Baby bearded dragons have a calm, friendly personality and are simple to care for. They are great reptiles for beginners.
Yet, like any pet lizard, you need to know how to care for one.
If you are ready to adopt your first baby bearded dragon, but don’t know where to start, read on.
This article will guide you through the ins and outs to prepare you and your home, for your new baby beardie. Below you will find helpful tips to ensure a smooth transition…
Baby Bearded Dragon Care
Tip 1. Baby Bearded Dragon Food and Diet
Baby Beardies need a nutritious diet to grow to a healthy adult weight.
The first year of a bearded dragon’s life is when they will eat and grow the most. After their first year they will be up to 16 – 24 inches long and should weigh around 350 grams. After one year, they will not get any longer, but they will continue to slowly gain weight.
Baby Bearded dragons should eat a ratio of 75% meat and insects to 25% plants and vegetables.
Younger bearded dragons need a higher intake of protein to build up their tissues, organs, and muscles. However, it is still important to introduce them to vegetables and plants at a young age. If not they will grow up to become picky eaters.
Having a good source of vegetables in their diet will become more important the older they get! So you want to avoid them becoming picky eaters.
Feeding a healthy mix of 75% meat and 25% fruits and vegetables is important when they are babies! As they get older their feeding ratios will change to 75% fruits and vegetables and 25% meat.
The 75% meat should be made up of insects, there is a list below of some of the best insects for baby beardies:
- Dubia Roaches
- Wax worms
Below, is a list of the 25% mix of vegetables and fruits that should be a staple in their diet:
- Red Cabbage
- Green beans
- Bell Pepper
- Alfalfa Hay
- Bok Choy
- Bananas (with the skin)
- Apricots (peeled)
Finally, supplements that contain calcium powder with vitamin D and a multivitamin supplement are also important for a baby.
A bearded dragon’s diet will not naturally provide much calcium. This is why it is important to dust their insects with calcium powder. You should begin this at a young age to prevent bone weakness and metabolic disorders as they age.
Tip 2. Hydration Is Key
It is common for baby bearded dragons to not drink enough water throughout the day. This is often because they do not know how to drink from a bowl of water. Many bearded dragons will never drink from a bowl of water. Because of this, they can easily become very dehydrated.
A quick test to see if they are hydrated is by doing a pinch test on their skin. If the skin bounces back fast from the pinch, they are hydrated. If it bounces back slowly, they are dehydrated.
If your baby bearded dragon is not drinking water, you will need to rehydrate them by misting or using a syringe.
You will want to find a small spray bottle, about 8oz, that sprays a fine mist. Make sure that it has never had chemicals in it before.
Fill your spray bottle or syringe with purified water.
Spray the water on to your baby Bearded Dragon’s head until you see water droplets forming. The shape of the bearded dragon’s head allows the water droplets to run from the top of their head to their nose, where they lick the water off from.
Alternatively use a small syringe and squirt water just above their nose.
Continue to repeat this process until your beardie stops licking the droplets.
After you have done this, watch your lizard. If they are eating again, and not lethargic, this is a good sign of hydration.
Tip 3. Do Not Use A Tank Larger Than 25-Gallons
It is important that the transition, from buying a baby bearded dragon to bringing them home, goes smoothly. To help with this transition you will need a tank. This should be set up prior to bringing them home.
They need a proper enclosure that will mimic their natural environment and keep them safe.
Some things to keep in mind when looking for a terrarium is the size, setup and its location in your home.
For baby bearded dragons their tank should be no more than 25-gallons. Too much space can overwhelm and stress out a baby beardie. 25-gallons gives them enough space to move around and explore whilst making it easy for you to keep an eye on them.
Another important tip for beginners is tank location.
Do not place a lizard’s tank in direct sunlight. It should be placed on a sturdy surface, in a quiet room out of reach from pets or small children.
