If breed your bearded dragons or buy a baby or juvenile bearded dragon, you need to know how to care and raise them properly. While the care they need is more or less what adult beardies need, being younger, some of their needs may differ a little.
Hatchlings or newborns
These are newly emerged lizards (just hutched) typically below 4 inches in size. They need a vivarium to grow in until they are at least juvenile, which should be at least 15 gallons or more.
Secondly, they need a slightly lower ambient temperature of 80 – 85 °F without lights for the first day, i.e., only introduce basking bulbs set at about 100 degrees after a day.
Finally, within 48 hours, they will have begun to eat and hunt for food, an indication that you can start feeding them.
Baby bearded dragons care and handling
Being young and fragile, you need to raise them well and provide the necessary care. Also, minimize handling or handle them properly to avoid injuries.
a). How big are they?
Baby bearded dragons are those that a few days to two months old, and their measurements will be between 5-9 inches depending on their age. The younger ones will be smaller and older ones bigger in size.
b). Supplies including tank, substrate, and setup
They need all supplies and accessories that any bearded dragon needs. When providing all the necessary supplies, kindly note the following:
- Tank size and housing: You can start with at least 15 gallons. However, since they grow fast, go for a 40-gallon tank or more massive one as it will save on the setup costs you may incur once they become longer. If you are raising several siblings, you may need a slightly larger tank and separate them once they are about 6 inches as they may begin to nip each other’s tails and toes.
- Substrate – Since they are still young, the best substrate to use is a paper towel or newsprint paper. It is comfortable and easier to clean. Avoid sand or loose substrates as they may ingest them, resulting in impaction besides being challenging to walk on.
- Lighting – Provide UV lighting for 12-14 hours daily at 5% UVB and not 10-12% UVB as adults.
- Heating or warmth – Keep the basking temperature at 95-100 °F on the basking spot, and 80-90 °F on the cooler side. Nighttime temperatures should be 65-75 °F.
The rest of the supplies they need except the food are the same as what you provide to your fully grown beardie. These include:
- Décor and furniture – They include a hammock, climbing branches or logs, basking platform, live and artificial plants, hiding caves or places, and so forth.
- Measuring and control devices – They need a thermometer, timer, hygrometers, and thermostats.
- Feeding and water bowls – You need smaller and very shallow ones. Don’t forget to mist them and bathe them to help boost hydration.
c). Best Baby bearded dragon diet and food and how to feed them
What do baby bearded dragons eat, and how do you feed them? You need to know how to feed your baby beardie, the right diet, how to dust their food, how often to feed them, and how much food they need.
- Diet ratio: A baby bearded dragon’s diet is made of 80% feeder insects to promote growth and 20% veggies and other greens. Give them a very tiny amount of safe fruits as an occasional treat or snack.
- Best insects: Feed them gut-loaded cricket pinheads, tinniest silkworms, especially after molting, fruit flies, small roaches like Dubia, amongst others. Ensure they soft and less than the space between their eyes.
- Can baby beardies eat mealworms? No. don’t give them mealworms, as well as bigger feeder insects or those with a hard shell or exoskeletons. They will have them when they are at least six months.
- Vegetables and greens to feed them: Give them a mix of finely chopped or grated staple veggies like endive, mustard greens, escarole, turnip greens, dandelion greens, squash, collard green, kales and other occasional greens like broccoli, carrots, etc. However, avoid spinach, Rhubarb, swiss chard, lettuce, and other unsafe or those high oxalic acids.
- How often to feed them: Feed them up to 5 times and offer them insects 2-3 times daily and veggies 3-4 times a week. You can create a schedule with regular intervals.
- How much food to give them: We will not tell you five waxworms or 10-20 crickets. Instead, let them have what they can eat in 10-15 minutes and adjust the amounts accordingly. Excessive food may make them too fat.
- Should you dust their food: Yes. Since these beardies are growing, dust their foods with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements as well as other multivitamins. Dust them with calcium for five days in a week and vitamin D2 twice a week.
- Let them drink water – Ensure they drink water to keep them hydrated. Treat tap water with Reptisafe to get rid of chlorine, chloramines, and other contaminants.
If your baby dragon is not eating, try to change the food types to see if it is an issue of preference. Sometimes, they may not be willing to eat veggies. In such a case, entice them by mixing them with live feeder insects. If they don’t eat, it may be a sign that she or he is unwell.
d). Baby bearded dragon Health and well being
Check for the various signs of illness since they may suffer from the common bearded dragon disease and conditions including metabolic bone disease, impaction, mouth rot, tail rot, yellow fungus, diarrhea, yellow fungus, dehydration, amongst others.
Usually, a sick baby beardie may be lethargic, have reduced appetites, vomit, diarrhea, among other symptoms depending on the specific cause of illness. In case of any of the symptoms of diseases, seek help from your herp vet.
As they grow, they may begin showing things like arm-waving, beard display, head bobbing, and so on.
However, note that they tend to be more skittish (don’t assume they are angry at you) when you want to handle them. Also, these young reptiles may sleep more, eat more, and so on. Be gentle when handling them, and leave them alone if they seem to struggle or want to go away.
Finally, if you need to train them, let them watch already trained counterparts do something, and they will learn from them.
Besides housing, healthcare, there is more on caring for these beardies. For instance, you can bathe them to help hydrate them (they may drink water as you soak them) or help deal with impaction and constipation. Do it as you do to adults.
Buying and baby bearded dragon cost?
If you are interested, you can buy them so long as they are at least 4 inches and above. Also, check if they are healthy (not showing any signs of any diseases or conditions.
There are many baby bearded dragons available for sale, including morphs like leatherbacks, reds, zeros, trans, hypos, citrus, tigers, orange, among other fancy varieties.
While their price depends on where you buy them and how fancy, cute or rare, they are, they are generally less expensive as opposed to adults of the same variety. Typical prices will be as little as $25 – $100 for standard ones while the rare types will go much higher even to thousands of dollars.
Finally, it will be challenging to know male or female baby beardies since they don’t exhibit strong dimorphism, i.e., where males and females look different beyond their reproductive parts. However, upon sexual maturity, you may be able to know their gender.
As you buy one, ensure she or he is responsive, alert, and has wide-open bright eyes (without discharge or crusts). Also, he or she should have a plump and rounded look without any back or hip bones visible.
If they are in a group, go for the larger and most active one, and ensure the one you choose has no missing digit or nail.
Where to get them on sale?
To get them, begin with your local pet stores, shops, and breeders near you. Also, you can get them in shows, rescue centers, and online classified ad sites like Craigslist, Morph Market, Pet4Homes, and so on. Also, try Petco and PetSmart as they sell them in their inhouse stores.