Bearded Dragon Hatchling Care Guide
There is a reason that bearded dragons and especially baby bearded dragons have become such popular pets. They are low maintenance, are a lot of fun and are not at all fussy. Most pet dragons available in the market are over 6 months old, although you can get your hands on a baby beardie that is between the ages of 2 months and 6 months. Bearded dragon hatchlings (newborns up to 2 months) are much harder to come by. In any case, our article today focuses on bearded dragon hatchling care.
One of the main reasons that bearded dragon hatchlings are usually not sold as pets is that the moving and adjustment process from its old home to a new home can be fatal for them. While settling in, your beardie will most probably stop eating for a day or two. A dragon hatchling’s body is not yet developed enough to withstand those couple of days without food.
If your hatchling is as a result of you breeding bearded dragons, then this risk factor goes away slightly. Since baby bearded dragon hatchling care has its pitfalls, we recommend never to buy hatchlings even if you have access to them.
Below you will find useful information about caring for bearded dragon hatchlings. We’ve divided are guide into living space, temperature, humidity and handling. For information on baby bearded dragon diet – click here.
Bearded Dragon Hatchling Care
The thing with bearded dragon hatchlings is that when they hatch out of their shells, they will be completely exhausted from the effort. It is quite common for dragon hatchlings to not move at all for a couple of days, so there is nothing to be worried about. Leave them be in their incubator and they should show signs of life within a few days.
Once you see that the hatchlings have picked up activity, are running about, it is time to transfer them into their own living space.
Caring For Bearded Dragon Hatchlings Through Proper Handling
You need to realize that hatchlings are very fragile. Like the newborn babies of any species, bearded dragon hatchlings are weak, with undeveloped immune systems that make them susceptible to many diseases.
Sometimes a hatchling will still have its egg sac hanging from its belly even after it has hatched. The egg sac will continue to provide the dragon hatchling with nutrients until it falls of naturally. The sac is sticky and will stick to dry surfaces. When it is time to move your hatchling from the incubator to its home, make sure you don’t accidentally remove or damage the sac.
Here is how to handle baby bearded dragon hatchlings:
- Place a towel on the palm of a hand (let’s say, left hand)
- Using the other hand approach the baby beardie from its side
- The hand must be placed in such a way that your palm faces upwards and your fingers point towards the dragon.
- In one smooth action, scoop up the beardie using your palm
- Make sure that the hatchling is completely on your palm, belly and tail, before lifting slightly
- Transfer the hatchling onto your other hand (the one with the towel)
- You can lightly cup the beardie with your free hand to prevent it from jumping off
- Remember, it is essential you do this with soft hands and with a swift action – you don’t want to scare it
Once you’ve transferred your bearded dragon hatchling to its new enclosure, avoid handling it again until it is 2-3 weeks old. The only reason to do it again before then is if there is some urgent matter regarding the baby bearded dragon hatchling care.
Hatchlings will take their sweet time to get comfortable with you. Before they do, you don’t want to put them under undue stress by handling them too much. They are weak, and this stress could kill them.
Once they are slightly older (say 2 weeks old) you can start handling them every once in a while. They are still not strong enough for you to handle all the time, but every once in a while works just fine. Bearded dragons like socializing and properly caring for bearded dragon hatchlings means that you should socialize with them. You will need to start now so that your bond grows as the baby grows.
Ideal Living Conditions For Bearded Dragon Hatchlings Care
Like we said before, sometimes your bearded dragon hatchling will have the egg sac still attached. If this is so, make sure that any substrate you use in its new enclosure is not dry. If it is too dry, the egg sac will stick to it and come off. We prefer wet towels.
For dragon hatchlings without an egg sac you can use substrate like newspapers or brown paper. We recommend not using sand, since baby dragons don’t have fully developed feeding habits and might ingest it while attacking their food. The sand could clog their digestive systems and kill them. If you do want to use sand, make sure you filter it properly and remove any larger particles to make it safer.
