You maybe confused by doing your own research and you have the right to be confused because their is so much out there that is wrong information the most reliable sources can come from other breeders.
Here's a quick list of foods good for daily use
Live: dubia, crickets, super worms, meal worms, phoenix worms, silk worms, butter worms, which are low in fat and high in calcium
Use as treats: Wax worms (because of how fatty they are) and horn worms (they're low in fat, high in water and high in calcium. Don't overfeed or your dragon may have diarrhea due to the water content in them.)
Vegetables good for daily use:
Greens - collard, mustard, turnip, dandelion, endive, escarole, kale, squash
Good for variety:
Bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, watercress, zucchini
NO dragon should be eating "only" collard greens and dubia every single day. Every dragon thrives on variety. In the meantime, here's a post I wrote in regards to the whole kale fiasco in the dragon community.
Here's the issue ... there is no real issue with kale, but let me explain a little. Years ago, it was thought that the oxalate level in kale was too high for dragons, making it a food that wasn't safe for everyday use. As research developed, it was then found that the levels in kale were comparable (in reality) to certain other greens we feed, that were "proclaimed by the dragon Gods above" as safe for daily use.
Technically you don't want to feed food high in oxalates every single day, as it can have a binding effect on calcium. However for this to occur, the amount of high oxalate food (as found through later research) has to be extensive.
Essentially after more research was completed, it was determined that kale is fine to feed as part of a well-balanced diet. You really don't want to use just "one" green or source of veggies, whether its kale or another green.
Variation is always the key to optimal dragon health. In actuality, no, there's nothing wrong with feeding kale but offering it mixed with other greens is always best for a more well-rounded, balanced, nutritional approach, which I would say about the use of any single green or vegetable.
I'd rather see someone feed kale mixed into their greens on occasion, as opposed to feeding one specific green every single day, for years on end.
Dragons thrive on variety, whether its with vegetables or live foods, and regardless of the dragon's age.
I hear so many people say that their dragon won't eat greens or other veggies and the owners start to panic. I wanted to address this topic since its such a concern.
First of all, babies and young juveniles (technically dragons under "adult" age but this varies somewhat) should be on mostly protein (live foods) and a smaller portion of greens and veggies, as compared to live foods. The real concern for people comes in, when adults don't eat their greens and veggies.
Honestly, with all age groups, I don't worry about dragons not eating greens. I also don't feed a dragon solely super worms, which have the highest fat content for the usual staple foods, for months on end. So what can you do if your dragon's not eating their greens?
Relax. As long as your dragon's getting a balanced diet, its generally not a huge problem. The problem comes in when the dragon is overweight, especially, which shows that balanced nutrition hasn't really been offered up to this point.
I make sure that all feeders are properly gutloaded and are fed fresh greens each day. I also offer fresh greens and veggies to my dragons every day, even if they don't eat them right away. You can also try adding bee pollen to their greens. The pleasant smell and good taste often encourages dragons to eat their greens.
I have no idea who first compiled this chart but its used constantly as a source of information in the dragon community for the breakdown of live feeders.
One of the live foods that's not on here that people often ask about is hornworms, and the breakdown is as follows for them:
Calcium 46.4 mg/100 gr
(Info from Rainbow Mealworms)
A lot of people feeding fruits regularly to their dragons. Remember,that with babies and younger dragons, most (around 70% to 80%) of their diet should be in the form of live foods and the remaining part should be your greens/veggies, etc. Many people stress and say things like "how do I get my baby to eat fruit?" Honestly, it is better not to. Its really just acid, sugar, and water. Yes, dragons thrive on variety. The amount of actual fruit they eat is so small that in reality, would be technically insignificant anyways. The main issue is that if you feed fruit, you don't overdo it. It shouldn't be a point of stress in a dragon's diet, for any age dragon.
