An introduction to keeping our most popular lizard in captivity, the Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps). In this care guide I’ll go over everything you need to know before purchasing your first Bearded Dragon, including basics such as Bearded Dragon housing, Bearded Dragon temperatures, humidity, feeding and handling, as well as some more advanced subjects such as breeding Bearded Dragons and Bearded Dragon genetics. Right at the end you’ll find a FAQ of questions we often get asked. If I miss anything, don’t hesitate to drop us a message on Facebook, email or leave a comment.

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Meet the Bearded Dragon

The Bearded Dragon is an easy to care for starter lizard, popular with all ages and widely bred in captivity around the world and is our best selling lizard. We breed the majority of the bearded dragons we sell ourselves, although we sometimes buy in high quality stock from other breeders, as well as high colour morphs from Germany and even the United States, keeping our adult bloodlines varied.

Bearded dragons reach a length of around 22 inches, half of which is tail length. Native to Australia, the bearded dragon is a diurnal (daytime) reptile that can live in excess of 10 years in captivity. The natural colour of a wild bearded dragon is one that blends in well with the sand, rocks and terrain of their native rocky and beach habitat in Australia, so usually beige, grey and brown. In captivity there are a wide range of colours that are line bred as well as genetic morphs, so you’ll see a range of colours from white to bright red.

Bearded Dragons get their name from the area of scales beneath the chin. When threatened, or during mating displays, this is puffed out and particularly in males, but also in some females, can turn a deep black.

Housing

An adult bearded dragon will need a enclosure that is a minimum of 48x18x18″, but they will use any additional space they are given. You’ll find that adding some depth to a vivarium will add very little in cost, but considerable floor space, so consider upgrading to a 48x24x24″. You can go even larger if you want to! This is a lizard that will thrive in large spaces as long as your heating and lighting are correct.

Consider buying one of our full setups, which can be assembled and wired for you free of charge if local. Ask us for upgrading to a 5x2x2 or 6x2x2!

We do not recommend glass tanks for Bearded Dragons as they rarely offer adequate floor space, can have higher humidity and inadequate ventilation, as well as being more difficult to affix lighting in. Although Exo Terra make terrariums that are designed for reptiles with great ventilation and hoods, the maximum size is 90cm long which is not big enough for an adult bearded dragon. We recommend putting your young bearded dragon directly into the adult setup to avoid the cost of having to upgrade in the future. They do very well even in large spaces.

Decor and Substrate

Bearded dragons love to bask, so suitable branches that are sturdy and large basking rocks can be placed. They do not hide very often but do appreciate somewhere to go that is cool and shaded.

A variety of substrates can be used. For the first for weeks or month that you have a baby bearded dragon we recommend not using a loose substrate because it’s easy to monitor a dragon in their new home on a substrate such as paper towel, newspaper or cage carpet. For well established individuals there is a large range of suitable substrates such as Beardie Life, which is a sand, soil and clay mix like the desert that they’re from, allowing for natural digging behaviours, or Desert Sand, which is a looser substrate, or Herbi Floor, which is a natural pellet based substrate which absorbs smells and is easier to clean and is fully digestible so more suitable for bearded dragons who enjoy eating their substrate, which does occasionally happen!

We do not recommend beech chips, or calci-sand because the beech chips are too large to be digested and calci-sand digests partially and can cause clumps and blockages. We don’t recommend substrates that hold humidity such as orchid bark, coco fibre or soil on it’s own. If you notice you have a bearded dragon who likes to eat their substrate you may be better off with cage carpet.

Heating and Basking

Daytime temperature needs to be a hot spot of 40C for babies and juveniles and at least 37C for adults but can be as high as 50C as long there is an appropriate cool end. The cool end should be 25c to 30c in the day, with ideal temperature being around 26c.

Night temperatures for small babies should be above 20C, whereas adults can tolerate temperatures around 16C. It’s important not to let temperatures drop too low as this can induce brumation or cause digestion problems.

Daytime Basking – A high output basking spot needs to be on the hot side of the vivarium. The exact wattage will depend on your vivarium size and height to attain a hot spot of 40c. We recommend a dimming thermostat with this light, with a slightly higher wattage bulb than you need. 

Turn off your daytime basking at night time.

