Raising a healthy baby bearded dragon is easy as long as its care requirements are met.
With a little planning and a little reading, you can make your baby dragons life as healthy and as stress-free as possible. Giving you the new owner a rewarding experience. The info/care sheet below is what every new owner should follow, and great success will follow. Following the care sheet below, we have consistently raised dragons to adults. During the first 6 months, the average grow rate is an approximately ½ inch a week, and within 6 months your dragon can be up to 12 plus inches.
Tank Size and Heat Bulb Info
Bearded Dragon Babies should be raised in a (20 gallon) tank for optimal growth. This way they do not have far to look for their food, crickets stay away from bright spots so if the tank is too big the baby dragon will have a hard time finding the crickets, and your dragon will spend most of its time basking.
Use a 50-watt spot/heat bulb for a 20-gallon tank or 75-watt to 100-watt spot/heat bulb for a 30-gallon breeder tank. Place heat bulb at one end as a basking spot for a minimum of 4 hours a day (Don’t use a heat rock, just a plain rock if you plan on putting one inside your cage). The height of the rock or the wattage of the bulb needs to be adjusted to get the basking spot to a 90 – 105-degree range, for the baby dragon, needs to get very warm to digest its food.
Set a temperature gauge on the highest part of the rock for an hour and check the temperature… (Don’t guess.) Basking under a light is a natural way for dragons to warm up. The spot light also warms up their belly, which aids in digestion. Make sure the other side of the tank is staying cooler, around 80-85 degrees. This will provide the baby bearded dragon with a suitable environment to let them regulate their body temperature. Nighttime temperatures can safely drop into the mid 70`s.
UVB Lighting Info
To obtain optimal growth, the florescent light should be turned on for 10-12 hours (put on a timer). Ideally a full spectrum light UVB BULB should be suspended over the cage but this is not vital… The UVB bulb should be within 10 inches of the basking area, so they absorb the UVB to assist in manufacturing their calcium for bone development.
If the bulb is too far from the basking area, the UVB will dissipate before reaching the dragon. UVB bulbs are not vital if there is proper calcium with vitaminD3 supplementation in their diet and enough light intensity. If you do not use the UVB bulb, a cool white fluorescent should be used for brightness.
For baby bearded dragons the substrate should be paper towels or newspaper. **Don’t use calcium sand for baby dragons; the sand can get impacted in the baby bearded dragons stomach. If you decide to use sand, it could result in death due to a blockage caused by the ingestion of the sand. The cage should be simple for the first 4 months, or so then calcium sand can be used into the 5th month.
Also, there should be limited decorative items in the cage to prevent the crickets from hiding. Bowel movements must be cleaned up daily. If keeping more than two or more dragons in a cage, changing paper substrate must be more frequent to keep up with the cleanliness of the cage.
Read more on bearded dragon substrate.
Bearded dragons require a dry cage, but need to get a lot of water from spraying and fresh vegetables. The hatchlings should be sprayed once daily on their heads, keep spraying directed onto their heads as long as they keep licking the water.
If they don’t like to be sprayed directly, you can set them into their shallow water bowl. This simulates the natural way dragons get water by licking up water found in shallow riverbeds, ponds, and creeks.
Some dragons do learn quickly to drink from a shallow water dish. If your dragon gets dehydrated or thin its necessary to get them to drink more water. Increased spraying and misting their vegetables helps.
You should always use a water dish; the water MUST be changed daily and immediately if the dish has been defecated in – it must be cleaned as soon as possible.
Baby Dragons vary on their water intake; some drink daily, others may not drink for days and getting the needed moisture through their diet (wet greens/vegetables).
Baby Dragons have to be fed once a day and for optimal growth twice a day. Feed 1 hour after the lights has come on to give the baby a chance to warm up. If feeding twice a day, it should be fed a couple of hours before the lights go off to give the dragon time to digest the meal. Start with 2-5 crickets per dragon for the first feeding.
