Juvenile bearded dragons are ones whose age lie between baby and subadults. Their typical age is 2-7 months, and their size is 12-19 inches with the younger ones shorter and the older ones longer.
Tank setup and supplies
Any ideal tank size should be 40-55 gallons. However, going for a 75 gallon and above tank will save you the cost of having to replace it as well as buy new supplies, especially lighting and heating, since the enclosure will be more prominent in size.
Avoid kits, including the Zoo Med and Reptihabitat Kits, and invest in a good quality tank and supplies. Most of them are small, and many people have noted that the monitoring devices don’t last long.
The supplies they need are the same as the various supplies that bearded dragons require. These include:
- Correct tank size and screen cover.
- UV Light bulbs, heating lamps, or devices, as well as their fixtures.
- Control and monitoring equipment like thermometers, reptile timers, hygrometers, and thermostats
- Décor and furniture like hammocks, climbing branches or logs, basking platforms, live and artificial plants, terrarium backgrounds, among others.
- Feeding and watering bowls
Once you have obtained all these supplies, you can do your tank setup, which isn’t an arduous task.
Food, diet and feeding them
How you feed your juveniles is very important since it is not the same as you do to your adult or baby beardies. They have a different dietary requirement slightly.
a). Food ratio
Unlike baby bearded dragons whose diet is 80% feeder insects and 20% veggies, you need to reduce the amounts of feeder insects to 60% and increase vegetable and greens to 40%. You can also include commercial food. Fluker’s, Zoo Med, Rep-Cal have juvenile bearded dragon foods.
b). Feeder insects
Only allow them to have mealworms, superworms, or those with hard shell (exoskeleton) ones they are at least six months as they may cause impaction.
The general rule when it comes to feeder insects is to ensure they are smaller than the space between these pet’s eyes.
Finally, avoid wild-caught insects (may have insecticide, pesticides or carry parasites), boxelder bugs, ants, stinging insects, fireflies, scorpions, lubber grasshoppers, house flies, just but to mention.
c). Veggies, fruits, and safe plants
Among the staple vegetables and safe plants include dandelion greens, turnip greens, cacti leaf, cacti pear, alfalfa plant (not sprout), squash, escarole, endive, collard greens, kales, mustard greens among others.
There are also many other veggies, safe plants/flowers, and herbs to feed you can feed to these pets occasionally. However, spinach, rhubarb, lettuce, celery, among others, are either unhealthy or don’t have many benefits.
Finally, juveniles can eat fruit treats like apples, bananas, blackberries, and so on. However, you should avoid avocados and other unsafe fruits.
d). How much food to give them?
When feeding them, we won’t recommend a specific number of insects since their size may vary. Just stick to what they can eat in 10-15 minutes and remove any remaining food. It won’t be sensible to say how many crickets or other feeder insects they should eat since their sizes may vary.
e). How often to feed them?
Juveniles need to eat 3-4 times, while 2-3 times a day will still work well. Ensure they have feeder insects at least once a day.
Dust their food 4-5 times a week with calcium and two times with vitamin D3 or any multivitamin that has vitamin D3.
Juvenile bearded dragon not eating
If they are not eating, try varying their food, give them appetite stimulants like Zilla Reptile Health Supplies Jump-Start Appetite Stimulant or any other in the market. Also, mask their meals with what they like, try hand-feeding, have terrarium plants since they can eat them, etcetera.
Finally, if they are entirely not eating, seek the intervention of your herp vet before considering syringe feeding. Your vet will first find the underlying problem and manage it.
Juveniles may begin to be territorial, bob their head, wave their arm, display their beard, among other typical beardie behaviors. Unless it is a behavioral problem, don’t bother them.
Proper care is vital for optimum health. Besides feeding and providing them with the right shelter, ensure you keep their habitat very clean. Spot clean their cages once dirty and clean them thoroughly once in a month.
Also, bathe them to help them shed (when shedding) as well as keep them well hydrated as they will tend to drink water as you soak them.
In case they are shedding, besides hydration, misting will also aid sloughing as well as shedding aids like Zilla Shed-Ease Reptile Bath, Zoo Med Repti Shedding Aid or Zilla Tropical Mist Reptile Spray
Other requirements are more or less the same as care requirements for adult beardie brumation, as most won’t brumate.
Health and vet care
A healthy juvenile beardie should be alert, active, energetic, and have bright alert eyes. Furthermore, they should have a usual posture, walk normally, eat, bask, have no swelling or discharges.
While they are hardy, they do get sick, especially in the case of poor husbandry, care as well as nutritional deficiencies and wrong heat or UV lighting settings. Common health problems they may suffer from include:
- Metabolic bone disease
- Mouth rot
- Tail rot
- Respiratory infections
- Atadenovirus infection
- Yellow fungus
- Impaction and constipation
- Ear, eye and nose infections
In case of any abnormal behaviors or signs of illness including lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, sunken eyes, jerky movements including limping, discharges, cloudy eyes, not eating, and so forth, see your vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Finally, periodical vet visits such as annual or biannual ones will help detect any illness early and confirm their general health status.