I'm not saying fruit isn't healthy. As with anything, nothing should be relied on, heavily, especially in an animal that's all of anywhere from 10 grams to 600 grams. In their very essence, fruits provide hydration and they contain natural sugar, which raises the blood sugar level. Not necessarily a bad thing, just comes down to personal preference. I prefer foods with a better mix nutritionally, for our dragons.
Blackberries, strawberries, watermelon (seeds removed) would all be decent choices.
Sick Dragon Care
So you've taken your dragon to the vet and they're diagnosed with xx condition. Now what? I've noticed a trend that's taking place, especially in the past few years, where animal clinics don't always explain supportive care for sick dragons, which is oftentimes needed. Kudos to your vet if they do. That's fantastic. If you have a dragon being treated by your vet for a medical condition, there's a few factors to keep in mind during their treatment and recovery.
Basic Answers about Brumation
Many new owners are concerned right now about brumation. Brumation can be very nerve wracking for owners, especially if its something your dragon has never done before. One of the most basic points to remember is that if you have a baby or juvenile dragon, she or he should not be brumating. Even if a young dragon “wants” to sleep, the problem is that when you have a dragon that’s younger or even an adult that’s very low in weight for whatever reason, brumating can turn into issues that lead to questions about thriving, very quickly. While not brumation, this is the same principle as to why we don’t want to see a baby dragon sleeping all day. Thriving becomes a huge concern.
Some adult dragons do want to brumate. Others never do. A brumating dragon needs to be healthy. We don’t want a dragon who’s being treated for any type of medical condition brumating, and this includes being treated for parasites. Why? Because if the dragon is being treated for a medical issue, we don’t know if the brumation is really the condition worsening, or actual brumation. With parasites, parasite loads will climb higher, if the dragon is left to brumate while still carrying high loads. This turns into an absolute mess and a huge threat to their health, if allowed to brumate while carrying high parasite counts. Do not let your dragon brumate until s/he has a clean fecal test.
What to do when they brumate. If your asking if you should wake them up for water, wake them up to do whatever activity, and so forth. Quite simply, we all do things slightly different in dragon care. Don’t wake up a brumating dragon at all, as long as you know s/he is healthy. Leave them be. Waking up a brumating dragon can sometimes extend the brumating cycle, as to where they actually brumate longer. Leave him/her alone. Others wake them once a week to give a soak for hydration (drinking). But don’t. Others choose to close all their lights down, once they brumate and others leave everything the same. Generally it would be best to keep everything on for a few days, until you know for a fact that they’re brumating and not just experiencing a few days of low energy, and then turn everything off. There’s no 100% right or wrong answer for every dragon.
Again, the most important point to stress regarding brumation is that you basically want only healthy adults to brumate. If you have a young dragon trying to brumate, try to determine if there’s an alternate cause, such as husbandry or health related. People with dragons who allowed younger dragons to brumate, and it turns into dragons starting to fail very quickly. 10 month olds have brumated without issue, but they’re also very healthy and a good size for their age. The other important point to remember is to try and relax while your dragon brumates, as it can be stressful to have them sleep deeply and for an extended period.
Bug Out Bin (Evacuation Bin)
If you live in storm or emergency evacuation areas you might be familiar with Bug Out Bags for people. They carry your emergency essentials that you can grab and go when you need to evacuate. You can easily make them for your cats and dogs or other small animals, but when you have a reptile in a tank who depends on lights, it gets a bit more tricky. Don’t worry, I have everything you’ll need.
To start you’re going to want a large tote. This is going to act as not only housing while you and your dragon are displaced, but until you get where you’re going, it’s going to be a carry case for everything else AND can float if you’re flooded! (If you have multiple dragons, stack your totes together). You also want a shoebox tote or deli container, with breathing holes, for your dragon while you’re traveling. When you have to evacuate, you don’t ever want to be rushing while holding a dragon, it’s extremely dangerous and will stress out your dragon. Put their smaller tote into the bigger tote for safety (in flood zones, the bigger tote will also float).
