If you are gaining an interest in owning a bearded dragon you probably have a hundred thousand questions. Well, we are not able to answer quite that many, but we can answer a few of the most frequently asked bearded dragon questions.
Simply click the question and the answer will appear below it.
Bearded Dragon General Care Questions
Are bearded dragons good pets?
How long does a bearded dragon live?
In captivity bearded dragons have been known to live as long as fifteen years. Most usually last five to eight years when kept as pets. Under the best of care conditions and healthy diet it would be no surprise if your pet bearded dragon would live to be around ten years old!
Are bearded dragon’s safe to own?
Bearded dragons are very safe to own. They are very friendly and love interacting with their owners.
You do need to practice good sanitary habits when handling bearded dragons and when coming in contact with anything they have contacted. Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands with a good antibacterial soap every time you come in contact with the bearded dragon, or any of its housing items.
Never touch your mouth, eyes, or nose directly after handling a bearded dragon, or any from its habitat. Thoroughly wash your hands first. This is especially important for children or the elderly.
Never have your bearded dragon in areas where you prepare and handle food. Make sure to sanitize any area of your home with Lysol (or other disinfectants) if you allowed your bearded dragon to roam around the room(s). Sanitize sinks or bath tubs after giving your bearded dragon a bath.
If you follow simple clean sanitary habits then you have nothing to worry about.
For more information, please read Protecting Yourself From Salmonella With Bearded Dragons.
How big does a bearded dragon get?
Bearded dragons can reach a length between 18 to 22 inches including the tail. Generally males will grow to be a bit larger than females, but this can depend on many factors, such as genetics.
How much does a bearded dragon cost?
Bearded dragons themselves are really pretty cheap. Most good pet stores that carry bearded dragons generally charge anywhere from $20 – $50 on average for each bearded dragon. Some specialty breeds can get as expensive as $200 or more, depending on the breed and coloration. Bearded dragons that are bred to have brighter colors, which usually leads to a higher price.
Of course, prices can depend on your local pet stores and availability.
How much does it cost to keep a bearded dragon?
The cost of keeping a bearded dragon will depend greatly on your budget. Once you have the bearded dragon’s home set up and operating the day-to-day costs are very inexpensive – you simply supply food and water.
The up-front costs for an enclosure, heating and lighting equipment, and terrarium decor usually run from just under $200 to as much as $800, just depends on how fancy you get. These are usually just one-time costs with the exception of light and heat bulbs. The largest expense will be the enclosure. You can work on a shoestring budget by building your own custom enclosure, and using Tupperware bowl lids as water and food bowls, as some examples.
Feeding expenses will generally run between $10 to $30 a week for insects and veggie mixes. You should be prepared to spend about $200 per year on veterinarian costs.
For more information, please read The Costs of Keeping a Bearded Dragon
How much time does it take to properly care for a bearded dragon each day?
You should be prepared to spend at least an hour each day total on your bearded dragon. You need to maintain the lighting and heating times (an inexpensive timer works well to control these), prepare and offer food several times per day, clean any leftover food and any feces in the terrarium, and take some time to mist your bearded dragon. You should spend at least a few minutes each day to interact with your bearded dragon.
You may need to spend a couple hours to clean and sanitize the terrarium on weekends to maintain good housekeeping.
What do I need to keep a bearded dragon?
Bearded dragons are pretty easy to house, but there are some specialized equipment you will need to keep them happy and healthy. Just simple basics include:
- Enclosure (or terrarium, tank, etc.)
- Lighting equipment
- Heating equipment
- Substrate (terrarium flooring)
- Thermometers (a pair)
- Hygrometer (measures humidity)
- Basking perch
- Hide hut (hiding cave, hut, etc.)
- Decorations (rocks, fake plants, etc)
- Food and water bowls
- Food (insects, fruits, vegetables)
- Powdered food supplements
- Patience and love
Do you recommend any books on bearded dragons?
We recommend several books on bearded dragons. You are welcome to read our full list of recommended books on the Resources page. You can also find a bunch of information by reading our extensive care sheet.
Bearded Dragon Food & Diet Questions
What do bearded dragons eat?
