Bearded Dragon Captive Care

Please make sure you join yahoo group pogona !!!

Additional Care Resources:

Kathryn Tonsey's Page for a well versed care sheet.

Bill Mears also has a quality care sheet at

CheriS has a wealth of reliable care info here at as well.



Bearded Dragons are quickly becoming a popular animal in the reptile hobby. They're hardy, beautiful, and have a wonderful disposition. On the other hand, they have some pretty complex care requirements. Due to this, they're sadly going the way of the Green Iguana in regards to the numbers of them that are suffering from poor care and misinformation. The goal of this sheet is to attempt to give a starting point for your proper care search. Please, before you get your dragon, join the pogona list above for a few weeks, make sure you can finance the care for a dragon, and read every care sheet you can find! Also, find a vet that deals with exotics BEFORE you get your dragon having a sick dragon and no where to turn is a very awful feeling. Dragons also should really have yearly checkups, just like dogs/cats! Good luck with your dragon and enjoy the adventure!

 Basic Requirements

  1. Heating and Lighting
    • Temperature gradient ranging from 100-105F, nighttime drops into the low 70's. This gradient is critical for food digestion.
    • Achieve gradient with regular incandescent light bulbs set to whatever wattage needed to reach and maintain the above temps. You do not need special “reptile basking lights”. Normal household bulbs are preferred. No Infared or “red” bulbs for basking!
    • Use no night time heating, it is unnecessary as the native environment for these animals gets cold at night anyway, they're fine with it. As long as your home stays above 60F at night and dragon is in overall good health, do not waste your time or money on night time heat.
    • Use thermometers to accurately gauge the temps. Digital thermometers with probes are available very inexpensively at Wal-Mart ($10). Do not guess at your temps!
    • NEVER use a hot rock
    • Beardies MUST have UVB Lighting. Reptisun 5.0 in a $20 steel under counter fixture (look for GE brand at Lowes or Home Depot) is the recommended method of achieving indoor UVB. The *new* Exo-Terra Repti-Glo 8.0 bulb is looking to be another promising and quality light, though the Reptisun is still the tried and trusted standard. Also available are UV Heat lamps, but these are only recommended for large enclosures. Of these mercury vapor bulbs, the Mega-Ray series from is currently best on the market. For more information on UVB, what to use, and how to use it, please visit the UVB Meter Owners Group
  2. Water
    • Most water requirements are met via greens, an in-home water dish is optional. If used, change water daily.
    • Babies should be misted with room temperature water two or three times a day. Adults usually appreciate a misting at least once daily.
    • Daily or Weekly baths are wonderful to assist in hydration. A proper FAQ on beardie bathing can be found at by Cheri.
    • I do not leave standing water in my cages. Once or twice a week I offer a bit of water for the dragons to drink from, if they will, or swim in. With babies, a very shallow water dish can be left in cage, just make sure it is not deep enough to drown them (I actually use saucers or large jar lids).
    • To teach babies to drink water, set the squirt bottle to stream and spray in their water dish - they'll go for anything that moves. Also, dropping a cricket or two into the water achieves the same thing.
    • If your dragon has been taught to drink water and enjoys it, then leaving in cage water is OK as long as it is changed daily and substrate kept out of it.
  3. Decor
    • Sparse furnishings are best, provide for their needs (basking, hiding, eating, and playing) but dont get so complex that the cage is hard to clean. Always make sure that nothing can be dug under and fall on the dragon.
    • Make sure they have several basking spots so they can thermoregulate.
    • Give them something to crawl under at night to sleep (a paper towel works great).
    • Hammocks are a favorite and can be constructed out of many things, most of which are readily available at the dollar store. Get creative; just keep safety and ability to clean easily in mind when on search for hammock supplies.
    • Plain old patio stones ($1-2.00 at Lowes) are great for basking or to keep claws trimmed. Just be careful with weight, especially on glass.
  4. Substrate
    • All babies fewer than ten inches should have a substrate of paper towels or newspaper, period. Anything else can cause fatal impaction.
