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3- Care of Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps)

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General Info


Species : 


There are multiple species that are all considered Bearded Dragons in addition to Pogona vitticeps.  Those are "Pogona barbata, microlepidota, minima, minor, mitchelli, and nullarbor".  (Zoffer and Mazorlig)  There is also Pogona Henrylawsoni, common name Rankins.  However, the species that is usually kept as a pet is Pogona vitticeps, which this site focuses on.  The care for most of the species is basically the same as is that of the vitticeps with some small differences.  One, common name Rankins, is smaller and more social with its own kind than Pogona vitticepes, and is slowly becoming available in the pet trade.  It can be bred with vitticeps to produce a hybrid known as Vittikins.  The picture is of a Pogona vitticeps on the bottom, a Vittikins in the middle, and a Rankins on the top.  To learn more about the various species of Bearded Dragons and their ranges, check out Sidney's Overview of Bearded Dragon Species

Life Span and Size :


In the wild, Bearded Dragons live an average of 3-5 years.  In captivity, this time is lengthened to 7-10 years, although it is thought that they can live longer as more advanced ways of taking care of them are put into practice more often.  They reach their adult growth by a year and a half.  Bearded Dragons can be broken down into 4 age groups.  Hatchlings is from 0-2 months, Juvenile is from 2 months to 7 months, Sub-Adult is from 7 months to 18 months, and Adult is 18 months on.  In the wild, the average adult size is 24 inches, in captivity it is 18-22 inches, with 24 inches being relatively rare.  This difference in size between the captive and wild Bearded Dragon population is largely because of excessive inbreeding rather than purposely trying to make them smaller, and also tends to come hand in hand with the fact that captive bred Bearded Dragons are generally much more fragile health-wise than their wild counterparts.  


Sexing :


Bearded Dragons are somewhat difficult to sex, but there are ways.  First off, you can't tell from the size of the head or the size of the body.  The Bearded Dragon I saw with the largest of both was a proud mother, not the male that those attributes supposedly signal.  It is also hard to tell before around 6 months of age.  Not impossible, but hard.  Here is what you are looking for: 



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If you plan on keeping only one animal it doesn't matter what the sex is. Males tend to be more animated than females, but both are good pets. If you want to keep two or more you should know the sex of the animals. Males can be problematic together and sometimes will fight. It is not recommended that beginners attempt to house two males together. Females generally are fine together and will develop a dominance hierarchy. Occasionally two females may be incompatible or one female may be overly aggressive, but this is rare. If you want a male and female you will get eggs. You are not obligated to hatch the eggs; you could throw them out, but why not get two females if you don't want to breed them?


So, how do you tell boys from girls? As hatchlings it is very difficult even for the most experienced keepers. As adults it's very easy. In between it takes a little experience. Males and females look similar from the top, but if you look at the underneath they are easy to tell apart. Males have a distinct set of pre-anal pores between the back legs and have hemipenal bulges at the vent area. Females lack both the pores and bulges. The pores are easy to see by simply looking at the underside of the dragon (see up photos). The hemipenal bulges are harder to see, you will need to gently pull the dragons tail upward towards the head. Do not pull the tail further than 90° of you may hurt the dragon or break the spine. With the tail vertical (see pictures  ) it is easier to see the two bulges formed by the hemipenes on the males. Females do not have the two bulges or the indentation between the lumps, rather females have one small broad lump that is closer to the vent.



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Bearded Dragon Body Language


For a short time during the spring mating season in the wild (Bearded Dragons only have a mating season in the wild, not in captivity) the normally territorial and solitary Bearded Dragons form small colonies.  This is where they have probably developed one of their most fascinating features; their body language.  Bearded Dragons get their names from the flap of spikey skin under their chin, that they can inflate to dominate, frighten, or defend.  Bearded Drgaons will also bob their heads to show dominance.  And they slowly wave, almost as if saying goodbye, to show submissiveness and willingness to mate.  They also can blacken their Beard completely to show distress, aggression, or prior to mating.  When feeling defensive or aggressive, they will flatten their bodies, gape their mouths, hiss, and sometimes inflate their beards as well.  They can change their entire body coloring to be lighter or darker in accordance to mood and temperature, but the color changes are not anywhere in the realm of what a Chameleon can do. 



