Bearded dragons are suitable pets for children because these lizards rarely bite, scratch or whip with their tails. They genuinely respond to gentle handling, and will look you in the eye, eat from your hand, and rest in your lap. A dragon should not be caught or lifted by its tail; its body should be fully supported when it is being held or carried.
- In captivity, both live prey and salads should be offered to provide a balanced diet for your dragon. Because dragons are active during the day, they should be fed in the morning.
- The dragons live prey may consist of appropriately sized crickets, superworms, mealworms, wax worms, locusts and pinkie mice. The prey should be fed balanced diets including fresh greens for several days before feeding out. Prey should be dusted with a vitamin-mineral supplement and calcium. Prey is dusted daily for baby bearded dragons. The frequency of dusting diminishes until adulthood, when prey are supplemented about once every 7-10 days.
- Salads can consist of chopped mixes of a variety of greens such as romaine, dandelion, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, kale, collards, bok choy, swiss chard, escarole, spinach, and cilantro.
- Vegetables can comprise up to 20% of the diet and can include squash, zucchini, sweet potato, broccoli, peas, beans, okra and grated carrot. Fruits can make up about 2-5% of the diet and may include papaya, melon, and banana.
- Flower blossoms may be given as a treat. Commercial pellets are marketed for bearded dragons, but they havent been tested long-term.
Feeding schedule and content
- Baby bearded dragons are fed twice daily and eat only small moving prey, such as 2 week old crickets. As a general rule, dragons are fed crickets with a body length no greater than the width of the dragons head. However, salads should be introduced at this early age so they are accustomed to eating greens and vegetables as they mature. As the dragon grows, the size of live prey increases and intake of salads increases.
- Juvenile bearded dragons grow rapidly and need plenty of food offered daily. Hungry juveniles housed together will nip the toes and tail-tips of their cage mates.
- Adult bearded dragons can be fed daily or every second day and prefer a diet of about 55% salad, 20% vegetables and 25% prey.
Bearded dragons thrive in low humidity. Drinking water should be provided in a shallow bowl or saucer. dragons will often soak in their water bowl and may defecate in their water. Drinking and soaking bowls should be cleaned at least daily.
How can you keep your bearded dragon Healthy, Happy and Safe?
- Quarantine new dragons in a separate area of the house for 3-6 months.
- Dragons housed together should be of similar size, with plenty of space available.
- Monitor body conditions of multiple dragons housed together for signs of stress in subordinate ones.
- Ensure a gradient of temperatures in their enclosure, from 70 degrees F to a hot basking spot of around 95 degrees F.
- Expose to unfiltered sunlight of commercial full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs (including UVB).
- Allow time outdoors when the temperature is above 70 degrees F (only in screen enclosure with access to shade and water).
- Consult with Saukville Veterinary Clinic about supplementation of calcium and vitamin D.
Housing for your bearded dragon should:
- Be spacious and easy to clean, with smooth sides to prevent abrasions on the skin.
- Be the size of a 10 gallon tank for a baby dragon; adults need large enclosures of 4' x 2'.
- Be large enough for climbing, exploration, and basking.
- Contain thick climbing branches or rocks to support heavy-bodied dragons.
- Include a large, shallow water tray for soaking.
- Have easy access of food and water containers for frequent cleaning.
- Include acceptable substrates: newspaper, cage carpet, organic (recycled) cellulose fiber.
- Provide a hiding area, such as a cardboard box or plant pot.
Things you must keep away from your bearded dragon:
- Sand, gravel, corn cobs, walnut shells, kitty litter, and wood shavings as substrates
- Potentially toxic live plants
- Running loose in the home (to prevent chilling, trauma, ingestion of foreign materials, and escape)
- Shared housing between adults and hatchlings, as adults may eat hatchlings
- Heating elements
- Too many vitamins or minerals
- Lightning bugs for food
For more information: Association of Reptile & Amphibian Vets