There are various questions about bearded dragon care that come up quite often. In this post we answer these questions in a short efficient way. Please use the table of contents to find the answer you need quickly.
Caring for bearded dragons isn’t that difficult, once you know what needs to be done.
They’re not expensive to keep (even accounting for the increase in electricity for example) although there are some initial and ongoing costs associated with bearded dragon care. But they’re friendly, non-aggressive to humans and make great pets. But there are some things you need to be aware of. If you’d prefer to read a book rather than lots of articles on a website, you can download our book as a PDF Bearded Dragons The Essential Guide. Its also available on as a book on Amazon.
How Often Should the UV Bulbs Be Changed?
This depends on the bulb itself and the manufacturer recommendations but the key point to note here is that you, as a human, will not be able to tell if the bulb is functioning correctly. The bulb is intended to provide UVB light to your bearded dragon to enable him to synthesise Vitamin D3. This enables them to metabolise calcium properly and prevent Metabolic Bone Disease.
The problem we face as humans is that we can’t see UV light – which means that your UV light can be failing to put out as much UV as your Dragon needs but you can’t tell that is the case.
For this reason, it’s recommended to change the Mercury Vapour All In One lamps (which put out UVA, UVB, Natural Light and Infrared/Heat all from one unit) at least once every year.
The Strip Lights (the T5 variety) generally should be replaced once every six months.
If you have a UV detector you may find you can extend these times out as you’ll be able to categorically detect how much UV light is being produced by the lamps. So long as they’re producing the right amounts they can be continued to be used.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the unit is still producing visible light if you don’t have a detector. It may not be producing enough UVB light and your dragon will suffer as a result.
More questions about Lighting for your Bearded Dragon tank are answered over here at our post on Bearded Dragon Lighting
Why Is Monitoring The Humidity Important?
Bearded Dragons come from Australia which is a notoriously dry place to live and the relative humidity of the air in most parts of Australia ( except perhaps for Queensland and the north of the Northern Territory and Western Australia ) is generally quite low. This low humidity is one of the reasons why Australian bushfires are often so severe.
All this means that Bearded Dragons have evolved over the millennia to live in a relatively dry environment. More importantly, they’ve not evolved mechanisms to fight off infections that live in more humid conditions such as yellow fungus and bacteria that can cause respiratory infections.
It’s important to note that the measurement used for humidity measurements is relative humidity. This is defined as the percentage of water vapour that the air is holding compared to the maximum amount of water vapour the air can hold at the current temperature. Therefore, humidity levels vary with temperature. The air can hold three times as much water vapour at 30 degrees celsius compared to the amount that it can hold at 10 degrees celsius. This means that if your tank cools, but the amount of water vapour in the air remains the same, the relative humidity will increase.
Bearded Dragons should be housed in an environment that provides approximately 40% relative humidity. This is an average of course, and since vivariums should have a warm end a cool end, the relative humidity should be measured at the cool end, because less humidity is better than more. The warm end will have a lower relative humidity than the cool end.
Controlling the Humidity levels
Devices that measure relative humidity are called hygrometer. There’s a wide range of analogue or digital hygrometers available for Bearded Dragon vivariums at varying prices. If you use a digital hygrometer with a probe on a wire, make sure it’s not dangling down from the ceiling where the dragon can reach it because they may think it’s a nice tasty snack waiting to be eaten.
Controlling humidity is generally a case of making sure that water bowls and live vegetation are kept in the cool area. This will reduce evaporation from putting water into the atmosphere. If the relative humidity in your home is less than 40% make sure there’s good tank ventilation.
You can buy small dehumidifiers if you find you can’t get the humidity under control. We’ve not had this problem so we can’t say for sure how best to place these.
Too low humidity is not generally a problem, although you will want to make sure you keep your bearded dragon hydrated. As mentioned above, a humidity level that is too high can lead to illness.
How Do I Raise The Humidity In My Bearded Dragon’s Tank?
This is a question we see quite often and the simple answer is that in general you don’t need to.
Although many reptiles require a high humidity level because they’re from tropical areas, Bearded Dragons are not. They’re from dry, arid areas of Australia where the humidity levels during summer can be as low as 10%.
Silkies will benefit from a slightly higher humidity level than standard morphs, but don’t go too high because they’re still vulnerable to all the respiratory and fungal infection problems that standard morphs are.
For more information see our article about Bearded Dragon Humidity Requirements.
Why Are My Bearded Dragon’s Toes/Legs Twitching?
There are a number of reasons why this could be happening. The most likely reason is that your bearded dragon does not have enough calcium in their bloodstream, or are unable to utilise that calcium due to a Vitamin D3 deficiency. Toe and/or leg twitching is a strong sign that your bearded dragon has Metabolic Bone Disease and requires urgent care. A visit to the vet or professional herpetologist is a good idea at this point. I’d recommend reading our article – My Bearded Dragon Looks Sick, What Could It Be? for more information.
Are Heatpads/Hotrocks Suitable For Bearded Dragons?
No, heatpads or heatrocks shouldn’t be used for bearded dragons. Heatpads are suitable for other reptiles but not dragons. Bearded dragons do not feel heat through their tummies properly and a heatrock can easily burn a bearded dragon before they realise they’re getting too hot.
Whilst this might seem counter-intuitive because rocks in the wild would be hot, the bearded dragon in the wild would have the sun on their back when basking. It’s the heat on their back that they feel and if they’re getting too hot they’ll move to a shadier area.
Heatpads can be used on the sides of a vivarium in order to maintain the average temperature of the tank, but a better method for this is a CHE (Ceramic Heat Emitter) bulb. They shouldn’t be used on the floor of the vivarium or anywhere the bearded dragon can lay on or walk on.
If you’re needing to transport dragon anywhere then we used to use a wheat heat pack wrapped in a towel. This can help keep the transport tank warm while they’re out of their normal tank.