Excess crickets in the cage can crawl all over the dragon and can stress them out by biting the dragon. Remove all uneaten crickets before the lights turn off at night. Baby dragons should be fed crickets the width of their eyes (1/4-3/8 inch long) up to approximately 2 months of age, as too big of a prey item can kill a baby dragon. A good rule of thumb is the prey item should be smaller than bigger.
Dragons over 2 months can be fed small 1/2 inch size super worms a few times a week. They will have to be mail ordered, as pet shops do not usually carry super worms this small. As the size of the dragon increases, so should its prey. We never feed any size mealworms as they have and can cause paralysis and death in baby dragons.
Vegetables are an important part of a bearded dragon’s diet and should be offered daily in small size pieces on a flat plate or dish. Place the dish or plate of vegetables on the opposite side of the tank from where the heat/spot light is located. Stick with leafy greens, such as romaine, mustard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, alternating when possible. Remove any hard veins from the greens. Do not feed iceberg lettuce it can give them ‘the runs’ and dehydrate them. Stay away from fruits in till your dragon is 6 months old.
Supplementation calcium and vitamins should consist of dusting the crickets every feeding with a phosphorous free calcium powder. Failure to use calcium with vitamin D3 regularly can cause problems in bone development. If not using a high-intensity UVB bulb, you must give the proper calcium/D3 supplements to prevent possible health problems (Metabolic Bone Disease).
Separate Good Eaters from Bad
Separate good eaters from bad eaters. If you don’t, you will have healthy pudgy babies and anorexic looking sticks. A hatchling that is even 1/2″ longer than another hatchling can and will intimidate his smaller buddy. The larger hatchling will even sometimes kill the smaller ones. It is a natural thing…….Survival of the fittest. You need to have a means of separating them.
If you have hatchlings that are not eating within 2-3 days after hatching you need to pay special attention to them. I have had great success with chicken and veggie baby food mixed with 1/3 water, a sprinkle of calcium/D3. You will need to put drops on the nose of the noneating babies. Continue to put it on their nose until they start licking it off. Continue this until they are eating on their own. Additionally, we put the mix in a very shallow dish at one end of the habitat.
Lessons: Unfortunately, I learned an important lesson the hard way. Crickets left in the habitat will feast on hatchlings if there is nothing else to eat. I always leave a piece of carrot or cricket food for the night time hungry crickets.
Read more on bearded dragon diet.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to keep your Baby Bearded Dragon as stress-free as possible.
Here are a few tips on reducing the stress for your Dragon.
- Keep a regular schedule for feeding and watering.
- Put your lights on a timer to keep daylight hours consistent.
- Supplement diet with Calcium with vitamin D3… and three times a week with Herptivite.
- Feed Gutloaded crickets they are more nutritious.
- Be careful when handling when they are young. Especially after they eat.
- Maintain the temperature of 90-105 degrees at one end of the tank and 80-85 degrees at the other end.
- Keep a ‘basic’ setup for first 6 months… making sure crickets cant hide and remove excess crickets at night.
- Make sure their cage is cleaned…
**After you bring your dragon home, it is common for them not to eat immediately. The stress from transporting it to a new environment may put eating on the ‘back burner’ for a day or so. Give your dragon 4 hours allowing your dragon to adjust to its new home; then you can offer it a few crickets and some chopped greens on a plate.
If your dragon does not eat by the end of the day, remove the crickets and offer some water by spraying its head lightly. The next day, wait until your dragon heats up to offer some crickets again. If your dragon doesn’t eat wait 1/2 a day and till it becomes more comfortable in its new cage, this will help stimulate its appetite. If your dragon doesn’t eat offer it water again and please give us a call.
- Outside bugs and greens have been known to kill Bearded Dragons. These should be avoided.
- If using Calcium sand on older dragons, you MUST sift through it to remove any of the larger pebbles.
- Feeding appropriate sized super worms and crickets are a must for baby dragons. Crickets should be NO LONGER than the width of their eyes and if feeding super worms feed small worms.
- If using a used tank or cage its very important to clean it good and everything in it before the new Baby Bearded Dragon is placed in the side of it. Other animals could pass on diseases. Your Bearded Dragon thanks you for reading this…