Pet Care Guides Reptile

Bearded Dragons


Central & Eastern Australia



Average Size:

14-24 inches


9-15 Years

Bearded Dragon Introduction

Having a Bearded Dragon as a pet can be a very rewarding experience! Before purchasing, do plenty of research to understand their behaviors, proper handling and care requirements. Help them live a long and healthy life in your care.

They are also known as the Inland Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps. They are relatively hardy, easy to breed and adjust well to gentle handling. Bearded Dragons are native to the grasslands and semi-deserts of central and Eastern Australia.


In contrast to most lizards, bearded dragons are usually quite easy to handle. They are less active than most lizards and spend most of their time basking. Bearded dragons are very aware of what is going on outside their terrarium. If threatened, breaded dragons expand their throat into a dark pointy "beard". This is usually a bluff, and even wary bearded dragons rarely bite. These lizards also use body posture and head bobbing to “intimidate” and arm waving to “submit”.


Despite being generally calm around people, bearded dragons are best kept as solitary reptile pets. That Pet Place cannot guarantee that any animal will get along with any other animal, even if they are purchased from the same cage.


Bearded dragons should be provided with as much space as possible. *Large enclosures are necessary to establish a thermal gradient. Bearded dragons will move from warmer to cooler areas as needed to regulate their body temperature. This behavior, called thermoregulation, is important to their health and is usually not possible in small tanks.

We recommend:
• 20 gallon 30”x12” – juvenile to 6 months old
• 40 gallon 36”x18” – 6 months to 12-18 months old
• 75 gallon 48’x18” – 2 years and older

Habitat Furnishings

• Ceramic food dish
• Water dish
• Two hides (1 for hot side, 1 for cool side)
• Substrate
• Decor

While bearded dragons inhabit sandy environments in their native habit, it is often recommended to keep babies and juveniles on a terrarium liner, sand mat, or crash pad until they are larger. For adults, we recommend a substrate mix of 60% reptisoil and 40% reptisand as a loose substrate for your beardie. You must be careful not to mist too much if at all. Moss, and other water-absorbing materials should be avoided, as bearded dragons can become ill quickly in damp surroundings. Remove substrate entirely once every 3 months, clean the habitat itself with pet friendly disinfectant, and provide fresh new bedding.

There is a possibility that captive bearded dragons could sometimes suffer fecal impactions due to swallowing too much sand. If they eat sand, it more likely indicates a nutritional deficiency in general. As a result, they have an urge to eat anything, including sand, to make up for the nutritional deficiency. To prevent impaction, provide them with a more well-balanced diet.

Still concerned about impaction?
Feed your babies and juveniles using tongs or feed separately in a bin at feeding time.

Bearded dragons are mainly ground dwelling, but will use rocks and driftwood as perches and basking sites. Air flow is important for all reptiles native to arid habitats, so your terrarium should be equipped with a screen top.

Light, Heat and Humidity

UVB lighting is required for your bearded dragon set up. Bearded dragons and many other reptiles require UVB desert bulbs to properly use vitamins & minerals from their food to keep healthy. Specifically, UVB desert bulbs help them synthesize vitamin D3 which allows for them to absorb and use calcium properly.

If you do not provide proper UVB, your reptile will get metabolic bone disease (MBD), which severely damages their bones and leads to eventual death

UVB bulbs should be placed within 8-24” of the basking site depending on the UVI your reptile requires & the UVB % of the bulb. UVB bulbs should be left on for 12-14 hours per day and replaced every 6-12 months. Only use your UVB bulbs during the day hours to provide a normal night/day schedule. NOTE: UVB and UVA are two different kinds of light. UVA CANNOT be substituted for UVB light.

Reptiles cannot maintain their body temperature by producing metabolic heat. They rely on external conditions (i.e. heat bulb) to regulate the temperature of their bodies. Consequently, a thermal gradient must be established in your bearded dragon’s habitat. That means you must provide a basking area (hot) and a cooling area (warm).

This process of self- regulating their body temperature by moving back and forth from their basking area to cooler areas is known as thermoregulation and is necessary for proper reptile health. Again, that is why a reptile requires enough space in their cage to be able to freely move from warm to cool and cool to warm areas as necessary.

