Bearded Dragon Care

Species Overview

Scientific Name: Pogona Vitticeps

Pogona is a genus of reptiles containing eight lizard species, which are often known by the common name bearded dragons. The name “bearded dragon” refers to the underside of the throat (or “beard”) of the lizard, which can turn black and puff up for a number of reasons, most often as a result of stress, if they feel threatened, or are trying to entice a mate (Wikipedia).

The bearded dragon has long been a favorite among enthusiasts and pet reptile owners alike. These unique creatures, native to the arid landscapes of Australia, have become increasingly popular worldwide due to their docile nature and distinctive appearance. Whether you’re a seasoned herpetologist or a first-time reptile owner, this guide will provide you with the essential knowledge to ensure your bearded dragon lives a healthy, happy life. From dietary advice to habitat setup, we’ll cover every facet of bearded dragon care, helping you build a bond with your scaly friend that can last for years.

bearded dragon on white background

Colors & Appearance

Known for their unique physical traits, they typically have a broad, triangular head and a stout body covered with spiky scales. Bearded dragons exhibit a range of colors, from sandy and light brown hues to more vibrant oranges and reds. Some even showcase a mix of colors, especially when bred for specific traits. 

Average Size

Beardies are medium-sized reptiles, with adults typically reaching a length of 18 to 24 inches from head to tail. The body itself is relatively compact, but their long, whip-like tail accounts for over half of their total length. Male bearded dragons tend to be larger than females, with broader heads and larger ‘beards.’


In captivity, these fascinating creatures usually live between 8 to 12 years with proper care. However, their lifespan can extend up to 14 years or even longer in some exceptional cases. Factors such as diet, habitat conditions, and overall care greatly influence their lifespan.

More About Bearded Dragons

As loving pet parents, we want our scaly friends to receive the best care possible, and part of it involves learning all there is to know about them.

To help you make the right choice when caring for bearded dragons, we have rounded up some important information about this fascinating species.

bearded dragon care


Bearded dragons are native to Australia’s hot and dry regions. Wild bearded dragons live in arid and subtropical environments like savannas, heathland, coastal dunes, woodlands, and deserts. 

In their natural habitat, bearded dragons hide and climb in desert bushes and small trees. Although water is a luxury, bearded dragons enjoy soaking in it when available. These are important factors to consider when setting up your bearded dragon’s enclosure.

Different Types

There are a few types of bearded dragons, including:

Central Bearded Dragon

A central bearded dragon, also known as the inland bearded dragon, is the most common type of bearded dragon kept as pets. They are 18-22 inches long and weigh about 280-550 grams. 

Eastern Bearded Dragon

This type is more commonly known as the common bearded dragon. Eastern beardies are non-venomous lizards that will rarely bite. 

Pygmy Bearded Dragon

Pygmy, or Rankin’s, dragons are tiny lizards that only grow up to 12 inches in length. These lizards are friendly, but like any other bearded dragon, it is important to handle them with care.


Some common bearded dragon morphs include:

  • Leatherback
  • Paradox
  • Silkback
  • Wero
  • Albino
  • Translucent
care for bearded dragon


Bearded dragons, affectionately known as beardies, are fascinating creatures. An adult bearded dragon can weigh between 400 and 600 grams. Diet, genetics, and gender play a significant role in determining the size of these lizards.

Growth Phases

Bearded dragons go through three phases. From hatching to six months old, they are considered “hatchlings.” This stage is when they grow the most. Therefore, it is important to feed them the right diet at the right time. A hatchling bearded dragon eats a few times a day.

Between 6 and 12 months, a beardie is a juvenile. Your juvenile bearded dragon will continue to grow but at a slower rate. Juvenile bearded dragons should be fed at least once a day. Their diet is a combination of live insects and greens.

At 12 months, a bearded dragon reaches full maturity, becoming an adult. An adult bearded dragon’s diet should include live insects at least three times a week.


Bearded dragons become prey to birds of prey like eagles and hawks, snakes, and larger lizards. It’s a good thing that bearded dragons can run up to 9 miles per hour when needed. Some also drop their tail to distract their predators while they escape.

In captivity, bearded dragons don’t have many predators to worry about, but it’s essential to ensure their enclosure is secure and free from any potential threats.

how to take care of a bearded dragon

what Makes The Bearded Dragon A Great Pet?

