As we all know, a baby bearded dragon can be an incredible responsibility. Babies require the utmost attention and care to be able to thrive, and that goes for any species. They require a completely different set of procedures than your adult creatures so you must handle them with care and take responsibility to ensure they get everything they need.
Baby bearded dragons are very specific with their needs and you should ensure that they get the utmost care that they deserve. Like most reptiles, they hatch from eggs so those eggs need to be properly cared for throughout incubation and then once they’ve hatched. With the rise in popularity of having reptiles like beardies as pets, many individuals are looking to raise their new best friend from the beginning.
But, it can be overwhelming to try and figure out how to properly care for baby bearded dragons if you’ve never done it before. Luckily for you, we’ve done the hard work of putting together a comprehensive guide for taking care of your baby beardies. The guess work has been taken care of, so sit back and relax and we’ll teach you everything you need to know about baby bearded dragon care.
Bringing Your Buddy Home
When you decide to bring a new pet into your life it is important to think long and hard about where to get that addition to your family. Some pet shops or breeders might not be the most reputable and you don’t want to bring home a baby that’s sickly or malnourished. Some shops or individual breeders don’t know how to take care of hatchlings and a baby beardie with health problems is going to be difficult.
Baby bearded dragons who start off sickly will have difficulty with their health going forward. You’ll want to look for a healthy batch of babies that look well-fed and are very active and alert. They should be able to interact with their surroundings energetically and recognize stimuli.
If you find the right breeder or shop, the beardies you have to choose from will be healthy and won’t be under four weeks old when they go up for sale. Selling dragons too soon after hatching isn’t good for their development and the right breeder will ensure they’ve been properly cared for and have grown well before they go up for sale. You also don’t want to take the runt of the batch as they tend to have health problems that will follow them throughout their lives.
Another thing you want to be sure of before you bring your dragon home is that you have the right supplies and set up prepared for them. Your breeder might be able to give you some advice on what you might need, but we can also give you a bit of a shopping guide to start out.
Your dragon isn’t going to be like other pets you’ve had in the past. They can’t roam around the way dogs and cats do, so they’ll need their own habitat in order to thrive and grow big and strong. They feel safest in their own tank or terrarium as well, so you must make it comfortable for them as it is their new home.
A baby bearded dragon shouldn’t have too big of a tank, but you don’t want it to be too small for them either. For a baby dragon you don’t want to go any smaller than twenty gallons, and forty gallons is certainly more ideal to give them room to roam a little. As they age they’ll need something bigger, typically between 55 to 120 gallons depending on their size.
Forty should be best to start with though.
Once you’ve ensured that the tank is large enough for your dragon you need to focus on the substrate. Their substrate is very particular for babies, as anything loose can cause issues while they’re young. Pebbles or sand may get caught in their scales or they may swallow them and become impacted.
The best substrate options for baby bearded dragons are:
- Ceramic Tile
- Slate Tile
- Reptile Carpet
- Rubber Liner
All of these options are easy to clean and they don’t run the risk of snagging claws or swallowing small pellets. The substrate you use for your dragon should be safe, sanitary, and comfortable. It is essentially the floor of your little guy’s home, so it should be an important addition to their habitat that requires a good amount of attention.
Other elements you might want to include in it’s terrarium are things like hides, basking rocks, or fake plants. These things will give your new buddy a homey feeling and help them feel more comfortable in their new residence. They can get overwhelmed in unfamiliar spaces so having a spot to hide away and decompress will do wonders for them in the long run.
To ensure your little one is well and stays well, they are going to need their terrarium to be decked out with all sorts of necessities for their wellness. Because these little dragons are creatures who come from desert climates, they need plenty of light and warmth in order to thrive properly. So the most important elements to their terrarium are proper lights and heat sources to keep them warm and comfortable.
They need UV rays so they can properly process the calcium in their diets, which they’d usually receive from the sun. UV bulbs can be easily installed in most terrariums and will ensure your baby dragon doesn’t suffer from improper calcium absorption. They will need to be replaced around half a year after installation to ensure your little one is getting the full benefits.
Baby bearded dragons need specific temperatures to thrive and you’ll need to ensure they have a warm side and a cool side of their tank so they can regulate their temperature. Babies need a warmer basking area than adults as they are smaller and cannot regulate their temperatures as effectively. You’ll want to keep their basking side at a level of 95 to 105 degrees.