The best baby Bearded Dragon tank setup should have:
|25-gallon glass tank
|Find one that is sturdy, easily accessible and comes with a screened lid that allows for airflow and humidity regulation.
|10.0 UVB Compact Fluorescent Lamp
|Look for a compact size that fits any standard socket. Dome light fixtures or hood lights are recommended.
|Thermometer and Hygrometer
|Thermometer Gun, Digital Hygrometer
|It is used for internal cage temperature regulation. Hygrometers are used to measure the humidity. It is recommended that you use a temperature gun compared to a gauge, gauges are not as accurate.
|Ceramic Heat Emitter
|Ceramic Infrared Heat Emitter
|This will give a baby bearded dragon the heat they need, while not disrupting their sleep cycle.
|Basking rock or log
|For a basking spot use something that is sturdy and dense. Make sure it is great to climb on and has a smooth texture to prevent any injuries. If you decide to use live plants go for aloe vera, herbs (oregano, parsley, rosemary), turtle vine or succulents.
|Reptile carpet or coconut fiber
|Coconut fiber is a great idea. There are no health risks, the floor is flat and contains no particles that your beardie could possibly swallow.
|Shallow dishes for water and food
|You will want 2 to 4 shallow dishes for insects, greens, fruits, vegetables, and water. Make sure it is shallow enough for them and does not leak or allow for any bacteria growth.
Tip 4. How To Tame A Baby Bearded Dragon
It is important to hold your lizard when they are babies and juveniles. This will allow them to build up trust with you and get used to being handled. If you do not handle them, they can start to become overwhelmed by your presence. You do not want to scare them or cause them any stress.
Handling a baby bearded dragon is important.
It is recommended that you should handle your beardie at least a few minutes each day.
In order to tame your bearded dragon, you have to start by getting it comfortable. Start by spending time bonding with them. You can do this by putting your hand in their enclosure, this will help them to identify your smell and presence.
Do this for a few days before you attempt to handle them.
You want to give them time to become familiar with you.
To handle a bearded dragon, approach them from either the front or the side of their body, never from directly above! A hand from above can resemble a bird of prey and scare them.
Start by sliding your hand underneath them from their side. Support both their chest and front legs. Next, use your other hand to support their tail and rear legs. As you pick them up, hold them firmly, but not so tight that you squeeze them.
You should try to spend at least five minutes a day holding them. This can be for bathing, feeding or just to give them some head scratches!
Young bearded dragons are known for squirming a lot while being held.
As you continue to hold them, they will stop moving around as much. This is an important factor in the taming process. If you release them while they are squirming, this will make them think that if they want out, they should squirm.
A common mistake most first time owners make is how they put their beardie down after being handled. Bearded dragons cannot jump! When they are let down even one inch off the ground, it could hurt them.
When you go to lay your beardie back on the ground, lay your hand that is under their belly, flat on the ground. Then proceed to nudge their tail, indicating to them that it’s time to come off.
The more your bearded dragon is held, the more they will become comfortable.
They are naturally calm and will only bite when they feel threatened or stressed.
The more you put your baby bearded dragon in a stressful situation, the more they will learn not to trust you. If you are noticing signs of stress go back to the start of the taming process. Let them get acclimated to your scent and presence.
Tip 5. Do Not Feed Mealworms
Many first time owners ask how many mealworms to feed a baby bearded dragon. The truth is, babies should never eat meal worms! Mealworms are usually half an inch long. This makes mealworms too big for baby beardies to swallow.
Mealworms also lack nutrients that younger specimens need to help build up their growing bodies. They also have a hard exoskeleton which makes it difficult for them to digest.
First time owners would be better off asking how many crickets to feed a baby bearded dragon.
Baby bearded dragons should eat between 20 to 40 small crickets each day.
Pinhead crickets are the best crickets to feed. They are small and wingless, which makes it easier for babies to catch and eat them.
It is important that the babies are fed the proper amount for their size. A helpful tip to remember is that the crickets you feed them, should not be larger than the distance between your beardie’s eyes. This helps to avoid any digestion or feeding issues.
Remember, any crickets you feed need to be dusted with a calcium supplement.
Baby bearded dragons should have three or four feeding sessions per day. Feeding sessions last between 5 to 10 minutes. Allow your baby to eat as many crickets as they can during the feeding session. After 10 minutes, remove uneaten crickets from the tank.
