Don't Kill Your Dragon

There are tons of articles on how to care for bearded dragons, how to do this, ways to do that, but none of them get to the point on what NOT to do. I figured I would be blunt and to the point by making a list of things to avoid and why. A lot of people don't realize how easy it is to kill a dragon, the problem is, that by the time they figure it out, it's probably too late.
I am putting this at the top of the list for a reason, NEVER feed your dragon any live feeder bugs bigger than the space between your dragons eyes. If your dragon is 7" long, the space between it's eyes is only about 1/2" wide, so don't feed any crickets or roaches longer than that. Baby dragons have very tiny stomachs and intestines, I have dissected them and I know this for a fact. It is better to feed a lot of small bugs than it is to feed a few big bugs. Not only can it cause impaction which may prove to be fatal, if your dragon does survive, it could suffer nerve damage and paralysis.
I am listing dehydration second because it can be a lethal to small dragons. Baby dragons have a tiny body mass and can get dehydrated within hours of basking under a hot light. Always offer water to dragons less than 7" at least twice per day. Let them drink as much as possible until you know they are done, don't just mist their greens and assume it is enough. Get a dropper or syringe and drip water on their nose until they start to drink and make sure they get their fill.
Third on the list, using loose substrate is probably the number one killer of dragons under 6 months of age. Never use any particle type substate, NO sand, NO millet, NO pellets, NO crushed walnut, NO NO NO. Stick with paper towels, hand towels, newspaper, shelf liner, or tile. You want something that is removable, easy to clean and NOT ingestible.
Never guess at your dragons temperatures, if they're cage is too hot or too cold, it can cause all kinds of problems. Invest in an infrared temp gun or at least use a thermometer with a probe under the basking light. Cages that are too hot can easily dehydrate dragons and cause other problems associated with dehydration, the list is long. Cages that are too cool will not allow dragons to digest their food properly and can contribute to upper respiratory infections by not allowing the dragon to stay warm enough to fight bacterial infections.
Don't assume your UVB lighting is sufficient, all bulbs are NOT created equal. Just because the package says UV doesn't mean it has UVB, nor does it mean it has enough UVB. Do your research and don't be cheap, it's not worth your dragons long term health to save $5 or $10. A good fluorescent UVB should cost around $30 or more and a good mercury vapor UVB should be at least $45 and up. Always put the date on the bulbs and replace them when needed.
Never, I'll repeat that, NEVER listen to pet store personnel, especially from any of the big chain pet stores. I'm going to be nice and say that 90% of the time pet store personnel have no idea what they are talking about, they are just there to make money or parrot information that their managers relay. Which usually has to do with selling more supplies. If you are ever in doubt, ask them if they own any bearded dragons and what kind of experience they have keeping and raising them. Chances are they have never even done any research or have any firsthand knowledge. The best way to get good information is by contacting a breeder directly.
This should probably be the first thing on the list but I'm giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. NEVER put a small dragon in a cage with a big dragon, big dragons will attack, kill and most likely eat the small dragon.
Here's another one, NEVER feed any dragon pinky mice or yard lizards. First off, they are too big for their digestive systems to handle and they can impact or paralyze even adult dragons. Pinky mice may be the perfect food for snakes, but they are probably the worst thing you can feed a dragon. Not only are they full of fat, but their chemical content is very difficult for a dragons liver and kidneys to process. Yard lizards are the same and can be full of parasites, dragons were made to digest bugs, not meat.
Never leave your dragon outside in the sun where it cannot get any shade. The sun is very intense and can easily overheat a dragon causing brain and nervous system damage if it is not fatal. Limit outside time to 15 to 30 minutes max and be sure to protect your dragon from predatory birds such as hawks and eagles.
Don't keep males and females together over 6 months of age unless you intend to breed them. It may be fine when they are small, but as soon as they are sexually mature, they will breed. If a female isn't fully grown or at least 350 grams in weight, eggs can get stuck inside them or even burst inside them. If this happens it will surely kill the dragon if emergency surgery isn't done in a timely manner. Females should not be bred until they are fully grown.
These are the main things that we hear about every day, I will add less obvious things if I feel they need to be shared.


  • I have a glass enclosed room,.we.moved, and one of the reasons was the glass room.for Flokie, my beardie. He was a rescue. I’ve noticed, he does not like being hot. Even when he was in his terrarium, anything over 70, and he does not like it one bit. So, I thought the glass room, would help, we set it up so that he’s got cooler darker areas and on the other side the sun, but he still.prefers to come in my.bedroom on the cold tile floors…why?

    Sam Stone
  • Thank you for writing all of this out


Leave a comment