Bearded dragons eat a wide variety of insects and plant matter when kept in captivity. The most common insects that bearded dragons should be fed are:
- Horn Worms
- Wax Worms
- Mealworms (sometimes)
These feeder insects should be purchased from reputable pet stores. Never feed a bearded dragon wild-caught insects!
Bearded Dragons should also be fed a variety of fruits and vegetables. This part of the diet should consist mainly of green, leafy vegetables, such as:
- Mustard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Turnip greens
Some vegetables should be mixed in with the greens:
- Sweet Potato
- Butternut squash
- Acorn squash
- Green beans
The vegetables should be finely chopped to make it easy for the bearded dragon to eat. Some fruits like papaya and mango can also be added to the mixture.
Check out our comprehensive list of best foods for a bearded dragon for more info.
What insects should I feed my bearded dragon?
Please refer to the first question in this section labeled, “What do bearded dragons eat?” for a list of the best insects for a bearded dragon.
For more information please read The Best Foods for a Bearded Dragon.
What fruits & vegetables should I feed my bearded dragon?
Please refer to the first question in this section labeled, “What do bearded dragons eat?” for a list of suitable fruits and vegetables to feed a bearded dragon.
For more information please read The Best Foods for a Bearded Dragon.
Can I feed my bearded dragon insects caught outside?
That’s a tough question. Technically, you can feed your bearded dragon insects you catch outside, but it is not advised. Wild insects can come in contact with chemicals from lawn treatments, and they can harbor harmful bacteria.
You wouldn’t want to feed your bearded dragon that, would you?
It is best to purchase feeders from a reputable pet store that offers feeder insects bred specifically as reptile food. You could also raise feeder insects yourself. Dubia roaches and other feeder insects are not difficult to bred.
Read more information on Feeding Your Bearded Dragon Wild-Caught Insects.
How often should I feed a bearded dragon?
Feeding frequency will depend on the age of the bearded dragon and can be different for each individual. A particular bearded dragon can eat more, or less, than another bearded dragon.
Typically, baby bearded dragons should eat small meals up to five times per day, while an adult may only need to be fed twice per day. The meals will generally become less frequent as they mature.
For more information on feeding a bearded dragon, please read How to Feed a Bearded Dragon.
Can I feed a bearded dragon lettuce?
Lettuce does not contain any substantial nutritional value and should be avoided. Also, lettuce has a high concentration of water, which can cause diarrhea and other digestive issues if feed a lot. It’s much better to feed your bearded dragon staple greens such as dandelion greens, mustard greens, or collard greens.
What does “gut loading” mean?
Gut loading is simply feeding your feeder insects nutritious foods so the essential nutrients are then passed on to your bearded dragon when the loaded insects are fed.
Most feeder insects that come from pet stores are very malnourished so you want to supercharge their nutrient intake before feeding them to your bearded dragon. This is called gut loading. The idea is if you feed your bearded dragon good food it will provide overall health benefits for your bearded dragon.
For more information on gut loading feeder insects please read Gut Loading Feeder Insects for Bearded Dragons.
Does my bearded dragon need any vitamin supplements?
Bearded dragons typically get all the vitamins and minerals they need in the wild from various forms.
In captivity, the limited diet usually offered is not enough to supply all the vitamins and minerals required. This is why it is very important to supplement your bearded dragon’s diet with vitamin and mineral powders.
The most important mineral to supply is calcium with vitamin D3. This supplement helps to promote good bone growth and strength.
Another supplement that should be added to the diet is Herptivite Mineral Supplement. This supplements adds other essential vitamins and minerals for good health.
For more information on vitamin and mineral supplements please read Vitamins and Minerals for a Bearded Dragon.
Should I keep a water bowl in my bearded dragon’s terrarium?
Bearded dragons cannot usually detect standing water (like is in a bowl), so they normally don’t drink any because they can’t see it. But you should still offer fresh, dechlorinated water every day. They will sometimes find the bowl “by accident” and lay in the water to hydrate and take a drink. It’s very important to keep bearded dragons as hydrated as possible.