Video:  example of 2 Beardies (captive), one arm-waving and one head-bobbing.  Video made by joftherings.

Handling :


While most Bearded Dragons are easy to handle, to the point that you can just walk up to one in the wild and pick it up, there are exceptions to that rule, and inevitably some of those exceptions end up as pets in someone's home.  Then, of course, there are some perfectly docile dragons that suddenly become feisty around 8 months, during the stage commonly known as "Beardie Puberty".  
First, keep in mind the above signs of a defensive Bearded Dragon.  Bearded Dragons do not generally bite out of malice, but out of fear.  You are, after all, very large and predator-like.  If a Beardie is showing the signs of defense, he is likely terrified, and should not be pressed.  If they are pressed, they could bite.  When handling a Beardie like this, there are several things that you can do.
First, slowly put your hand in the far side of the cage.  Just leave it there, without approaching.  Do this several times a day.  After a while, you can gradually move your hands closer to the Bearded Dragon.  Second, every time your Beardie tries to bite, shove his favorite green/veggie/fruit (cut into small sizes, of course, you don't want to choke him) into his mouth.  This will let him see you as a friendly source of food rather than a predator.  There is a very specific way of picking up a Bearded Dragon as well.  You want to go from the side or below, never from the top, as your hand approaches him.  Then, gently scoop him up from the bottom, making sure to support his stomach, all 4 legs, and as much of the tail as possible.  If he feels unbalanced, he will flail, and that is what supporting all of him prevents.  A Beardie can easily scratch a human badly when he is flailing.  One of the best handling tricks is called the "Shirt Trick".    This involves waiting until your Beardie is really sleepy, then wrapping him up in a shirt that smells like you to rest.  This will get him used to your scent.  After a while, you can pick him up in the shirt and let him fall asleep on you.  This is a great trust builder.  
If you are patient and kind, and keep in mind these tricks, you should have a friendly Beardie  in no time. 

Salmonella :


More than 3/4 of reptiles carry Salmonella.  Salmonella in reptiles is contained in the digestive tract, and exits their body with their feces.  Touching a reptile's feces, even trace amounts, and then ingesting it can pass the Salmonella on to humans.  While usually an unpleasant but not serious illness, the old, the young, and the immune deficient can die from Salmonella.  However, there are ways to prevent infection.  


First, always wash your hands with an antibacterial soap after touching the lizard and/or his enclosure.  Secondly, keep the reptile away from kitchens and dining rooms where food is prepared or eaten. 


Thirdly, dispose of lizard feces in the toilet or trash can, not the sink or bathtub.  Also, do not bathe the lizard in the same place where you will bathe an infant or young child.  
With care, transmission of Salmonella from reptile to human can be avoided.  



A Bearded Dragon's Senses and Anatomy


Vision :


Bearded Dragons rely largely on their eyes to sense what is around them.  They have good vision, with full color too. Since their eyes are on the sides of their heads, they have a larger field of vision than we do but their depth perception is downright bad.  This is why they often time their leaps wrong and bonk into things. 


Hearing :


At first glance, someone unfamiliar with lizards may think that lizards are missing ears.  This is not true though, their ears are actually the holes on the side of their head.  They simply don't have lobes around them.  Their hearing is excellent.




When pressed against the ground, a Bearded Dragon can sense vibrations.  
A Bearded Dragon's scales are rough and bumpy for a reason.  When it rains, the bumpy spots help collect water between them.  A Bearded Dragon will then bend downward, and all of the water will flow between the bumps to its mouth, where it can be licked up.  



When the Bearded Dragon becomes distressed or aggressive, their normally soft and rubbery spikes can abruptly become prickly.  They have a lot of control over their spikes, and they know to use it to hurt others who have senses of touch.  They also have exceptional control over their limbs, they can lock them in place so that they can sleep standing up and other such feats. 

