A bearded dragon baby needs more care than a juvenile or adult dragon. Not to say that the older dragons don’t require much care, younger ones are more fragile.
Baby bearded dragons are a greater challenge because hatchlings don’t offer too much room for error. Where an older dragon will give you quite a bit of room.
I have learned about owning a baby dragon the hard way. I bought a hatchling for my first dragon, and I made just about every mistake that I could.
Luckily, my baby bearded dragon survived the mistakes, but it was rough for awhile.
I have since learned from that experience. I have learned that hatchling dragons are not as hardy as older dragons.
If you are fairly new to keeping pet reptiles, it’s a good idea to start with a bearded dragon that is at least 6″ long or two months old.
This isn’t to say you can’t own a hatchling bearded dragon, it is just easier for beginners if your first dragon is a little older.
This is not to say you have to get an adult, but at least get one that is old enough to survive mistakes that can happen.
What Defines a Baby Bearded Dragon ?
I define a hatchling, or baby bearded dragon, as a dragon less than 2 months of age. They can also be defined as being less than 4 months of age.
There might still be others that define it differently, but most definitions for a baby are similar to mine.
During these first few months, hatchling bearded dragons are more fragile and delicate than their older counter parts. They are also more prone to being stressed.
Most bearded dragon breeders won’t offer their dragons until they are at least 6 weeks old, and a lot of them will even wait until 8 weeks of age. This is good for herpetoculture and also for you. This helps you become a successful first time bearded dragon owner.
At 6 or 8 weeks of age, bearded dragons are still small. However, they are less prone to stress and other things that can affect hatchlings at this age. A two-month-old dragon is still young enough to grow up knowing you, but is also old enough to survive mistakes that are made.
How to Take Care of Baby Bearded Dragon ?
Baby bearded dragon care techniques are very similar to an adult bearded dragons care. There are some slight differences, though. Even though the differences are small, they really do matter. I have some of differences listed here.
Baby bearded dragons are a little more fragile than their older counterparts. They seem to get stressed easier and don’t take handling well. Even with these negative aspects, there isn’t anything cuter than a baby dragon.
If you have had experience with bearded dragons before, you probably won’t have much problems caring for a hatchling. However, they are very challenging for the beginner.
I think the reason for this is a beginner doesn’t know what to expect. I have to say that when I first started I had know idea what to expect.
If you have found yourself with a baby dragon or are looking at getting a hatchling, here are some tips that might help you out.
Baby Bearded Dragon Housing
An adult bearded dragon needs a fairly big enclosure to be properly housed. A baby bearded dragon is not going to need that big of an enclosure right away.
If a hatchling is thrown into a cage that is adult sized, it will be overwhelmed and will also have a hard time chasing down its prey.
Providing a smaller enclosure for the baby will help in making them feel safer and also make it easier in chasing down food.
A lot of people use a 10 to 20-gallon aquarium, or an enclosure equivalent to this size for hatchlings. As the dragon grows you will need to upgrade to a bigger cage.
Where you keep your dragon’s enclosure is also important. You don’t want your baby bearded dragon’s cage where there will be a lot of foot traffic.
Being in a busy place might stress your hatchling. Isolation isn’t good either, but having the enclosure where there isn’t a lot of disturbances is.
As your dragon gets older they will actually like to see activity. My dragons seem to perk up when they see my family doing things.
Baby Bearded Dragon Feeding
A baby dragon needs to be fed more often than older dragons. They should be fed 2 to 3 times daily.
They are mainly going to eat properly sized crickets at this time, as they are growing rapidly and their bodies are going to need the protein from the crickets.
Crickets should also be dusted with supplements during one of the daily feedings.
Proper sized food items are 1/3 the size of the hatchling’s head or smaller than the distance between their eyes.
This is important because hatchlings will eat items that are too large, and it can lead to paralysis and even death.
It’s also good to avoid mealworms at this time, because their hard chitinous shell can cause the same problems as that of large prey items.
You can offer greens at this time. If you are housing multiple baby bearded dragons, this will help keep them from nipping at tails and toes.
The hatchlings will be free to nibble between feeding times if the desire to. You can offer shredded dark leafy greens and vegetables.
You’ll want to make sure they get plenty of water. Most people do this by misting their dragons head with water until they start to lap the droplets. Baby dragons will usually lap the water off of their heads and off of cage walls and decorations.