Required temperatures for your bearded dragon:
• Basking temperature: 110-115°F for babies/juveniles, 100-105°F for adults
• Cooling area temperature: 75-85°F
• Nighttime temperature minimum: 75-80°F

To provide the recommended basking temperature, we recommend the use of an under-the-tank heater with plugged into a thermostat to maintain air temperature and the use of a reptile heat spotlight for the basking area. At night, the spotlight should be turned off to allow the temperature to cool down to around 80F. If you find that the temperature at night is below 75F, you may need to purchase a or ceramic heater or a  reptile night light which gives off heat but not light that can be seen by the animal.

Use two separate thermometers to monitor the temperature in the basking area and the cooling are separately.

Reptiles need the proper amount of heat to digest their food and maintain their immune system. Each species has its own temperature requirements and that must be met by providing the appropriate amount of heat with heat bulbs, ceramic emitters, heat mats or some combination of the three.

Humidity should be kept low, 30-40%. The substrate must always be kept dry. It is a great idea to purchase a hygrometer to measure and monitor your tanks’ humidity.


• Juveniles: feed insects every day, 2-3 times a day. (Your juvenile beardie will eat up to 15-30 crickets a day!)
• Adults: feed vegetables daily and insects 2-3 times a week.

Juvenile bearded dragons predominately eat insects. As they grow into adults, their diet should become predominantly vegetables.

Vegetables can be offered in the form of kale, string beans, squash, collard greens, dandelion, carrots, and other leafy greens. Please see our reptile room associates for a more complete listing of safe vegetables and fruits.

Spinach binds calcium, making calcium unusable, and should be avoided.

The insect portion of the diet should consist of crickets, dubia roaches, waxworms, superworms, and other commercially available species. Wild-collected insects are not recommended as they can be toxic & pesticides may be present. Food size should be no larger than the space between the bearded dragon’s eyes.

Commercially bought insects should be fed nutritious cricket food for at least one day prior to being offered to your lizard. This is called gut loading. These insects can also be dusted with a calcium supplement 2-3 times per week and a multivitamin powder 1 time a week

Commercial bearded dragon food can help supplement a balanced diet by making up to 25% of their diet. Entice your beardie to eat such commercial diets by wetting the pellets and adding nutritionally appropriate reptile toppers/mixers.

Possibly in response to an "internal clock", bearded dragons and other reptiles sometimes refuse food during the winter. This is referred to as brumation. This is not a concern for healthy animals, because they usually begin eating again with spring's arrival.

Some bearded dragons will drink water from a bowl, but most prefer to lap water that has been sprayed onto a small section of the enclosure. Spray in small amounts so it dries quickly after misting.

If a bowl is used, make sure that it does not spill and cause the cage to become damp. Any washed vegetables that are offered can be left wet to provide additional access to water.

If using a water bowl, add an airstone with airline tubing to create moving water to entice them to drink. Bearded dragons may also be soaked in shallow lukewarm water once or twice per week to keep them properly hydrated.

Daily Care & Maintenance

Bearded dragons require attention and care every day.
You will need to:
• Feed and provide fresh spring water.
• Spot clean, remove waste and uneaten food.
• Complete health checks.
• Complete heating checks.

Observe your reptile closely for signs of injury or disease including missing toes, abrasions, ulcers, and blisters. Observation can be as simple as looking at them closely while they are in their habitat. Continual handling is not required, as that can cause undue stress.

Bearded dragons should always appear alert. Any reptile that seems limp or does not hold themselves erect when active are likely in poor health. Very commonly poor health can be caused by an issue with their heat.
Check the following daily:
• Basking temperature in their actual basking spot
• Cool temperature in the cooling area of their cage.
Again, your reptile’s habitat must be large enough to properly thermoregulate.

Watching your reptile’s behavior & movement can indicate whether your temperatures are correct. For example, if your reptile always stays on the heated side means it’s never hot enough. Always staying on the cool side means the heated side is too hot.

Health & Sanitation Considerations

Salmonella bacteria, commonly present in reptile and amphibian digestive tracts, can cause severe illnesses in people. Handling an animal will not cause an infection, as the bacteria must be ingested. Salmonella infections are easy to avoid via the use of proper hygiene. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling any animal. Please speak with your family doctor or veterinarian for more tips on preventing Salmonella, or please read our care guide "Cleaning and Disinfecting Recommendations" for additional instructions.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about your new family member. We recommend scheduling a check up with an exotics veterinarian soon after you bring your new pet home. It is helpful to keep a medical record about your pet should an emergency ever occur.

Pet care is always evolving & changing. Please continue to research and monitor your pet’s behavior to assure they are thriving.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our reptile department at 717-299-5691 ext. 1240 or