Frequently Asked Questions

Heating Do Bearded Dragons Need Heat at Night?

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If your home gets colder than 65 degrees, you need to get either a ceramic heat emitter or a deep heat projector. Ceramic heat emitters (CHEs) are not what people imagine when they search for a bearded dragon heat lamp. Many people associate reptile nighttime heat lamps with red or black bulbs (sometimes called moonlight bulbs). Colored light bulbs are not appropriate for bearded dragons because they disrupt their sleeping patterns. CHEs give off no visible light and instead use infrared heat to penetrate deep into the muscle. They are easy to use because the bulb screws into a standard-size ceramic socket and can be used with a regular dome fixture or a wire cage clamp lamp. One disadvantage of CHEs is that the heating element gets very hot and can start a fire if used incorrectly--a ceramic socket is a must!

Another newer and more efficient option for bearded dragon nighttime heating is called a deep heat projector. Deep heat projectors produce no visible light and...
 
Please never use heat rocks or heating mats for your bearded dragons. Beardies don't feel heat on their bellies very well and can get burned.
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Enclosures How Big of a Tank Does a Bearded Dragon Need?

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The minimum recommended size reptile tank for an adult bearded dragon is a 40 gallon breeder tank (36" x 18" x 18"). You can house a baby bearded dragon in a 20 gallon tank but prepare to upgrade to a 40 gallon tank (or larger) when the baby grows to about 10 inches long (around 3 months of age) to keep him happy and healthy. To avoid extra expenses and relocation stress for your beardie, you can house a baby bearded dragon in a 40 gallon reptile tank. When housing a young bearded dragon in a tank that's larger than 40 gallons, make sure that your beardie is able to hunt for food effectively.

If you have the space for it, upgrading to a 120 gallon tank (4'x 2' x2' or 48" x 24" x 24") is ideal. It's much easier to maintain proper cool side and basking spot temperatures in a larger tank, and your beardie will have plenty of room to explore and hunt. If you're limited on space, and looking for something in between, a 67 gallon tank (48" x 18" x 18") or a 75 gallon tank...
 
Larger enclosures help bearded dragons regulate their body temperature better because they can easily move somewhere different or hide if exposed to uncomfortable temperatures. When in doubt, prioritize floor space, and make sure that the depth (width) is at least 18 inches, so that your beardie can easily turn around. Fifty-five gallon tanks with dimensions 48" x 13" x 20" are not wide enough to house a bearded dragon, so definitely avoid them.

When searching for the right-sized tank, also be sure to avoid taller enclosures. Bearded dragons prefer having more floor space and can't use vertical space as effectively as other reptiles, such as chameleons.
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Lighting What is the Best UVB Light for My Bearded Dragon?

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Bearded dragons hail from the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia and prefer to bask in the open sun. They receive plenty of natural sunlight in their environment, and will not thrive in captivity without high quality, tube-style UVB bulbs. Having the proper amount of UVB helps beardies make Vitamin D3 and absorb calcium from food, which is essential for them to stay healthy.

The best UVB bulbs for bearded dragons are Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 UVB T5 HO (high output) and Arcadia 12 % UVB T5 HO (high output). Reptisun 10.0 UVB T8 and Arcadia 12 % UVB T8 are also acceptable light bulbs. Be sure to mount T8 bulbs inside your beardie's terrarium. Screen-topped reptile tanks block out 30 % or more of UVB rays emitted by the bulb. Since the output produced by T8 bulbs is not nearly as strong as T5 bulbs, your beardie may receive insufficient UVB exposure.
 
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We only recommend Reptisun and Arcadia brands because other brands emit shorter, more intense wavelengths that can cause health problems for your beardie. Only tube-style fluorescent bulbs are acceptable for bearded dragons. Please do not use coil/compact fluorescent UVB bulbs that may be included in various reptile terrarium kits that you may find in the pet store. These will not produce adequate UVB, and may cause your beardie to develop serious illnesses such as metabolic bone disease. Beardies that do not get proper UVB exposure are frequently lethargic and refuse to eat.

