Baby Bearded dragon care
Most pet Bearded dragons are brought home for the first time when they are still babies. The first few days are the most important time for baby Bearded dragons to adapt in their new environments. Here are some important tips for new baby Bearded dragon keepers.
Keep the temperature & light cycles constant
Because of their size, baby Bearded dragons are very sensitive to temperature and photoperiod changes. The recommended temperatures and day-night cycles for baby Bearded dragons are similar to those for adults, but it is more important to only allow natural/gradual changes.
Frequent opening of enclosures allow for warm air to escape which can cause sudden temperature drops. During the first few days, the enclosure should only be opened during feeding and cleaning times and should be done as little as possible.
A strict routine should be kept for the photoperiod of the enclosure. For baby Bearded dragons, the correct heating and UV lighting should be constantly on for about 14 hours and off for 10 hours during each 24-hour day period. A time table or an electric timer can be used to keep this routine constant.
Apart from also risking large variations in temperature and light intensities out of the enclosure, handling baby Bearded dragons also causes stress and increase the risk for fall injuries. Handling baby Bearded dragons, especially during the first few weeks, should be kept to a bare minimum. It is important for first time Bearded dragon owners to know that they should wash their hands with an appropriate disinfectant after handling babie Bearded dragons.
Stimulate food intake
By adding food in a flat container within site of the basking and sitting areas of the enclosure, food intake can be improved and even stimulated. Ultraviolet (UV) lighting plays a vital role in the ‘presentation’ of food and makes it look more appealing. By adding food to the warmer parts of the enclosure, baby Bearded dragons will be more inclined to be nearby.
Distractions to non-adapted baby Bearded dragons can lead to eating abnormalities and stress. To prevent distractions, keep movement in front and around enclosures to a bare minimum. The same goes for noises.
Give the right greens
In order to stimulate its intake, an assortment of fresh, finely chopped greens should be supplied. A variation of allowable leafy greens, fruit and vegetables will allow for variation (of which favourites can be identified from) and might look more appealing. When chopped, try to prevent too much moisture as sogginess/mushiness might be deterring for baby Bearded dragons. Small distinguishable pieces will be easier to eat too.
Feed crickets correctly
Although crickets should be the main food source for baby Bearded dragons, they can also cause many problems when not given correctly. Only a few (two or three) live crickets should be fed at a time. More crickets should only be added, one or two at a time, if the baby wants more. Baby Bearded dragons should be fed crickets two to three times a day.
In order to improve the quality of food, crickets should be gut-loaded and dusted before feeding. Initially the smallest possible crickets should be selected and gradually increased to the maximum recommended size (dictated by the space between the eyes of the baby Bearded dragon. Fresh, (chopped,) dead crickets can be added to the greens mixture in order to decrease their size and to encourage eating behaviour in scared Bearded dragons.
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