Young bearded dragons can be in a 20 gallon aquarium, and adults should be in a 40-55 gallon aquarium. The ideal substrate for young bearded dragons is newspaper, pea gravel, or flat stones. Reptile carpet is also an excellent substrate that can be easily washed once dirty. Sand or particulate bedding tend to cause impactions, and these lizards have a tendency to be curious and can eat bedding. Adult bearded dragons can pass particulate bedding better than the younger ones, but it can still pose a problem.
Bearded dragons require a heat source at all times. The cage should have a hotspot of 95-102°F and the cooler side of their tank to be 80-85°F. This can be done using a heat lamp on one side of the cage. A natural heat gradient will occur and your bearded dragon can choose what temperature he/she would like to be at any given time. A heat rock is not recommended because often they get too warm and will actually cause burns.
Bearded dragons require full-spectrum lighting for 12-14 hours each day. Your local pet store will likely have automatic light timers that can turn the light on and off for your convenience.
Bearded dragons will climb if given the chance, so they can have any number of fun tank decorations to interact with.
Bearded dragons have some variety to their diet. These lizards require veggies in their diet daily. Dandelion greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and bok-choy are great choices in greens that should be offered often. They should be shredded into small pieces before being placed in a dish in your dragon’s cage. Any variety of squash, green beans, sweet potato, or parsnip can be good occasional vegetables for your bearded dragon.
Young bearded dragons should be offered roughly 50 crickets that are no larger than the space between their eyes per day. Adults can occasionally be offered crickets dusted with calcium/vitamin D3 powder or multivitamin, roughly 2-3 times per week, to make a total of 50 crickets weekly. Zoo-Med has wonderful products to ensure the proper nutrients for your bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons acquire most of their water through their food or through bathing. Placing your lizard in a sink or bathtub with some water in it to a level that they can stand in is ideal. This should be done 2-3 times per week for about 15 minutes. Bearded dragons love the water but will often defecate in it so make sure your dragon is soaking in an easily cleaned area! These baths will also help them shed easier when growing.
If your bearded dragon is acting abnormal, has diarrhea or is not defecating, has loss of energy, or swelling of its limbs, contact Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD right away. These can be signs of various diseases and should be addressed by a veterinarian.