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© 2023 by Dapper Dragons

How to Take Care of your new buddy!

Housing

How big of an enclosure should my dragon have?

Baby Bearded Dragons can be housed in smaller tanks as they grow, but it's recommended that they are housed in an enclosure that they can live happily in their entire life, as baby bearded dragons can grow at very different rates, some being very quick. An appropriate enclosure for an adult bearded dragon is no less than a 40 gallon enclosure (36" long by 16" wide). Glass, PVC, Melamine, almost anything will work for the enclosure to be made of.

What are the lighting requirements for my dragon?
    

Bearded Dragons require two special lights in order to stay healthy. The first, and cheapest light is the heat lamp. Our preferred bulb brand is the Sylvania 45W incandescent flood light. These bulbs are cheaper than most other options, last a long time, and generally output the proper amount of heat. Though there are many other options found in pet stores or online. The bulb will need a dome clamp light fixture, easily found in pet stores or home improvement stores. Directly under the heat lamp the temperature should be around 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't worry about buying a light to use at night, Bearded Dragons are fine in average household temperatures while sleeping. Never use a heat pad or a heat rock, as they are known to malfunction over time and overheat, causing burns to the reptile.
The second light a Bearded Dragon requires is a UVB light. The type of UVB light fixture to get is debatable, but we definitely recommend a florescent terrarium hood with a Reptisun (not ReptiGlo) 10.0 UVB bulb. This bulb must be changed once a year to ensure proper UVB for your reptile. It may be costly, but without it, a Bearded Dragon will suffer from many serious, non-reversible problems.
With these two light fixtures, it is recommended to get an outlet timer. With it, the lights can turn on and off automatically, and give a regular schedule to your dragon. This is not required, but it's helpful and cheap!

As for placement of the light fixtures, the heat lamp should be on one side of the tank, not the middle, so the dragon can move out of the heat when they want. The UVB lamp can be placed anywhere above the tank, but make sure the dragon can be at least 12" away from it.

What do I cover the bottom of the enclosure with?

 

We recommend Alfalfa based rabbit food pellets as a substrate! We've tried every recommended type of substrate for bearded dragons and found none as great as the alfalfa pellets! 

Although you may have heard that loose substrate such as this can be extremely harmful to dragons, and you're right about other loose substrates, but not alfalfa pellets. Commonly known among Bearded Dragon keepers, loose substrate is a very bad idea, and the main reason why is impaction. This is where the dragon accidentally swallows or eats some of the substrate and it causes damage to their internals. This can happen with all kinds of substrates, sand, dirt, bark, gravel, wood shavings, ground walnut, ect. These particles can be sharp, hard, undigestable, and or just plain bad. So of course you'd never want to use any of these!! But here's where Alfalfa pellets differ. 

  • First of all, Alfalfa pellets are edible to bearded dragons, as they are to rabbits. This means impaction is basically impossible to occur from them.

  • Even better, these pellets are actually healthy for your dragon! We compared the ingredients of two commercial dry bearded dragon diets to the ingredients in these pellets and found quite a few similarities. These include alfalfa, wheat, corn, soybean, rice, and calcium. All of these ingredients were found in the dragon diets from ZooMed and Rep-Cal. So along with being edible, they are healthy, and your dragon can even snack on them if they're interested!

  • And the pros do not end there! Dragons love to dig, and this is one of the only, if not single loose substrate out there suitable for dragons to live in.  

  • Concerned about cleaning up after your dragon? Worry no more, Alfalfa pellets cling to moisture, and clump around your dragon's droppings, almost like kitty litter!

  • And last but definitely not least, the price. A bag of sand can run for about 20 dollars, but alfalfa pellets are less then 10 in giant quantities, and can even be found in most stores such as Walmart!

 

Many people recommend tile, papers, Repticarpet, linoleum, or even just shelf liner. We have tried all of these. None of them compare to alfalfa pellets.

What else do Bearded Dragons need in their enclosure?
    

There is only one item that is required when housing a bearded dragon, and that is a hide. Any sort of den will work, as long as your dragon has a place they can go to feel safe if needed. A nearly empty tank could leave your dragon bored or unhappy, but an overloaded tank can bring stress to your animal. Try and find a good balance of flat, blank space and fun decor! There are lots of decorations found online or in pet stores that work great for bearded dragons! Here are some items to avoid though: Pine and Cedar, certain types of wood can be toxic to bearded dragons. Also, avoid live plants as decorations, do your research and only keep live plants that cannot harm your dragon if eaten.

Does my dragon need a water dish?

Bearded dragons are desert animals and therefore get most of their moisture from their food. A water dish will only get dirty fast and make the enclosure more humid than it should be. Instead, give your dragon a bath or mist twice a week. Spray the dragon lightly with water and watch them lick it up, or give them a warm (not hot) shallow bath. Every dragon is different, but most really enjoy baths!