Night time Heating – We recommend a ceramic heater bulb on a thermostat to meet minimum night time temperatures. We don’t recommend heat mats for bearded dragons as they don’t feel heat as well on their bellies as from above and can be prone to sitting on mats and getting burns.

We recommend using cage guards as best practice with all heat elements, to avoid any chance of them being touched and causing burning.

Controlling Heat – You should always control your heat sources with a thermostat. Your heat source plugs into the thermostat and a probe goes into the vivarium. The probe detects the temperature and then automatically adjusts the heating element to the correct heat output. This gives your animal the correct temperature at all times, whilst also saving electricity!

Measuring Heat – You should have a thermometer – either analogue, or digital – in the enclosure as it is possible for thermostats to be faulty and you want to double check that your temperatures are correct. Ideally having one on the hot end and the cold end, or having one with two probes provides you with the best information.

UVB Lighting

It is essential to provide UVB lighting during the day for 10 – 16 hours a day, simulating the natural season. It needs to be a high output strength designed for desert species, such as a 10-12% strength depending on the exact brand. If the tank is higher than 20” then we recommend T5 UVB rather than T8 UVB. We have a comprehensive guide to UVB available on our website. This UVB bulb should be changed every 6 – 12 months depending on the brand and type. Always check how often it needs to be changed and make a note of the date.

Turn off your UVB lighting at night time.

Social Needs and Housing Together

Bearded dragons are fine living solitary lives. Don’t worry about your dragon being lonely or needing a friend – this isn’t how they work! We do not recommend keeping bearded dragons together at all, but if you do feel the need to keep two, then keeping two females has the least chance of problems. Two males must never be kept in the same enclosure, a larger dragon should never be kept with a smaller dragon, and you should never keep any other species of reptile in the same enclosure with them.

Diet

A  water bowl should be provided but coming from the desert this should be a small water source that is not likely to spill or increase the humidity. You may never see your dragon drink from the water bowl, many get enough hydration from their food.

Bearded Dragons are omnivores, benefiting from a variety of livefood and also from a varied diet of vegetables and some fruit. Livefood they can eat include crickets, hoppers, roaches, mealworms and waxworms (occasionally). Bearded Dragons can be lazy. We don’t recommend hand-feeding livefood all the time, because chasing it provides great exercise and hunting provides mental stimulation.

Livefood should be kept in cool, well ventilated containers and gut loaded with fresh dry vegetables, or a pre-made mixture such as our Livefood Care Pack which comes with both nutrients and hydration. Don’t use a water bowl with livefood, the humidity will cause them to die and they’re prone to drowning.

Feed as much of the following as you want to:

* Collard greens
* Turnip greens
* Mustard greens
* Escarole
* Chicory
* Bok Choy
* Red and Green Cabbage
* Watercress
* Green Beans
* Carrots
* Parsnips
* Sweet Potato
* Dandelion
* Sweetcorn
* Peas
* Bell Pepper
* Squash (including Acorn, Butternut and other varieties)

In moderation you can add some fruit to the diet, including:

* Apple
* Blueberries
* Blackberries
* Raspberries
* Cranberries
* Peaches
* Pears
* Plums
* Pitted Cherries
* Figs
* Apricot
* Pineapple
* Watermelon
* Papaya
* Mango

Avoid citrus fruits. Spinach can be offered only in small amounts, and those greens with high water content such as iceberg lettuce can cause diahorrea and should be avoided. 

Provide growing dragons with as much livefood and salad as they will eat on a daily basis. Adults should be offered vegetables daily and livefood every second day. 

Supplementation

Food should be dusted with a multivitamin D3 supplement twice a week and straight calcium on all other days.

Handling

Adult bearded dragons are extremely calm and handleable, and are very rarely aggressive. Babies can sometimes be fast and nervous as they learn you are not a predator, but gentle handling every day will soon pay off, along with them associating you with positive things such as food. Due to this, and their ease of care they are perfect starter lizards, but also have enough personality and uniqueness to appeal to the experienced reptile keeper.

When handling, never pick up a Bearded Dragon by the tail or head. You should support them fully underneath the body.

The next sections deal with Bearded Dragon Colour Morphs, Genetics, Breeding, and health problems. We also have a Bearded Dragon FAQ – Frequently asked questions that might help if you still can’t find the answer you’re looking for.

