Although bearded dragons are relatively low on the maintenance scale compared to other reptiles, caring for a bearded dragon is nothing like taking care of a dog or a cat. There are several more crucial factors involved.
So, first of all, are bearded dragons hard to take care of daily? Well, it depends on the experience you, as the owner, have. But, since this article is aimed towards beginner bearded dragon owners; bearded dragons are medium maintenance.
Let us find out how and why.
What Daily Bearded Dragon Care Looks Like
The most important thing you need to tend to daily is feeding your bearded dragon. Feeding is one of the main reasons why a bearded dragon can be considered medium maintenance.
While bearded dragons have a wide variety of foods they can eat, they can be particularly picky, stubborn eaters. On top of that, as they mature, their dietary needs change.
It is first necessary to note that bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat animals and plants. As hatchlings and juveniles, they require a diet consisting of 80% protein and 20% vegetables/greens.
However, that protein to plant ratio switches in adulthood to 80% vegetable and 20% protein.
Now, you will need to “gut load” the insects you feed to your bearded dragon, which means filling them with essential nutrients your dragon needs.
Providing the insects with foods such as potato slices, carrots, etc. will ensure the insects pack the necessary nutritious punch.
To complete this properly (after getting the hang of it), it should take you about 10 minutes.
Types Of Feeding
You usually won’t have any issue with feeding when it comes to insects; simply drop them in the terrarium (10-20 a day for adults over 18 months old, and 20-60 a day for juveniles under 18 months old) and your bearded dragon will go after them.
However, when it comes to eating their veggies, they can be very much like children. Use these tricks to get along:
- Feeding them greens by hand.
- Presents the greens to your bearded dragon in a more natural and captivating way — for example; dangling some kale above their heads to grab their attention.
- Allows them to associate your hand with care and safety rather than a dangerous predator.
- Dump crickets or Mealworms into their greens/veggie bowl.
- The movement will attract your bearded dragon to the bowl, and they will end up taking bites of their greens along with the protein.
- Separate the vegetables and greens by color in your bearded dragon’s bowl
- The separation of color will get your dragon’s attention and entice them to eat more than just their proteins.
- The color-break allows your dragon and you to figure out which food they like based on color.
Things To Be Aware Of When Feeding
- Ensure there are no crickets left at the end of each meal.
- Crickets can sneak up and bite your bearded dragon during the night.
- Keep food pieces no bigger than the distance between their eyes.
- Any bigger can cause your dragon to become impacted as the undigested food gets blocked in their gut. The jammed food can press up against the spinal cord and possibly paralyze them.
- Dust food with a calcium supplement.
- Once a day 4-5 times/week for juveniles and 3 times/week for adults.
- Only on the days that they do not receive any calcium.
- Once a day 4-5 times/week for juveniles and 3 times/week for adults.
- Feed them when they are warm.
- Wait an hour or so before feeding them after turning on the morning lights. They are cold-blooded and cannot digest food properly if they are not warm enough inside (88-100°F or 31-38°C).
- Wait an hour or two after their last meal to turn off the lights for the night. This will ensure they digest their food properly and thoroughly.
Pick Up Feces & Leftover Food
The other task you must complete daily is picking up feces and leftover food from the substrate as soon as you see them.
It will ensure your dragon does not step in their feces, dragging them into the food. And that leftover food (vegetables or insects) doesn’t rot and stink up their terrarium.
To complete this properly, it should take you about 5-10 minutes.
What Weekly Bearded Dragon Care Looks Like
The first task you must perform weekly is bathing your bearded dragon. This frequency is a general guideline, but there are many benefits to doing this weekly.
- Helps them hydrate.
- Gives them exercise time.
- Helps them shed.
- Assists in them passing bowel movements properly.
All bearded dragons are different, and while some enjoy water time, others are very content avoiding it. Either way, it is important to get into the habit of bathing your bearded dragon.
Bath time should not take longer than 10 minutes. If you have a dragon that enjoys the water, you can let them swim around for up to 30 minutes.
To bathe your bearded dragon properly, check out our guide about bathing bearded dragons.
Cleaning Reptile Carpet
A second weekly task would be to clean the reptile carpet. You can use detergent for this, so putting it in the washing machine is fine.
Be sure to rinse the carpet thoroughly to eliminate any traces of detergent. The time needed to complete this task is how long it takes you to do laundry so it can fit into your weekly schedule quite easily.
To complete this properly, it should take you about 5-10 minutes (not including drying).
What Monthly Bearded Dragon Care Looks Like
Cleaning The Vivarium
An essential monthly task would be to scrub the vivarium with the appropriate cleaners. Avoid regular household cleaners like Windex as they can be dangerous for your bearded dragon and cause them to fall ill.
Cleaning the tank with a safe reptile cleaner, a sponge, rinsing, and replacing the substrate is all you need to do for this monthly task. To complete this properly, it should take you about 20-40 minutes.
It is also ok to only bathe your bearded dragon once a month. It is not the average rate, but it will not harm them to wash less frequently. However, you do not want to go beyond a month without bathing your dragon.
To complete this properly, it should take you about 10-30 minutes.
There are a few things that classify bearded dragons as medium maintenance.
Feeding is probably the most complicated of all tasks and requires the most attention as your dragon’s needs/preferences will continuously change.
Although the job itself does not take up more than 10 minutes a few times a day, it is crucial to get it right for your bearded dragon’s overall health.
Picking up their feces is also a quick little daily task that is crucial to keep your dragon healthy. Just a few minutes a day will significantly benefit your bearded dragon.
Bathing weekly or monthly only takes about 10-30 minutes and will help your dragon stay as healthy as possible.
Washing the reptile carpet every week will further ensure there are no traces of feces in the tank that could cause your bearded dragon to get sick if consumed.
Cleaning and scrubbing the tank every month will only take about 20 minutes, and once again, it will make sure your bearded dragon’s substrate is a healthy environment for them to thrive.