How to Take Care of a Juvenile Bearded Dragon?

As a pet owner, you want to ensure your pet is well taken care of. When it comes to owning a juvenile bearded dragon, proper care is essential to ensure the reptile’s health and well-being.

Taking care of a juvenile bearded dragon requires a commitment to providing the proper environment and diet, as well as regular cleaning and monitoring. With the right care, you can ensure your bearded dragon’s health and longevity.

Here are some tips to help you take care of a juvenile bearded dragon:

  • Provide a balanced diet: Offer around 70% insect foods (avoid mealworms, super worms, or waxworms until they reach juvenile age) and 30% vegetables. Feed insects 1-2 times a day and vegetables daily.
  • Ensure proper hydration: Mist your bearded dragon regularly and provide a dish of fresh water.
  • Create a suitable environment: Set up a secure terrarium with a screen lid, appropriate lighting, and temperature gradients.
  • Handle with care: Wait at least a week before handling your baby dragon, as they are more skittish than adults. Use slow movements and be gentle.
  • Monitor health: Keep an eye out for common health issues like metabolic bone disease, respiratory infections, and abnormal shedding.
  • Provide supplements: Use calcium powder and a multivitamin powder or an all-in-one supplement as directed by the manufacturer.

The Importance of Proper Care for Your Juvenile Bearded Dragon

Credit: Lois Campbell

Bearded dragons are fascinating creatures that make great pets. They are also relatively easy to care for, which makes them popular among pet owners. However, many pet owners do not realize the amount of care and attention that is required to keep their bearded dragon healthy.

Juvenile bearded dragons are particularly vulnerable and require extra care and attention. They can be prone to health problems, and if not cared for properly, they may suffer from malnutrition or other serious issues.

It is important to remember that while bearded dragons may seem like low-maintenance pets, they still require a significant amount of time and effort on your part. You must provide them with the proper environment, food, hydration, handling, socialization, and healthcare in order for them to thrive.

What is a Juvenile Bearded Dragon?

Credit: soul on ice!

A juvenile bearded dragon is a young lizard that is typically between 4-12 months old. At this stage in their life cycle, they are still growing rapidly and require specialized care in order to ensure their proper development.

Juvenile bearded dragons come in a range of sizes depending on the specific species but generally range between 4-10 inches (10-25 cm) long including tail length.

They have distinct physical characteristics including spiny scales on their back that look like spikes or beard-like formations under their chin hence the name – “beard”ed dragon.

The Importance of Taking Care of Your Juvenile Bearded Dragon

Baby Bearded Dragon
Credit: Michael Zimmer

Juvenile bearded dragons require a significant amount of care and attention to ensure their long-term health and well-being. It is essential that you provide them with the proper environment, food, hydration, handling, socialization, and healthcare that they need.

If you do not take proper care of your juvenile bearded dragon, it may suffer from malnutrition or other serious health issues. For example, if they do not get enough calcium in their diet or are not provided with the correct temperature gradient in their enclosure they can develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) which can be fatal if not addressed.

In addition to the health risks associated with poor care practices, it’s also important to remember that reptiles like bearded dragons are long-lived animals: some species can live up to 20 years or more. That means you’ll have an extended responsibility for caring for your pet so providing good care right from the start is key to ensuring a healthy relationship between owner and pet.

Housing and Environment

Size and Type of Enclosure

One of the most important things to consider when taking care of a juvenile bearded dragon is the type and size of its enclosure. As they grow quickly, it’s essential to provide them with an appropriate-sized living space that will accommodate their growth.

A 40-gallon tank is recommended for a baby bearded dragon, while a larger adult will need at least 75 gallons. The enclosure should have enough space for them to move around comfortably, climb on branches, and bask in the light.

Temperature and Lighting Requirements

Bearded dragons are cold-blooded reptiles that require specific temperature ranges in their environment to regulate their body temperature. The basking spot should be kept at around 100-110°F (38-43°C), while the cooler end should be between 75-85°F (24-29°C).

To achieve these temperatures, you’ll need heat lamps or ceramic heaters that create both daytime heat and nighttime heat if necessary. UVB lighting is another significant aspect of a bearded dragon’s environment as they require it to produce vitamin D3.

This vitamin allows them to absorb calcium from their diet properly. UVB lighting should be provided for 10-12 hours daily, with a bulb changed every six months as its effectiveness reduces over time.

Substrate Options

Choosing an appropriate substrate is also important when keeping a juvenile bearded dragon. Many substrates can cause impaction (intestinal blockage) if ingested accidentally while eating or during exploration.

Harsh substrates like sand or gravel can cause serious digestive problems in your pet. Therefore, safer options include reptile carpeting or paper towels as they won’t present any risk of impaction.

Humidity Levels:

Bearded dragons come from the arid regions of Australia, and they require very little humidity. Therefore, maintain humidity levels between 30-40% to ensure they don’t suffer respiratory issues.


Adding decorations to your bearded dragon’s enclosure can enhance their quality of life. Avoid sharp or pointed objects that may cause injury, and provide branches for them to climb on. Additionally, you can add hiding spots like caves or shelters where they can rest or seek refuge when necessary.