Colour Morphs and Genetics

Morphs in Bearded Dragons are either line bred or genetic. Line bred genetics are when strong traits are selectively bred over generations to enhance them.

When it comes to colours, most breeders will simply call their dragons whatever they want to. Here we breed mostly what we call Red and Extreme Red dragons. We also use the term Rainbow to refer to a dragon that has an array of colour including greys/blue tones as well as yellow, orange and red. We also have a breeding group of Orange line Bearded Dragons, and occasionally produce Citrus (yellow tones). A breeder can use any colour name they want. With selective breeding of healthy animals over many generations, any breeder can establish a strong colour line.

Genetic traits are either recessive, dominant or co-dominant, and can change both the colour of the skin, eyes or nails, as well as the patterning and in some cases, the scale size and shape.

Here are the current genetic Bearded Dragon morphs:

Italian Leatherback (Co-dominant)

The Italian Leatherback is a codominant gene which causes dragons scales to be much finer, and the spikes much smaller. This creates a smooth appearance and allows colour to show through the scales more prominantly than with a normal Bearded Dragon. These Dragons rarely survive in the wild, the spikes are an important defense mechanism of the Bearded Dragon. Breeding two Leatherbacks together creates a super leatherback form, called the Silkback, which has severe health problems, see below. This should be avoided at all cost, breed leatherbacks with normal scaled dragons to produce clutches of 50% normal scaled and 50% leatherback scaled dragons.

This young individual bred here at Reptile Cymru is a genetic Hypomelanistic Leatherback, and is a red colour morph.

American Leatherback (Recessive)

A little bit confusingly, the American Leatherback gene is pretty indistinguishable from the Italian Leatherback gene, but is recessive and a dragon can carry both genes, which create the Microscale Dragon (see below). Almost all of the Leatherback Bearded Dragons you’ll find for sale in Europe are Italian Leatherback, and you would generally assume that a Leatherback refers to Italian unless the breeder has specifically confirmed it is the recessive American gene.

Silkback (Co-dominant)

The silkback, also known as the Scaleless bearded dragon, is the super leatherback form, created by breeding two leatherback parents together. The scales are removed completely, giving a completely smooth skinned look. This can massively enhance colours and can be very appealing to some aesthetically. However, silkback dragons can suffer with severe health problems. The lack of scales makes them sensitive to heat, light and ultraviolet. It makes them susceptible to cuts and bites as well as infection. They can suffer when shedding, and even tear their own skin whilst attempting to shed. They can require daily moisturizing treatment to keep the skin in good condition. Breeding silkbacks is considered unethical now these health problems have been uncovered.

Microscale

Microscale is a bit of a misleading morph. Retailers may sell animals as Microscale when they are in fact regular leatherbacks with very reduced scales. Microscale does not refer to an Italian Leatherback with reduced scales. It in fact is a genetic combination of both Italian (co-dominant) and American (recessive) leatherback. It results in a very high expression leatherback with little to no spikes on the head and body, with smoother skin again. If buying a Microscale check what the genetics of the parents are and that it’s not just a Leatherback being labelled as one, as the price different is significant.

Hypomelanistic (Recessive)

Hypomelanistic dragons lack melanin which is the brown or black pigment. This recessive trait causes these dragons to produces less melanism resulting in a lighter and brighter colour as well as clear nails rather than the standard brown / black.

This is a Hypo Leatherback bred at Reptile Cymru.

Translucent (Recessive)

Translucent is a recessive genetic trait which causes see-through skin and often has black eyes. There can often be a blue tint, especially in hatchlings, around the belly and eyes, or where the skin is not covered in scales. Jet black eyes with no iris are one of the common traits, although it is possibly for a translucent dragon to have one black and one normal eye, or two normal coloured eyes – usually golden. These eyes can change over the course of their lifetime; a hatchling translucent may have normal eyes that turn black over time. The translucent gene can be paired with the leatherback gene or with colour morphs for a stunning looking dragon.

This bearded dragon bred at Reptile Cymru is a Hypo Translucent, bred from our extreme red lines.

