Caring for Baby Bearded Dragons
Hatchlings, or baby bearded dragons, can require more attention and care than adult or juvenile dragons. This is mostly because they need to eat more often, which means they require extra maintenance than larger dragons.
If you are entirely new to bearded dragon ownership, I do not recommend purchasing a hatchling, because many things can go wrong that lead to premature death and heartbreak for the owner. However, if you think you can make it happy, and are dedicated to raising a baby bearded dragon into adulthood, then follow these easy guidelines to give yourself a better shot at success:
1. Do not place hatchings in enclosures that are large and intended for adult dragons. On the other hand, aquariums that are smaller – about 15 gallons – are perfect to inhibit the best growth for baby bearded dragons. Larger enclosures can make it harder for a small dragon to capture live prey, as the crickets will have much more space to hop away. However, if the space is smaller, the crickets will have nowhere to hide, and the young dragon will be able to catch them much quicker.
2. When heating the enclosure, it is best to drape one sixty-watt light bulb directly over a minimal basking rock. Please note there is a huge difference between minimal basking rocks and heating rocks. It is not recommended to use heating rocks with bearded dragons because they are known to cause burns.
3. The ideal temperature for a lizard to bask is 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Hatchlings require slightly increased temperatures to better digest their food. Do not be surprised if your hatchling requires a great deal more heat than an adult counterpart. If you can increase the temperature of a hatchling’s basking area to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, this would be even better for the lizard.
4. You need install a UVB bulb into the enclosure if calcium and vitamin D supplementation is not consistent. If you are giving your lizards plenty of calcium or vitamin D supplements, then you only need to operate your UVB half the time, or less. Please note that UVB bulbs should never be the prominent source of heat for your bearded dragon. In fact, ceramic heating elements are suggested for most lizard enclosures as they provide heat that is consistent and can be used in a manner that heats the entire enclosure, with no problem.
5. The best type of substrate to use for a hatchling is old newspapers, as it is easier to clean, and the risk of impaction is minimal. However, if you think newspaper has a bad appearance for your terrarium, you could use play sand instead. Just be sure to sift the play sand to remove any large particles before you place it in your enclosure. The same with any other kind of particulate substrate beware of extreme ingestion, because sand can lead to an impaction very quickly. When feeding, always place food in pans, and make sure your bearded dragon deficates regularly. If your lizard suddenly has no appetite or stops defecating, the behaviors could be associated with impaction. Although baby bearded dragons require more care, they are a wonderful investment. The fact is you can create a life-long bond with your lizard, as you care for it during the span of its life.
Your Friend and Fellow Enthusiast,