Skip to content
Baby Bearded Dragon Care Guide | Zen Habitats

Baby Bearded Dragon Care Guide | Zen Habitats

Baby Bearded Dragon Care

(Pogona vitticeps)
Difficulty: Intermediate

baby bearded dragon, baby bearded dragon care guide, incudling a complete bearded dragon food guide and substrate guide, along with heating and lighting

Bearded dragons are 18-24” long lizards with spiky grayish, beige, or orange scales (although other colors are available in captivity). They earned their name from their spiky, expandable throat pouch, which can look very much like a beard — especially when it darkens.

These lizards are native to eastern and central Australia. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including desert, scrub, and dry forests. Although they are widely considered terrestrial lizards, bearded dragons are skilled climbers and enthusiastic burrowers in their native habitat.

What’s The Main Difference Between Caring For A Baby Vs. Adult Bearded Dragon?

Baby bearded dragons are called hatchlings until they are about 2 months old, during this time they will grow from about 3” to about 9” long. Starting at 3 months of age, baby bearded dragons are considered juveniles until they reach a year old, after that they are called sub-adults, and finally reaching adulthood at around 18 months old.

There are a few important key factors you must consider when caring for a young bearded dragon. Beardies, especially young ones, explore the world with their mouths by tasting everything. In doing this there is always a risk of your pet accidentally ingesting something they are not supposed to. For this reason, a solid substrate can be used so that they do not eat their loose substrate, especially when they are trying to hunt feeder insects. 

Speaking of feeder insects - baby bearded dragons love them! And need them... a LOT of them! Baby beardies should eat as many feeder insects as they will consume in 10-15 minutes TWICE per day. This can be up to 30 insects per sitting! Small crickets and dubia roaches are an ideal daily food, but adding in other insects for variety will help your dragon get the most nutrition out of their meals. They are less likely to consume greens than adults, but thankfully the insect protein is what is most important for these growing baby dragons, so don't be too worried if your baby isn't too interested in their greens at first. 

Another thing to keep in mind is how to heat and light your bearded dragon’s enclosure. Because they are smaller heating and lighting may need to be hung lower and closer to the animal to achieve proper thresholds. This also means if you are starting your bearded dragon in a smaller enclosure, you need to ensure their temperatures do not get extremely hot where they cannot escape the heat and thermoregulate.

How Long To Bearded Dragons Live?

Bearded dragons have a lifespan of 10-15+ years. They are generally considered fully grown between 1-2 years old.

chi the bearded dragon on a zen cave basking within a zen habitats 4x2x2 bearded dragon enclosure

How Big Do Bearded Dragons Get? 

Bearded dragons tend to be 18″-24″ (45-61 cm) long from snout to tail, weigh between 10-18 oz (283-511 g). They grow quickly, typically attaining full size within the first year of life. 

Shopping List For A Baby Bearded Dragon: 

Terrarium Size For A Baby Bearded Dragon:

Leading modern bearded dragon husbandry experts recommend keeping an bearded dragon in no smaller than a 120-gallon (48”L x 24”W x 24”H) enclosure. A baby bearded dragon can typically adapt easily to going into their adult enclosure. A large spacious enclosure ensures your baby bearded dragon has room to safely thermoregulate to escape their hot basking temperature. Smaller terrariums may not provide adequate area to get away from these high temperatures. 

The enclosure should be front opening for easy access, with excellent ventilation. Ideally, the top should be mesh rather than solid. And of course, bigger is always better!

 bearded dragon setup, 4x2x2 zen habitats enclosures for bearded dragons and baby bearded dragons or juvenile bearded dragons

Can multiple bearded dragons be housed together in the same enclosure?

Bearded dragons are territorial rather than social, which means that keeping multiple bearded dragons in the same enclosure can lead to fighting and serious (sometimes even fatal) injuries. Babies grow extremely quickly, and will begin to show territorial aggression quicker than you expect. So, it’s best to keep only one bearded dragon per enclosure.

Lighting, Temperatures & Humidity:

Bearded Dragons are diurnal, which means that they are most active during the day. This also means that they are stimulated by the presence of bright white light in their environment, and they require strong, high-quality UVB lighting for survival.


UVB lighting can be tricky, because in order to get the right strength of UVB (UV Index, or UVI), distance and potential mesh obstruction must be considered. To provide appropriate UVB in a single 48” x 24” x 24” bearded dragon enclosure, you will need a 22” Arcadia Dragon 14% bulb, placed on the warm side of the enclosure.

The basking area should be placed as follows:

  • UVB mounted over mesh: basking area 7-11” below UVB lamp
  • UVB mounted under mesh: basking area 12-18” below UVB lamp

(These recommendations are approximations based on available data. For best results, use a Solarmeter 6.5 to determine the best placement to achieve a UVI of 4.0-6.0 in the basking area.)

Bright light with a color temperature of 6000-7000K is suggested by experts to be important to bearded dragons’ mental health. Bearded dragons with additional “daylight” lighting in their enclosure seem to be more alert and active than those without, as well as demonstrating better appetite and more natural behaviors.

Full-spectrum lighting is not the same as reptile UVB lighting, so you will need two separate lamps.