Dunner (Dominant)

This dominant gene changes the shape and size of the scales, but looks quite different to Leatherback. It causes the scales to point in different directions, creating a rough, jagged look to the dragon. Scales are a teardrop shape rather than a cone shape. The pattern is broken up, given them a spotty look, and the scales on the belly will feel like sandpaper as they point in different directions rather than the same. There are some unknown traits with the Dunner mutation, including feet that are larger than other bearded dragons, and hatchlings being prone to regurgitation, possibly related to the scales of the beard. As they tend to grow out of this and don’t seem to have health issues as adults, these health conditions aren’t usually considered too detrimental to continue breeding this genetic morph. This is however still an unknown, so something to do research on specifically if thinking of purchasing a Dunner Bearded Dragon.

Zero (recessive)

Zero is the one of the names for a very light genetic morph of patternless bearded dragon, resulting in a bearded dragon that has very little colour deviation. They can be grey, silver or even white.

Witblits (recessive)

Witblits is another form of patternless, on a different genetic mutation to Zero. Witblits dragons are usually beige, yellow, tan and creamy variants rather than the white lines of Zero. Whilst originally popular before Zero was established, most people now prefer the white and silver patternless Zero line. You can combine the Zero and Witblits lines (double recessive) to create what is amusingly called the Wero – but this is rarely done, as it just creates a pale muddy coloured or grey dragon that sometimes has patches of odd looking colour and is a lot of work for something that’s not very popular.

Breeding Beardies

It’s incredibly important to really think long and hard about whether you want to breed your bearded dragon or not. Breeding any animal should be done with their health and welfare at the forefront.

Being fully prepared

You will need to ensure you have access to funds for a veterinarian for any medical problems during egg laying or with the hatchlings at birth. You will need an incubator. You will need to ensure you have setups – usually several setups for a large clutch – for the hatchlings, and you’ll be housing, heating, and feeding them for at least six to eight weeks before you sell them. You’ll need to find buyers for them, and be prepared to continue to house them if you fail to sell them.

Keep your adults separate

You should have separate enclosure for your adults. Keeping a male with a female all year around without removing him can result in stress and overbreeding. Your females will need breaks to put on weight and recover from breeding. Some people do keep bearded dragons together all year around, but if you’re considering that, you’d need a very large vivarium, and a group that has more females than males. I personally feel it’s simply far safer for all concerned to have two enclosures. You should make sure the dragons cannot see each other; stacking vivariums on top of each other works really well.

Courtship and Mating

Males and females have courtship behaviour and you will see head bobbing, beard extension, hand waving, tail waving, chasing and mounting. The submission process can seem harsh, and sometimes a female will get injured as there may be biting and pinning, so you need to observe closely.

We’d recommend separating after approximately a week together, which should be enough time to observe successful courtship and mating.

Egg Laying

You will need a large lay box in the female enclosure. This is a large, deep box with at least eight to ten inches deep sand and soil mixture. It should clump and hold it’s shape, but generally be fairly dry and not wet. A female will show anxious, repetitive and digging behaviour when she’s looking for a good spot to lay her eggs. Failure to provide a spot that makes her happy can result in egg binding, which can require emergency veterinary intervention and even be fatal, so having your egg box be large enough, the correct substrate and available at all times is crucial.

A clutch size can vary massively from as little as 10 all the way up to 50 eggs. A small bearded dragon bred too early may only ever lay small clutches, this is why it’s important to ensure your female is as healthy and ready for breeding as possible. Don’t disturb her mid laying. When she is done she will cover up the eggs and leave the box, you can then dig them out carefully to move them to your incubator.

Incubation

Eggs will need to be incubated in either a commercial or home-made incubator at a constant 82-86F and 80% humidity. The actual incubator is not important as long as you can maintain a precise temperature and humidity. Reptile incubators are similar to modified fridges – they have a heating mechanism instead of a cooling mechanism but are otherwise made out of the same material as it holds temperatures. Some people will use a drinks fridge with the cooler removed and a heater added.

We recommend using perlite, vermiculite or similar as an incubation substrate, this holds the humidity and temperature. We use lightly ventilated tubs that allow for good humidity maintenance whilst still letting some air flow over the eggs. Some people will use closed tubs. This is why it’s important to have your incubator set up in advance with a test box in there, so you’re confident of the exact conditions you are getting.

Check your incubator daily for correct temperatures and for healthy looking eggs.