For lighting you want to get two clip on domes from Walmart or your local hardware store. For basking you’ll need a non-LED halogen flood light and a dimmer switch, and for UVB you want a Repti Sun 10.0 Compact (not coil) bulb. No, the compact shouldn’t be used regularly, but in a temporary, emergency situation, it’s okay. I’d recommend also having a spare temp gun in there so that in the rush of everything, you don’t forget to put yours in.
I would add in some supplements in sealed, labeled baggies or salt shakers so that you have some with you. When it comes to food, if there’s the threat of evacuation I would get small tupperware containers set up with live feeders and into your bin. You can also add in a pouch of Oxbow Carnivore Care formula, that can be mixed up with just a little bit of bottled water to make food. Also remember that while we feed our dragons daily, they’re okay going a day or two without food.
I’d also toss in a roll of paper towels for substrate, a pack of baby wipes, and an extra harness if you have one. Don’t forget any current medications your dragon is on.
For a small first aid kit I would include: a small bottle of betadine for wounds, a dragon-safe antibiotic ointment, sterile gauze pads and/or sterile cotton swabs, tweezers, a toothbrush, and a uni-heat heat pack or two (the only dragon safe heat pack). While it may seen like the more the better, remember that this is a bin you’re going to have to carry around and you want it to be lightweight and portable, so you want it more minimal.
Deep Cleaning Your Enclosure
This is the simplest most cost-effective way to deep clean your Dragon’s
enclosure. The enclosure needs to be deep cleaned every weeks, spot
clean daily as needed. Bleach, vinegar, hot water, dish soap, etc. will not
kill things like Yellow Fungus and Coccidia. In order to completely disinfect
your Dragons home, you will need steam above 165°F/74°C or an Ammonia
& water solution mixed at a ratio of 1:10 (1 oz. of Ammonia and 10 oz. of
*you can use either Ammonia/water mixture or steam cleaner. Instructions
for both methods are included.
**Lemon scented Ammonia is perfectly fine to use.
• Ammonia & Water mixture (at 1:10 ratio)/steam
• Toothbrush or scrub brush
• Paper Towels
• Container to keep your dragon safely in while you are
Step 1: Empty Your Enclosure
• Put your dragon safely in the holding container
• Remove everything from your enclosure and place in an area with good ventilation.
Step 2: Spray Everything Down with Ammonia & Water
*if you are not using Ammonia/water and only using steam go to step 4
• Use a damp paper towel (or vacuum out) remove any lose particles from the inside
• Spray the inside of enclosure down first (it seems to take the longest to dry)
• Spray all of the decorations (including your soft decor like hammocks, blankets)
• If you use a solid substrate like tile, spray down both the front and BACK of the tile
• Use the toothbrush to clean off anything that’s stuck to your substrate/logs/etc.
Spray front of tile Clean off Stuck Poop Spray back
Step 3: Let Dry
• Everything needs to be completely dry before you put your dragon back inside their
enclosure. While everything is drying, pass the time by …. giving your dragon a
bath. If you are lucky they’ll poop while in there and not immediately when you
put them back in their enclosure. It’s an eitherway it’s a win/win situation.
Step 4: Spray Everything Down with Steam
****You do not have to do this step if using ammonia/water but I do.*****
• Spray everything down with your steamer you only need to leave the steam on each
spot for a few seconds.
• Wipe down with paper towel
Step 5: Put your enclosure back together
• Put everything back inside your enclosure. I use a layer of paper towels underneath my
tile to help protect the glass, but it’s not necessary.
• Make sure that you re-check the basking temps with your temp gun to make sure they
*the flood light on the left side of this pic is not a basking light, it is a regular LED bulb, does not
produce heat and is only in there to provide light for that side of the enclosure.
DRAGON FIRST AID KITS
What to keep on-hand for dragons in case of emergencies of any kind, including sudden dragon sickness, injuries, and so forth. Having certain things on-hand for when/if ever needed is a fantastic idea. A starting point is the first step, with even a handful of necessities.
