apple, apricot, cantaloupe, banana, fig, grape, mango, papaya, orange, peach, pear, tomato, plum, geranium, hibiscus (leaves and flowers), petunia, rose (petals and leaves), violets and Ficus benjamina.

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 19

Step 5. Make prey available to adolescent and adult dragons

Live foods should be served once a day, along with vegetables. Good options include giant tenebrium, flourworm, baby mice, crickets and madagascar cockroach.

  • Serve a nutrient-rich diet to the prey for a day or two before serving them to the dragon. For example, make available vegetables, corn, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, apples, oranges, cereals, among other things, so that the prey is well stuffed.
  • Remove uneaten animals from the habitat.
  • It is better to buy prey than capture them; otherwise, you risk exposing your dragon to toxic substances or parasites.
  • Fireflies are toxic to the dragon.
  • Silkworm is a good choice if you have a sick or pregnant dragon.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 20

Step 6. Spray a phosphate-free calcium supplement on plants and insects

The supplement, available in powder form, should be placed on the lizard's food before it is served, once a day for lizards under two years of age and twice a week for adults.

  • It's a good idea to also serve a vitamin D3 supplement.
  • Consult a veterinarian or the manufacturer's instructions regarding the amount of supplements, as an overdose can be fatal.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 21

Step 7. Don't be scared if the dragon doesn't want to eat

It is normal for the lizard to not want to eat during the skin change; if he doesn't eat for more than three days without showing any signs of skin change, it's best to see a veterinarian.

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 22

Step 8. Provide fresh water each day in a shallow bowl

If the animal does not want to drink from the bowl, stir the water a little to get its attention and attract it to the drink. If it still doesn't work, you may need to use an eyedropper to make him drink the water.

  • Bearded dragons tend to defecate in the water bowl, so change the liquid frequently and disinfect it once a week to prevent bacteria buildup. Never use bleach for cleaning (see Tips below).
  • If the dragon doesn't seem interested in drinking the water, spray some of the liquid over his body.

Part 5 of 6: Keeping Dragon Hygiene

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 23

Step 1. Bathe the pet

The dragon needs to be bathed once a week to stay hydrated and change his skin in a healthy way.

  • Water should be warm, not hot. Prepare the bath as you would a small child.
  • The water should be as high as the dragon's chest, at most. Fill the bowl with water to the second joint of your index finger for adults or the first joint for young dragons.
  • Never leave the dragon alone in the basin of water. Accidents can happen when you least expect it.
  • It is good to disinfect the basin after bathing the animal, as it will probably defecate in the water.
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Step 2. Thoroughly clean the dragon's habitat

It is important to clean his nursery and food and water bowls at least once a week.

  • Look for reptile cleaning products at specialist pet stores.
  • Remove the dragon from the aviary and place it in a safe place.
  • Remove excess dirt and feces with a cloth dampened in warm soapy water.
  • Then, spray the cleaning solution over the entire surface and let the product act for 15 minutes (or, follow the instructions for use on the label). After a while, rub the surface with a cloth and remove any residue.
  • Rinse surfaces several times until you no longer smell the cleaner.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 25

Step 3. Keep yourself clean

It is very important to wash your hands often when you have a reptile at home. Sanitizing your hands before and after handling the dragon will help keep it healthy and reduce your risk of getting salmonella. The possibility of contagion is pretty small anyway, but with cleansing, you'll reduce it a lot.

Since bearded dragons can transmit salmonella, it's a good idea to use a separate sponge to clean his bowls, supervise the children as they watch the dragon, and keep the animal from wandering around the kitchen. Obviously, don't kiss the lizard at all

Part 6 of 6: Handling the Dragon

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 26

Step 1. Play with the dragon at least once a day

Bearded dragons are often curious creatures who love human company. Frequent handling will get people used to the animal and minimize stress during cleanings or visits to the veterinarian.

Put your hand under the dragon and carefully pick it up. Let him lie down in the palm of your hand while lightly folding your fingers over his abdomen

Care for Bearded Dragons Step 27

Step 2. Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt

Bearded dragons' skin is quite rough and a shield goes well.

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Step 3. Trim the dragon's nails from time to time

Without maintenance, they will be very sharp.

  • Wrap the dragon in a towel, leaving only one leg exposed.
  • Ask a person to hold the dragon.
  • With an ordinary nail clipper, trim the tip of the dragon's nails. Care must be taken not to cut too much and injure the nervous part of the nail.
  • If you cut too much, stop the bleeding by applying a little cornstarch to the spot with a cotton swab.
  • If you prefer, file his nails or have him cut by a veterinarian.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 29

Step 4. Learn to interpret the dragon's body language

By identifying some of the animal's common gestures, it will be easier to deal with it.

  • Swollen Beard: When the lizard wants to demonstrate dominance or feels threatened (especially during breeding season), it swells the throat region.
  • Open mouth: a gesture intended to make the dragon look menacing and demonstrate dominance.
  • Head Shake: Males shake their heads to demonstrate dominance.
  • Waving Arm: Bearded dragons often raise their front paw and wave as a sign of submission.
  • Up Tail: Warning sign, usually displayed during hunting or breeding season.
Care for Bearded Dragons Step 30

Step 5. Take the dragon to the vet once a year

It is important to have annual checkups to detect potential problems as soon as possible and keep the dragon as healthy as possible.


  • A heating mat not it is necessary overnight. You run the risk of the product malfunctioning and burning the pet overnight. Because bearded dragons are cold-blooded and native to deserts, they are used to milder temperatures at night.
  • Never use a hot stone. The dragon will not be able to tell if the stone is hot or not and can burn its belly, which is dangerous. Only use superior heat sources such as light bulbs.
  • Use only reverse osmosis water to spray water on the dragon and its habitat, as it is filtered and contains no harmful toxics for the animal.
  • Do not put sand of any kind in the habitat as it can cause fatal ingestion problems.
  • After serving a large insect, stop feeding the dragon and make fresh water available to it.
  • Look for cleaning products suitable for reptile habitats at specialist pet stores.
  • Spray the dragon with a little water when the relative humidity is low to keep it hydrated.
  • Never use bleach and not pine sun to clean the bearded dragon's habitat or accessories, as the product can leave residues harmful to the animal. Prefer cleaning products suitable for reptile habitats. Rinse well until the smell of the product can no longer be felt. Then clean again with distilled vinegar and water. Let it dry naturally.


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