Bearded Dragon Hatching

Your bearded dragons will start to emerge from the egg after approximately 60 days. Do not disturb them until fully emerged and you can leave them up to a day in the incubator. The activity of the early hatch mates around the eggs will encourage the rest of the clutch to hatch. You will notice that there may be a yolk sac still attached. You should always leave the yolk sac to be absorbed. It will dry up and drop off naturally, so you should never manually remove it.

You should then remove them into their hatchling enclosure, which needs to have correct heat and UVB as an adult setup. If you have a large clutch or your clutch has different size babies it’s best to split them into groups to avoid problems with growth, tail and toe nips. You should keep them for six to eight weeks before selling to the general public as a pet to ensure they’re well grown on and healthy. Pet shops may buy at a younger age and grow on themselves before selling them to the customer at a later date.

Bearded Dragon Health Problems

Any animal comes with a level of responsibility that you as the owner will provide veterinary treatment in any situation that requires it. Before purchasing you should always research where your local exotic veterinarian is. You’ll need an Exotic Vet that has experience with reptiles, not a small mammal or a cat/dog vet. Exotic pet insurance is always a good idea. We don’t recommend routine checks for Bearded Dragons that are not showing any symptoms and that are kept in the correct enclosures, so you should only need to see a vet in the event of a health problem, but a change in normal behaviour is always a cause for full investigation.

Please note that I am not a veterinarian and am only offering general health tips as to what to look out for based on my personal 20+ years of experience working with reptiles, rescues and bearded dragons. You should always seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian in the event of any health problems.

Injuries

Like anything, Bearded Dragons can injure themselves. If your bearded dragon has a minor wound you should try to figure out how it happened so you can avoid it happening again. Many minor injuries can be treated at home. We recommend Tamodine as a reptile-safe antiseptic to put on any open wounds or burns and keeping the cage clean, which may require you to remove the substrate and place on paper towel or newspaper for the healing process. If the wound has swelling, spreading redness, pus, or doesn’t seem to be healing, then you may need to see a vet for stitches, treatment or antibiotics.

Broken Bones

If there’s a suspicion of a bone being broken such as an animal being unable to put weight on a limb for a few days, then a vet will need to do x-rays. Broken bones in healthy bearded dragons are pretty rare, but make sure that the vivarium is secure and when you handle them, don’t ever leave them attended on a high surface they could fall or jump off.

Obesity

Bearded Dragons can often have big appetites. In the wild they need to eat all the food that’s available to cover periods of time when food is scarce; they also get a lot of exercise and can cover a lot of ground. In captivity, with a ready supply of food and less opportunities for exercise, they can become overweight. It’s important to encourage dragons to eat a healthy amount of salad and fruit as well as livefood, and to ensure they chase their food where possible and get plenty of exercise outside the vivarium. An overweight dragon can suffer from heart and liver problems and have a decreased lifespan. It’s good to keep a monthly weight chart if you’re concerned.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Metabolic Bone Disease used to be a massive problem in reptiles, and in Bearded Dragons in particular. Fortunately it’s been many years since I’ve personally seen a severe case of MBD in a Bearded Dragon, as knowledge has increased, so has captive care and the correct use of high strength UVB and calcium and multivitamin supplements. MBD is caused by a Bearded Dragon that has high phosphorous intake and low calcium or Vitamin D3 intake. This can be caused by incorrect diet, inadequate supplementation or inadequate UVB lighting. It can cause bone swelling, limb twitches and trembling, limb deformity, fractures and permanent bone damage. It can eventually result in seizures and death. Ensure that you’ve followed this guide or the advice of an experienced veterinarian / herpetologist and you should avoid this problem. If you take on a rescue with this problem, you need to get them to a veterinarian for x-rays and a treatment plan.

Constipation

Constipation can be caused by too much chitin in the diet, such as feeding mealworms, or simply by the digestive tract being overloaded. It can also be caused by low temperatures. If your bearded dragon is regularly getting constipated and needing warm baths to encourage them to poo, you may need to re-evaluate your livefood choices and try to increase salad and fibre in the diet. Bearded Dragons rarely need treatment for constipation other than a daily warm bath, but severe constipation could be masking impaction which can be serious, even fatal.