When deciding between T5 and T8 bulbs, consider that while T5 bulbs are more expensive, they only need to be replaced about once every 12 months. On the other hand, T8 bulbs should be replaced every 6 months. Please remember to buy a terrarium hood (UVB light fixture) with a good reflector to maximize UVB output.

Another option for providing UVB is a mercury vapor bulb (MVB). It provides both UVB and serves as a heat lamp for your basking area. Mercury vapor bulbs are not the best choice for beginners and may be too powerful to use in smaller bearded dragon tanks.
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General Are Bearded Dragons Easy to Take Care of?

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Bearded dragons are easier to take care of than many other reptiles. Most beardies have a calm disposition and don't mind being handled by their owners. Since they are active during the day and sleep at night, their owners have plenty of daytime hours to interact with them and take care of their needs. However, bearded dragons do require specialized equipment, reptile supplements, and a diet of live insects to thrive. Most people underestimate the cost of owning a bearded dragon. You will need a reptile tank that is at least 40 gallons, a high quality UVB bulb (tube style only), a basking light, and an accurate reptile thermometer. You need to maintain a proper temperature gradient in your beardie's basking area or your beardie may become lethargic and stop eating.

You will also need to buy a basking rock, some terrarium accessories, and a safe substrate, such as slate tile, non adhesive shelf liner, reptile carpet, or even paper towels. If your house gets cooler than...
 
Pet store employees will frequently tell you that bearded dragons are great for beginners. They will sell you a terrarium kit with "everything you need." Many bearded dragons have been harmed by poor quality compact UVB bulbs, loose substrates, and inaccurate reptile thermometers found in these kits.

Some new bearded dragon owners think that they can simplify their lives by giving their beardie dry food, like they would their dog or cat. This leads to many health problems and future costly vet visits for the new beardie. Like people, bearded dragons are omnivores so they will need fresh veggies and occasional fruit to stay healthy. Another thing that potential beardie owners overlook is the need to dust the insects and/or veggies with specialized reptile supplements on a regular basis to avoid a serious medical condition called metabolic bone disease (MBD).

Beardies can make great pets! However, before buying or adopting one, please research their care requirements carefully and understand that bearded dragons require a significant commitment. Beardies also have a life span of 7 to 12 years, so be sure you can provide proper bearded dragon care for many years to come.
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Behavior Why do Bearded Dragons Wave?

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Bearded dragons wave as a form of communication. However, males and females exhibit this behavior for different reasons. An arm wave combined with a slow bob is usually a sign of submissiveness. It is a way for your beardie to communicate that he or she is not a threat and just wants to be left alone. Female beardies use slow head bobbing and arm waving as a way of showing submission when encountering an aggressive male. In their natural habitat, male dragons also arm wave and head bob as a sign of dominance and as a form of mating behavior.

Bearded dragons will frequently wave to acknowledge the presence of their owners, visitors, and other pets. At times, bearded dragons even wave at their own reflection in the glass because they confuse it for another beardie.
 
Another reason bearded dragons arm wave is to let their owners know that there is something in their tank that they don't like. Poor lighting, improper temperatures, and high humidity could be some of the things that make your beardie unhappy. It is always important to check that your bearded dragon tank is properly set up before trying to interpret your beardie's behavior.
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General How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live?

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Bearded dragon pets can live for 7 to 12 years if kept in proper conditions. Poor UVB exposure, incorrect basking temperatures, undersized reptile tanks, and bad nutrition can drastically reduce the lifespan of beardies kept in captivity. On average, female beardies have a shorter lifespan because of the risks of frequently laying infertile eggs and breeding. In their native Australia, wild bearded dragons live for only 4 to 8 years. They are frequently hunted by predators such as dingos, Australian monitor lizards, and birds of prey. The oldest recorded pet beardie lived for 18 years and 237 days!
 
Many bearded dragon babies that are sold too soon after hatching are too fragile to survive into adulthood or suffer from viral diseases that reduce their lifespan if they reach adulthood. Housing more than one beardie in the same tank can also lead to a premature death due to injury or malnutrition. Larger species of bearded dragons, such as pogona barbata, tend to live longer than their smaller counterparts due to improved ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions and fend off predators.
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