Baby bearded dragons or “beardies” are admired by many reptile lovers, not only because of their spiky beards and armor-like scales but also because they are beginner-friendly lizards.
If you are planning to have one as a pet, it’s best to know what you’re signing up for. This means knowing all the nitty-gritty of owning a baby bearded dragon.
In this guide, you’re going to learn the requirements of this fascinating reptile. From habitat and food to proper hydration and handling, this article will cover only what’s essential for bearded dragon owners.
Choosing a Healthy Baby Bearded Dragon
Getting a healthy bearded dragon is one of the most crucial steps in beginning this exciting pet journey. And just like with any other animal, buying one requires careful consideration.
Even though bearded dragons are great for new owners, it doesn’t mean that you should jump on the bandwagon right away. It’s important to learn where to source a healthy baby bearded dragon.
Many pet stores offer bearded dragons, but you can’t always guarantee that they are free of health issues. Before buying this new pet, do your own research to determine how you can spot a healthy one you can bring home.
When purchasing from a pet store, the first step is to check if the bearded dragon is active. It should have alert eyes and a confident stance. If the baby dragon is slumped in a corner, you should generally avoid getting that as a pet.
The baby beardie should also be responsive to humans. It should show signs of wanting to be handled. Typically, they will move or run around and try to catch your attention.
Moreover, a healthy bearded dragon should have a pink-colored mouth and tongue. If you observe one with a black mouth, it might have a condition called mouth rot.
This is common in bearded dragons that are kept in unsanitary enclosures as well as low-temperature environments.
Lastly, you should check for signs and symptoms of underlying illnesses. Visual indicators include sunken eyes, discolored stomach, shriveled skin, bony appearance, disfigured limbs, and swollen tail.
Make sure not to skip any of these tips when choosing a healthy baby bearded dragon from a pet store or reptile expos.
Not only will this help you get your money’s worth but also ensure that you’ll have many years ahead with your baby dragon.
Baby Bearded Dragon Habitat
After getting a baby bearded dragon in tip-top condition, you should begin to prepare its new habitat. Ensuring a proper set-up for your pet is crucial since they will spend most of their time in an enclosure.
There are many considerations when it comes to setting up your baby bearded dragon’s habitat. This section will give you the needed details on how to prepare for their new home.
Terrariums, Tanks and Cages
Initially, baby bearded dragons need a 20-gallon aquarium tank or terrarium. However, as they age, you will need to replace them with a larger one. Fully-grown adult bearded dragons require at least a 120-gallon tank.
To avoid purchasing a new enclosure almost every month, you can directly buy a large tank for your baby bearded dragon. You can even build your own lizard enclosure, but you need to make sure that it’s at least 48 inches long.
Whether you buy or make a custom enclosure, screening should be incorporated to ensure proper ventilation. Having a screen lid is the most preferred option.
As for material, you can choose a glass terrarium or a combination of wood and glass. Meanwhile, PVC plastic is a less popular option because it provides poor airflow.
During warm weather, you can keep your baby bearded dragon in an outdoor cage. However, you need to make sure that there are also shaded areas for when it rains.
You may also take your baby bearded dragon outside its cage and let them roam around the house. Ideally, you should do this for only 20 to 30 minutes or until you see signs of them getting bored or stressed out.
Lastly, your baby bearded dragon likes to have some branches for them to climb on, so you should also include them in the tank.
Bearded dragons require at least 10 to 12 hours of light exposure a day. The same goes for baby beardies.
Their enclosure should have the correct level of UVA and UVB lighting. To achieve this, you should keep a UVB tube light on for 12 hours a day, starting from 7 AM to 7 PM.
Moreover, the UVB light source should be placed or mounted at a designated basking spot where your baby bearded dragon can get the most light exposure.
A UVA dome bulb must also be kept open on the same schedule every day. However, there are lightbulbs that already emit both UVA and UVB light, such as fluorescent and mercury vapor bulbs.
At night, you can turn off their UVA/UVB lighting so that their sleep schedule won’t be interrupted.
Moreover, UVB lights should be replaced regularly, typically between 6 and 12 months of use.