Can I house more than one dragon in the same enclosure?

No, this should never be considered except by experienced owners. Bearded dragons are territorial reptiles. If a male is housed with another male, they will fight, causing serious harm or even death. If a male and a female are housed together, they will eventually mate and the female will lay clutches of eggs that have very specific requirements to survive and thrive. Breeding bearded dragons is not simple and should not be attempted by average owners. Female dragons are the exception with housing. They can be kept together without negative consequence, but there are special requirements to house females together and it is not recommended unless by an experienced owner. Never house a Bearded Dragon with another animal.
 

Feeding

What does a bearded dragon eat?

Bearded Dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both greens and live food. There are lots of things your dragon can eat, and we recommend finding which staples would be the best option for you and your dragon! Here we have sorted out staple feeders and greens from best to worst!

Staples

⦁    Dubia Roaches are one of the most popular  things to feed bearded dragons because they're so healthy for them, and are our recommended staple! Dubia roaches don't smell, make noise, bite, and are easily bred.


⦁    Superworms make great feeders because of their price, how easy they are to care for, and how easily and cheaply they are acquired!


⦁    Silk Worms are super healthy for Bearded Dragons, high in protein and low in fat. However, they can be a bit pricey or hard to find.


⦁    Crickets are easy to get from pet stores and they work great as a staple! But we recommend buying from stores online such as Rainbow Mealworms, as pet stores charge much more for them. Although, crickets easily die, smell, and make noise, so be prepared!

 

Treats
⦁    Hornworms are most Bearded Dragons' favorite food! Bright green squishy caterpillars that grow quite large. But hornworms should only be used as treats as they are quite fatty and also expensive.


⦁    Mice, yes, Bearded Dragons can eat mice! Hoppers, pinky mice, or frozen mice only. We recommend you feed mice to adult bearded dragons, not young dragons. Most dragons will love them! 


⦁    Waxworms are a great treat for bearded dragons as well. They are high in fat, but easily found in stores such as Petco! 

 

  •  Mealworms are an easily acquired treat, found live in petstores, dried in bird feed aisles and dragon diets. Although there is much controversy over how healthy these worms are for dragons, there's no reason why you can't use them as treats. Because of their harder shell however, it is not recommended for sick, weak, or baby dragons.

  • Bearded Dragon hard food from pet stores should be in their own category, they're okay. If you do decide to use these, use them sparingly, like a salad topping. Lots of bearded dragons won't even eat them, so buy a small container first, and see if your dragon is even interested. Beardie Bites are the exception, most dragons love these, but they should also only be used as treats.

Avoid
 

⦁    Wild caught bugs, it's never safe to feed your bearded dragon anything wild caught found outside or inside your home as these bugs can contain pesticides or parasites.


⦁    Fish of any kind are not suitable to feed a bearded dragon. They can also carry loads of parasites.


⦁    Lizards or feeder anoles should never be fed to bearded dragons. For one, it's just gross right? A dragon eating other lizards? They will if given the chance. Bearded dragons will even eat other bearded dragons if they're small enough. Lizards are never a good choice to feed your dragon, especially considering they are another carrier of parasites.


⦁    Earthworms are never a good idea to feed your bearded dragon. There is a lot of misinformation about earthworms being good for dragons, but this is just simply not true. They're fatty and contain parasites.
 

 

 

Staples
⦁    Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens, Collard Greens, Endive, Watercress, Swiss Chard


⦁    Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash, Yellow Squash, Pumpkin, Green Beans, Snap Peas, Broccoli, Sweet Potato


⦁    Mango, Papaya


Treats
⦁    Carrots, Carrot tops, Celery, Celery leaves, Asparagus, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Kale, Artichoke Heart, Bell Peppers, Peas 


⦁    Apple (peeled), Grape (remove skin), Pear (peeled), Peach, Plum, Banana, Kiwi (peeled), Cucumber (peeled), Zucchini


⦁    Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cranberry, Strawberry, Raspberry


Avoid
⦁    Spinach, Iceburg Lettuce, Romaine, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Tangerine, Citrus

 

How should I feed my dragon?
    

