Caring for your bearded dragon

Bearded dragons, or 'beardies', are one of the most popular lizards in captivity in the UK. They have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, or even longer, so they're quite a commitment and it's important to keep them in a way that mimics the wild as much as possible.

On this page and in our video below, you'll learn more about how to care for your bearded dragon and how to keep them healthy and happy.

The right vivarium for your bearded dragon

This robust-looking lizard can grow to around 45cm including their long tail, so they need enough space to roam around. A 120cm long x 60cm high x 60 cm wide vivarium is the minimum size you'll need for one adult dragon.

Make sure it's secure, well-ventilated and made from solid material that's easy to clean.
There are lots of different furnishings for bearded dragons. If using sand, use reptile-safe sand and avoid 'calci-sand', as it's dangerous for reptiles if they accidentally eat it.

It's important to add accessories to your beardy's vivarium, such as rocks and branches to climb on. You can also help your beardy feel secure by making sure they have some good hiding areas.

Temperature and lighting

Bearded dragons need a vivarium that ranges from a hotter (38 to 42°C) bright end, to a cooler (22 to 26°C) shaded end. As well as this, you'll need to provide a 10 to 12% fluorescent UV tube at the hot end, to stop your beardy from getting metabolic bone disease. It's also essential to keep humidity low - use a hygrometer to measure this at the cool end.

For more on heat and light, download our bearded dragon care booklet.

What do bearded dragons eat?

Bearded dragons eat a diet of live insects and vegetables. They need a wide variety of safe plants and vegetables, as well as the correct supplements. You can find out more about your beardy's feeding, supplements and water needs in our bearded dragon care sheet.Bearded dragons lifespan, size and vivarium temperature and humidity © RSPCA

Bearded dragon health - shedding and brumation

Beardies shed their skin in large pieces. There's no rule as to how often it happens, but younger dragons do shed more than older dragons. Shedding problems can usually be corrected by improving their environment, but always ask the advice of a specialist reptile vet if you have any problems.

During cooler seasons, it's normal for bearded dragons to slow down, sleep more and eat less. It's a bit like hibernation, but for lizards, it's called brumation. They shouldn't lose weight or stop eating entirely, so keep a close eye on them and get in touch with your vet if they're losing weight.

Read more tips on caring for your bearded dragon, download our bearded dragon care sheet or start your search for a bearded dragon to rehome.

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