All advice given in this care sheet comes from 20+ years of keeping, breeding and altogether working with

 these animals. It is especially important to practice proper husbandry in order to ensure the health and 

wellbeing of the animal. All advice given is solely that of HSR&E. 

While we recommend the following advice, we also understand that there are different ways to successfully

 raise these animals. This care sheet is simply based off the successful practices that we ourselves have 

used over the years.



proper ventilation

thermal gradient

proper humidity levels

sufficient space

security to prevent escape

The most popular and convenient methods of housing bearded dragons include 40 Gallon glass aquariums or professionally built enclosures with proper heat/lighting.

It is important that your dragon receives at least 8 to 12 hours of exposure to the lighting each day. Failure to provide UV radiation can lead to health issues including mental problems, loss of appetite, and metabolic bone disease.

For juvenile bearded dragons, a 20-gallon aquarium with a screen top is adequate. 

For adults, a 40-gallon breeder tank with a screen top is sufficient.


Professional level reptile enclosures can be purchased through our web site, Facebook business page or Instagram and come fully assembled. Many of these can be ordered with custom features such as Radiant Heat Panels (RHP’s) heat tape (for racks), ventilation and lighting options as well as featuring great visibility and a furniture quality look/style. Custom built enclosures are excellent for the animals’ heat and humidity requirements and take much less effort in maintaining said requirements. If you would prefer a professionally built enclosure, a floor space of 48X24 will provide them with enough room for the entirety of their lives. A 48” L x 24” D x 24” H is a popular choice for bearded dragons and gives you adequate height for light installation on the inside.

Substrate and environment

Materials to Avoid

Under no circumstances should you keep these animals on pine or cedar. Pine, cedar and other phenol-containing woods have toxins which can cause significant health problems in a variety of herps and other animals and should not be used.

Your choice on substrate should be something readily available and one which lends itself to easy spot cleaning and other cage maintenance chores. You should check your enclosure daily for odors or more visible signs or waste, and remove them, replacing the substrate when necessary.


Play Sand

Play sand is an inexpensive substrate that can be found at just about any major hardware/home supply store. It can be found at many local nurseries as well.


Ceramic or Vinyl

Another good choice for substrate. Makes for easy cleaning. Avoid peel and stick.


Old school, yet reliable

Newspaper used as a substrate has been a practice in use for decades. It's simple and effective but not aesthetically pleasing.


Harder to maintain

Carpet can be a petri dish for bacteria and toenails may get stuck in it. For these reasons we do not recommend it.

calcium Sand

May cause impaction

Calcium sands may cause impaction in juvenile bearded dragons. For this reason, we recommend skipping it entirely.

Heat Sources

Maintaining proper temperatures is essential to keeping your dragon healthy – failure to do so can lead to a host of issues from poor feeding to potentially lethal respiratory infections. For this reason, you want to make sure you can measure the temperatures accurately.

 The sticker-type thermometers used in aquariums, and the little dials usually found in pet stores are routinely inaccurate and do little more than measure the temps of the glass to which they adhere to. It is best to invest in a digital thermometer. These can be found at stores like Walmart or Home Depot and can also be found online for less than $10 - $15.

You should NEVER use a heat rock or heat tape with your dragon or put any sort of heat source inside the enclosure with your dragon that it can come into contact with! These animals are not overly sensitive to dangerous heat levels and can easily burn and injure themselves.

*Our preferred choice for heat is mercury vapor bulbs like Zoo Meds 100W Powersun bulb. For just under $50, these bulbs provide essential UVA, UVB. light and heat all in one bulb. 


UVB lighting is critically important when keeping Bearded Dragons. It assists them in synthesizing vitamin D which aids in calcium absorption. There are several bulbs on the market that provide this. See “Heat Sources” above for our recommendation.


Normal: 80°F to 90°F 

Basking Temps: 95°F to 110°F 

Unhealthy: Below 75 can be unhealthy for your animal

*Night drops in temps are not necessary 


Given good husbandry practices and properly maintained humidity your dragon should have no problems shedding successfully. Unlike snakes, dragons, along with other lizard species, will shed in pieces rather than in one uniform piece.

Signs of an imminent shed may include a fading or dulling of color, crankiness, puffy eyes and even signs of what appears to be laziness. These signs clear up a few days before the actual shed. The animal may not accept food during this time or may eat less. 

When signs of shedding appear, it is a good idea to pay special attention to your humidity levels. Bumping them to 45%-50% to ensure there is enough moisture present to assist in the process.

 NEVER PULL OFF SHEDDING SKIN. If there appears to be stuck shed, a good soak in water and a damp rag to gently work the area will typically help with stubborn sheds.  