Impaction

Impaction happens when something is consumed that does not pass through the digestive tract, causing a blockage. This is usually incorrect substrate. Make sure you use a substrate that is safe for Bearded Dragons, but if you see your dragon consuming large amounts of substrate, branches, cork bark, fake decor etc. then you should remove them. Some beardies are not as smart as others! If your Bearded Dragon isn’t eating, has a distended stomach and hasn’t pooped recently, give warm baths to rule out constipation and then seek veterinary help if the problem continues as this can be a very serious and even fatal problem.

Internal Parasites

Bearded Dragons can pick up internal parasites from food sources, being outside or other bearded dragons. The most common is pinworm, but there are a variety that can cause problems. Sometimes a Bearded Dragon has a natural parasite load that causes no problems, but if you start seeing diarrhea, bloody poo, lethargy, regurgitation or weight loss, or if you see anything moving in the stool, then you need to consult a veterinarian who will take a fecal sample to look for parasites. Most parasites are then treated with a targeted medication.

External Parasites (Mites and Ticks)

It’s possible for bearded dragons to pick up a variety of species of mites. These are small insects that may white, red or black and will be only barely visible to the naked eye. They will often live underneath the scales, in folds of skin, or in the scales of the beard, around the eyes or the vents. Some are harmless, whilst others will feed off the dragon and can cause anemia or other health problems, so it’s important to identify the species. If you see any moving small insects on your dragon, try to get as detailed a photo as possible, and consult a veterinarian or an experienced bearded dragon keeper who can identify. Once identified, you will then need to take a course of action to remove the mites. Mites on bearded dragons can be transmitted from substrate, from other reptiles, from contaminated food sources, from the household (for example house mites and dust mites are common in many homes) or from outside.

Ticks are larger parasites that attach themselves to the skin and hook onto the reptile. They rarely move around once they have found a spot to feed. They can be very serious as they can transmit diseases as well as taking a lot of blood from your dragon. You should not twist a tick that is attached to a reptile, but taking a pair of tweezers you should grasp the tick as closely to the skin of the dragon as possible and pull steadily and firmly until the tick is removed. This is something a veterinarian can do for you and show you how to do yourself in the future. Ticks should not be a problem in most captive bred bearded dragons, but if you allow your dragon to go outside in uncut grass for example, it’s possible to pick up ticks. They can also be brought inside by cats and dogs.

Mouth Rot

Infectious stomatitis, also known as mouth rot, is something that reptiles can have from a bacterial infection in the mouth. Bearded Dragons don’t often need any sort of dental care, but if they have a mouth or tooth injure that gets bacteria in it and gets infected, this can cause problems that will require cleaning and treatment by a veterinarian.

Respiratory Problems

Respiratory problems can occur when there are underlying problems, incorrect temperatures and habitat, viral or bacterial infection or mouth injurities. If your dragon starts heavy breathing for long periods of time, coughing, gasping, has bubbly or stringy mucous in the mouth, blowing bubbles when they breath, clicking noise, repetitive sneezing or other similar symptoms, it’s time to immediately assess the environment and consult a vet.

Note that bearded dragons do thermoregulate by having their mouth open when basking in a hot spot, so just the act of having an open mouth is not a cause for alarm if there are no unusual symptoms.

Adenovirus

Adenovirus is an extremely serious and contagious infection that can be found in young bearded dragons and is usually fatal. If your bearded dragon seems weak and lifeless or seems to be suffering from any sort of seizures or paralysis then please get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible to be tested. If your bearded dragon does get diagnosed with Adenovirus, please let the breeder or seller know as soon as possible so they can assess the threat to their own collection.

Bearded Dragon FAQ

My Bearded Dragon has her mouth open, what does this mean?

Gaping – having their mouth open – is a way of regulating body temperature. Reptiles cannot sweat, and need an external heat source to heat up. It is quite common for them to sit under a basking light and then use an open mouth to expel hot air, allowing them to get their bodies to the perfect temperature.

It also can be a sign of respiratory problems, so watch out for any mucous, bubbling, sneezing, coughing, wheezing etc. If none are present, then this is a perfectly normal behaviour.

My Bearded Dragon just waved or bobbed their head at me?

Arm waving is a sign of communication and often of submission between bearded dragons, whilst head bobbing can be a sign of dominance. Faster head bobbing is more territorial and threatening, sometimes a very slow nod can be submission. This is just part of bearded dragon communication. They usually do this to other dragons, but sometimes they will do it to other animals or even people.

