If you have the profound joy and ability to be able to raise your bearded dragon from the time they are laid, you are a lucky owner. There is nothing quite as rewarding as being able to take care of not only the expectant mother, but the little eggs as soon as they are ready for incubation. Taking care of bearded dragon eggs can be a lot of work though and if you’ve never done it before it can be a bit overwhelming.
Before you decide to mate your bearded dragon, you should ensure that you have the right equipment needed to care for not only them but their eventual clutch. This is a big undertaking, so make absolutely sure you have the time, energy, and resources to see this to completion. So how do you prepare for the care and keeping of bearded dragon eggs?
Let’s talk about that.
Pregnant Bearded Dragon
When you mate your female beardie, their needs will begin to change and you should keep a closer eye on them than you have before. They will need more food, more rest, and plenty of supplements to keep them healthy while they grow their clutch. Then, you’ll need to start looking for signs that they are ready to lay.
Your bearded dragon will get more tired and lethargic the closer they are to laying their eggs, and you may find them basking or resting in their hides more often as they start their nesting period. You will notice their belly rounding out with the eggs and will actually see the individual eggs in their belly the closer they get to laying. Once they are fully gravid and are getting close they will start preparing a spot to properly lay their eggs.
You should help your beardie prepare by getting a box ready for them to lay their eggs in. They will dig their own spot but you can place a container with moist bedding in a warm spot in their tank so they can climb in and bury their eggs. This will make the transfer of eggs for incubation purposes so much easier.
This container should be placed under the heat lamps in their tank as a warm and moist environment is best for the laying of their clutch. They will feel most comfortable and this will ensure everything goes smoothly without causing the female distress. They may lay multiple clutches, so be prepared to do this a few times as they may lay one batch and then lay more for up to 4 months.
During this time ensure she is getting enough food and calcium to be able to do this safely and healthily.
Once the clutch has been laid you will remove the container and prepare it for incubation. You’ll want to arrange the eggs with as little handling as possible in a way where they have a couple of centimeters of distance and a substrate you can properly bury them halfway in so they don’t roll. This substrate should remain moist but not too moist before it is placed in the incubation space.
The container itself should be airtight so that nothing can get in or out and it creates the proper humid environment for them to thrive in (Check out this incubation container option). Their incubation space should be set at about 84 degrees and the substrate should be misted on occasion. If you notice condensation building on the inside of the container lids you will want to wipe that away to discourage the growth of mold.
Any eggs that appear to have molded should be removed as quickly as possible. The incubation period will take roughly two months and you should keep track of the temperature and any changes in the eggs. Some clutches may not be fertile or they may only be partially fertile and you can check this by shining light on the eggs to check for the embryos.
Whatever you do though, do not move them around too much. This can cause damage or even kill the embryos inside if they are moved or shaken around too much. For the best chances of survival, you will monitor the eggs closely and keep the substrate moist.
Once you start to notice the breaking of the bearded dragon eggs, you don’t want to react right away. Hatchlings can usually handle their hatching all by themselves and trying to help them will only cause problems. Their heads will typically poke out first and then they will slowly hatch the rest of the way.
Some baby bearded dragons will even eat their way out of their egg sac. Hatchlings should be moved once they’ve come out of their egg sacs, but you need to be incredibly careful. They may still have some of it attached to their bodies and it will dry out and fall off over time, but they are sticky and if they get too dry it can get caught and rip their skin.
You want to keep their substrate moist, and paper towels are typically a good choice for this. During those initial few days, they will either play dead or move around a lot. You also won’t typically feed them too much when they just arrive. It is important to keep an eye on them and ensure they aren’t getting aggressive with one another in these initial days.
Once you are sure they have completely hatched and their egg sacs have fallen off they should be separated into containers with no more than 5 in each. Accidents can happen in these first few weeks and some bearded dragons will get aggressive and nip at their brothers or sisters causing mutilation. If you notice aggression in one or more of your hatchlings they should be separated into containers by themselves to ensure everyone stays safe.
Hatchlings need a lot of attention as they are getting acquainted with the world and this includes some frequent monitoring. Their substrate needs to stay moist and they should be misted a few times a day to ensure they don’t become dehydrated. Hatchlings often die of dehydration so you’ll want to stave that off at any cost.
Once they begin to develop their appetite they will also need pretty frequent feedings. Hatchlings should be fed anywhere from three to six times a day and in larger quantities than you’d expect. During these weeks you’ll want to supply them with plenty of live feeder insects like small roaches, crickets, and small worms.
It is very important to only feed them small insects and to ensure that the exoskeleton of these insects isn’t too tough for them to chew. Too large or too tough insects can lead to choking, so sticking to small live insects that aren’t too crunchy is best. Greens are also important but less so than insects.
Their diet initially will consist of 80% insects and 20% greens. The greens you give them should be properly torn into smaller pieces so they don’t choke. You’ll also want to give them plenty of calcium supplements like this one on Amazon as well as a multivitamin multiple days throughout the week.
Calcium supplementation early on is incredibly important as it helps set them up for success. Their bones will need to be strong to help them grow up healthy and stave off issues like metabolic bone disease. A multivitamin will help develop their immune systems and help them grow and thrive in these early days of life.
Keeping them warm is also incredibly important. Hatchlings need a warm environment to keep them from getting sick. As they grow a bit you’ll want to keep their enclosure about 5 to 10 degrees higher than you would for an adult.
Baby Bearded Dragons
Once your little hatchlings have gotten a bit bigger, you’ll likely start selling them off or giving them away. If you decide to keep one or two of your babies, you’ll want to separate them into bigger tanks. These tanks should be about 50 to 75 gallons so they have room to grow but not too much room that they can get overwhelmed.
You’ll want to keep these tanks warm and get them hides, plants, and basking rocks to keep them comfy and help them feel at home. Once they get settled into their tank you’ll likely reduce their feeding a bit as they get a bit bigger. Baby beardies will still eat frequently but it will typically go down to about three times a day as opposed to six. Check out my full article on baby bearded dragon care.
You will want to consult a vet to ensure their feeding amounts and frequency are right for their age and size. Once they’ve gotten a bit bigger as well, they should be seen by a vet to ensure they are growing properly. Proper preventative care will ensure your little buddy stays with you a good long time.
Most importantly, enjoy this time in their lives. They grow up quicker than you’d imagine and you want to enjoy how cute and funny they are while they are babies. They will become your best friend in no time, but taking care of them while they are young will ensure you form a special bond straight from the start.