Species: Bearded Dragon (Pogona)
Lifespan: 10 - 15 years on average, but have been known to live longer with proper care and nutrition
Adult Size: 18 - 24 inches in length and 250 - 550 grams
- Native Habitat: Australia
There a number of different habitat options that work for a bearded dragon, but the more space the better!
The minimum cage size needed will be a 18" Wide x 36" Long x 18" High or 40 Gallon breeder. However, we would generally recommend upgrading to something a bit larger. Our favorites include:
- TetraFauna 75 Gallon, 18" Wide x 48" Long x 18" High
- Zen Habitat, 2' x 4'
- ReptiZoo 85 Gallon, 24" Wide x 48" Long x 18" High
Bigger is always going to be better when choosing a cage for any reptile, but bearded dragons do grow to a decent size and need ample space. Again, the absolute minimum you can consider would be a 40 Gallon.
Inside of the cage you'll want to ensure you use a safe substrate like paper towels, tile, eco carpet, or a rubber mat. For those who prefer a more naturalistic look, the only loose substrate we recommend using is BioDude Terra Sahara.
It's a bit pricey, but well worth it in my opinion. It's the only loose substrate we feel comfortable leaving them in where compaction is not a concern.
You'll also want to provide plenty of climbing obstacles throughout their cage. This could include branches, rocks, or a terrarium backing that allows for climbing. They are semi arboreal and spend a fair amount of time off the ground.
Diet & Nutrition
Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. In the wild they eat leaves, flowers, fruit, and insects. They're generally not picky eaters, but have been known to shun certain veggies or even live insect feeders from time to time.
Their diet will begin to shift as they age, eating mainly insects as they grow and shifting to veggies as they reach adulthood. As hatchlings the bulk of their diet will include insects while only a small portion will include veggies.
We start our bearded dragons off with about 80% live insects and 20% veggies and by the time they reach adulthood those two number will have flipped. Some good staple insect feeders will include:
- Dubia Roaches
- Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Calci Worms)
- Super Worms
As hatchlings they'll eat very few veggies, but as they age will begin to gradually shift. By the time they're around 18 months, the majority of their diet will consist of greens that include:
- Collard Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Butternut Squash
In all, bearded dragons have a simple diet with the main difficult finding a steady supply of live insects. Never feed any wild insects as they can transmit parasites or disease, so stick to an insect feeder breeder or pet store. As long as you stick to the chart below, you'll do great.
|Age||Quantity & Types of Food||Times a Day|
|0 - 4 Months||80% Insects, 20% Veggies||4|
|4 - 10 Months||70% Insects, 30% Veggies||3|
|10 - 18 Months||50% Insects, 50% Veggies||2|
|18+ Months||20% Insects, 80% Veggies||1|
Temperature & Lighting Requirements
Like most reptiles, Bearded Dragons have specific heating and lighting requirements to ensure proper health and well being. This will include things like basking bulbs to provide heat and UVA as well as UVB bulbs.
The temperature will be slightly different from hatchlings to adults, but still very similar. Regardless you'll want a temperature gradient from cool to hot so they can properly regulate their temps. If we used a cage as an example, you'd want something similar to this:
- Basking side surface temperature— 105-115°F
- Cool side surface temperature — 77-85°F
- Air temperature gradient — 72-99°F
- Nighttime — 55-75°F
Adult bearded dragons will be better suited in slightly lower temps. You'll keep their basking temp around 95-105°F.
Other than temperature, you'll also need a source of UVB lighting. This will be necessary for proper D3 production and calcium absorption. There are many bulbs on the market but we generally want a full cage bulb to provide UVB throughout the entire cage.
Several UVB options include:
- Zoo Med T5 HO ReptiSun 10.0
- Arcadia T5 HO 14%
- Arcadia T5 HO 12%
These each come in a multitude of different sizes to accommodate any size of cage. We typically stick with the Zoo Med 10.0 ReptiSun, but you have several choices.
Without proper temperature and lighting you will quickly start to see your bearded dragon deteriorate over time. Starting with lethargy, lack of appetite, and eventually metabolic bone disease which is incredibly painful.
Please ensure you have proper temperature and lighting at all times and replace your UVB bulbs every 6 months. Just because they are still giving off light does not mean they are providing the necessary amounts of UVB for your bearded dragon.
One thing that makes Bearded Dragons so fun is how unique you can make their enclosure. You have a lot of different options and setups that work great, but there are a few basic things you'll need regardless. That includes:
- Enclosure: There are many different options for caging depending on your personal preferences. Some of our favorites include Zen Habitats or the TetraFauna 75 gallon tanks. The absolute minimum should be as follows:
- 18" Wide x 36" Long x 18" Tall (40 Gallon)
- The bigger the better.
- Basking Bulb: The 100 Watt Zoo Med basking bulb will usually put off enough heat, but depending on the cage you choose, or the temperature in the room, you may need a 150 watt bulb.
- UVB: This is an absolute necessity for proper D3 production and calcium absorption. A Zoo Med 10.0 ReptiSun will do the job, just pick the size that will run the full length of the cage.
- Hides: At least one, preferably two, places for them two hide and feel safe within their cage. Anything will be fine whether it be a plastic or rock. Just something they'll be able to fit comfortably inside and feel secure.
- Climbing Obstacles: Bearded Dragons are semi arboreal, meaning they spend a decent amount of time off the ground. You'll want to provide plenty of climbing obstacles like rocks and branches.
- Water Bowl: Some prefer to provide regular soaks as hydration. I would recommend you always keep a small water dish at all times.
- Food Bowl: No explanation needed
- Food: Refer to the diet and nutrition section, but you'll want to provide a staple diet of live insects and vegetables. This could include:
- Dubia Roaches
- Super Worms (Only Adults)
- Calci Worms (Black Soldier Fruit Larvae)
- Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Carrots, etc..
- Bedding: This could be as simple as paper towels, bathroom tiles, eco carpet, or rubber liner. If you want something more naturalistic or are attempting bioactive, the only loose soil we recommend is Bio Dude Terra Sahara.
- Avoid using other loose substrates like sand as it can cause compaction issues.
Our Available Bearded Dragons
Bearded Dragons can be an excellent pet for many people. They have calm temperaments, are fairly low maintenance, and are generally the most recommended reptile for beginners.
However, they are still big commitment and will take up a fair amount of space in your home. After you've done your research and decided to add a Bearded Dragon to the family, you can see all our available Bearded Dragons here.