Taste and Smell :


One sense they have developed quite  a bit more than humans is their sense of taste.  Their tongue in particular is unique.  The tip is adhesive, so that they can draw in their food easily with the stickiness of it.  They also actually taste their surroundings with their tongue to 'see' what is going on, in a watered down method of how snakes do the same

thing.  What is actually going on is that they have a Jacobson Organ on the roof of their mouth that allow them to smell/taste really really well with it.  Many lizards are known for having a strong jaw and sharp teeth.  Bearded Dragons have unusual teeth.  Their front teeth fall out and grow back regularly.  These teeth are used, "for grasping and tearing live prey" (Grenard, Steve).  Their side teeth are permanent, and are fused to their jaws.  The side teeth are used for chewing vegetable matter.  They use their mouth, in addition to tasting, eating, and breathing, as a cooling device.  When they are hot, they open their mouth wide in what is known as 'gaping'.  This is just to cool themselves off, similar to how dogs pant and humans sweat. 

The Parietal/Third Eye :


Another unique sense that they have has to do with the parietal/third eye.  I don't mean anything psychic here, of course.  The parietal eye is located at the top of their heads, and you can see this as an oddly colored scale in the center of the top of their heads.  What this does is sense heat and shadows, and possibly light.  In the wild, this serves as a warning if one of their main predators, birds, are swooping down at them.  It is also possible it helps them to bask. 

Shedding :


Bearded Dragons shed throughout their lives.  Whether it is because they literally outgrow their skin or just because their skin is getting old, they will shed and have new scales underneath.  With every shed, your Bearded Dragons colors will change, sometimes subtly and sometimes very obviously.  Young Bearded Dragons can be in shed almost constantly, old ones usually shed only a few times a year.  You will notice that your Bearded Dragon is getting ready to shed when the scales become ashy gray.  Shortly after, your Bearded Dragon will start rubbing and the scales will come off in patches and bits. Your Bearded Dragon may become moody and go off of his food when shedding, and this is perfectly normal.  Shedding can last anywhere from days to weeks. 



 Make sure you do NOT try to help them shed by tearing off any of their skin, this can damage the new skin and hurt your pet.  What you can do is give them extra baths and mistings to help them stay hydrated and relieve their itching.  This will also help the shedding process go faster.  Bearded Dragons may eat their skin after they have shed it.  This is perfectly normal, and actually is thought to be healthy.  It is nothing to worry about. 

Brumation :


Brumation is basically hibernation-lite.  It occurs is some dragons that are a year of age or older, although it does not occur in every Bearded Dragon.  Brumation can happen at any season of year, but the vast majority of the time it happens in the winter of whatever place you are in.  Every Bearded Dragon brumates differently.  Some just slow down for a few months, some slow down and stop eating, some take long naps, and some sleep for months at a time without break.  Its also possible for a Bearded Dragon's brumation habits to change as it gets older.  
During a typical brumation, your Bearded Dragon should not lose any weight to speak of. 
They should get a vet check just prior to brumation, when they are showing the first signs of lethargy, and the vet appointment should include a fecal check. 
You should provide your Bearded Dragon with a hide of some sort on the cool side of the habitat in which he can rest.  Temperatures can safely fall into the low sixties during brumation.  If your Beardie wakes up briefly offer water and food.  They may not take the food, that's normal.  If they do eat, encourage them to have a bowel movement before they fall back to sleep, otherwise the food may rot in the stomach.  Bearded Dragons have an instinct about this, and probably will not fall deeply asleep while still carrying lots of food in their stomach.  
In a few weeks to a few months, depending on the Bearded Dragon, normal activity should be resumed

Bearded Dragons in the Wild :


Bearded Dragons in the wild will eat any plants they can get their teeth around, insects, and if they can catch them small rodents and small lizards.  Bearded Dragons will spend a large part of their day climbing up on something and sitting in the sun.  When it is cold at night or during the winter, they will burrow underground and sleep to maintain their temperature.  They will do the same thing if it gets too hot for them.  In winter, they go into something called brumation, which is similar to hibernation.  They are only around each other in groups during mating.  After they mate, the group will split (they aren't social for the majority of the year, which is why there are problems keeping them together in one enclosure long term).  That single mating will  give the female multiple groups of eggs, and she will only mate once a year since she retains sperm.  They don't form permanent partnerships.  The female will go somewhere to lay her eggs after leaving the group, then she will bury them and abandon the site.  Once the eggs hatch, the vast majority will never reach adulthood.  They have many predators, from birds to dingos to cars.  


