Bearded Dragon at Wellesley Exotic Pet Vet

Bearded Dragon Care

Bearded dragons make great reptilian pets. They don’t get too large, eat a wide variety of foods, are active during the day, and are gentle. These friendly animals are captive bred and can make a great addition to your family.

Download the Bearded Dragon Care Guide

When should I bring my sick bearded dragon to the vet?

  • Not eating
  • No stool production
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen limbs or signs of trauma
  • Actively bleeding
  • Lethargy
  • Unresponsive, unconscious or limp

Bearded Dragon Health Care

  • We recommend a new patient exam and then yearly wellness examinations and fecal testing to help detect the first signs of sickness.
  • The most common disorders in reptiles are caused by nutritional imbalances, so we will discuss the nutritional care of your beardie.
  • Please bring all supplements, boxes the lights came in and a photo of the cage to discuss with us.
  • Weigh your beardie on a weekly basis to detect early signs of illness. We recommend purchasing a kitchen gram scale and placing your bearded dragon in a small plastic container the same time each day.
  • Weighing your bearded dragon becomes especially important whenever you are changing the diet or if your beardie is sick. Being prepared and getting your beardie used to being weighed before these events will decrease the stress during an already stressful time.
  • If you notice that your beardie’s weight drops by 10% of its previous body weight call us immediately.
  • If you notice a gradual decrease in weight, contact us.
  • If you notice a decrease in appetite, decreased in droppings, trouble shedding or your bearded dragon acting more lethargic please contact us.

Bearded Dragon Housing

Substrate

  • We recommend using a paper towel, newspaper or reptile-carpet to line the bottom of the cage.
  • Avoid sand, gravel or small particle materials as your bearded dragon may ingest these and this can lead to constipation.

Cages

  • A single adult beardie requires a minimum 50 gallon aquarium, larger if possible.
  • Bearded dragons are solitary animals and should be kept separately.

UVB Lights

  • Bearded dragons require UVB light for approx. 12 hours/day for vitamin D production and to allow for calcium absorption.
  • Ensure there is no plastic or glass between your UVB light and your beardie as this will filter the UVB.
  • UVB starts to drop off after about 6 months even if the bulb is still on. We recommend setting a reminder on your phone or marking on your calendar to ensure you change your UVB bulb every 6 months.

Heating

  • Always ensure there is a thermal gradient in the cage i.e there is a hot and cold side
  • Temperatures:

Basking Spot:  ~ 100F          Hot side: 85-95F            Cold side: 75-80F          Nighttime:  60-70F

  • Ideally, have a separate thermometer in each of these areas.
  • Avoid hot rocks as these can burn your beardie

Bearded Dragon Diet

Bearded dragons are omnivorous and require a mixture of protein sources and vegetables. As they age they require less protein and eat mainly plants and vegetables.

  • Adult diet: approximately 20% insects and 80% vegetables/plants.
  • Juvenile diet: approximately 50% insects and 50% vegetables/plants.

Insects

  • Always remove any live uneaten insects after 20 minutes as they can cause injuries to your bearded dragon
  • Feed adults two to three times per week.
  • Feed juveniles once to twice daily.
  • Always offer fresh water to your insects –the best way to do this is to have a small amount of damp paper towel with your insects.
  • Insects must be gut loaded before being fed to your lizard -a starved insect will result in a starved lizard
  • We recommend gut-loading insects with Mazuri Hi-calcium gut loading formula, at least 48-72 hours before feeding the insects to your beardie. This diet can always be available to your insects.

Commercial Pellets

  • Pellets, not cubes, formulated for bearded dragons can be fed moistened with water
  • These should be less than 50% of the diet

Fresh Produce

  • Feed adults once a day to every other day
  • Feed juveniles once to twice a day.

Feed a variety of:

  • chopped dark leafy greens: kale, collards, mustards, turnip, radish, and dandelion
  • lettuces: red leaf, green leaf, and romaine
  • vegetables: carrots, squash, zucchini, peas, and beans
  • flowers: roses, nasturtiums, carnations, and hibiscus
  • Limit the amount of fruit given. Ideally, this should be less than 5% of the diet.

Supplements

  • Dust insects in a calcium carbonate supplement (without vitamin D3) 2-3 times a week.
  • Dust insects in a multivitamin supplement 1-2 times monthly.  Ensure this supplement contains vitamin D and beta-carotene and/or carotenoids as the source of vitamin A.
  • To dust insects place in a Ziploc bag and gently shake. The insects will groom off the dusting so be sure to feed them immediately after this.
  • If in doubt if your multivitamin contains the correct supplements bring it along with you to your next veterinary visit.

Water

  • Provide water in a shallow dish at all times. Ensure this bowl is large enough for your bearded dragon to soak in.
  • Soaking your beardie two times a week in warm shallow water for 10-15minutes. This increases hydration and helps with shedding.