Now let's talk about how to go about feeding your new dragon! Bearded dragons should be fed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We recommend starting your dragon's day off with their greens! Dragons are always hungry in the morning, so it's good to start off by feeding them their least favorite meal. Bearded dragons can easily become spoiled, overweight, and learn to refuse certain foods. A very common occurrance with dragons is the refusal to eat greens. If a dragon is raised entirely on live food, it may take years for them to accept greens into their diet, and greens are very important for an adult dragon. To combat this, try to give your dragon a meal of greens every day! Give them as much as they can eat, and allow a bit extra so they can snack throughout the day. Mid-day or afternoon is a good time for their dinner. We usually feed the dragons their favorite at this time, live food! Allow your dragon to eat as much as they can! When feeding your dragon dubia roaches or most other kinds of feeders, it is very important to dust them with Calcium powder (easily found online or in pet stores). Make sure the calcium powder you buy also includes D3. Without calcium powder, your dragon can suffer from Metabolic Bone Disease, deformities, and seizing. If you don't want to dust it onto the live food, it can be instead sprinkled onto their greens. It's also a good idea to purchase vitamins for your dragon as well. A good option is Herptivite. Calcium powder should be added to food only once a day, on one meal, for 5 days of the week. And vitamins on one meal for 1 day a week. Here's the schedule we follow: Monday - Friday: Calcium powder. Saturday: Vitamins. Sunday: None.

Tidbits

30 Day Health Guarantee

All of our bearded dragons include a 30 day health guarantee! In the rare case that your new bearded dragon becomes ill, know that we have your back! If your dragon's health seems to be declining in any way within the first 30 days of purchase, please contact us immediately so we can try to figure out what's gone wrong. If the dragon's health does not improve several days after, we will offer an exchange for a new dragon.

Color Changing
    

Does your dragon look darker or lighter than usual, spots appearing and disappearing on your dragon's underside? Bearded dragons aren't chameleons, but they can change their tones! Usually these changes have to do with temperature and your dragon's mood. A light dragon is a happy dragon, a warm dragon, or both! If your dragon is especially light in color and also has their mouth open, be sure to check the temperature, and make sure it's not too hot. A dark dragon could be a sign of a colder environment or just a bad mood. Usually a warm bath will take care of both of these issues immediately, and your dragon will be light and happy again. Although if your dragon turns dark when brought outside, that usually is just because dragons love sunshine and want to soak it up! You may notice dark spots on your dragon's beard or underside, often times these align with a dark dragon, being cold or in a bad mood. But it can also appear without the dark coloration and even stay visible for days. This often times is a sign that your dragon is stressed. Usually adult dragons will not show these marks, but it's very common for babies to. To help with stress, avoid handling your dragon for a few days, tape poster board around the sides (but not front) of your enclosure if it is glass or see through, and make sure the temperatures are correct. Though keep in mind, bearded dragons with the morph Translucent often times will have the stress marks for life, even if they aren't stressed.  

Waving, Head Bobbing, Stomping, Black Bearding, and Puffing

 

Bearded dragons are very interesting animals, as a new owner you may be confused by some of the strange things they do. But don't worry, these are normal things all dragons take part in! Bearded dragons have a unique way to communicate with other bearded dragons and even humans! Waving is one of those behaviors. If your dragon is waving and no other dragon is in sight, your dragon is actually waving at you! This is a very common occurrence in baby dragons, but not in adults. When a dragon waves at you, they are trying to tell you they are no threat, they're asking you not to harm them. In other words, the dragon is afraid or intimidated by you. This isn't something to feel bad about though, and over time, your dragon will find that you are not something they should be afraid of. If a bearded dragon is waving at another dragon it means nearly the same thing, they are submitting to that other dragon, telling the dragon they will not fight.

Head bobbing is the exact opposite. This is a behavior most commonly associated with male bearded dragons, as it's part of their mating process. Though female bearded dragons can head bob as well, usually for defending their territory. Babies rarely head bob.

Stomping, on the other hand, is something we've only seen in male bearded dragons for fighting with other male dragons, or part of the mating process. 

Black bearding is also associated with male bearded dragons and breeding, though female bearded dragons can black beard as well, usually for defending their territory or if the dragon is extremely ill. 

Bearded dragons aren't named bearded dragons for nothing. Sometimes bearded dragons will suddenly puff out their beards over and over but look calm, this is just your dragon stretching. Normal puffing is usually used for breeding, fighting, or defending territory, and is often dark or even pitch black. Sometimes bearded dragons who get nervous in baths or even just mist will puff up their entire body like a balloon! This is a safety measure that allows the dragon to float, it's pretty cute! Another thing that dragons puff that isn't cute, is their eyelids! This is a normal thing dragons do to stretch the skin around their eyes during shed or before a shed. It may look scary, but it's nothing to worry about!

Hygiene
    

It's important to remember to wash your hands before and after handling your dragon or cleaning their tank. This will keep you and your dragon healthy! There is always a risk of contracting Salmonella from reptiles, though the chances are very slim, it's best to do everything you can.

Proper care of your new animal can mean an amazing life for you and your dragon! Keep in mind, skimping out on proper care excludes you from our 30 day health guarantee, but those of you who follow our guidelines or those of another reputable breeder, we'll always have your back! Even if your dragon doesn't hail from Dapper Dragons, feel free to contact us with any questions! Thank you for your support!