Proper UV levels support your baby bearded dragon’s digestion, metabolism, and growth rate.
Heat and Basking Temperature
Another important aspect that you should prioritize as a baby bearded dragon owner is the temperature inside the enclosure.
While your chosen light source can also serve as your heat bulb, it may not be enough for your baby beardie’s temperature requirements. In general, their basking area should be around 95 to 105℉.
This should be the hottest area in your baby dragon’s enclosure. Normally, this should be on the far left or far right of the tank.
Meanwhile, if you have a separate UVA bulb, it should be placed on the cooler side of the tank. Here, the temperature should only be around 75℉.
To maintain this thermal gradient, it’s required to have at least two thermometers placed on each side of the enclosure. These will be used to monitor the temperature levels inside the tank accurately.
At night, the temperature can be decreased to 70℉. If the temperature gets too low, you can add a ceramic heat emitter as a secondary heat source.
However, be mindful of high temperatures since baby dragons can overheat and become easily dehydrated.
It’s also critical to maintain humidity levels in a baby bearded dragon’s habitat. Ideally, baby bearded dragons need around 30% to 40% humidity inside their tanks.
With high humidity levels, your baby bearded dragon can become ill. Meanwhile, if the air around them is too dry, they will become dehydrated.
The best way to avoid this is by investing in a high-quality hygrometer that can precisely measure water vapor levels in confined spaces.
Including a shallow water dish inside their tank can also help achieve accurate humidity levels. In addition, this dish should not be filled more than your baby bearded dragon’s chin level.
For reptiles like baby beardies, a substrate is an essential element to include in their enclosure. In the wild, baby bearded dragons live in the sand. However, mimicking their natural habitat may do more harm than good.
Many owners think that reptile sand or calcium sand is the best substrate for pet lizards. However, since they are commercial-made, calcium sand usually contains harmful chemicals that can be dangerous to a baby bearded dragon.
In fact, this is the leading cause of death in young lizards. So instead of reptile sand, a reptile carpet is recommended as a substrate.
Reptile carpets are quite durable and resistant to extreme temperatures and scratches. It can last for years with proper cleaning and maintenance.
Regular cleaning should be done to remove dirt and bacteria from the reptile carpet. Since it also takes several hours to air dry, you need to have a spare to replace the dirty one right away.
Other alternatives to reptile carpets include newspaper, paper towels, reptile clay substrate, or slate tile.
Baby Bearded Dragon Food and Diet
In the wild, young bearded dragons mostly eat insects. Compared to a mature bearded dragon, a baby dragon should have a diet consisting of 75% insects and 25% leafy green vegetables.
Greens such as dandelion, turnip, mustard, or collard greens ensure that they’re getting enough nutrients aside from the protein they obtain from eating insects. These should be chopped into small pieces before being given to your pet.
On the other hand, you should avoid giving low-nutrient vegetables like iceberg lettuce, celery, and spinach. Occasionally, you can also give your baby beardie some berries, mangoes, or grapes.
In general, baby bearded dragons should be fed small feeder insects. Dubia roaches and crickets should be given in large quantities along with greens during a 10 to 15-minute interval.
Ideally, you should give around 20 to 40 small crickets to your baby bearded dragon each day.
After this period, you should remove any excess from their enclosure to prevent overeating. Because of their fast metabolism, baby dragons need to be fed three times a day.
When feeding crickets, a general rule is to give them the correct cricket size. It should be no longer than the distance between your baby bearded dragon’s eyes to avoid choking and indigestion.
Aside from the mentioned insects, you can also alternately feed them with mealworms, Phoenix worms, superworms, and wax worms.
To ensure that your pet lizard is getting the necessary nutrients from its meals, you should gut load or dust the insects before giving them to your baby bearded dragon.
Gut loading means force-feeding insects with a calcium- and vitamin-enriched diet. Meanwhile, dusting insects means coating them with calcium supplements and multivitamin powder.
As your baby bearded dragon develops into an adult, the portion of greens should be much larger than that of insects to stay healthy.
Baby Bearded Dragon Hydration
Even though bearded dragons originate from the dry deserts of Australia, they can still get dehydrated. Like other animals, they need to drink water every day.