Below is a good feeding schedule for a baby bearded dragon.
|Greens (all chopped)
|20+ pinhead crickets dusted with a calcium supplement.
|2x Kale, 1 slice of squash and 1 raspberry.
|5-10 Dubia Roaches dusted with a calcium supplement.
|2x Collard Greens, 1 slice of bell pepper and 1 strawberry.
|20+ pinhead crickets dusted with a calcium supplement.
|2x Kale, 1 slice of pumpkin and 1 blueberry.
|5-10 Dubia Roaches dusted with a calcium supplement.
|2x Dandelion greens, 1 slice of bell pepper and 1 grape.
Tip 6. Baby Bearded Dragon Not Eating
There are three main reasons why a baby dragon may not be eating…
- Lack of UVB lighting
Bearded dragons come from the sunny deserts of Australia. They get essential nutrients from the sun’s rays. A lack of UVB light can cause babies to have a loss of appetite. They will also be sluggish and have swollen limbs too.
A UVB light should be on in their tank for about 12-14 hours each day during the spring and summer and 8 hours in the fall and winter. A 10.0 UVB Compact Fluorescent Lamp is a highly recommended UVB light. They should be bulbs, not coils and must be replaced every six months. Coils tend to emit too strong of a light, and it can harm the bearded dragons.
Constipation can be a cause for not eating too, especially in babies.
Sometimes constipation can happen in baby bearded dragons when they eat something too big. This makes it hard for them to completely digest their food. A good example is mealworms. Constipation is very uncomfortable and causes a loss of appetite.
You will know your beardie is constipated because they won’t have pooped in the last 24 hours.
To relieve constipation you can gently massage their bellies during a bath.
Finally, stress can cause baby bearded dragons to not eat.
A change of tank, loud sounds and new people handling them can cause babies to get stressed.
Signs your baby bearded dragon is stressed will include not eating, hiding all of the time and jumpy or twitchy behavior.
Tip 7. How To Sex A Baby Bearded Dragon
At 12 weeks of age, it will be very easy to identify the sex.
It is useful to know the sex of a baby bearded dragon for when you are ready to name them and if you are interested in getting more.
You will need to make sure that you do not place two male dragons in the same cage. That could be very dangerous because they are very territorial. Males do not like to share their tank with other males.
There is one very easy technique you can use to identify the sex of your baby bearded dragon.
Start by placing your bearded dragon on a flat surface and lift their tail up at a 90 degree angle. Next shine a flashlight against the base of the tail. If you see two bumps, one on each side of the base, you have a male. If you see a single bump you have a female.
- The first year of a baby bearded dragon’s life is when they will grow the most. It is important to feed them a healthy diet that is both rich in protein and nutrients. Aim for a ratio of 75% meats and insects to 25% plants and vegetables.
- Most babies do not drink from a water bowl. This will lead to dehydration. When they become dehydrated, they will lose their appetite and become lethargic. Use the misting technique to encourage your lizard to drink.
- Baby bearded dragons get stressed easily. It is important that you start them in a small tank, one that is no more than 25-gallons. This will be big enough for them to explore, but not too big that they feel overwhelmed.
- The more you handle and hold your bearded dragon, the stronger your bond will become. This is a very important trust building exercise! As your beardie becomes more comfortable with you, start to practice holding them for at least 5 minutes a day.
- Knowing what your baby lizard can and cannot eat is important. For example, mealworms are highly nutritious in adults, but bad for babies. Mealworms have a hard exterior which makes it hard for babies to break down.
- There are many reasons why your baby beardie may not be eating. A lack of UVB light, constipation or stress are the most common.
- You will be able to identify the sex of a beardie at 12 weeks of age. Just lift their tail and check for bumps at the base of the tail. If there is one bump, that means you have a female, if there are two, you have a male!
Baby bearded dragons are great reptiles for first time owners. They are not aggressive, love human interaction and are simple to care for.
Just like with any pet lizard, it is important to know everything you can before you bring one home!
Monitoring a baby bearded dragon’s tank setup, stress levels, diet and tank conditions are all important things that you should do. This will help your baby bearded dragon transition and grow to become a healthy adult.
We hope our tips and tricks will help both you and your new beardie.
Share your favorite tips below.