Baby Bearded Dragon Temperatures

Humans are warm-blooded, which means that our body temperature is automatically regulated. Bearded dragons, however, are cold-blooded, which means that they have to move between areas of different temperatures to regulate their body temperature. Bearded dragons warm up by basking under the sun in the wild. In captivity, they do best with a halogen heat lamp as a heat source.

  • Basking surface temperature: 105-115°F (40-46°C)
  • Cool zone temperature: 70-85°F (21-29°C)

Generally speaking, 100w PAR38 halogen flood bulbs should be plenty to achieve those basking temperatures in a 24” tall enclosure. However, if you notice that they’re getting too hot, dial it down with a plug-in lamp dimmer. If your basking area is too cool, you need higher wattage bulbs.

To measure the basking surface temperature, use an infrared thermometer (a.k.a. temperature gun). To passively track basking temperature, use a digital probe thermometer, with the probe placed on the basking surface under the heat source.


Bearded dragons should have an average ambient humidity of 30-60%, as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe placed on the ground on the cool side of the enclosure. Humidity levels that are consistently higher than 60% can make your bearded dragon sick.

What’s The Best Substrate For A Baby Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragons explore their worlds by taste, and hatchlings are no exception. Hatchling bearded dragons will lick and taste everything in their enclosure, for this reason a loose substrate may not be appropriate for young beardies. We prefer to use a solid substrate for baby dragons such as tile, the Zen Mat, newspapers, or paper towels.  
Once they have grown a bit and learned to adequately catch their feeder insects, you can move them onto a loose substrate. 

Decorating the Terrarium:

Decorations play an important role in your bearded dragon’s enclosure as environmental enrichment. Enrichment items encourage exercise, stimulate your pet’s natural instincts, and help promote overall wellbeing. And, of course, they make the enclosure look nice!

Here are some ideas. You don’t need all of these things, but you do need enough of them to provide plenty of places to hide and opportunities to climb/explore.

  • cork hollows
  • cork flats
  • hammocks
  • cholla wood
  • ghost wood
  • grape wood
  • live or artificial plants
  • magnetic ledges

Feeding Your Bearded Dragon:

Baby bearded dragons require more insect protein than their adult counterparts in order to grow strong at a healthy rate. This means they should be getting fed size appropriate insects twice per day. Offer as many insects as your dragon will consume in a 10-15 minute time frame (and this can sometimes be up to 30!) Offer greens daily as well, but you will likely notice that babies are not as keen on eating their salads at first - especially when they are filling up on their favorite bugs!

How often bearded dragons need to eat depends on age:

  • Hatchlings (0-6 months old) — Insects 2x/day, greens daily
  • Juveniles (6-12 months old) — Insects 1x/day, greens daily
  • Adults (>12 months old) — Insects 2-3x/week, greens daily

chi the bearded dragon eating a dubia roach. What can bearded dragons eat?

Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means that they need both animal- and plant-based foods to get the nutrition that their bodies need. The key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for your bearded dragon is VARIETY! Here is a quick list of safe, nutritious vegetables to get you started:

  • collard greens
  • cactus pad
  • spring mix
  • arugula
  • kale
  • pea shoots
  • alfalfa
  • bok choy
  • carrot greens
  • spinach
  • dandelion greens
  • hibiscus leaves
  • endive
  • clover sprouts

    For a happy and healthy bearded dragon, check out our complete food guide here: Bearded Dragon Complete Food Guide


    Bearded dragons should be given calcium dusted onto their food with nearly every feeding, but calcium with vitamin d3 and multivitamins can be given every few feedings. While under supplementation is a huge risk for pet bearded dragons, it is also possible to over supplement your bearded dragon.
    Proper supplementation is extremely important for growing bearded dragons. A lack of proper calcium and vitamins while they are growing is detrimental to young dragons.

    How to Supplement

    To use supplement powder, add insects to a container and generously coat them in supplement powder and shake to cover the insects. You may also do a sprinkle of calcium or multivitamin on damp salads. To avoid over-supplementation, every third to fourth feeding you can leave supplements off. If your UVB is proper, bearded dragons should not need dietary D3 every feeding, so it is best to use calcium without d3 for the majority of feedings, and add calcium with d3 every few feedings.

    Handling Tips

    Baby bearded dragons can be squirmy and more apt to run than adults. Start by sitting on the ground with your baby beardie, or handling them inside of their enclosure, so if they make a run for it they won't have a far fall.

    • Come from the front when going to lift your beardie. Bearded dragons have a third eye on the top of their head that detects shadows. If you come from above, their natural instinct is to flee from a potential predator about to swoop them up.
    • Support all four feet. If one foot is left out, s/he will feel off balance and start to thrash to regain it.
    • Use slow movements with hand over hand (treadmill) action as the bearded dragon moves. 
    • If your beardie is shedding, resist pulling at the loose skin. You may pull off scales that haven’t completely detached yet.
    • Keep handling sessions SHORT! You don't want to stress your bearded dragon out. Keep sessions to 5-10 minutes initially while they get used to being handled. 

    More Resources

    Cart 0

    Your cart is currently empty.

    Start Shopping