Scientific name: "Pogona vitticeps"
Native Habitat: Bearded dragons are native to most of Australia and are now commonly kept as pets.
Size: The average size of an adult bearded dragon is 22-24".
Life Span: Bearded dragons' life expectancy is up 10-12 years in captivity if cared for properly.
Recommended minimum tank size for 1 adult bearded dragon is a 40 gallon breeder tank.
Recommended minimum tank size for 1 young bearded dragon is a 20 gallon long tank.
Temperatures should be kept at the following ranges during the day:
- Warm basking spot: 100º-110ºF (40.5ºC to 46ºC)
- Cool side: 80º-85ºF (27ºC to 29ºC)
These temperatures are most often achieved and maintained with heat lamps and heat pads.
Measure temperatures with a digital probe type thermometer or a temp gun, as they are most accurate.
Stick-on thermometers are unreliable and will not accurately measure temperatures. Digital ones are recommended.
You will need 2 sources of lighting for your bearded dragon: a UVB light and a basking light.
1. A UVB light source that runs the length of your tank is ideal. Your dragon must have this light to metabolize calcium. If not, they will get metabolic bone disease, a serious health condition. You can also take your beardie outside to bask in the sun for 15 minutes each day if your temps are 80 degrees or above outside. Never leave a beardie outside unattended.
It is not recommended to use sand or any other type of loose substrate, as they can potentially cause impaction (not being able to poop) in all ages of bearded dragons because they lick their environment to explore their surroundings. It is also difficult to keep germ free and clean as it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Ceramic tile, newspaper, non-adhesive shelf liner, and reptile carpet all make for great terrarium substrate. Use paper towels for the little ones because it is cheap and fast/easy to change, and as they get bigger you can change to something else that's more aesthetic.
Cohabitation (housing more than 1 bearded dragon together) is not recommended. Two adult males should never be housed together, as they will fight. Adult females that are not aggressive can sometimes be safely housed together, but not always. If an adult male is housed with an adult female, fighting and injury can occur as the male tries to mate with the female. If she isn't ovulating or isn't interested, she might fight back and also possibly injure the male.
DIET & FEEDING
Bearded dragons are omnivores and eat a combination of live prey and greens, vegetables, and fruits both in the wild and in captivity. The younger they are, the more live prey they should eat. The older they are, the more greens/veggies. It is not recommended to feed mealworms to bearded dragons, as their hard chitinous exoskeleton is hard for a bearded dragon to digest. It is also not recommended to feed mice of any size.
⚠ Never feed anything bigger than the space between your beardie's eyes! It is a choking hazard.
Greens & Veggies
Beardies should be given greens/veggies every single day as adults. This includes collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, and cabbage. Other vegetables offered can include fresh green beans, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrot. Fruits like apricots, strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, and cantaloupe can be offered occasionally as treats.
The live portion of their diet should consist of dubia roaches, superworms, crickets, and/or silkworms.
These insects vary in nutrition, cost, and availability. Refer to the nutrition chart below for more information.
Crickets are the most readily available and least expensive live prey, but they also can bite your pet if left in the tank overnight. This can lead to infection and/or disease.
Dubia roaches are the most nutritious insect feeder! They are also very easy to keep and breed, making them my favorite feeder by far.
Superworms are the larval stage of the darkling beetle, and look like a larger, brown mealworm. Readily available at most pet stores.
The easiest and least expensive live prey for the casual keeper is crickets, which can be found at most commercial pet stores. Advanced keepers with more than 1 reptile might want to consider buying or even breeding dubia roaches. Dubia roaches are They also reproduce rapidly, don't make any noise, can't jump/climb/escape like crickets can.
Hornworms (Manduca sexta, aka "goliath worms") can be fed occasionally as treats.
* It is recommended to feed at least 1-2 hours before the basking lamp turns off, so that they can digest their food before night time.
* If you are having trouble finding any of the above feeders at your local pet store, check out some of our recommended feeder vendors like Rainbow Mealworms and others here.
Most bearded dragons will not drink standing water from a water dish or bowl. Because of this, it is important to give your bearded dragon a 10-15 minute bath bath 1-to-2 times weekly to ensure it stays hydrated. It will drink water when bathing and will usually defecate too. Misting the dragon daily also helps. Additionally, you can try to train your baby bearded dragon by pouring water into a dish in front of it, or purchase a fountain-style water dish normally designed for cats (see an example here).
SELECTING A DRAGON
There are several things to look for when picking out a healthy bearded dragon. Make sure it walks straight and without a limp or wobble; this indicates it does not have MBD (metabolic bone disease). Its eyes should be clean, fully open, and alert, which indicates the animal has no diseases, trouble shedding, or past fights with other dragons or animals. Ideally the dragon's tail should not be damaged, bitten, or partially missing. If it has been nipped, make sure it's not infected and has healed well. It is also recommended to make sure the dragon tolerates handling before purchasing it, if you plan on handling it. This is especially important if children are handling the dragon! If you are looking for a bearded dragon to purchase, make sure to check out our bearded dragon breeder directory to find a local breeder near you.
DRAGON MORPHS & TRAITS
Bearded dragons come in many different varieties, or "morphs" which are determined by their genetics. Here's a short list of the most common ones:
Normal - Bearded dragon offspring from breeding two bearded dragons with different traits.
Hypo - Bearded dragon offspring from breeding two bearded dragons with hypomelanism traits. Generally the offspring are lighter in color and have a sigificant reduction of dark colors in the skin, eyes, and nails.
Trans - Bearded dragon offspring from breeding two bearded dragons with translucent traits which makes their skin appear to be slightly translucent/see-through. Generally trans bearded dragons have solid black eyes.
Hypo Trans - Bearded dragons that lack dark colors and have slightly transparent/translucent skin.
Het Hypo - Bearded dragons that carry the hypomelanism trait, yet do not display it visually. If a het hypo produces offspring, some of the offspring may show the hypomelanism trait while others don't (this is largely depndant on the traits of bearded dragon which it was bred with).
Het Trans - Bearded dragons that carry the translucent trait, yet do not display it visually. When they produce offspring, some of the offspring may show the translucent trait, while others may not (this depends on the traits of the other bearded dragon which was mated).
Double Het - Bearded dragons that carry both the hypomelanism and translucent traits, yet do not display them visually. Their offspring may or may not show these traits, depending on the traits carried by the other bearded dragon which was used to mate.
Hypo Het Trans - Bearded dragons that show the hypomelanism trait, yet carry (and don't display) the translucent traits.
Trans Het Hypo - Bearded dragons that show the translucent trait, yet carry (and don't display) the hypomelanism trait.
German Giant - Approximately 50% larger in size than regular dragons due to selective breeding.
Leatherback - Due to a gene mutation, these dragons do not have as large of spiked scales.
Silkback or Silkie - Silkbacks have even less spiked scales and are a product of breeding two leatherbacks together.
Other designer morphs of bearded dragons include Sandfire, Sunburst, Citrus, Citrus Tiger, Orange, Tangerine, Lemon Fire, Blood Red, and Gold.
DETERMINING YOUR DRAGON'S GENDER
Determining your bearded dragon's gender is easy once you know what to look for. If you look at the base of the tail, you can tell if your bearded dragon is a male if it has two bulges on either side or female if it has a smaller bulge in the middle.