Bearded Dragons, or Beardies, are great pets for families–they are personable, have strong personalities, and many enjoy walks and handling. However, they may require more advanced care than most people expect. Here are some common concerns we hear from our beardie clients:
Can I have more than one?
Bearded dragons are not social and there should not be more than one per habitat, no matter what you may see at a pet store. Individuals may also become stressed seeing other beardies nearby; you may see behaviors like glass-surfing (moving back and forth repeatedly in front of or against the glass) or puffing up of their beard in a defensive display. As long as each beardie has its own habitat out of view of other dragons, they can coexist.
How big of a tank do I need?
If you get your beardie as a juvenile, you will need multiple different sizes, but the general rule of thumb is that the enclosure should be at least 4 times the length of the animal.
Do I need a special light?
Yes! Bearded Dragons require strong UV rays for calcium absorption and relatively high temperatures to digest. Some brands of UVA/UVB bulbs can be unreliable and may not have the advertised UV output, so we recommend Arcadia or MegaRay brand UV bulbs. Mercury vapor (100w-160w) UV bulbs work well, as they have strong UV rays and produce a significant amount of heat to provide a quality basking spot! Just make sure the light isn’t passing through glass or acrylic; these barriers cut out the UV rays. To maintain warmer temperatures overnight, try a ceramic heat emitter (CHE), which provides heat but no light!
Since they’re from the desert, should I use sand?
Absolutely not! Beardies are very susceptible to impaction, meaning they accidentally swallow the substrate in their tank and it becomes stuck in their gastrointestinal system. Always use non-particulate substrate (substrate that does not have small pieces) such as reptile carpet or large tile. It’s also easier to clean!
My beardie never drinks water, are they dehydrated?
They might be–the next question we ask is how often do you soak them? Beardies primarily get their water from frequent soaks. Make sure their water dish is large enough for them to fit their entire body in. In addition to the large water dish, you should give your beardie a bath in warm, shallow water three to four times a week. Try using the bathtub or sink. You may think your beardie doesn’t like water; they may squirm and run around the tub trying to escape, but it is important for them to have this access to water!
Is it okay to just feed my beardie insects because he doesn’t like his greens?
This one takes a little tough love–80% of their diet should be fresh salad, so we often have to cut down on their buggy treats and let them get hungry enough to eat their salad. Just like us, they prefer junk food, like fatty worms and crickets, but they should only get these protein sources two to three times a week and only as 10% of their diet. The remaining 10% of their diet should be fresh veggies! Try checking with your local grocer or farmers market for their fresh leafy greens and vegetables that have to be thrown out. They may not look as pretty but they are still nutritious!
When should I take my beardie to the vet?
Just like with our warm-blooded pets, beardies should have an annual exam with a veterinarian to address any issues that may be arising. Yearly fecal analyses are also recommended, as beardies can pick up intestinal parasites from the bugs they eat! Otherwise, any changes in their eating habits, behavior, or fecal output or consistency are indicators that a vet visit is in order. These can be signs of other, more serious, issues that require further investigation!