Providing a spacious and comfortable living environment with proper lighting and temperature control is essential in raising a healthy juvenile bearded dragon. Choose an appropriate substrate that won’t pose any threat of impaction to your pet while considering adding decorations to create an aesthetically pleasing space for them to thrive in.

Feeding and Nutrition

Types of food to feed a juvenile bearded dragon

Feeding a juvenile bearded dragon requires careful consideration of its nutritional needs. A healthy and balanced diet is crucial for its growth, development, and overall health.

Juvenile bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant matter and animal protein. Their diet should consist of 80% vegetables, fruits, or leafy greens, and 20% of animal protein.

Leafy greens such as collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, bok choy, kale, and dandelion greens are excellent sources of calcium which is vital for their growth. Vegetables like squash (butternut/summer), carrots, and sweet potatoes are also great options to include in their diet.

Insects such as crickets or dubia roaches are excellent sources of protein that should make up the majority of the animal protein portion of the diet. Waxworms or mealworms can also be offered on occasion but should not make up a significant part of their diet as they’re high in fat.

Frequency and portion sizes

Juvenile bearded dragons require daily feeding until they reach maturity at around 18 months old. The number of feedings will depend on age with younger dragons needing four small meals per day while older ones may only need two larger meals per day.

The quantity that you feed your juvenile dragon will depend on its age/size as well as the type of food being offered. Generally speaking, adult-size crickets/dubia roaches should be no larger than the space between their eyes (1-2mm).

Feeder insects should always be gut loaded with nutrient-rich foods before feeding them to your pet. A good rule to follow when determining portion sizes is to offer enough insects so that they can eat for about 10-15 minutes.

Vegetables and greens should be offered in small pieces and be rotated regularly to provide variety. As they grow, their food intake will increase so it’s important to monitor how much they’re eating.

Importance of calcium supplementation

Calcium is a vital nutrient for juvenile bearded dragons as it is required for proper bone development, muscle function, and overall health. A lack of calcium can lead to metabolic bone disease which can cause deformities or fractures.

Calcium supplements come in the form of either a powder or liquid that can be dusted on insects or mixed into vegetables. It’s important not to overdo calcium supplementation as too much calcium can also cause health problems such as kidney damage.

Offering a variety of high-calcium greens like collard greens and turnip greens along with the occasional calcium supplement dusted on insects should provide enough calcium for your juvenile dragon’s needs. It’s essential to monitor their health regularly and make adjustments to their diet if necessary, based on any signs of weakness or lethargy.

Hydration and Watering Needs

Providing Clean Water Daily

One of the most critical aspects of juvenile bearded dragon care is ensuring that they have access to clean drinking water. Bearded dragons obtain most of their hydration from drinking water, and it’s essential to change the water daily.

Unclean or stagnant water can cause infections, which could make your pet sick. The type of bowl you use for your pet’s water should be sturdy and shallow enough for them to drink comfortably.

You can also use a small dish with a smooth surface like a saucer as a substitute. Avoid using deep or high-sided bowls as they may pose risks that could lead to drowning.

Mist Spraying for Hydration needs

Juvenile bearded dragons are naturally desert animals that require higher levels of humidity when young than adults do. One way to ensure that your juvenile dragon stays hydrated is through mist spraying.

Mist-spraying involves spraying fine mists of distilled or filtered water onto the terrarium walls, ceiling, branches, and substrate where the dragon spends most of its time. Misting the enclosure raises humidity levels slightly while offering a source for drinking and bathing.

To mist-spray correctly, you need to have adequate equipment like hand sprayers with adjustable nozzles suitable for reptiles. The handheld sprayer ensures even distribution throughout the enclosure without drenching its contents excessively.

It’s important not to over-mist as this can cause respiratory issues in baby bearded dragons’ delicate systems; however, some species benefit from being misted regularly while others only need it once or twice a day. Always observe your juvenile bearded dragon’s reaction to misting to determine their preference.

Watering Techniques for Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are known for their unique drinking habits, and it is essential to take note of these when caring for your pet. It is not uncommon to see them soaking in their drinking water bowls, and this should not be a cause for concern as it’s part of their natural behavior.

Some juvenile bearded dragons might prefer to lap up water droplets that gather on the terrarium walls or plants, while others prefer mist spraying in the morning or afternoon.

Observing your pet’s behavior will give you clues on what they find comfortable. Ensure that you change the water bowl daily and clean it thoroughly with warm soapy water.

Use vinegar or other disinfectants to remove any stubborn mineral deposits that can build up over time. Providing adequate hydration for your baby bearded dragon is crucial in maintaining its health and well-being.

Handling and Socialization

Proper Handling Techniques

Bearded dragons are a docile species that can be handled with ease, but it’s important to follow proper handling techniques to ensure their safety and comfort. Before picking them up, make sure to approach them from the front and never from above as they may interpret this as a predator attack.