Their cool side should never dip below seventy-five degrees and you’ll want to keep an eye on those temperatures to ensure they don’t drop or rise too drastically. The bulbs you should be using are UVB for half the day, and UVA all day, but you can certainly give it some colored bulbs to help darken their tank for bedtime.
Another important addition to any tank is a water bowl that isn’t too full, so the humidity doesn’t get out of control in their habitat. Babies cannot survive with too much humidity but they do need enough to keep them healthy. You’ll want to keep the humidity ratio around thirty-five percent and it shouldn’t rise above forty or dip below thirty.
Babies have a drastically different diet than their young adult or adult counterparts. Your baby dragon is still growing, so they’ll need all the protein, vitamins, and minerals that they can get. The proper diet for a baby is eighty percent protein and twenty percent plant nutrition.
You’ll want to select insects that have been properly gut-loaded and are higher in protein than fat or water so your baby is getting the proper nutrients. The best insects for baby dragons to eat frequently are crickets, dubia roaches, silkworms, and grasshoppers. You’ll want to avoid mealworms as they can be very difficult for your baby dragon to chew and break down with their tough exoskeleton, which can lead to choking or impaction.
They will need to eat more frequently than older dragons as well, needing to be fed several times a day. A baby dragon should be eating anywhere from twenty to forty crickets or other small insects a day, as well as plenty of nutrient-dense greens. They will especially enjoy leafy greens like carrot tops, collard greens, and dandelions, but you should avoid tougher veggies until they are old enough to properly break them down.
Your little guy is also going to need plenty of nutritional supplementation. Beardies don’t get nearly enough calcium in their diets, which means that they need to take supplements in order to keep their bones strong and healthy. They will need to start supplements right away and the best way to administer it is through calcium dusting powders that can be sprinkled right over their food for easy ingestion.
Everything you feed them besides the insects should be cut up into bite-size chunks so they don’t risk choking. They also shouldn’t be given too much water. Too much water in their tanks can actually cause sickness as the water will evaporate in the heat of their tank and cause humidity. This humidity can lead to respiratory infections that can really harm your little buddy.
You’ll want to give them some water but mostly just mist their vegetables and fruits to help with water intake while still keeping them dry. Also, avoid any water-heavy fruits and vegetables as they lack the proper nutrition that your baby beardie needs at this stage of development. Things like cucumbers, melons, and iceberg lettuce are not advised for your baby’s nutrition goals.
What Else To Know
Baby beardies will be growing steadily as the weeks progress in your care. You may want to keep track of these milestones and watch out for any developmental challenges they might be experiencing that can be remedied. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for normal occurrences that you’ve seen in adult dragons but aren’t sure how to handle with infant beardies.
Things like shedding can happen much more frequently with baby beardies as they are constantly growing and thus they are outgrowing their skin. You’ll want to remove any pieces of the stray shed from their terrariums so they don’t get stuck on them or eaten. With your little one shedding frequently, you want to avoid helping them with their shed by pulling or removing any skin yourself.
This can damage their scales and cause pain and harm if their shed hasn’t come loose fully on its own. They should be able to get it off mostly by themselves, but if you’re noticing them struggling you can give them a warm bath to help loosen up the stuck skin or change up the humidity levels a bit to make it a bit moister. Don’t leave the humidity up for very long though as this can lead to respiratory infections.
If you are using a removable substrate like newspaper, paper towels, or even carpet that is easily soiled you will want to remove it for replacement or cleaning often. Leftover food or any poop should be removed daily so it doesn’t lead to any sickness. Your baby beardie is important and their tank cleanliness should be taken seriously.
Everything in their tank should be cleaned and sanitized with soapy water and vinegar so your pet stays in tip-top shape and your baby beardie thrives as it should.
When caring for a baby bearded dragon, the most important thing to remember is that they should become a priority. Baby pets can be a lot of work to raise, so don’t take on the responsibility unless you’re sure you can handle it. It may sound like a lot to remember, but once you get the hang of your beardie’s routine you’ll be a natural.
Remember to clean up after them often and ensure they are getting the best nutrition they can at every feeding time by gut-loading their insects beforehand. Watch out for any signs of changes or odd behavior as they can get sick much easier when they are younger so you’ll want to alert the vet as soon as possible.
Most of all just give your new beardie as much love and attention as you can. If you put the work in to ensure they thrive, you’ll have a friend for life.