So, even if your bearded dragon never drinks from the bowl, you should still have it available for them just in case they need it.
Bearded Dragon Housing & Habitat Questions
What size terrarium do I need for a bearded dragon?
You should use a terrarium that is at least three times the length of the bearded dragon, as a general rule.
An adult bearded dragon should be housed in a 55 gallon-sized terrarium as a minimum. About 125-gallon would be optimal. You can start with a smaller terrarium for a baby, if you like, but you need to continually purchase larger terrariums as it grows. It’s usually best to begin with one suitable for an adult so there’s no need to keep upgrading.
Read Choose the Proper Enclosure for a Bearded Dragon for more information.
What are the temperature requirements for a bearded dragon?
Bearded dragons come from the hot, dry regions of the Australian Outback so they are considered desert reptiles. Since their natural environment is a hot place, we must provide them a very similar environment in captivity. Bearded dragons require a warm basking area with a temperature gradient across the rest of the terrarium.
The basking area for a baby bearded dragon should be kept from 95°F to 110°F, while the coolest area should be kept around 80°F to 85°F. Nighttime temperatures should never dip below 80° throughout the entire terrarium. Typically 85°F is an ideal cool zone and nighttime temperature.
A juvenile basking area should be a little cooler, ranging from 95° to 105°, while the cool zone should around the same as a baby.
Adult bearded dragon basking zones should be even slightly cooler, ranging from 90°F to around 95°F. The cool zone should still range from 80°F to 85°F.
Always use a thermometer in the basking zone and another on the opposite side in the cool zone to monitor temperatures. Never guess what the temperatures are. You do not want your bearded dragon to be too cool, or too warm.
Remember – never let the terrarium get below 80°F and never let it get above 110°F.
For more information please read Proper Temperatures for a Bearded Dragon and Creating Basking and Cooling Zones for a Bearded Dragon.
Do I need any special lights for my bearded dragon?
You should supply full-spectrum lighting for your bearded dragon. Bearded dragons receive natural UVB radiation from the sun when in the wild. UVB rays emitted from the sun are crucial for synthesis of vitamin D3 in the skin. Vitamin D3 is needed for the metabolism of calcium. Without adequate UVB exposure the calcium will not metabolize and the bearded dragon will become very ill, and possibly experience a premature death. Inadequate exposure to proper UVB lighting is one of the biggest contributors to Metabolic Bone Disease in captive raised bearded dragons.
You need specialized reptile bulbs to provide UVB radiation and these bulbs come in several different forms:
- Fluorescent tubes
- Compact fluorescent bulbs
- Mercury Vapor Bulbs
The three listed above are generally the most widely used full-spectrum bulbs utilized by today’s bearded dragon owners and breeders.
Please read or more information on Lighting Requirements for Bearded Dragons and Full-Spectrum Lighting for a Bearded Dragon.
Do I need to use thermometers within my bearded dragon’s terrarium?
In fact, we recommend you use at least two thermometers within the terrarium. One should always have a thermometer located in the basking area to monitor the basking temperatures. You want to make sure your bearded dragon is receiving ample basking heat, and on the other hand you want to make sure the temperatures do not get too high.
You also need to locate a thermometer on the opposite side of the terrarium in the cool zone. Having a thermometer here will help to determine if the cooler zone is too warm or too cool. You want to create a good temperature gradient across the terrarium. There’s no better way to do this than by having thermometers on both ends.
It is also a very good idea to place a hygrometer that measures humidity levels in the terrarium. Place the hygrometer towards the center of the terrarium (away from the basking lamp) for the most accurate readings. You can use thermometer-hygrometer combo gauges to measure both temperature and humidity at the same time.
Always use high quality thermometers and never guess what the temperatures are within the terrarium. It could mean the difference between a healthy bearded dragon and an ill one.
For more information on temperatures and thermometer placement, please read Proper Temperatures for a Bearded Dragon and Humidity Levels for Bearded Dragons.
What’s the best substrate to use for my bearded dragon?
Which substrate to use has been a hot topic for many bearded dragon owners for years. If you asked ten people the best substrate you would probably get ten different answers.