Below are two maps, the orange and white one shows the distribution of Pogona vitticeps within Australia and the multicolored one shows the type of land in Australia, so you can get an idea of their habitat.  Bearded Dragons are only naturally found in Australia.  

The orange area is where Beardies can be found in significant numbers (their range), this is their natural habitat. 

Red=hot desert; yellow=hot grassland w/ summer drought; peach=hot w/ winter drought
white=warm grassland w/ summer drought cream= warm and dry desert

Since the 60's Australia has forbidden export of Bearded Dragons in an effort to protect the species from the pet trade.  There was some initial smuggling going on, which has now pretty much stopped because Australia is incredibly good (thankfully) at protecting their unique wildlife.  A lot of the captive population comes from German stock at the present.  From the browns, dull yellows, and reds that match the soil, tons of different morphs/colors have appeared.

Nowadays, the subtle hues of the wild Bearded Dragons have been exaggerated in the captive ones so that they are extremely vibrant and beautiful (although normal coloring, middle second row, is still attractive).  The US right now has breeders focusing on color.  Unfortunately, they weren't focusing on health as much so US bred Bearded Dragons are usually less hardy.  Europe, especially Germany, focused on health and hardiness so they have less colorful but more robust Bearded Dragons over there.  However, nowadays this distinction is beginning to slip as the two start to mix their bloodlines together to produce colorful and robust dragons.  All Bearded Dragons are fairly intelligent, as far as lizards go.  They each have their own unique personalities, and are friendly towards humans.  They are smart enough to recognize their owners and their own names.   

4- Bearded Dragon Species Profile: Habitat, Diet, and Care

courtesy to :

Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith

Quick Stats:   Bearded Dragon


Family: Agamidae
Origin: Australia
Size: Adult males up to 2 feet in length (including tail)
Diet: Omnivorous: Chopped meat, crickets, pinky mice, earthworms, leafy greens, squash; may want separate feeding tank
Water: Water dish, droplets, misting
Terrarium: 10-15 gallon aquarium for hatchlings; minimum of 55-60 gallon for adults
Substrate: Indoor/outdoor carpet, newspaper
Decoration: Hidebox; provide rocks and branches for climbing and basking
Lighting: Fluorescent full spectrum lighting with UVB
Temperatures: 78-88°F; basking area of 95-100°F; night time temperatures in the 70's
Compatibility: Typically social; bearded dragons of similar size can be housed together, but should be monitored; appear to enjoy interaction with humans
Sexing: Males have larger heads, darker beards, and enlarged femoral pores
Life Expectancy: 10 years

Bearded Dragons originate in Australia. The most common species in the pet industry is the Inland Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps, which was formerly called Amphibolurus vitticeps. The Inland Bearded Dragon is sometimes referred to as the Central, or Yellow-headed Bearded Dragon. Other members of the Pogona genus include:



Natural environment


The Inland Bearded Dragon lives in the arid woodlands and deserts of central Australia. It spends much of its waking hours in bushes and trees, and is also found basking on rocks. When it is extremely hot, the bearded dragon will burrow underground. The bearded dragon is diurnal and an omnivore. It forages for food such as insects, small lizards and mammals, fruit, flowers, and other plant material during the day time.




Physical characteristics


The Bearded Dragon is tan to yellow in color. It is called "bearded" because of the dragon's ability to flare out the skin in the throat region when it is threatened or territorial. Its body has a flattened appearance, which becomes even more pronounced if the dragon is alarmed. There are spines on the throat, sides of the head, and sides of the body. The head is wedge-shaped, and the Bearded Dragon has a tail that is almost as long as the body.

It is difficult to distinguish males from females among hatchlings and juveniles. When they become adults, sexual differences become more apparent. The males generally have larger heads and larger, darker beards. The femoral pores of males also help to distinguish them from females.

