How to Feed and Care for Baby Bearded Dragons

Baby bearded dragons are among the most popular reptilian pets available worldwide today.  Bearded dragons have slowly replaced iguanas over the last decade as the most popular reptilian pet.

Bearded dragons make excellent pets are they are typically docile, fairly hardy, and moderately easy to take care of.  With that said, just about all creatures are far more prone to physical or health-related issues in their infancy, and bearded dragon babies are no exception.

As with anything, proper research should be done before making any purchases. Be sure to know where your dragon is coming from, how old your dragon is, what to look for in choosing a healthy dragon, and what to expect as you raise it.

Baby Bearded Dragon Quick Tips

Age: 0 days to about 6 months
Size: 3.5″ to 7″+
Cage Requirements: 20 Gallon
Heat Requirements: Heat Lamp (basking temp 100-105 degrees), Night Lamp
Additional Heat Options: Undertank Heat Pad
Additional Light Source: UVB Fluorescent Lamp
Food Requirements: Protein (live food – Crickets) twice daily, Fresh Greens daily
Supplements Required: Calcium Powder
Feeding Schedule: 20 to 40 crickets a day over three or four 10 minute periods
Hardiness: Highest Potential For Health Concerns At This Age

Things to Know Before Buying a Baby Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragon babies are being made available earlier and earlier in their lives as chain pet stores and low-quality breeders’ only concerns are monetary benefits instead of quality products. 

Far too many stories are told of bearded dragon owners purchasing dragons from “Big Pet Store A” only to be heartbroken as their new friend doesn’t make it out of infancy. To avoid this problem research where you get your dragon from. 

Also, Do not purchase wild-caught bearded dragons. Importing wild baby beardies from their native habitats is illegal

There are numerous breeders around the country as well as reputable pet shops that carry quality dragons that have been properly cared for and prepared for the harshness of bouncing from their shop to your location.

Only purchase a captive-bred lizard from a reputable breeder. Buy a dragon that looks healthy and happy.

Signs of a Healthy Baby Bearded Dragon

  • Their eyes and skin are bright.
  • Standing up with all four legs.
  • Good posture and active in their enclosure.
  • Reactive to your touch.

Signs of a Sickness in Baby Bearded Dragon

  • Swollen hind legs or rubbery jaw.
  • They should be active and not lethargic.
  • Runny or watery stool.

Baby Bearded Dragon Price

A normal and healthy baby dragon can be bought for $45 to $100. They are commonly available at stores, reptile expos, and breeders’ websites.

Species that are rare and have unique color morphs tend to be more expensive and can cost somewhere between $100 to $800.

The initial setup will cost you around $200 to $1200 depending on what type of setup you want. This includes an enclosure, lights, temperature and humidity gauges, cage decor, substrate, and food. Read more about bearded dragons costs.

Best Baby Bearded Dragon Habitat

best-baby-bearded-dragon-habitat

Our goal as bearded dragon owners is to duplicate their natural environment as much as possible while reducing the risks they face in the wild.

Baby Bearded Dragon Enclosures

When it comes to baby dragons it is best to keep the young ones in smaller enclosures.  A 20-gallon enclosure is great for one to three 1 day to 4-month-old bearded dragons. At 4-5 months it is best to sex and separate dragons appropriately. While some can get along much longer, they can start being more territorial at this age as they develop.

Ideally, you will want to separate all males, with no more than one in an enclosure. That enclosure can be 20 gallon-40 gallon for a single dragon and 40 gallon-55 gallon enclosure for multiple dragons. 

Males are the most aggressive and while you can pair them with females, it is not recommended as they are just becoming capable of reproducing in the next few months and accidental pregnancy at that age can be quite harmful to females.

You can pair females together for longer, especially if they had already shared space previously.  You should still be sure to observe aggressive behavior regardless of sex when you pair dragons at any age.

At 7-8 months it is recommended the dragons live alone. Again, females can be paired for entire lifetimes without consequences but we recommend you never assume dragons will work together.  The proper enclosure at this point can be the full-size tank they live out the rest of their life. This can be 100-120 gallon enclosures, at this point it is just being sure the dragon or dragons have the proper space necessary to live out a comfortable life.

AgeMinimum Tank Size
1 month20-gallon
2 month30-gallon
3 – 6 months50-gallon
7 – 9 months75-gallon
12+ months120-gallon

This is debated among keepers, enthusiasts, and activists on countless occasions. What really is the proper space that a living creature needs to live comfortably? That’s something that needs to be decided by owners and we only recommend you keep your adult bearded dragons in nothing smaller than a 100-gallon breeder style tank. Ideally, something larger is always better.

