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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11513
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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what can i do to make my bearded dragon happier

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what can i do to make my bearded dragon happier

Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

Why do you think your dragon is unhappy? What signs are you seeing?

What temperatures do you maintain on the warm and cool sides of the cage?

What substrate do you use on the floor?

Do you have a UVB light? If so, what brand, and how old is the bulb?

What do you feed?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I don't know whats making her unhappy,she hasn't shed in a while though.She hasn't been as active as usual and she always seems kind of gloomy i.e. sitting in the same spot all day,not being too friendly.The warm side of her cage is 90 degrees f. the cool does not have thermometer.I use sand for the floor of her cage.I feed her mostly crickets and mealwoms,I sometimes feed her kale and shes had 2 small pieces of banana then refused to more so I haven't fed her those in about a month.She has an Extra Terra sun glo 120V 60Hz lightbulb.
Thank you for getting back to me. I have one more question, and then I'll be able to give you an answer.

Is your beardie passing normal droppings?

As soon as I have this last bit of information, I'll get back to you. The answer will be a little legthy, and will take me several minutes to type it.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Probally once or twice every week.
Thank you for your patience.There are several changes you can make that may help your beardie perk up. Your cage is too cold, and that alone can cause lethargy. You want the warm side to be 110-115*F and the cool side 80-85*F. You'll want to use a digital probe thermometer to measure the temperatures accurately. These are daytime temperatures; at night, they can be allowed to drop into the mid-sixties. Without enough warmth, bearded dragons can't properly digest their food, and they become sluggish and more prone to illnesses. However, the Extra Terra Sunglo light can put out a lot of heat, and can overheat the cage if it's not monitored carefully, so an accurate thermometer is important.

The pet store sand substrate is not good. Despite the fact that it is highly recommended, more often than not, it leads to impaction. If you want to use sand, play sand is a much better choice. However, a solid substrate, such as reptile carpet or ceramic tile is best. If you’d like to see the results of using sand, you can take a look at the following site. The pictures are graphic, so if surgery, etc. bothers you, you may not want to look. calci sand

Your beardie may be suffering from a parasite bloom. Some bacteria are always present in the digestive system, and when a dragon is stressed, the bacteria multiply, or bloom. Other parasites may also be present. I recommend that you take a fresh fecal sample to a veterinarian to be checked. If parasites are present, the vet can give you an appropriate prescription.

Mealworms are a bad food for beardies. There is too much chiton in them, which also leads to impaction and other digestive upsets. Silkworms and crickets are better choices. Be sure to provide a variety of veggies. Kale can cause calcium binding and leads to health problems. It isn't good to feed fruit of any kind, so you were smart to stop the bananas. Adult beardies should be fed only 20% prey. The remaining 80% should be produce. Your dragon isn't quite an adult, but is old enough to begin the transition to more produce. The following site has excellent information on what produce to feed and how often to feed it. This is for fruits and Vegetables

In summary, you’ll want to warm up the cage, get an accurate thermometer, make some changes to the diet, change the substrate, and take a sample of droppings to a vet to be checked for parasites. If your beardie doesn’t perk up, it would be best to have her examined by a reptile vet. I’m sending along a care sheet, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts. Joan has many years experience keeping and rescuing beardies. I suggest that you use the care sheet as a check list to provide the best possible care for your beardies. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. The care sheet follows.


Bearded Dragon Care Sheet

    * Bearded dragons should be housed alone.

    * Ages of bearded dragons follow these guidelines:

1. 0-3 months- baby
2. 3-12 months-juvenile
3. 12-18 months- sub adult
4. 18 months + -adult

    * Bearded dragons live as much as 10-12 years if well cared for properly.
    * Bearded dragons have a very good temperament as long as they are cared for and handled.
    * When you bring your baby home, it may be quite stressful to him/her to get use to new home. May not eat well the first 2-3 days. They may not need to be handled the first 2-3 days if skittish and nervous.
    * Never use sand or any other type of loose substrate: Loose substrates can cause impaction (not being able to go Poop) in all ages of bearded dragons- they lick their environment to explore .It is difficult to keep germ free and clean. Ceramic tile, newspaper, non adhesive shelf liner and reptile carpet is what is most recommended. Use paper towels for the little one and as they get bigger you can change to something else.
    * Be sure you keep your beardies home as clean as you can. Clean up by spot cleaning when needed. Clean & sanitize entire tank every 10-14 days. A good cleaning solution is a 20% bleach solution. If you choose to use wood climbing branches etc, these should be soaked in the bleach solution and rinsed well. Then bake in 250 degree oven for 30 minutes.
    * Need a climbing accessory: to bask and to warm up under basking heat light and lower branches or platforms to come down and cool off.
    * A hide of some sort like a cave.
    * A food dish and water dish.
    * Plastic spray bottle
    * Can use artificial plants when they get older- 3 months or so.
    * Digital thermostat and/or temp gun
    * Tank size: Minimal size tank for this age is 20 gallon long
    * Minimal size for older beardie: 4 months of age: 40 gallon breeder is the minimal tank size for older dragon. Can divide a 40 gallon breeder for a smaller dragon. Must have two lights for your beardie.