Baby bearded dragons, in particular, are prone to lose their moisture quickly, especially in a hot environment with low humidity levels.
As mentioned earlier, their enclosure should have a shallow water dish not only for your pet to drink on but to make the air inside more humid. However, there’s a very high chance that a baby beardie won’t drink from it very often.
In addition to having a water dish in the tank, you should also mist your baby bearded dragon daily using room temperature water.
While this may bother them at first, your baby bearded dragon will quickly realize what’s happening and eagerly start lapping up the water.
Following these steps is crucial, especially if you just acquired your baby bearded dragon. After four weeks of age, you can start doing this less frequently since they can get more hydrated from increased vegetable intake.
Baby Bearded Dragon Handling
Unlike with other animals, handling a baby bearded dragon should be done with utmost care. As reptiles, bearded dragons have varying tolerances for human contact.
Most baby bearded dragons are more jumpy than adult ones. Before handling them, it’s advised to wait at least a week for them to get settled in their new surroundings.
As babies, they can easily become frightened. Because of this, you should allow a little more time for them to get used to your presence. Refrain from making sudden movements that can scare them away.
Once you start feeding your baby bearded dragon regularly, you will observe that they will eagerly want to be picked up. Start by gently lifting the lizard into your palm and letting them sit for a while.
Offering mealworms or other insects as a reward after holding them is also effective in gaining their trust.
By doing this, you are proving that you are not a threat to them. Over time, your baby bearded dragon will become comfortable enough to sit on your shoulder or be hand-fed.
Baby bearded dragons very seldom bite. If this happens, they might be hungry, excited, feeling unsafe, or you’re handling them too forcefully. Although they have sharp teeth, their bite will feel like a brief sting.
To avoid this scenario, you should pay attention to how your baby bearded dragon behaves when you approach them. Arm waving is usually observed when a larger creature or human comes close to them.
In contrast to this submissive gesture, sometimes, baby bearded dragons bob their heads as a sign of aggression. Their beard also puffs up and turns black in an attempt to intimidate other beardies and animals.
10 Common Baby Bearded Dragon Care Mistakes New Owners Make
Inexperienced reptile owners often make a lot of mistakes when caring for a baby bearded dragon for the first time. Overlooking the care sheet for this lizard can have detrimental effects, particularly on its health.
To avoid this dilemma, here are some common mistakes new owners make before and during baby bearded dragon pet ownership:
1. Buying without prior knowledge
The first and most common mistake owners make is buying a baby bearded dragon on impulse. Without prior research about this species, you will likely choose an unhealthy and unethically sourced lizard.
Just like with other pets, buying this reptile requires knowledge and preparedness.
2. Purchasing a small enclosure
Baby bearded dragons measure only 3 to 4 inches in length when born. Although buying a tiny enclosure for your pet seems appropriate, it’s impractical since baby beardies grow fast.
At two months, they can already reach 5 to 9 inches, so it’s best to purchase a larger cage that can accommodate adult bearded dragons.
3. Getting cheap, low-quality supplies
As one of the most in-demand reptiles, many pet stores take advantage of their customers by increasing prices for baby bearded dragon supplies.
The quality of these items is questionable, and they will most likely need frequent replacement. When buying, always choose the proper supplies that are high-quality to ensure long shelf life.
4. Using reptile sand as a substrate
As mentioned earlier, reptile sand can make a baby bearded dragon sick and can even lead to their death. Even though many pet stores have this available, using reptile sand or calcium sand as a substrate is strongly discouraged.
Instead, buy safer alternatives like a combination of organic topsoil and play sand, slate tiles, clay, or paper towels.
5. Feeding too many insects
Many owners also make the mistake of feeding too many or sometimes even just insects to their baby bearded dragon.
These lizards should also have vegetables in their daily meals. A strict insect diet can cause several health concerns that can incur medical costs.
6. Not giving vitamins and supplements
Baby bearded dragons owners often forget that their pet needs reptile multivitamin and calcium supplements to cover all their nutritional needs.
Dusting insects once or twice a week is recommended, depending on what insects they eat. For example, dubia roaches already have high calcium levels, so you won’t need to dust or gut load them.