Is it necessary to go through three stages of enclosures? No, you could technically start your baby in a full-size enclosure, but the small enclosure eliminates stress for the young lizards.  When they don’t have to run all over such a big enclosure they seem to get to their food easier, and temperature is much easier to maintain in the stricter parameters necessary.

Baby Bearded Dragon Substrate

While Baby Bearded Dragons are naturally born into environments that can be quite harsh in both survivability and livability, the beauty of domestically raising a baby beardie is you can eliminate a significant amount of the dangers they might otherwise experience daily in the wild. 

When it comes to substrates using something indigestible such as soil or sand can be not just bad for your dragon, it may even kill them. 

Sand especially, being common for its replicated desert effect, can lead to something called impaction. As your dragon eats food especially while hunting prey, there is always a chance of them catching a mouthful of sand. 

Impaction is basically the buildup of something hard to digest such as sand in the dragon’s stomach then intestines and finally bowel system which leads to an inability to pass waste which can ultimately end up killing a dragon.

To avoid this, try using reptile carpets, newspaper, paper towels, or something of the like to minimize the risks of unwanted contents being digested. Here is a list of the best substrates for bearded dragons.

Some people will even use cut-up old towels, but regardless the point is you want something that is either impossible to digest or can be digested if by chance consumed at worst.

Baby Bearded Dragon Decor & Accessories

Many people want to build a detailed, vivid enclosure full of features, caves, and more but the truth is with baby dragons simpler is better. For cleanliness, you can keep the baby beardies on paper towels for an easy change. 

This also prevents you from needing to use any substrates like reptile sand which they can accidentally digest quite easily at this age.  If you do decide to decorate, keep it simple. A nice rock or two, a piece of driftwood, a comfortable place to sleep.

Baby Bearded Dragon Lighting

Bearded dragons need light to digest food. Without enough UVB and UVA light, they develop a disease called MBD.

Bearded dragons need 12 hours of light on a daily basis. The same goes for baby dragons too.

You will need to install two sets of bulbs in your baby bearded dragon enclosure, one emitting UVB and the other UVA.

  • A UVB bulb should be on for 12 hours a day prefferably from 7AM to 7PM. To do this more effeciently and easily we recommend getting an automatic timer that will turn the lights on and off automaticlly.
  • For UVA, we recommend using a 50-75 watt bulb that should be installed inside of a dome light fixture. This light should also be on for 12 hours a day. You can either place it on top of the screen lid or hang it inside the tank.

Note: Make sure you get a UVB bulb that is tube-shaped and not coiled. The UVA bulb should be dome-shaped so that your beardie can bask properly.

Baby Bearded Dragon Heat and Basking Temperature

Baby bearded dragons need a temperature gradient. This allows them to move in and out of the basking spot whenever they want.

Baby dragons are much more fragile than their adult counterparts. Temperatures ideally will maintain around an 85-90 degree Fahrenheit constant temp at the lowest with basking temps around 100-105 degrees. 

Keep the night temperatures higher as well, ideally around 85 degrees.  After a month you can start lowering temps as you see fit with growth.

You can add a ceramic heat emitter if temperatures drop below 65℉

To correctly gauge the temperature we recommend buying two high-quality thermometers for either side of the tank.

Maintaining proper temperatures at this age is quite important as even a brief stint in unfavorable temperatures can do fatal damage to a baby bearded dragon.

Baby Bearded Dragon Humidity

Like adult bearded dragons, you simply want to maintain a comfortable to the drier humidity level.  A regular house’s humidity will probably be tolerable for most dragons with the proper temperature maintenance but for more tropical regions you may want to consider looking into methods of decreasing humidity.

Baby bearded dragons do best in 30% to 40% humidity. Too low of humidity can literally dry a young dragon out, whereas too much humidity can lead to infections and disease in the lungs and respiratory systems. This is due to the higher fungal and bacteria levels present in highly humid dingy areas, such as a bearded dragon enclosure.

Baby Bearded Dragon Setup Tips

  • Secure 20-gallon terrarium with screen lid.
  • UVB light tube (not coil) turned on for 12 hours a day.
  • 50-75 watt UVA bulb inside of a dome light fixture.
  • Basking area should be between 95 to 105℉ degrees
  • 30 to 40% humidity.
  • Reptile carpet, newsppaer – not sand or wood shavings

Baby Bearded Dragon Diet

baby-bearded-dragon-diet

Baby and juvenile bearded dragons eat mostly insects in the wild. We will need to replicate this as much as possible.