Always support their entire body while holding them in your hand, avoiding any sudden movements or squeezing. It’s also important to consider the temperature of your hands during handling as bearded dragons require specific heat levels for their bodies to function properly.

If your hands are too cold or too hot, it can cause stress on the animal’s system. Make sure you wash your hands before handling them to avoid any potentially harmful bacteria transfer.

Importance of Socialization

Socializing a juvenile bearded dragon is critical for its development into a well-adjusted adult that is comfortable with human interaction. The earlier they are exposed to humans and other animals, the more likely they will become sociable creatures that enjoy being around people.

To start socializing your pet, try hand-feeding them with small pieces of food while holding it in front of its face. This will help build trust between you and the animal while also allowing you to monitor its eating habits more closely.

You can then advance by gently petting the bearded dragon’s head back towards its tail while feeding it. As they get older, you can introduce other socialization activities such as supervised playtime outside of their enclosure or giving them a bath in shallow water filled with toys like rubber ducks or plastic balls.

It’s important not to force socialization on a bearded dragon as this can cause stress and anxiety. Respect the animal’s boundaries and allow them to adjust to new environments and situations at their own pace.

Health Concerns

Common health issues in juvenile bearded dragons.

Juvenile bearded dragons are susceptible to a variety of health problems, some of which can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly. One common issue is metabolic bone disease, which occurs when the lizard’s body doesn’t get enough calcium or vitamin D3. This can lead to bone deformities, paralysis, and even death in severe cases.

Another issue is impaction, where the lizard’s digestive system becomes blocked by compacted substrate or foreign objects. Symptoms of impaction include lethargy, loss of appetite, and swelling in the abdomen.

Respiratory infections are also common in juvenile bearded dragons due to their sensitive respiratory systems. Symptoms include wheezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, and difficulty breathing.

Another issue is parasitic infections from internal parasites such as pinworms or external parasites such as mites. These infections can cause weight loss, lethargy, and decreased appetite.

Signs to look out for.

Knowing the signs of potential health issues in a juvenile bearded dragon is essential for early detection and treatment. Regular observation of your pet’s behavior will help you notice any changes in their physical appearance or habits that may indicate something is wrong.

Some signs that your juvenile bearded dragon may have health issues include changes in appetite or water intake; lethargy; weight loss; irregular stool consistency; lack of energy; abnormal behavior (such as pacing or aggression); shedding problems (such as retained skin); eye discharge; nasal discharge; labored breathing; coughing/sneezing/wheezing sounds when breathing.

How to prevent health issues?

Preventing health issues before they arise is always better than having to treat them later on. Proper diet and nutrition are crucial for preventing many common ailments in juvenile bearded dragons. Offering a variety of healthy foods such as insects, vegetables, and fruits will ensure that your pet is getting all the necessary nutrients.

Additionally, make sure to dust their food with calcium powder to prevent metabolic bone disease. Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment for your bearded dragon can also help prevent the spread of bacteria and parasites that can cause health issues.

Use a substrate that is easy to clean and replace regularly to prevent impaction or bacterial growth. Regular vet check-ups are crucial for ensuring your pet’s continued good health.

A reptile vet will perform a thorough physical exam and may recommend testing for internal parasites or other potential health issues. By following these preventative measures, you can help keep your juvenile bearded dragon healthy and happy for years to come.

Final Thoughts

After going through this comprehensive guide on taking care of a juvenile bearded dragon, it is evident that these pets require meticulous attention and care to thrive. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your pet is healthy, happy, and comfortable in its environment.

Summary of Key Points

Firstly, you need to provide adequate housing and environment for your bearded dragon by choosing the right size and type of enclosure, maintaining the appropriate temperature and lighting requirements, and selecting suitable substrate options.

Secondly, feeding your juvenile bearded dragon with high-quality food sources is crucial for its growth and development. You should also ensure that you feed them at regular intervals, provide them with enough portion sizes according to their age and size, as well as supplementing their diet with calcium.

Thirdly, ensuring proper hydration through clean water provision daily and mist spraying when necessary is essential for preventing dehydration in juvenile bearded dragons.

Fourthly, handling your bearded dragon correctly while socializing them from an early age can help improve their mental health. It will also help you build trust between yourself and your pet.

Paying attention to possible health concerns by regularly observing them for signs of illness or general unwellness can help prevent severe health issues in the future. It would help if you also took preventative measures like cleaning their environment regularly to maintain good hygiene levels.

Encouragement to Take Good Care of Your Pet

As much as owning a juvenile bearded dragon can be exciting and fulfilling as they make excellent pets when adequately cared for. However, it would help if you remembered that these pets depend solely on you for their survival.

Thus it is crucial to take good care of them by providing adequate housing, nutritious food, clean water, and proper socialization and health care.

Owning a pet like a juvenile bearded dragon can be a rewarding experience if you follow the necessary steps to take good care of them. These creatures are fascinating and unique pets that require specific conditions to thrive.

As such, it is essential to do your research before adopting one so that you can provide the best possible care. Remember always to observe your pet’s behavior and reach out to an expert in case of any concerns.