7. Using improper lighting
Another newbie mistake is using the wrong lighting for a baby bearded dragon’s enclosure. Both UVA and UVB rays are needed by these lizards.
A UVB-emitting light source should be placed at an ideal distance from their basking area. Meanwhile, you can incorporate a bulb that emits both UVA and UVB light.
8. Handling them forcefully
As babies, bearded dragons get easily frightened at unfamiliar sights and sounds. Some owners assume that their lizard will be comfortable with handling them at an early age.
Squeezing them and reaching out to them from above the enclosure should not be done.
9. Not monitoring their health
When caring for an exotic animal like the baby bearded dragon, it’s important to keep track of their overall health. This means monitoring their weight, appetite, activeness, and pooping frequency.
One of these reptiles’ most prevalent health issues is the so-called metabolic bone disease caused by improper lighting and calcium deficiency. Seek veterinary advice to know more about common bearded dragon diseases.
10. Putting two baby bearded dragons in one enclosure
To save on the cost of buying another enclosure, bearded dragon owners keep two bearded dragons in one cage.
Cohabiting these lizards is never a good idea because one of them will end up dominating the territory. The other lizard will be forced to submit and most likely end up being attacked by the alpha bearded dragon.
Making these mistakes can cause the development of problematic behaviors such as glass surfing. Baby bearded dragons often do this when they are in stressful situations brought about by their environment.
Having a small enclosure, inadequate lighting, too low or too high temperature, hunger, and living with another baby bearded dragon are some of the common causes of this behavior.
As you can see, it’s not easy to own and care for a pet lizard like the baby bearded dragon. Like with other exotic animals, proper care starts with knowing their special needs and preparing for them ahead of time.
How Much Does a Baby Bearded Dragon Cost? Price List & Expenses
If you’ve been interested in buying a baby beardie for a while, then the next step is to find out how much you need to spend on one. A standard baby bearded dragon can be purchased anywhere between $40 and $75.
However, the cost can be much higher for other colors and species. Age and gender also affect the final price tag of a baby bearded dragon.
Younger beardies tend to be much cheaper because they are easier and cheaper to maintain. Meanwhile, females are expected to be more expensive because of their breeding capability.
The table below shows the different price points for the baby bearded dragon:
|Standard (Tan or Dark Brown)||$40 – $75|
|Red (Dark Ruby or Sandfire Red)||$50 – $300|
|Orange Morph (Sandfire, Tangerine, Citrus Tiger, Sunburst)||$100 – $200|
|Silkback||$100 – $200|
|Yellow Morph (Sandfire Gold, Lemon Fire, Citrus, Olive)||$100 – $300|
|Leatherback||$100 – $500|
|Hypomelanistic Morph (Pastel)||$100 – $900|
|Translucent Morph (Blue, Green, Purple, Polar)||$200 – $450|
|Dunner||$300 – $500|
|Zero Morph (Snow or Pure White)||$300 – $900|
Much like other pets, baby bearded dragons need specific supplies like enclosures, lights, substrate, and food. These initial supplies should be bought before you take your new pet home.
The table below shows a breakdown of a baby bearded dragon’s initial expenses:
|Type of Expense||Price|
|Enclosure||$100 – $600|
|Light and Heat Lamps||$80 – $110|
|Ceramic Heat Emitter (Optional)||$15 – $25|
|Thermometers||$5 – $40|
|Hygrometer||$5 – $15|
|Substrate||$5 – $30|
|Food||$40 – $90|
|Food and Water Dish||$10 – $40|
|Accessories||$20 – $60|
|Total Initial Cost||$280 – $1,010|
From the computed cost above, you can expect to spend around $280 to $1,010 for the initial items. It may seem a lot, but the indicated prices are just estimates and may vary significantly from the current market price.
Aside from the expenses mentioned, caring for an exotic animal also requires a budget for healthcare. Veterinary fees can cost up to $1,000 depending on the urgency and condition of your baby bearded dragon.
Places to Find Baby Bearded Dragons for Sale
Reptiles like the baby bearded dragon are not hard to come by. Many pet stores and breeders offer common and rarer species of this reptile.