Note: Remember with whichever insects you use to ensure that they’re gut-loaded e.g. you’ve fed them up on greens etc… the day before you feed them to your dragons.

An empty Cricket apparently has more nutrition than a Locust, but a gut-loaded/well-fed Locust is far more nutritious than a Cricket (due to the length of their gut).

Diet for 0-2 Weeks Bearded Dragons

This really is no different from feeding adult beardies just in a more basic way, you feed smaller amounts more often and in smaller pieces.

From birth baby bearded dragons eat insects but maybe less keen upon vegetation to start with – you’ll soon find that they try to eat anything that’s smaller than them and moving.

Still offer vegetation though, just simple finely shredded greens – cutting up the leaves just makes sure every dragon can get some without fights.

Note: When they hatch they’ll have some nutrition from their egg and they’ll also be pretty exhausted so need some time to recover and charge up before gaining an appetite.

Don’t be alarmed if the hatchling beardie doesn’t eat in the first 48 hours, it’s fairly normal. They’ll also not want to move too much so remember not to disturb them. They take time to adjust to the new surroundings.

When feeding them insects, ideally try hatchling locusts/ hoppers if you can get them, failing that use crickets. Whatever you feed your bearded dragon, it’s often said it needs to be shorter in length than the width between the dragon’s eyes, otherwise, they may get impacted, I’ve followed this rule of thumb and it’s worked out well every time for me, but I’ve never seen any scientific data regarding this.

They’re not fussy about the size and will try to eat anything that’s bigger than themselves.

With adults I’ve fed insects longer than the width of the eyes with no problems as they tend to chew the insects pretty well – however, once or twice I’ve had an adult not able to cope with adult/ full-grown Locusts.

With a baby beardie hatchling, I would air on the side of caution, but it depends on how you feed them as well. If you’re offering the insects in a bowl then you can keep them smaller as not much energy will be spent in hunting them, if they’re left to find them you may want to use the next size up given the energy expended to catch the prey – there’s not much difference in the size really.

I used to recommend getting the Brown or Black Crickets, while they are harder to feed and dust individually with calcium/ multivitamin powder but generally worked out much cheaper in the long run. However, they are less likely to have more nutrition in them than a Locust after gut loading – although are meant to be high in iron.

The other trouble is, being so small they will escape into your house, Locusts are far more docile.

Pro Tip: You can’t really avoid Crickets escaping but to make it easier you could put your Crickets in the fridge for around 5 minutes, this will cool them down and they’ll become a bit easier to handle – also get a few Cricket traps around the house.

The other downside with Crickets is that I’ve heard that if any are uneaten and not removed they can chew on your dragon and create open wounds on a baby.

How to Feed Crickets to Your Baby Dragon

  1. To feed the tiny Crickets to the dragon, I recommend ‘pouring’ the insects from the tub into a small bowl, about 6cm in diameter and about 3cm tall – big enough to stop them from escaping.
  2. I then add in a small pinch of calcium powder and multivitamin every other day – the insects will run through this and then dust themselves (you can also shake the bowl a bit).
  3. I then tip the bowl up slightly in front of the baby beardie so it can see them and get to them, this provides a nice controlled way to feed them and they don’t have to expend important energy in their first few weeks hunting.

Note: The method we just discussed works for 1 or 2 dragons in a vivarium, but for larger groups, it tends to promote dominant behavior so should be avoided.

I used to dust the insects in the same way but then pour them into the vivarium for the dragons to chase and catch, watching for any bullying and making sure they all get the same. But it worked out better to use several bowls with the small Crickets in there.

Again Locusts are easier to catch and will be more energy efficient so if you can afford it I’d go that route – I’m happy to pay the extra for the hoppers and have less hassle than Crickets.

When feeding you’re looking to spend about 10-15 minutes to allow them to catch the insects and feed twice a day, at this age you shouldn’t be handling them. Remember to remove any uneaten insects.

The chart below should give you an idea of the size of the insect versus the age of your bearded dragon.

bearded-dragon-insect-feeding-guide
Bearded Dragon Insect Feeding Guide

Diet for 2-4 Weeks Bearded Dragons

After the first 2 weeks have passed continue with vegetation every day, nothing fancy just some basic salad leaves (not lettuce! or anything that will bind with Calcium), but you’ll need to cut up the leaves into small pieces.

I normally finely shred up the leaves into a shallow bowl and then leave that for them to find and eat – this works out really well where you have a lot of babies in one vivarium. The young bearded dragons generally should be eating more insects than vegetation, but it’s important this is offered.