Providing the proper humidity required for your dragon is important in maintaining good health. Both excessive and inadequate humidity levels can lead to illness in the form of respiratory infections and a very damp environment easily lends itself to the growth of mold and fungus which can contribute bacterial or fungal infections.

As with measuring temperature, gauging the humidity with a hygrometer is quite important. Again, a digital solution is far superior to an analog one.

Methods to raise humidity in the enclosure include but are certainly not limited to misting, placing the water bowl directly above the heat source on the warm end, or using a humidifier. Do NOT sacrifice ventilation or otherwise contribute to stagnant air conditions! 


Your dragon should always have a readily available supply of fresh water. When possible use a relatively weighted or even tapered bowl or dish to prevent it from being overturned. It is recommended the water be replaced (not just “topped off”) and the dish cleaned while doing so every few days at a minimum. Bottled water or special additives are not necessary. Misting of greens and insects is also a good way to be sure your animal is getting enough water.


Bearded Dragons mostly stick to the bottom of their enclosures. However, they also like to climb. Do not be afraid to add plenty of “furniture” for your dragon to explore. A nice perch under the basking bulb is always appreciated. Make sure that the animal cannot come into contact with any bulbs. Hides are not necessary for dragons, but some folks like to provide them. Stay away from fake plants with loose parts. Your dragon may try to consume them, and this can turn into a disaster very quickly.

Nutrition and feeding

Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. 

Baby dragons under 3 months of age should be fed, if your schedule allows it, 3-5 times daily. At an absolute minimum, 3 times per day. 

At 3-6 months old they can be fed 3 times per day. At 6 months to a year old, 2 times per day. 

Once your dragon is a year old, you can start them on a once a day feeding schedule for the rest of their lives. 

***Any greens or veggies offered should be removed after an hour to prevent bacteria growth. There are a variety of safe foods which will be listed below. When feeding crickets or mealworms, a dusting of the insects with calcium powder is recommended. 

What do 

bearded dragons eat?

Greens/Veggies – Your choice of the following should be offered daily along with insect of choice. This is the most IMPORTANT part of their diet. 

• Collard Greens • Mustard Greens • Turnip Greens • Kale • Bell Peppers 

• Butternut Squash • Carrot • Cucumber (Peeled Only) • Endive • Okra 

• Spaghetti Squash • Pumpkin • Parsnips 

• Crickets – Readily available at just about any pet store, crickets are a safe and easy meal. Nutritional value of crickets is low, and a calcium dusting is always recommended. Babies can be fed as many crickets as they can consume in a 5-10-minute period. Keep in mind, with baby dragons you will be starting with much smaller crickets. Adult dragons should be able to consume 10 full sized crickets per day. It is not recommended to feed more than 20 over 2 days.

• Meal Worms – Many folks will advocate for mealies. While they are ok to feed to your dragon, it is not recommended as a staple food. Mealies have a very hard chitlin exoskeleton which can be tough on a dragons digestive system. Too many mealies on a regular basis may lead to impaction. This is not to say they are “unsafe.” They should just be fed only occasionally to avoid any potential issues.

• Dubia Roaches – Hands down the best source of protein for your dragons. 5 a day will suffice.

Super Worms – Also a great source of protein. So rich in protein that we recommend not feeding more than 3 or 4 per day.

Pinky Mice – This is considered a treat and if offered should only be done so once or twice a month. 

WHy won't my Bearded dragon eat?

In almost all cases, a bearded dragon refuses to eat due to husbandry issues. Especially a young one. If your dragon misses more than 2-3 meals (as mentioned earlier, sometimes they will not want to eat while in shed) please check the following possible causes:


Frequent intrusions into the enclosure, changes to the enclosure, and/or long frequent handling sessions can cause a dragon to feel vulnerable and refuse to eat. This applies mostly to baby dragons.

Improper Temperatures

Temps that are too high or too low, or temps that fluctuate too much. If your dragon appears “sleepy” or lethargic you may want to check temperatures. Make sure you have an accurate and consistent read on your temps.

Improper Lighting

Constant bright lights shining directly into the enclosure, or 24-hour lighting can cause stress. Make sure there is some sort of day/night cycle.

Offering new Foods

Changing food types can cause refusal. Dragons that have become accustomed to certain foods do not always appreciate new food types right from the start. Such changes can be made but may require patience and persistence. A good trick here is to place a couple of super worms under the new veggie of choice that way they eat their way towards the movement.


If all other possible reasons are eliminated, a vet check may be in order to look for internal parasites, as well as possible infections to the skin, scales, mouth or respiratory system.

When trouble shooting potential issues, it is especially important to pay attention to the animals’ weight. A dramatic decrease in weight is a sign of something wrong.

Enjoy your new pet and remember to practice proper husbandry