Bearded dragons like to have space to move about. But for hatchlings it is best that you use small enclosures. This will give them easier access to the insects you feed them. Don’t have more than 4-5 hatchlings in one enclosure or they might start hurting each other. And if you are keeping more than one hatchling in one enclosure, keep a careful eye on them to make sure that there is no bullying going on. Caring for bearded dragon hatchlings means making sure that they are always healthy and growing like they should.
Keep it simple for the first few months. In fact, the enclosure you design for your hatchlings should last till they become adults barring a few upgrades later. Make sure that there aren’t many places for the crickets to hide. Don’t use any fake leaves or other decorations at this stage, since the hatchlings might try to eat them.
The type of enclosure you use is entirely up to you. You can go for a rubber one or a glass one. Hatchlings because of their shy nature don’t really enjoy being in see-through walls. If you have a glass enclosure, it would be best to drape the enclosure with a sheet when you are not handling the beardies.
Last but not the least, caring for bearded dragon hatchlings requires that you use appropriate lighting. They are animals of the desert and require sunlight to be healthy. A 50 to 60 watt UV light should do the trick. Give them a rock (basking rock) that they can climb to get up close with the UV. The UV light will play a part in the temperature of the enclosure as well.Which brings us nicely to our next point in how to care for bearded dragon hatchlings.
Ideal Temperature For Baby Bearded Dragon Hatchlings
The ideal temperature for appropriate baby bearded dragon hatchling care is about 100 – 110 degrees F. This should be easy achievable when using the right watt UV bulb as mentioned above. Don’t go about guessing the temperature. Use a proper thermometer for this.
Set the thermometer at a point just above the basking rock. Take a reading every day in the afternoon to make sure that the temperature is right. If you feel that it is dropping, it is time to replace your UV light – maybe with one of higher power.
Maintain the 100 – 110 degree temperature for 12 hours at least every day. You might think that this is too warm, but it is not. Baby bearded dragon hatchlings need a higher temperature to be able to digest their food properly.
During the night, lower temperatures will do. It is time to shut off the UV light. Using a night light (low-light) has some benefits, but use it sparingly. Every other night should be fine. Your hatchlings will do alright in as low temperatures as 50-60 degrees F. If you live in a colder place, don’t let the temperature drop below this range.
Humidity And Water For Bearded Dragon Hatchling Care
Bearded dragons specifically bearded dragon hatchlings have the tendency of not drinking enough water and dehydrating. Since they like a hot climate, they require more water than they think they do.
Make sure that you place a small water dish for them in their enclosure. Bearded dragon hatchlings don’t have great eyesight, so make sure that you use a shallow dish. If you feel like your beardie is still not touching the water at all, try placing it near the dish every once in a while. This could help the hatchling get used to drinking from the dish. Also make sure that you change the water out every day. Wash the dish too, there might be some bearded dragon hatchling excrement on or near it which would have contaminated the water.
In many cases your bearded dragon hatchling won’t take the water from the dish at all. You can spray some water directly onto the beardie. This may disturb them at first, but they will probably get used to it soon enough. Spray directly over its head using a soft spray. Continue to spray as long as the hatchling laps up the water. Only stop when you notice that it has stopped.
For worst case scenarios, where your whole plan for the bearded dragon hatchling care seems to be in jeopardy since it is not drinking its water – you could try spraying onto the sides of the enclosure or its basking rock. The beardie is more inclined to lap up the small droplets it finds in places where it likes to dwell.
Regardless of whether your hatchling is drinking its water, you also need to maintain optimum humidity levels in the enclosure. We recommend keeping the humidity level to around 40-60% in the enclosure. Anything above or below this range can be harmful.
To conclude – caring for bearded dragon hatchlings is not especially hard, but it is not a walk in the park either. We hope our bearded dragon hatchling care guide has prepared you for what’s in store. A dragon hatchling is a newborn baby after all, and requires love and attention at this stage to grow up and become your best pal for years to come.