We recommend not to use loose particle substrates (those like Repti-Sand or Calci-Sand) for baby and juvenile bearded dragons. Bearded dragons at this age can accidentally swallow sand which could lead to impaction issues over time. You can use these substrates for adult bearded dragons, but it is advisable to feed them in a separate, empty enclosure to reduce the risk.
The best substrates to avoid the chances of impaction are newspaper and reptile carpet liners. You can also use tiles found at any home improvement store. You can find a wide variety of tile styles – even some that resemble stone.
For more information please read Choosing the Best Substrate for a Bearded Dragon.
Can I use live plants in my bearded dragon habitat?
There are some live plants you can put in a bearded dragon habitat, but it isn’t recommended. Bearded Dragons are omnivores, which means they eat both insects and plants. Any live plant you place in their habitat has a good chance of becoming food, or at least nibbled on. Most live plants placed in the terrarium would probably not make it much outside of a week or two.
It’s a much better (and safer) option to use fake plants within the habitat. Fake plants will be more attractive and easier to maintain.
If you do want to use live plants, here are a few that are safe to use with bearded dragons:
- Ponytail Palms
Bearded Dragon Health Care Questions
When should I take my bearded dragon to see a vet?
You should take your bearded dragon to a veterinarian soon after you bring it home. You will want the vet to check the bearded dragon for any possible parasites, check the blood for calcium levels, and normal organ function, and for overall health.
It’s also important to take your bearded dragon in for regular annual checkups. Of course, if your bearded dragon shows any signs of illness seek a qualified reptile veterinarian immediately.
For more information read 14 Signs of an Unhealthy Bearded Dragon and What Causes a Bearded Dragon to Act lazy or Lethargic?.
What are some common illnesses bearded dragons may get?
Bearded dragons are generally very robust reptiles as long as they are provided a clean, adequate housing environment, and given a proper diet. Unfortunately, there are some common inflictions they may encounter when kept in captivity.
Here are just a few:
- Metabolic Bone Disease – usually occurs with lack of calcium or lack of proper UVB lighting
- Impaction – this happens due to a blockage in the digestive system from swallowing small particle that are not digestable
- Infections – these usually happen when there’s unclean living housing, or when temperature and lighting arrangements are inadequate
- Vitamin Toxicity – due to a large build-up of vitamins in the body, typically vitamin A.
This is just a sample of possible illnesses a bearded dragon could get. It’s important to provide adequate lighting, heat, and clean living conditions. If you ever think your bearded dragon may be suffering from an illness seek a qualified veterinarian immediately.
For more information on illness please read Common Causes of Death With Bearded Dragons and How to Prevent Impaction In Bearded Dragons.
When can I start handling my bearded dragon?
It is best to refrain from handling your new bearded dragon for at least a week after first bringing it home. You should give him/her time enough to adjust to its new home and feeding schedule before beginning to handle.
Trying to handle your bearded dragon too soon, or too much in the beginning can lead to stress and loss of appetite.
For more information please read How to Properly Handle a Bearded Dragon and How to Tame a Bearded Dragon.
Can I give my bearded dragon a bath?
In fact, we encourage you to give your bearded dragon a warm bath about once a week. Bathing your bearded dragon helps encourage good sanitary practices, and improves the bearded dragon’s hygiene. Regular baths can help with bowel movements as well.
Remember to use warm, dechlorinated water treated with a reptile water conditioner. Water temperatures should be around 85°F to 92°F to ensure he stays warm while not burning. The water depth should be no deeper than the joints (or knees) on the bearded dragon’s limbs.
For more information please read How to Properly Bathe a Bearded Dragon.
How do I determine the gender of my bearded dragon?
The easiest way to determine the gender of a bearded dragon is by examining the femoral pores on an adult. The femoral pores are found along the inside of the hind legs.
A male will have larger, more pronounced femoral pores than a female. The females will be noticeably smaller and more difficult to see. You can’t really determine the gender of a bearded dragon until it reaches the adult stage (1 year to 18 months old).
For more information on determining the gender of a bearded dragon please read Determining the Gender of a Bearded Dragon