It’s best not to try to mimic their behaviour by waving or nodding back at them. Some people might find it funny to nod at a dragon and have them nod back, but you’re potentially eroding their sense of peace and safety.

Do Bearded Dragons have teeth and can they bite?

Bearded dragons have small pointed teeth that they use to crush their livefood and chew their salad rather than tear. They can break the skin if they bite down hard on a finger or hand, but can’t pierce the skin deeply. Getting bitten by a bearded dragon is rare, but possible, like with all animals. If you do get bitten you should wash the wound thoroughly and put a band-aid on it with an antiseptic to keep it clean. You should always be aware of possible infection with any wound and contact a medical professional if at all worried.

Why do I need to wash my hands before and after handling a Bearded Dragon? Why do people talk about reptiles and Salmonella?

All reptiles can carry salmonella which can be passed onto humans primarily through poop, but occasionally the skin. However, you are far more likely to get Salmonella poisoning through food than reptiles. Having worked with reptiles for over twenty years, I’ve personally never come into contact with someone who has had Salmonella poisoning from a reptile, but I have had it from a turkey (thanks mum!).

That being said, you should always put hygiene first. You should wash your hands before and after handling any reptile with hot water and soap for at least twenty seconds.

Washing your hands before is to remove any toxins or scents on your hands that might confuse the dragon (especially if they think you smell like food!), whilst washing your hands after washes away anything you’ve come into contact with on their skin.

Do Bearded Dragons hibernate?

Bearded dragons in the wild brumate and some people do brumate them in captivity. However we personally don’t brumate our dragons, including our breeding adults. We find that there’s more risk than benefit with brumation and don’t personally recommend it. We would recommend keeping temperatures at the same numbers all year around, unless there’s more scientific research in the future which shows this had adverse affects. In tortoises, there is now evidence that a lack of hibernation results in a decreased lifespan, but the lifespan of bearded dragons has continued to increase in captivity even when not hibernated.

If you do want to brumate your own dragon, you should do plenty of research and do it in a controlled and precise way. If you’re not intending to brumate, be careful to check your night time temperatures throughout the winter. Unexpected brumation when the gut is still full of food can result in serious health problems.

Do Bearded Dragons lose their tails like geckos?

No. Bearded Dragons have bone-filled tails that can be damaged or amputated but this is a severe injury and will never grow back. If there is an injury to your dragons tail you should immediately seek veterinary advice.

How often will my Bearded Dragon Shed?

Babies may shed every couple of weeks as they are growing very quickly. As they get older they will shed less and less and it can vary from every month to every few months and then longer as their growth slows down. Adults will only shed once or twice a year.

Do Bearded Dragons smell?

Bearded Dragons themselves do not smell but any poop does have an odour and they will usually go every day, so it’s important to keep the vivarium clean. Some substrates do have an odour to them which some people like and others don’t!

Do Bearded Dragons recognize different people?

Yes! A bearded dragon can recognize faces and may be calmer with a person that they already know and trust. They can also differentiate between different voices and will find a familiar voice soothing.

Can Bearded Dragons live with other reptiles?

No, Bearded Dragons should not be housed with other reptiles.

Does my Bearded Dragon need a friend?

No, Bearded Dragons are not naturally social animals and can live happily alone.

Can I get a Bearded Dragon if I have a cat or a dog?

Yes! Your cat or dog may be interested in watching the dragon. We would recommend ensuring your vivarium is securely locked if you have other pets to avoid any accidental opening, and having the vivarium up off the ground will keep it out of direct eyesight. You should never let your bearded dragon exercise loose unsupervised with a cat or a dog.

Are Bearded Dragons suitable for young children?

Yes. Like all animals, younger children should be supervised and you’ll need to make sure they wash their hands afterwards. Starting with an older bearded dragon that is already accustomed to people may be helpful with very young children, as babies can be skittish and fast until tamed. The bearded dragon is a very calm lizard as an adult and can usually be handled by all ages.

I really hope that this Bearded Dragon Care Guide has covered everything you want to know. I’ve provided details on housing for your bearded dragon, temperatures and humidity, breeding bearded dragons, bearded dragon morphs and so much more, but if there’s anything I haven’t answered please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the FAQ!

If you have a specific question for us about our bearded dragons or setups then please drop us a message on Facebook or an email. Thank you!

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