Bearded Dragons make GREAT pets for those looking to explore the reptile world. They are extremely docile, tolerate being handled well (for the most part!), and they do not get as stressed out as other reptile species out there! While they are amazing pets, there are a couple mistakes we routinely see! These are our top picks for common mistakes with dragon keeping.
**If you are unfamiliar with Bearded Dragon husbandry, take a look at our care sheet HERE!**
Mistake 1: Incorrect Lighting
UVB: The number one BIGGEST mistake we see is INCORRECT UVB LIGHTING or even worse, NO UVB LIGHTING! This is the MOST detrimental mistake you can make for your Bearded Dragon, and without the proper UVB source in as little as 4-6 months your dragon will develop weakened bones.
UVB helps dragons properly absorb calcium, and without sufficient UVB your dragon’s body will begin stealing the calcium from its bones to compensate for the deficit. This process is call Metabolic Bone Disease and the deformities that occur are permanent.
**If you use a T8 it is STRONGLY recommended you invest in a T5!
These are our top picks:
Mistake 2: Forgetting vitamins
Supplement Schedule: Supplements are tricky: too much can cause issues, too little can cause issues, SO WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO??
As discussed in the previous paragraph, Bearded Dragons require calcium! We can ensure the correct calcium levels by providing them supplementation. We recommend a quality Calcium with D3, calcium without D3, multivitamin, and occasionally bee pollen.
Mistake 3: Only feeding one type of insect
Varied Diet & Gut load: Bearded Dragons need a diet based on VARIETY! Your dragon should be fed a well-rounded diet of all different types of bugs to include: Crickets, Dubias, Superworms, Wax Worms, Horn Worms, BSFL, and Silkworms. Just like with foods you eat, the variety provides different nutrients!
Add info from diet blog:
DO NOT FORGET TO GUT LOAD: When the bugs eat healthy, our reptiles then get the extra boost of nutrients. You should be providing your insects the BEST nutrition, so your Beardies get the BEST!
We recommend fresh vegetables every few days and a mixture of
Dubia/Cricket diet link
Mistake 4: Overfeeding
Over feeding your dragon: This is common for both new owners as well as experienced owners. Many people believe the bigger the dragon the better the health. THIS IS FALSE! Weigh you dragon weekly and monitor your dragon’s growth, they should steadily increase their weight for the first 1.5-2 years of life until they reach about 350-400 grams. Just like with people, obesity is extremely harmful for your dragon and can significantly take a toll on their health and life expectancy.
As always, monitor your dragons weight, if they are gaining an exorbitant amount of weight weekly, then cut bag on the bugs. Cut out the fattier options (supers and wax worms) and opt in for a higher protein (BSFL or Dubias).
If you'd like to learn more about Bearded Dragons and their diet, you might be interesting in:
Mistake 5: Not providing veggies
Vegetables: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS provide your dragons with some veggies! As they get older, they will eat more vegetables. Spice up your salads with some fresh cut veggies and some beardie buffet! Fruits are great options too, but in moderation!
We recommend adding Arcadia flower boost to salads for a boost of nutrition your Bearded Dragon may not receive from other vegetables.
Mistake 6: Skipping vet visits
Vet visits: When you bring your dragon home, they will need a quarantine period of about 30 days and a vet check! After the initial vet visit you should continue to schedule at minimum an ANNUAL vet visit and have blood work and fecal matter float done! This will ensure your dragon isn’t deficient on anything and that they are free of parasites! Many people like to think reptiles don’t need vets like dogs and cats, but this is not true! Dragons eat insects and there is always a chance for parasites! So please, DO NOT SKIP THIS!
Mistake 7: Not SANITIZING your enclosures
Disinfecting enclosures: Clean poop every day! Spray down your cages with a cleaner weekly. ONCE A MONTH you should be disinfecting your enclosures with a veterinarian grade cleaner! This is an important to remember, as it will help with the long term health of your dragon and help to fight off bacteria that causes Respiratory Infections or other illnesses!
We recommend this:
Mistake 8: Inappropriate enclosure size
Inappropriate enclosure size: A dragon needs space! A dragon should be kept AT MINIMUM a 40g but ideally 4x2x2 enclosure. A good rule of thumb is that the length of the enclosure should be at least the length of your dragon X3 (tail included).
A dragon needs plenty of space for activities! Being cold blooded, the bigger space allows for your dragon to warm up and cool down accordingly!
It is true that baby dragons do get stressed out from too big of a space! You can use dividers in your tank so that your dragon feels safe. Once your dragon gets to sub-adult age, the dividers can be lifted to allow for more room.
Our recommendation for enclosures: Zen habitats link here
Mistake 9: Not providing hides!
Much like with a kennel to a dog, a dragon enjoys a hide! This can be used a place for them to retreat to if something they are encountering is mildly stressful. All my dragons have hides! And every single one uses them to hide when they sleep! It is actually pretty cute to walk over and see them curled up in their hides to sleep. This is a natural instinct in the wild, so it only makes sense to provide your dragon a hide they can use as a safe place! Besides, why wouldn’t you want to provide something that helps reduce stress??
We recommend: Zen habitats link here
Mistake 10: Improper hydration
There are many approaches to this question. The biggest way I provide hydration is through their greens! Every morning I spray the greens with water! Not only are the green hydrating, adding that extra splash of water really does make all the difference.
We also strongly recommended a water bowl with fresh water added daily! Even if you don't see them drink from it.
If you need more information on hydration, you might want to check this blog out: Link feeding blog
So there you have it! These are the common mistakes with dragon keeping and the question we are are asked about the most! As always, if you ever have any questions about anything or want to say hi, reach out to us!
Let us know what you would like to hear about next! We hope this helps you on your reptile endeavors!
Tifani and Whitney @Blackthorn_Dragons