Habitat :



Cages should be secure with tight-fitting lids. The sides should be smooth to avoid abrasions of the nose. Wire cages do not retain heat and also can result in foot and nose trauma. Having a proper substrate in the cage (see below), making sure the cage is large enough, and using plastic coated wire mesh can lessen the possibility of injury.


Aquariums can be used to house Bearded Dragons. Hatchlings may be kept in a 10-15 gallon aquarium; adults require a minimum of at least a 55-60 gallon aquarium.


Substrate: The substrate is what lines the bottom of the cage. An ideal substrate is one that is inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing, easily cleaned, absorbent, and digestible if swallowed. Substrate can be flat newspaper, sheets of brown wrapping paper (the kind that comes in rolls), AstroTurf, or indoor/outdoor carpet. Do NOT use cedar shavings, gravel, crushed corn cob, kitty litter, wood shavings, or potting soil that contains vermiculite, pesticides, fertilizer, or wetting agents.


Landscaping and 'Furniture': Branches for climbing and basking under the secondary heat source should be secure. These branches should be of various sizes and not ooze pitch or have a sticky sap; oak works very well. The branches should be as wide as the width of the Bearded Dragon. Boards covered with indoor/outdoor carpet also make good climbing posts. Flat-bottomed, smooth rocks are a good addition to the habitat, and can help wear down the toenails, which in captivity, must be clipped often.


Reptiles like a place where they can hide. This could be an empty cardboard box, cardboard tube, or flower pot. The hiding place should provide a snug fit and should be high in the enclosure. If your Bearded Dragon does not use its hiding place, try a different one or move it to a different location.


Appropriate plants in the enclosure can provide humidity, shade, and a sense of security. They also add an aesthetic quality to the enclosure. Be sure they are nontoxic. Dracaena, Ficus benjamina, and hibiscus are good choices. Be sure the plants have not been treated with pesticides and the potting soil does not contain vermiculite, pesticides, fertilizer, or wetting agents. Washing the plant with a water spray and watering it thoroughly several times to the point where water runs out of the bottom of the pot, should help remove toxic chemicals, which may have been used. Keeping purchased plants in a different part of the house for a while before putting them in the enclosure will also be helpful.




Bearded Dragons are cold-blooded animals from arid woodland and desert environments, and require supplemental heat for proper digestion. They prefer 78-88°F during the day and temperatures in the 70's at night. If a reptile is cold, it cannot properly digest its food and is more likely to become ill. Lizards like a temperature gradient so if they are cold, they can move to a warmer part of the cage and vice versa. Place a good quality thermometer in the cage at the level the Bearded Dragon spends most of its time so you can monitor the temperature.


Primary heat source: A primary heat source is necessary to keep the temperature of the entire cage within the proper range. A series of incandescent lights over the cage is one of the best heat sources. At night, these lights will need to be turned off and another heat source may be needed depending on the ambient temperature. A heating pad placed under the cage, ceramic infrared heat emitters or panels, or more expensive nocturnal reptile incandescent light bulbs which produce heat, but little visible light, can be used. For larger enclosures, a space heater or separate room thermostat can be used to keep the room at the appropriate temperature. Fire alarms should be placed in rooms where lights or other heat sources are used.


Secondary heat source: A secondary heat source creates more heat in specific areas of the cage to provide a temperature gradient. To best supply this gradient, the secondary heat source should cover only 25-30% of the surface of the enclosure. For adults, the secondary heat source could be a 30-75 watt incandescent bulb in a ceramic base, securely mounted where the animal can not touch it. There are also special 'basking lights' available. Either type of light should shine down on a particular basking area from outside the cage. The temperature under the light in the area in which the Bearded Dragon would be basking should be 95-100°F. Hatchlings housed in smaller aquariums will require lights of lower wattage, or the aquarium temperature may become too warm very quickly. DO NOT USE HOT ROCKS AS HEAT SOURCES.




Visible white light: In addition to heat, incandescent bulbs also provide visible white light. A combination of fluorescent and incandescent light fixtures can be used to provide visible light to all areas of the enclosure.