    • Adults can be housed on washed playsand (under $3 for 25 lbs at Home Depot) or rabbit pellets. I prefer combo-substrate setups, as you can see in many instances in our galleries, but it basically boils down to placing your particulate substrate in a container (like a dishpan) and leaving the rest of the tank non-particulate substrate (like newspaper, quality reptile carpet, vinyl flooring, etc). This makes cleaning easy and eliminates risks of substrate impaction.
    • Avoid calci-sand and other prepared reptile substrates like the plague! More info on this on the other care sheets I linked to above. Basically, if it’s marketed for reptiles its a bad idea. Remember, the companies making these products are unregulated, there are no laws out there for them to make safe products for reptiles, and often they dont care at all about your animal, only the money in your pocket!
  5. Handling
    • One of the first things people naturally want to do with their new baby is to handle it. Ideally, the baby shouldn't be handled for a few days at least. This gives the new arrival plenty of time to accommodate to it's new surroundings and begin to feel secure. Try and give it as much time as possible to make the adjustment. Once you begin handling, start in short sessions and do not put the baby down until it quits squirming. Slowly increase the frequency of sessions over a period of days. Offer a favorite treat after each session. Reward good behavior!
    • Take care to support the full tummy during handling, they'll freak out otherwise.
    • Be sure to Quarantine any new acquisitions for 90 days to avoid the spread of disease.
  6. Feeding
    • Babies should be fed a diet heavy on crickets and greens. Feed crickets no larger than the space between their eyes. For young dragons, feed as many properly sized crickets as they want within ten minutes 2-3 times a day. Do not feed meal worms to babies. Older dragons require less amounts of animal protein.
    • Adults should be fed mostly greens, with insect/worms every couple days.
    • Do not feed rodents. This is old, outdated information. Rodent feedings are hard to digest and no longer needed as part of a healthy diet. There are many more safe insects foods to feed, there is no reason to feed rodents.
    • Wax Worms should be fed sparingly and mostly only to adults as treats.
    • The best greens are Turnip, Dandelion, and Mustard. Collards are on the better side of greens as well. Feed Kale only in moderation, Spinach rarely. My guys also like sides of winter squash and summer squashes that have been run thru the food processor or shredder.  Blueberries are a favorite of the adults. Tear all greens to about the size of the Beardie's head.
    • For ease of use, click here for POCKET-SIZE PRINTABLE DOWNLOADS, all rights reserved to their respective sources.
    • Use iguana diets from GreenIgSociety,, and IguanaDen to base your greens diets. Basically, 2-3 rich calcium greens plus 1-2 rich veggies daily. Fruits 2-3 days a week. Variety is important as well as keeping your diet strong in calcium and low in phosphorus. These 2-3 staple greens and 1-2 staple veggies are minimums – go above and beyond as often as possible.
    • Troy Tuttle has reorganized the Green Ig Society list making for easier shopping. It is here with permission.
    • Provide greens all day long. Mist them heavily in the morning and it will delay them drying out to a crispy state.
    • To keep greens fresh, try this.
    • Do not leave crickets in the cage overnight if you can help it; if you have to leave them, make sure there are greens in there for them to much on else they'll eat on your dragon.
    • Picky or sick dragons can be fed baby food and pedialyte to recuperate. Please see the other sites I listed for more information on this...
    • Supplementation is up to the keeper. Hatchlings and young dragons need supplemented with calcium 4-5 days a week (Rep-Cal calcium STRONGLY recommended), vitamins 2x a week (Herptivite strongly recommended). Juvies & Subadults generally get 2-3 days per week calcium, 1x vitamins maybe. Adults are supplemented infrequently at my house, only gravid females really get any supplementation (extra calcium) due to all of the adults eating such a varied, calcium rich greens diet. Properly gut-loaded crickets also are helpful in supplementation.


Additional BNK Pages of Interest can be found at the main dragon page - Including a New Owner Inventory sheet, Cricket Care, and more!

This care sheet is NOT intended to be a catch-all.

For the sake of your dragon, read the additional care sheets listed at the starting page of the Pogona group ( AND read that list daily.

You can NEVER learn too much about the care for these complicated animals! -Jenn

 Please visit the other sites for detailed care sheets!