  • Friendly and Calm Nature: Bearded dragons are known for their docile temperament, making them easy to handle and interact with.

  • Low Maintenance: These reptiles require a simple diet of insects and vegetables, and basic habitat requirements, making them relatively easy to care for.

  • Interactive: Bearded dragons often show unique behaviors such as arm-waving and head-bobbing which can be engaging for pet owners.

  • Long Lifespan: With proper care, bearded dragons can live up to 10-15 years, offering a long-term companionship.

  • Unique Appearance: Their spiky “beard”, which puffs out when they feel threatened, adds an intriguing visual element to owning these pets.

  • Suitable for Beginners: Due to their calm demeanor and low maintenance, they are an excellent choice for first-time reptile owners.

  • Active During the Day: Unlike many reptiles, bearded dragons are diurnal, meaning they’re active during the day and sleep at night, aligning well with human schedules.

close up hand holding bearded dragon

Bearded Dragon Care Guide

Owning a bearded dragon can be an exciting and fulfilling experience, but it’s important to understand that with great pets comes great responsibility. As a responsible pet owner, you must provide your bearded dragon with proper care and attention to ensure they live a long and healthy life. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to bearded dragon care, covering everything you need to know to maintain your pet’s health and happiness.

Environment and Housing

The first step to proper bearded dragon care is ensuring they have a proper environment and housing. Bearded dragons are desert-dwelling lizards, so their enclosure needs to mimic their natural habitat. An ideal enclosure should be at least 4ft long and 2ft wide, and 2ft tall. It should be made of glass or plastic so that your bearded dragon can see through it. Line the bottom of the enclosure with reptile sand or an eco-earth substrate. Additionally, the enclosure should offer a basking area, a cool area, a hide box, and a source of UVB lighting. Keeping these things in mind will help make your bearded dragon’s environment comfortable and healthy for them.

bearded dragon terrarium

Temperature and Humidity

Bearded dragons like it hot and dry. The best approach is to provide your bearded dragon with a temperature gradient. The basking area should be around 95-110°F, while the cool side should remain between 75 and 85°F.

Humidity is another crucial factor. Too much can cause bearded dragon health issues like respiratory infections, while too little can cause shedding problems. Aim for a humidity level of around 30-40%.

Proper Diet

Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they need both animal and plant-based foods. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, depending on it’s age, a bearded dragon’s diet should consist of about 50% plant-based material and 50% insect material. However, opinions vary wildly on the subject and you’ll see most sources recommending 80%/20% respectively. 

Bearded dragons eat insects like mealworms, roaches, and crickets. They also enjoy snacking on collard greens, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and carrots (just to name a few). It’s best to avoid feeding your bearded dragon insects from the wild as these typically carry parasites or have been exposed to harmful chemicals. You should discuss your lizard’s diet with your veterinarian as your beardie ages and adjust their food intake accordingly. We have a more complete Bearded Dragons diet sheet to check out as well to help get you started.

Feeding your bearded dragon on a regular and consistent schedule is essential for their overall health and wellbeing. Young bearded dragons require daily feeding, with 2-3 feedings per day. As they mature, adult bearded dragons should be fed once a day or once every two days.

Remember, the feeding times should ideally be during the day as bearded dragons are diurnal creatures, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. Lastly, always ensure fresh, clean water is available for your bearded dragon. It’s also important to note that each bearded dragon is unique, and you may need to adjust this feeding schedule and diet based on your pet’s specific needs.

bearded dragon eating leafy greens


Proper hydration is crucial for your bearded dragon’s health. Always have a water dish available for them. Be sure to change the water daily and clean out the dish every other day. Bearded dragons also need to be misted with water a few times a week, allowing them to absorb water through their skin.


Bearded dragons are territorial creatures. Males can fight for food, female attention, and the best basking spot.

When frightened or threatened, a bearded dragon will try to appear bigger by opening its mouth, raising its chin, and puffing out its beard. Some also hiss to scare their opponent away.

Head bobbing is a common form of communication between beardies. It’s used as a greeting, a sign of submission, or to show dominance.