Ultraviolet light: In addition to heat and white light, Bearded Dragons must have access to natural sunlight for good health. This is because they need a certain spectrum of ultraviolet (UV) light called UVB. UVB is necessary for the Bearded Dragon to make Vitamin D. No artificial light is as good as sun in providing UVB, so when the outside temperature on a sunny day is over 70°F, place your Bearded Dragon outside in a secure screen or wire cage with a locking door. Provide some shade and a hiding place within the enclosure. UV rays do not penetrate window glass so Bearded Dragons placed in a sunny window are not receiving UV light.



Glass cages, even those with a screen top, should NEVER be used when providing access to natural sunlight. Glass cages will trap heat and can cause fatally high temperatures.

If a Bearded Dragon does not have access to bright sunlight, special black lights are used to provide the UVB light. These black lights for reptiles are NOT the black light tubes used for lighting fluorescent minerals, posters, and psychedelic paraphernalia (often called BLB lights). Fish/aquarium and plant 'grow' lights, either incandescent or fluorescent, do NOT produce UVB. You need a black light which emits light in the 290-320 nanometer range. Lights producing only UVB, and lights which produce a combination of UVB and white lights are available. ZooMed's reptile or iguana lights, and Durotest's Vita-Lite are two good products. These UVB light sources should be replaced every 6 months.

Remember that UV light can not penetrate glass, so when overhead UVB light sources are used, the top of the enclosure must be a wire mesh that is not too fine. It is recommended that the UVB light source should be less than 18 inches from where the Bearded Dragon spends most of its time; 10-12 inches is optimal.


The areas illuminated by the incandescent basking light and the UV light should overlap. If the Bearded Dragon spends almost all his time basking under the incandescent light, and the UV light is at the other end of the cage, he is not going to receive any benefit from it.

Second to the sun, the best light source is a combination of visible light from fluorescent or incandescent lights, and UVB light from special reptile black lights or combination lights.

Water and humidity :


Although Bearded Dragons receive most of their water requirement from the food they eat, fresh drinking water should be available at all times in a shallow bowl that cannot be tipped over. Proper humidity is necessary for proper shedding. Especially during the winter months when the humidity is low, mist the Bearded Dragon with water several times a week. Some Bearded Dragons appear to enjoy soaking in a tub of water. Be sure the Bearded Dragon is able to get in and out of the container easily. You will need to clean the container and replace the water regularly, since the dragon may urinate or defecate in the water. In fact, water usually stimulates them to eliminate, so immersing them in water is a part of the treatment for constipation.


Hygiene :


The cage and food and water bowls should be cleaned routinely with a 1:10 dilution of household bleach. Rinse the items well after cleaning. Bearded Dragons can harbor the bacteria Salmonella. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the Bearded Dragon or its cage.


If you have more than one :


Reptiles are territorial and may fight when caged together. A male and female Bearded Dragon can generally be kept together, however, the male may become too aggressive during the breeding season and have to be removed. Larger Bearded Dragons may keep smaller cage mates away from food and heat sources, and may even see them as an appetizer. If housing Bearded Dragons together, a larger cage will decrease the possibility of aggression; nevertheless, monitor the Dragons closely.


Temperament and handling :


Bearded Dragons tend to be mellow and docile, even in the wild. Although hatchlings and juveniles may be skittish, the adults will often appear to enjoy human company, making Bearded Dragons one of the better reptilian pets. Bearded Dragons tend to be curious, and will enjoy exploring, so if you can, provide a safe, larger enclosure.


To pick up a Bearded Dragon, place your hand under its abdomen and gently scoop it up. As the dragon lays on your palm, gently curve your fingers around its abdomen.


Behavior and body language :



To better relate to your Bearded Dragon, you need to understand what various behaviors and body positions mean. During breeding season, to display dominance, or if startled or threatened, a dragon may puff out its beard. Both males and females will display this behavior.

To appear even more menacing, the Bearded Dragon may also "gape," or open his mouth very wide. This can certainly make him look more aggressive, since his mouth is quite large. Another way Dragons show dominance, is to bob their heads. To show submission, a dragon will hold up one front leg and may slowly wave it.