However, finding a breeder can still be a tedious task. To help you in your search, here is a list of places where you can purchase baby bearded dragons:
- CB Reptile – This is a popular online reptile breeder that offers baby bearded dragons for sale. All of their reptiles are captive bred and are closely monitored by a biologist in their facility. All customers are entitled to a seven-day health guarantee and organized shipping arrangements.
- XYZ Reptiles – This is a Florida-based breeder that offers a wide variety of reptiles, including baby bearded dragons. They only sell baby beardies with gentle personalities that are perfect for indoor keeping. Aside from temperament, they also focus on giving them the best environment to ensure optimal health.
- Petco – Another source of small reptiles like the baby bearded dragon is Petco, a popular pet store. Since 1965, this pet retailer has been providing all sorts of animals and pet supplies all over the United States. Before buying, you can also view their care sheet for more information.
- PetSmart – You can also find available baby bearded dragons for sale at PetSmart. You can ensure that the highest standard in medical care is given to each lizard through their Vet Assured program. All of their pets are sold with a 14-day health guarantee.
Aside from these sources, you can also try purchasing from reptile expos that are held at certain times of the year. However, it’s always advised to practice precaution when dealing with breeders and buying from pet stores.
Make sure that they are ethically sourced and not captured from the wild. Read testimonies from previous customers to know if you will get your money’s worth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Hard to Care for a Baby Bearded Dragon?
Caring for a baby bearded dragon can be challenging, especially for first-time owners. Despite being branded as beginner-friendly reptiles, people should still do thorough research before getting this lizard as a pet.
Baby bearded dragons have unique habitat and dietary requirements that might overwhelm new owners. However, having one shouldn’t be such a handful with proper knowledge.
How Do I Know If My Baby Bearded Dragon Is Happy?
Like most reptiles, baby bearded dragons are not very expressive animals. While there may be no obvious signs to indicate that they are happy, you can observe their behavior to know if they are generally pleased.
If your baby bearded dragon is not running away, has an alert expression, is always active and basking, and is always willing to be held, you know that your pet is happy.
Do Baby Bearded Dragons Like to Be Held?
Yes, even as solitary animals, baby bearded dragons generally like being held. However, you should not immediately handle your lizard after taking them home. Instead, you should allow them to adjust to you and their surroundings first.
After getting settled, you should start handling them for 15 minutes a day. You should pick your baby bearded dragon slowly by placing your hand underneath its stomach while still supporting the whole body, especially the back legs and tail.
Once they get used to this handling routine, you can gradually extend this period, as long as they are comfortable.
How to Bond With a Baby Bearded Dragon?
There are a few things you can do to form a close relationship with your baby bearded dragon. You can make bath time a bonding activity. Since baby beardies enjoy lukewarm baths, you can use this time to gain their trust.
Handling them and offering rewards to eat are also great ways to bond with your pet lizard.
Can Two Baby Bearded Dragons Be Kept Together?
No, it is not advised to keep two baby bearded dragons together in a single enclosure, especially if they are both males and one is bigger than the other. The larger lizard will surely exhibit dominant behavior.
You can, however, keep baby bearded dragons together for a short period and separate them once they turn two to four weeks old.
Is It Normal for Baby Bearded Dragons to Sleep a Lot?
It is natural for baby bearded dragons to sleep a lot. Due to their developing bodies, they tend to rest more than adults. This is apparent in the first 10 months of their lives.
However, sleeping a lot could also mean that they are becoming sensitive to their environment due to changes in temperature and lighting. Therefore, it’s important to ask for veterinary advice when they are sleeping abnormally.
As babies, bearded dragons need very specific requirements to grow as healthy adults. They require an owner who is committed to learning the details on how to properly take care of one.
If you are keen on owning this reptile, you should have good knowledge of the conditions they need for their habitat, their food and water intake, proper handling, and all the basics of owning such an exotic animal.
Many people make the mistake of purchasing one without knowing what they will have to deal with as an owner. As early as now, it’s best to do your research so that you can give the best life to your baby bearded dragon.
Are you excited about this new journey? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!