I have tried misting my baby dragons with water, but I get a better drinking response by using a medicine dropper. Doing this helps me know that each dragon is getting the water it needs.
If you provide a water dish at this time, make sure that the water in it is shallow enough so your dragon won’t drown.
Baby Bearded Dragon Handling
The best thing to do for a baby bearded dragon is to don’t handle them as much as possible. The reason for this is that they can be overly stressed with too much handling.
As they get older, this won’t be a problem, but while they are still babies it can become a problem.
At this time you’ll have to pick and choose when to handle them, and don’t handle them for long periods of time.
When you first bring them home, be sure to give them about a three-day period to get acclimated to their new surroundings. I know it is hard to resist handling them, but it really needs to be done.
Baby Bearded Dragon Substrate
Ah……the ever controversial subject of what substrate to use. This one even perplexes me, because of all the differing opinions there are. If you went by all the different opinions, you wouldn’t be able to use anything.
There are some that say don’t keep a hatchling on any kind of sand substrate. They say that with the small size of the baby bearded dragon ingested sand can cause an impaction and lead to death.
I have also heard of breeder’s using sand for their hatchlings. I tell you this because there are convincing arguments on every side. No matter what you decide to use there is an argument against it. The choice of substrate ultimately comes down to you.
If you use sand, keep an eye on your dragon and make sure they are having regular bowel movements. If you suspect something is wrong, change out the substrate immediately. I haven’t encountered any problems while using sand for any of my dragons so far.
If you don’t like sand you can also use newspaper, paper towels, shelf liner or reptile carpet. All of these seem to be fairly safe, but you never know their might be some that disagree.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with using sand for dragons, but that is just my opinion. As with all opinions you need to take them with a grain of sand…..er, I mean salt.
Buying a Baby Bearded Dragon
What’s wrong with buying a baby bearded dragon? Well, actually there is nothing wrong with buying a hatchling, as long as you know what you are doing.
It is best to know what to expect instead of scrambling around looking for answers when problems arise. I know this because I scrambled around looking for answers when my first baby bearded dragon got sick.
She eventually got better, but it was my fault that she had gotten sick in the first place.
Some of the mistakes that I made were keeping the cage in a high traffic area, not letting her get acclimated to her new home, and over handling her. All of these mistakes could have been avoided, but I didn’t really know any better at the time.
In the period of a week I succeeded in thoroughly stressing my bearded dragon out.
My dragon was energetic and alert when I first got her, but she soon turned lethargic, sickly looking and wouldn’t eat or drink. This soon stressed me out!
I ran the gamut of scrambling to find any information on the internet that I could to help make my dragon better. I was even told by a more experienced reptile keeper, I bumped into at a pet store, that there was nothing I could do. He told me that my dragon would probably die.
I didn’t give up though and I eventually nursed my dragon back to health.
I tell you this because if you don’t make the mistakes that I did, you shouldn’t have to deal with any of these problems.
What Can I Do If I Over Stress my Baby Dragon?
The first thing you’ll want to do is put your bearded dragon cage some place quiet. Putting them some place where they can feel safe is half the battle.
If they were some place that was stressful the obvious thing to do is to put them somewhere where it isn’t stressful. Well it wasn’t that obvious, it took me awhile to figure it out.
The second thing is don’t handle them. Give them a break and let them recuperate. You will be able to handle your dragon more when they get a little older. If over handling is part of their stress, leave them alone for a time. This will definitely help.
If your dragon isn’t eating or drinking, the first thing to do is to make sure they are getting liquids. If they don’t respond to water being misted on their heads, you might have to use a medicine dropper or needle-less syringe.
I used a childs medicine dropper and clear pedialyte to hydrate my dragons that won’t drink. You can also use plain water.
It might take a little to get your baby to drink, but keep at it. Sooner or later it will pay off. I offered my dragon water every time I could until she started to drink.
After a couple days of just drinking, my dragon soon came around to eating crickets. Then before I knew it she was back to her normal self, and I was relieved.
I also came away from the situation with a lot of valuable information. I can look back now and see what I learned, but at the time I was frantic. I was almost sure that I had killed my first bearded dragon. I didn’t kill here, but it seems I did everything I could to try and kill her.
If you are a first time bearded dragon buyer, it’s a good idea to purchase one that is at least 5-6″ in leangth. This will help save you a lot of headaches and heartaches.