At this point, you’ll also want to think about separating them into smaller groups. The same feeding process applies, just allowing more space.

Diet for 4-8 weeks Bearded Dragons

Again keeping with the smaller-sized insects, they should be eating more and you should be able to see that they have nice, bright, and alert orange eyes. While you don’t want to handle them, you can start to try to hand feed them leaves and insects to get them used to human hands.

Avoid feeding from above – any moving shape above them is seen as a predator, so instead feed them with your hand close to the ground in front of them.

At this age, you should be able to see any defects, but providing you follow the above you shouldn’t have an issue though you should be able to spot any signs of stress, bullying and malnutrition easily.

A good sign to look for is fat in the base of the tail for whether they’re getting enough food.

Diet for 8 – 16 weeks Dragons

This will be the youngest that you should buy a dragon, it’s the earliest that they can be sexed and also held, at this age, they are also more likely to adapt to a new owner and develop their individual personalities.

In case you skipped the above, you want to be feeding your baby dragon twice every day with locusts/hoppers or crickets, dusted every other day, and with vegetables/ leaves offered every other day as well.

At this age it now becomes more economical to also start feeding mini/ micro mealworms every few days – these are generally no more than 2cm big and you can leave a bowl for them to feed on.

Just make sure that you pick out any worm that looks like it’s due to malt as that chitin (the skin) will be really hard for a dragon to digest. This also allows the baby to put on more fat, you’ll soon know if there’s a problem digesting the worms as their feces will contain recognizable parts of the worms – the adults also suffer from this if they eat the worms too fast.

To be safe feed the worms in small quantities. You can buy these worms in a big bulk bag, which is handy if you’re breeding many dragons and works out really cheap. But remember there won’t be as much nutrition as the Locusts and mealworms should be fed in moderation.

I also still feed Locusts/ hoppers, the hoppers are easy to leave for the bearded dragon to hunt/ stalk and catch – crickets I would still feed in a bowl due to their speed and the mini worms I leave in a bowl in the morning for them eat during the day – but remember only put a few in there, don’t fill the bowl!

I also offer vegetation more frequently sometimes replacing a meal of insects, purely with vegetation but still feeding twice daily.

At this age you can also begin to hold them, so I’ll start hand feeding leaves more often and picking the Beardie up, and feeding outside the enclosure. It takes some patience before they’ll get confident to feed from your hand outside the vivarium but bare with it.

Diet for 16+ weeks Beardies

Keep up with the feeding regime, you can now begin to skip a feeding occasionally, feeding them once a day and missing out a day of feeding entirely. This also helps to keep your dragon eager and ready to greet you when you have food, making it easier to tame them.

At this point you’ll be buying slightly bigger locusts/ hoppers and this will be the most expensive time for feeding as they’ll still be eating a lot but need the larger insects.

Also at this age, you’ve probably got your Bearded Dragon from the pet shop, if that’s the case then it’s really important to keep a lookout for any health issues, moving them to a new home can be stressful.

They may also have parasites and need worming for which you can get some tablets from the vets. Keep an eye out on their poo, if it’s reddish colored or the urate (the white bit) is really yellow then you may have some problems so pay close attention. Otherwise, the above feeding rules all hold true.

Diet for 6 months and on wards

You can now start feeding once a day and skipping a day now and then, remember to keep the insects dusted every few days, but you can now decrease the frequency in which you dust the insects, it becomes slightly less important.

I’d now also add vegetation to my daily bearded dragon’s diet, and I’d also stop cutting the leaves up into small pieces.

You can now also feed them some other things as treats such as strawberries, grapes, carrots, etc… By 9 months, your dragon will be tearing up the newspaper/ kitchen towel and it’s time to start thinking about giving them some sand to dig in.

Baby Bearded Dragon Care Sheet

The list below will help you take proper care of your baby beardies.

  1. House baby bearded dragons in a secure 20-gallon terrarium with screen lid.
  2. Install UVB tube light and UVA (50-75 watt) bulb in the enclosure.
  3. Make sure both the UVB and UVA lights on for 12 hours a day.
  4. The enclosure should have two sides i.e. the basking spot (Hot side) should be 95 to 105℉ degrees and the cold side around 75℉ degrees.
  5. Install two thermometers inside the cage to correctly gauge the tempretures.
  6. Make sure the humidity level inside the cage is between 30 to 40%.
  7. To correctly measure humidity install a hygrometer.
  8. Spot clean cage daily, substrate every week, and entire cage every two weeks.
  9. Add a shallow water dish for them to enter and exit whenever they want.
  10. Feed 20 to 40 crickets a day.
  11. Cut the food into small peices and dust it with Calcium supplement 3 times a week.
  12. Veggies should be misted with water when feeding to prevent dehydration.
  13. Don’t attepmt to handle it at least in the first week.
  14. When handling hold it underneath its belly
  15. Never leave your baby bearded dragon unsupervised outside their enclosure.