Reproduction :


Bearded Dragons reach sexual maturity and start to breed between 8 and 18 months. The female will generally lay 20 eggs in a clutch. If fertile, the eggs will hatch in 55-75 days. Unmated females may also lay eggs.


Diet :


Because Bearded Dragons are omnivores, they need a balanced diet of meat and vegetable matter. Hatchlings eat mostly small insects. As they grow, they will start to eat more vegetable matter. The diet of a juvenile dragon (2-4 months of age) will consist of approximately 80% insects and 20% greens. Young dragons should be fed 2-3 times daily. If insufficient food is fed, young beardeds may nip at the tails and toes of their cage mates.


Meat: Meat can include pinky mice (for adults) and insects such as:


  • Crickets; pinhead crickets for juveniles

  • Mealworms

  • Wax worms - high in fat, so feed sparingly

  • King worms

  • Earthworms

  • Cockroaches










Preparing insects for food: Freshly molted insects are easier for the Bearded Dragon to digest. Feeder insects should be coated with calcium supplement (powdered calcium carbonate or calcium gluconate) 3-5 times per week for adults; every day for juveniles. The insects should also be "gut-loaded," which means the insects are fed nutritious and vitamin-rich foods before they are given to the Dragon. Good foods to feed the insects include ground legumes, corn meal, carrots, sweet potatoes, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, apples, oranges, cereals, and rolled oats. There are also commercial products rich in calcium and vitamins which can be fed to the insects. Insects may be purchased or wild-caught (without the use of pesticides).

Fireflies are poisonous to bearded dragons, other reptiles, amphibians, and birds.

The insects should be fed by placing them in a small bowl. After feeding, check that none of the insects escaped and fouled the water supply in the cage. To improve hygiene, some owners prefer to have a separate cage for feeding the meat-based portion of the diet.


Food particle size: For Bearded Dragons, it is very important that the size of food be proportional to the size of the animal. Malnourishment, seizures, and intestinal blockages can occur if hatchlings and juveniles are fed insects that are too large for them to capture or digest.



Feed beet greens and spinach only as an occasional treat, if at all. They contain oxalates which can bind calcium and could pose a problem if fed in high amounts. Do not feed iceberg lettuce.

Vegetation :


Plant matter in the diet should make up approximately 20% of the diet and should consist mainly of green leafy vegetables. Other vegetables can be included. Fruit should make up the smallest portion of the diet. The vegetables and fruits should be shredded or torn into small pieces and mixed together to encourage the Dragon to eat all that is offered, and not just pick out his favorite foods.

References and Further Reading :


De Vosjoli, P; Mailloux, R; Donoghue, S; Klingenberg, R; Cole, J. The Bearded Dragon Manual. Advanced Vivarium Systems, Inc. Lakeside, CA; 2001.

Kaplan, M. Dragons Down Under: Inland Bearded Dragons [On-line] 2002

Tosney, KW. Caring for an Australian Bearded Dragon.

Underwood, E. Inland Bearded Dragon: A Colorado Herpetological Society Care Sheet. The Cold Blooded News, Vol 24:3, March, 1997.

Bearded Dragons ( Pogona )  -  Introduction 


                                                     -  Further reading ( Books) 


                                                     -  SPECIES  :  -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon)- Introduction 

                                                                             -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon) Care Part 1 .. Part 2 .. Part 3

                                                                             -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon) - Enclosures , Vivariums ,                                                                                            Photos and DIY projects 

                                                                             -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon) Breeding and Morphs 

                                                                             -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon) Videos PART ONE .. PART TWO


                                                                             -  Pogona other Species   Part 1  .. Part 2  ..  Part 3 

Bearded Dragons ( Pogona )  -  Introduction 


                                                     -  Further reading ( Books) 


                                                     -  SPECIES  :  -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon)- Introduction 

                                                                             -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon) Care Part 1 .. Part 2 .. Part 3

                                                                             -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon) - Enclosures , Vivariums ,                                                                                            Photos and DIY projects 

                                                                             -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon) Breeding and Morphs 

                                                                             -  Pogona vitticeps ( Central Bearded dragon) Videos PART ONE .. PART TWO


                                                                             -  Pogona other Species   Part 1  .. Part 2  ..  Part 3 

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