Learning to care for your pet dragon is crucial if you want to keep a healthy bearded dragon for a pet. This animal is generally mild-tempered and does not usually cause any trouble at all. Once you have mastered its needs as well as fully understands what the changes in its behavior mean, you will not need to worry if ever your dragon displays any unusual behavior. By then you already know what to do with your beardie.
Finding out more about how to care for your dragon could be one of the reasons that you landed on this page. We hope you will find the details here quite helpful. We provide general leopard gecko care details for starting leopard gecko hobbyists. Note, however, that this care guide may also be used for African fat-tail geckos. African fat tails have the same care and breeding requirements as that of leopard reptiles.
How much do you need as start-up cost?
Most of the cost that you will need in caring for your bearded dragon will be that for its start-up cost. This will include the cost in building your pet’s enclosure (also called a terrarium or a vivarium), buying the essential equipment to house a bearded dragon properly, as well as the actual purchase cost of your pet. The maintenance cost will only include purchasing live feeders and other food items for your pet, as well as items needed for the regular upkeep of the enclosure and your pet.
Tip: It’s best to purchase individually the items that you will need to build your pet’s enclosure. There’s a good reason for this. There are many starter kits that do not really include everything that you will need for the best habitat for your pet. Many of these kits come with basking lights but without an under tank heating pad. There are also kits that many come with just one hide. Most of these kits come with stick -on thermometers that monitor the air temperature rather than the floor temperature. If you buy the items that you need for the enclosure, you get to choose what you think will best suit your preference as well.
Most of the best items that you can find to fit into your bearded dragon’s cage may be purchased via Amazon.com. When you buy online, you don’t have to worry about the time to buy as it is open 365 days 24/7. You also get to know what previous customers think about their purchases as reviews are often provided. With items listed on Amazon, you also get to check all of the sellers for particular items. Plus, if you sign up for an Amazon Prime membership, your items will be delivered at your doorstep the same day or after two days without having to pay extra for the shipping cost. Imagine buying an item for almost half its price since you don’t have to pay for additional shipping cost. Amazon Prime also offers 30-days free, so can test how the process goes.
Students with a .edu email address who sign up for an Amazon Prime membership will also get 6-months FREE Amazon Prime trial on top of a 50% off Prime subscription! That means you will only have to pay $49 for the usual $99 price. One more thing about this is that you may cancel the trial membership before the end of the trial period and pay nothing. You get to enjoy the benefits of Prime membership like the quick 1-2 days shipping, unlimited video streaming, unlimited Amazon Drive photo storage, and many other benefits.
Here is the list of items that you may need for your new Bearded Dragon.
1. A 10-gallon long tank for oneBearded Dragon. You will need a 20-gallon tank for adult dragons, however. For a hatchling or juvenile, a 10-gallon long tank will just be enough. But if you are not considering a tight budget, it is best to buy a 20-gallon long tank as the Bearded Dragon will grow fast. That means you won’t have to spend twice for the enclosure. That also means setting up time will also be cut in half. A bigger enclosure will also give you a better temperature gradient. This will also allow you to use more hides and decor. On top of all these, your Bearded Dragon will love the extra space.
Note, however, that you need a long enclosure, not a high one. Bearded Dragon, in particular, do not have sticky pads to climb. They require floor space instead, so a longer space will be more appropriate for its cage. You will also need a mesh top as these dragons are can easily get out of its enclosure. Note that your gecko is a great jumper.
2. An under tank heater also called a UTH. Buy one that covers 1/3 of one side of your tank, so make sure that you measure your tank to have the right size. Note that a UTH that’s just too large will cause your tank to overheat. One that is too small will not provide enough heat for your Bearded Dragon, on the other hand.
3. Digital thermometer with a probe. Any brand will do. Most of the digital thermometers available work the same way. You can buy one from online stores or at your local pet shop. You will need the digital thermometer to test your terrarium floor properly. You need to know how hot your best bedding for Bearded Dragons will be. You may also consider a temperature gun for this purpose.
4. Substrate. Slate or ceramic tiles are the most recommended substrate for geckos. They are not just easy to maintain, they are also natural-looking, they conduct heat quite well, and they have zero impaction risk for your dragons. Just be sure about the size of your pet’s tank. You can have the slates cut them for a price, so you don’t have to do it yourself.
Other options for a substrate are as follows: paper towels, coconut fiber, or a reptile carpet. When choosing a substrate, opt for one that won’t pose to be a hazard to your beardie’s health. A loose substrate or sand may not be a good option for your dragon as it can cause your pet to get impacted.
5. Vitamin supplements. To ensure that your dragon receives adequate nutrients, you will need to provide multivitamin and calcium powders for your pet. You need to choose the best food for Bearded Dragon growth. One of the most common methods is to leave a calcium WITHOUT D 3 (phosphorous free) powder supplement in a bottle cap or dish inside the tank. Your pet will lick them when it needs calcium. You can also buy a multivitamin WITH D 3 supplement to dust your feeders before offering them to your dragon.
Once you have purchased the essential items for your beardie’s tank and for its upkeep, you can also add on your list the following optional items:
- hides (warm, cool, and moist) thermostat (use to regulate the temperature inside your beardie’s enclosure)
- moonlight bulb for night viewing
- design accessories (some greens and branches where the dragon may climb, etc.).
General Breeding and Care Information
Male dragons are quite territorial so they should not be kept together in the same tank with other male dragons. Female dragons may be placed together, but up to only two and only inside a 20-gallon long tank, however.
Temperature/Humidity Requirement for the Enclosure
Keep the warm side of the tank about 88-93 degrees (F) on the tank floor. The cool side, however, should be your room temperature. The temperature range for the cool portion of the cage should be between low 80’s during the day, or low to mid 70’s in the evening.
Bearded dragons are crepuscular. They are the most active when there’s fading light around dusk and dawn. Your Dragons will be out roaming around, looking for food in the early mornings. It will sleep throughout the day until late in the afternoon. When they wake up, they roam around again. This is your dragon’s normal daily cycle while in captivity. You need to provide enough light for them, through best UVB bulb for Bearded Dragon.
Always remember to provide clean water in a bowl inside your pet’s tank always. You may change the water every two to three days.
Upkeep and maintenance
Make sure that your pet’s tank is properly cleaned and sanitized regularly. Every 4-5 months, you can remove everything out to clean everything inside your pet’s enclosure. Dragons are not a messy pet to keep. That means you won’t have a difficult time maintaining the cleanliness inside its tank. For daily cleaning/sanitizing, you can use warm water and antibacterial soap to clean it up.
As for you and your family’s safety, you need to make sure that you wash and sanitize your hands after handling your pet. Your bearded dragon, as well as all other reptiles, can carry all sorts or bacteria, viruses, and germs. You need to make sure that your bearded dragon’s cage is kept far from where your family gathers together. Also, change your clothes after handling the dragon.
Take it slow especially when it is your first time to handle your pet. Bearded dragons are docile pets and will be with you for quite some time if you know how to care for them properly.