Use a drawer, box, cabinet, shoe box, whatever you need to.
Here is what I would basically have on-hand or build up to:
- Paper towels (to use as substrate in a hospital tank setup for any critically injured or extremely ill dragon)
- Critical care formula
- Plastic syringes (small ones, without needles, even 1-2 is fine)
- Liquid vitamins
- Liquid calcium
- Betadine (the generic is povidone-iodine, which is also fine. Used for everything from killing off mites to treating wounds)
- Original neosporin without pain reliever or an alternate dragon-safe antibiotic ointment
- A few sterile gauze pads and/or sterile cotton swabs
- Tweezers (for removing any foreign objects that are too small to grasp with your nails and also can be used for hand-feeding an aggressive dragon due to sickness or injury)
- Saline solution (generally used for eye issues)
- Soft clean brush (for stuck sheds, use while soaking in warm water)
- Heat packs (I use uni-heat the only bearded dragon safe heat packfor emergency situations including power outages. Always wrap in a towel so there's no direct contact with your dragon, which is a burn risk
You can always add-in whatever you think would be beneficial for your dragons, if they became sick/injured or in any type of situation, like loss of power. If you live in an area that's prone to high power outages, for example, I'd go a bit heavier on the heat packs, that type of thing. Build it around your dragons and your immediate environment.
VarietySuperworms, Mealworms and Crickets
SUPERWORMS.. SUPERWORMS.. SUPERWORMS as a feeder for dragons of ALL ages. Yes, this includes hatchlings.
There are many people who I also saying to never feed their babies superworms, because it will cause issues. This isn't true.
All age dragons can eat superworms, as young as newly hatched.
Many breeders and long-time owners use super worms with all dragons, including babies. You simply give them micro supers or small superworms. They're teeny tiny and definitely are appropriate to feed even the smallest, youngest of newly hatched dragons.
Superworms are a higher source of fat, 20% protein, so they have more protein than a phoenix worm and more fat than most common feeders except for wax worms and are relatively low in calcium. I always include them, especially with growing dragons as the body, brain, nervous system, etc do need fat to grow properly, along with protein, calcium, etc. Don't twist this to say that I'm saying you should only feed superworms or a high fat diet. Of course not. But dragons do need some percentage of good fats, as they're growing so rapidly. As always, a balanced diet with variety is always best... but no... there's absolutely nothing wrong with babies eating superworms so you can stop telling people that they have to be x number of months or x feet long before they do. I would say your husbandry should be on-par and correct if you're feeding superworms but your husbandry should be correct anyway, regardless of which feeders you're using.
Mealworms will not impact and kill a dragon. Mealworms don't kill animals. Improper husbandry does. Should you feed only meal-worms to a dragon and no other live foods? Of course NOT. You shouldn't feed any sole source of live foods to a dragon, as that wouldn't be balanced nutrition. Can mealworms be used as a source of live foods? Sure. They need to be size appropriate and your husbandry needs to be up to speed. Your husbandry should be up to speed anyway, even if you don't use mealworms with your dragons and you should already be feeding size appropriate foods to all dragons, regardless of the type of live food. What is meant by appropriate sized food to all dragons is nothing bigger then the space between their eyes, if it is to big it is a choking hazard.
Quit telling people to never feed their dragon crickets and that they will get parasites from them, and that they're poor nutrition. Any feeder, including crickets, can carry parasites. Its frequent that higher amounts of pinworms are seen in certain species of crickets. Guess what? I've seen more coccodia levels rise from dubia than any other feeder.
Yes, crickets will bite so its really no big deal to feed them in a different area or take the crickets out at night. You really shouldn't be leaving live foods of any kind in your cage overnight, tbh. There's no need for it.