How To Tame A Baby Bearded Dragon

taming-baby-bearded-dragon

Baby bearded dragons are no different from any other baby in that they are quite fragile, especially at their earliest days. 

The key to handling baby beardies is to keep it to a minimum at first, and gradually increase the handling once a dragon becomes a little bigger.  Ideally, baby dragons should rarely be handled in the first two weeks to a month. 

A responsible breeder should not let them become available until at least a month old anyway and typically the ones seen in most quality reptile pet stores are closer to 2 months at the youngest.

Baby bearded dragons grow a lot during their first weeks and the difference between 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, and so on can be quite significant.

If your dragon is under a month old when you acquire it, be extra sensitive to its delicate state at such a small size. The weight of even a finger could be crushing. Keep handling to a minimum.  Enclosure maintenance, warm baths, and feeding purposes should be about the only reason to handle a young dragon at this point.

Once your dragon gets to about 2 months old, it very well may have doubled in size and more.  As your dragon gets to this age and beyond you will visually notice they don’t look quite so frail, and you can begin holding them and allowing them to venture for short periods outside of the enclosure.

Please keep in mind though, baby bearded dragons are fairly skittish and as well as you think you have them, a quick jolt and your baby bearded dragon is taking a 3-foot drop.  We never discourage handling your dragon properly, but we all encourage vigilance when handling dragons of any size.

At the fourth to fifth month your dragon may be 3 or 4 times larger than they were when they hatched and growing quickly. You will notice broader spikes and more pronounced features as they reach the “kid” age. These guys can be handled regularly, but are still relying heavily on their heat lamps as a source for heat and ideally they won’t be away from a warm spot too long.

Six months and on, many properly cared for dragons will go through noticeable phases or growth spurts on their way to adulthood. There is no set timeline on how long a dragon takes to mature, but many can reach full size within a year if fed properly and often. As your dragon gets closer to its full size, a long time away from a direct light source becomes possible.

Key Tips About Handling

Maintain a firm grip when walking with, or moving your dragon as they can be skittish and a fall from waist height or higher could easily be fatal on a baby lizard.

When picking up a baby bearded dragon, especially at very young ages, try and scoop them into a palm. Often times you can coerce them into your palm and they will climb in when they feel the heat of your hand near them.

We don’t recommend picking up baby bearded dragons by their tails. This seems like the easiest method but with their tiny size, the strain could be harmful to their bodies.

All baby dragons can be skittish at some point. Be patient, and understand that like a young child, with so much going on they can’t sit still. As your dragon ages, it will naturally calm down and become more accustomed to being handled.

Baby Bearded Dragon Growth Chart

Baby bearded dragons are born three to four inches in length. You can expect healthy hatchlings to grow 1 to 3″ per month for their first two months. It will take 18 to 24 months for your dragon to reach its full adult size.

Females are comparatively smaller than males and range from 12 to 20 inches in length. Males are 16 to 24 inches.

You should keep an eye on your baby bearded dragon growth for the first 12 months.

Age (months)Size (inches)Weight (grams)
1 month3 to 4 inches4 to 6 grams
2 months5 to 9 inches8 to 40 grams
3 months8 to 11 inches22 to 110 grams
4 months9 to 12 inches41 to 115 grams
5 months11 to 16 inches102 to 115 grams
6 months11 to 18 inches183 to 188 grams
7 months13 to 18 inches230 to 280 grams
8 months14 to 20 inches252 to 327 grams
9 to 10 months16 to 22 inches280 to 360 grams
11 to 12 months16 to 24 inches350 to 465 grams

If your baby bearded dragon is not growing as it should be then this could be a health problem. The most common disease in bearded dragons is MBD (metabolic bone disease) caused by improper diet (Calcium deficiency) or improper UVB lighting. MBD causes problems with bone growth and can also lead to death if not treated on time.

I am the editor-in-chief at MyPetReptiles.com, a site that is devoted to reptiles and the people who love them. I have been keeping and breeding many pet reptiles such as bearded dragons, geckos, chameleons, etc. for over 10 years now.

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