1. A UVB light source-best is 10.0 Reptisun that runs the length of your tank. Your dragon must have this light to metabolize calcium. If not he will get metabolic bone disease, a serious condition. You can also take your beardie outside to bask in the sun for 15 minutes each day if your temps are 80 degrees or above outside. You can purchase cages or reptariums from your pet store. Never leave a beardie outside unattended.
2. A basking type light that puts out heat and warmth above basking spot. Your beardie must have warmth to digest food & thrive.

    * Lights should be on for 12-14 hours each day. Follow the seasons and light timers are a great luxury if you can get them. 6 dollars at Lowe's. No lights or warmth needed at night unless your temperatures get below 62 degrees. If they do, there are ceramic heat emitters that put out no light, only heat. Use these at night if temperatures fall below 62 degrees.

    * Temperatures have to be kept at the following ranges during the day:

Babies: Warm basking log: 105-125 degrees F
Cool side: 85-90
Adults: Warm basking spot: 110-115
Cool side: 80-85
Measure temperatures with a digital probe type thermometer or a temp gun-these are most accurate. Stick on thermometers unreliable.

    * Feeding a Beardie: Beardies eat live prey consisting of crickets, roaches and/or silkworms. Never feed any size of mice to your beardie. Never feed mealworms. They also must be given greens/veggies everyday. The younger they are the more live prey they should have. As they grow older the live prey decreases and the veggies/greens should be the major part of diet. Never feed anything bigger, than the space between your beardie's eyes. This includes both live prey and pieces of veggies/greens,
    * A chopper or food processor is a huge help when your beardie is small. Always offer greens and veggies: collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, cabbage, red cabbage, fresh green beans, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, cactus pad. Apricots, strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe- fruits are treats only.
    * What is live prey? The easiest and less expensive live prey is crickets when you have a young or first beardie. The other live preys you can feed are silkworms, and special types of roaches. You can learn to raise your own live prey. Treats can be waxworms, super worms, and tomato/goliath worms. You may find that ordering live prey from the internet is the way to go..... Never leave live prey or greens/veggies in tank overnight. . Crickets can bite your beardie when sleeping.
    * Babies should get 80% live prey, and 20 % greens/veggies. But since the greens/veggies are a must when they are older, get them eating their greens/veggies very early. Give greens/veggies in small pieces everyday. You should eventually start decreasing your older dragon's protein intake when they are about a year to 15 months old. Their protein intake decreases to 20 % live prey and 80% veggies/greens.
    * A baby the size of yours can eat 50-75 crix a day. Never feed crix or veggies bigger than the space between your beardie's eyes. Use this guide when buying crix or chopping your greens/veggies.
    * You must provide calcium dust without D3 and multivitamin dust for your beardie. You should dust the live prey with calcium one time a day, and vitamins 3 times a week. Just collect your live prey into baggie and add enough calcium and vitamin to dust them. Then pour a few at a time into your tank. Some people feed their beardie in a separate tank so that no crickets can hide. Or some take out "furniture" from tank and feed this way. As they get older, 4-5 months or so dust live prey with calcium 3 times a week.
    * Feed the veggies/ greens 1st thing in morning after lights on for one hour at least. Then after 2-3 hours offer crix. Then freshen green/veggies. Then give more crix. Make sure after last crix feeding there is at least 1-2 hours of lights so that they can digest their food before night time.

*Beardies over the age of one year old during the winter months will go into a Brumation like most Reptiles and Herps. It is a form of Hibermnation that is governed by the weather and time of year. The lights should be on a shorter period at this time. Fresh greens should be available during this period. Do not feed live pery during Brumation.

Water: Mist your little one with the spray bottle 3-4 times a day. You can also offer a small dish of water in your enclosure but be sure your dragon is not too small to drown in it. It is recommended that when your beardie is 2 months old you can bathe your baby in a small plastic container with warm water- not hot. It will help them to stay hydrated. As they get older you can move up to the bathroom sink and then to the bathtub. Very important for bath enclosure to be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed prior to bath time. Clean between dragons too if bathing more than one.

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