If you’re keeping two bearded dragons in the same enclosure, make sure there’s enough space and resources for both to thrive without competing.

how to care for a bearded dragon


Bearded dragons shed their skin as they grow. It is because their skin is made of a keratin-based protein that’s non-porous and non-elastic. It is why, when they grow, they periodically molt and shed their old skin to make room for the new growth.

A hatchling bearded dragon will shed every week, a juvenile bearded dragon will shed every 4-6 weeks, and an adult will shed once in a couple of months.

Your bearded dragon’s skin will appear dull and white before shedding. It’s nothing to worry about. You can make things easier for your pet by adding a few rocks and branches to help them rub off the loose skin.

Courtship And Egg-Laying​​

A male bearded dragon will bob its head ferociously and put on a show by puffing out its beard to attract females. If the female is willing, it will wave its hand and bob its head gently. 

Females lay eggs in clutches of 15-30 in a single breeding season. They can lay up to three clutches per year. They also have a unique ability to store sperm for extended periods, meaning they can lay fertile eggs even without mating again. 

bearded dragon laying eggs

Health Care for Your Bearded Dragon

A healthy bearded dragon exhibits a range of positive signs daily. They should have a robust appetite and be eager to explore their habitat. The dragon’s skin should be smooth and free of spots or sores, and their eyes should be clear, alert, and free of discharge. Healthy bearded dragons frequently shed their skin as they grow, and they typically display bright and vibrant colors. It’s also typical for them to have a daily routine, which includes periods of activity during the day and rest at night. Lastly, their feces should be firm and consistent in color. Observing these signs on a daily basis can help ensure that your bearded dragon is in good health.

You should also check your dragon regularly for any visual abnormalities, such as skin issues, abnormal growths, or signs of shedding that may need attention.

Just like any other pet, bearded dragons are vulnerable to a variety of health conditions. Some common health issues include metabolic bone disease, impaction, dehydration, respiratory infections, and parasites.

  • Metabolic bone disease, often a result of poor diet or insufficient UVB exposure, affects the bone health and can cause deformities or lameness.
  • Impaction, generally caused by ingestion of indigestible materials or large food items, creates blockages in the digestive system.
  • Dehydration may result from inadequate water intake and can lead to lethargy and sunken eyes.
  • Respiratory infections, often due to improper terrarium conditions, can cause symptoms such as wheezing or nasal discharge.
  • Finally, parasites can lead to weight loss, discolored and mildly loose stool, and a lack of appetite.

It’s important to have your bearded dragon examined by a veterinarian every year to aid in the early detection and treatment of these conditions, ensuring your bearded dragon leads a healthy life.

Interaction and Enrichment

Bearded dragons are known for their docile nature and how they tolerate and even seem to enjoy human interaction, unlike many other reptile species. This makes them ideal pets for individuals or families who are keen on having a unique, interactive pet experience. However, it is crucial to handle your bearded dragon properly to avoid causing them stress or harm.

Younger bearded dragons start off on an aggressive note. But if you handle your pet regularly and give it time outside of its enclosure, it’ll get used to your touch. Activities such as hiding food in their enclosure and creating an obstacle course for them can add enrichment that allows them to engage in their activities with greater depth.

bearded dragon looking at the camera

When handling your bearded dragon, always remember to be gentle and calm. Sudden movements can scare them and cause them to feel threatened.

Start by letting them get used to your presence. You can place your hand in their terrarium for a few minutes each day, allowing them to familiarize themselves with your scent and presence. Gradually, they will come to associate you with safety and comfort.

Once they seem comfortable, you can gently pick them up, supporting their belly and legs. Always wash your hands before and after handling your bearded dragon to keep both you and your pet healthy.


Taking care of a bearded dragon requires time, effort, and knowledge, but the rewards of owning one of these beautiful and fascinating creatures are endless. Their care involves understanding their needs, providing suitable housing and food, regular handling and social interaction, and monitoring their health closely. Regular veterinary check-ups are vital for early detection of any potential health issues, and observing your dragon’s daily behaviors can provide key insights into their well-being.

Through responsible ownership, understanding their specific needs, and nurturing a strong bond with them, you can ensure that your bearded dragon thrives, providing you with a rewarding and enjoyable pet ownership experience. With the tips outlined above, you can create an environment that supports and maximizes your pet’s health and happiness. Remember, happy and healthy reptiles are what we all want to ensure that their lives are successful, fulfilling, and always worth cherishing.