Are mealworms and crickets "lower nutrition" like I keep hearing people say? Depends. Lower nutrition compared to what? Mealworms are lower in protein than some other feeders, but relatively low in fat. People have been known to use them very successfully when treating gout, since they're on the low protein side. Many breeders and long-time owners include them in a rotation for variety.
Crickets are only roughly two percent different in protein than butter worms (which are low in fat and high in calcium) and super worms, and they're comparable in calcium to wax worms and slightly less fat than dubia, which everyone shovels into their dragons mouths.
My point is – there's no perfect feeder you should be solely relying on anyway. Every feeder that's most commonly found (at least in the US and a few other countries) that's acceptable or standard to feed dragons has its advantages and disadvantages. So no need to continue spreading misinformation and telling people to "never" feed mealworms or crickets, because they'll kill your dragon. Really – if you understand dragon care and dragon nutrition, including an actual balanced diet (which isn't dubia as a sole feeder on end for four months straight), they won't. If you choose to not include them in your dragon's diet, that's perfectly fine, but there's no need to continue spreading misinformation about using them.
Did you know that in places like Canada, all roaches are illegal and in some countries, particularly Asian countries in certain areas, they can't even find dubia or a few other species of feeders? Not everyone has thousands of choices in feeders like we do here in the states. So please ... stop. Really, there's nothing wrong with using either as part of a live foods diet. Again, use in a variety of foods and in moderation due to dragons can become obese. For instance, in Florida dubia roaches are illegal but you can get discoid roaches.
Dragons and egg laying
You can also get a big enough dig box for her to climb in and dig in her enclosure. If your unable to find the things below.
If you suspect your female may have infertile eggs, first thing you should do is make sure you have a proper lay bin set up. Without a proper place to lay her eggs, she can possibly retain them, causing issues such as becoming egg bound so it’s very important to give her a proper lay space.
You’ll want to ensure that she stays well hydrated and bump up her calcium intake for the duration of her egg cycle, and at least a week after laying. Keep an eye on her fat pads on top of her head. If they sink in suddenly and she is scratching in the tank, like she wants to dig a hole... she needs to lay eggs.
If you find that your girl is laying egg clutches month after month, try dropping the daylight heat hours by an hour or so. Also cut back on protein intake, for instance, if she gets 20 bugs a day, cut it to 10 or 15 a day instead. This won’t stop her body from producing follicles or eggs but it should be enough to slow the egg laying cycle she may be stuck in. Please keep in mind that a bearded dragon over a year should NOT be getting 20 bugs a day. It should be 80% salad and 20% bugs.
I’ve noticed people quick to say “spay her” and that is not always necessary. Spaying a dragon is very hard on them and some don’t do well under anesthesia. Only when it’s life threatening do they usually consider spaying a dragon.
For a proper lay bin, you’ll want to get one at least 30 gallon.
The one we use is 32”L x 20”W x 18”H
We fill it 1/3 of the way with children’s play sand, add water and mix it up to the same consistency as beach sand.
Make sure you have a heat lamp clamped to one end of the tub for heat. Use just a 50 watt small halogen flood bulb in the bin for heat. If you’re worried about her climbing out, you can cut a hole in one end of the lid the same size as your dome heat lamp, so the edge sits just on the rim.. on the other end of the lid, you can cut a ventilation hole the same size, hot glue some screen to the underside so she cannot climb out.
Be sure the sand is level as well (they can jump and climb.. and will, if given a chance to escape lol)
Dragons will dig a burrow in the damp play sand, back in.. lay her eggs and then bury them. You’ll know she is done once they’re buried.
Let her finish this process before digging up the eggs to freeze until garbage day.
Be sure to bathe her after and offer her a good drink of water. You’ll want to help her to restore the fat and calcium lost from producing the eggs. They use the calcium and fat stores from their own body to produce eggs if extra isn’t given while gravid.
You can offer wax worms, calcium worms, hornworms (great for hydration and dipping into calcium powder) butter worms etc. Also be sure she has access to fresh dark leafy greens daily as they’re great for hydration as we