How to Care for a Baby Bearded Dragon VS an Adult

The captivating charm of bearded dragons, also known as “beardies”, has led to their rightful place as one of the most popular pet reptiles. But before welcoming one into your home, it is important to consider the significant differences between caring for a baby bearded dragon (hatchling) and an adult.


Hatchling: A smaller enclosure (40 gallon breeder) is suitable for hatchlings temporarily. A minimum of a 40 gallon breeder tank is required for babies to properly thermoregulate. Any smaller, and you run the risk of the baby overheating from not being able to get away from high powered lighting. You can also choose to put your baby beardie right into their adult setup, just ensure temperatures and UVB is the proper distance from their back, which may require you to move the lamps down or create a platform for the baby to get closer.

Adult: Adult beardies require a larger enclosure 4’ x 2’ x 2’ (120-gallons) minimum to accommodate their full size.


Hatchling: Tiny tummies require frequent meals! Feed baby beardies as many calcium dusted insects as they will eat in 10-15 minutes, twice per day – sometimes up to 30 per feeding! Dust their feeders with pure calcium powder every other feeding and offer a vitamin D3 + multivitamin supplement twice a week. Offer a small dish of greens daily, but do not be surprised if your baby dragon does not give their salad too much thought in their juvenile stages.

Adult: Adults need less frequent meals, typically once per day. Their diet switches from primarily insect protein to primarily leafy greens. You can still offer your beardie insects 1-2 times per week. They continue to receive pure calcium powder with nearly every feeding, but less frequent multivitamin supplementation is needed.


Hatchling: Baby beardies are delicate, fast, and easily stressed. Minimize handling during the first few weeks to allow them to acclimate to their new environment.

Adult: Adult beardies are typically calmer and more tolerant of handling. Regularly interacting with your bearded dragon, hand feeding, and respecting their body language helps build their trust.

Time Commitment

Hatchling: Hatchlings require more daily attention due to their frequent feeding schedule and delicate nature. Cleaning their enclosure needs to be done more often due to more frequent, but smaller waste volume.

Adult: Adults require less daily hands-on care, but maintaining proper temperature and lighting is still crucial. Cleaning their enclosure can be less frequent due to their slower metabolic rate.

The Choice is Yours

Understanding these differences will help you decide if a baby bearded dragon’s needs fit your lifestyle, or if going with a more established adult would be a better match. Whichever stage you choose, proper care will ensure your bearded dragon thrives as your companion for many years to come!

For a quality enclosure built to last the entire life of your new bearded dragon, check out Zen Habitats!

Filled under: Lizards

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