Before you decide to add a new pet to your family, you should always ask yourself if you have enough time for that. Are bearded dragons a lot of work? How much time do you really have to spend on them? Here is the short answer.
The initial amount of work is pretty high. You have to do a lot of research to understand how to care for a bearded dragon and what tank setup they need. After that is done, bearded dragons are not a lot of work. Water changes on a daily base, feeding and cleaning the terrarium take around 15 minutes per day.
Is that really everything or are there more things you have to do when keeping a bearded dragon? Actually, there are a couple of more things you have to keep in mind, but you don´t have to do them each and every day. Let me explain to you in detail how much work bearded dragons really are.
Are Bearded Dragons A Lot Of Work?
As soon as you have learned how to care for a bearded dragon and as soon as you have set up the perfect tank for your bearded dragon, keeping bearded dragons won´t consume a lot of your daily time.
The problem is though that a lot of people need a really long time to truly understand what bearded dragons need and how to care for them properly. Besides that, most beginners set up the bearded dragon tank completely wrong.
For example, the lighting setup in bearded dragon tanks is a very complicated topic and there are only a few people who have the right lighting right from the start.
Having the wrong lighting can even result in the death of your pet in the worst case. So most beginners have to change all that again, do a lot of research and get a completely new setup.
Why This Happens All The Time
The problem with keeping reptiles is that you do not only have to buy the pet, you also have to buy its home.
Pet shops are not really a big help here, since most of them do not educate their buyers before getting the pet. They are interested in selling pets and selling the setup for those pets.
Most of the times they give their buyers misleading information on the pets and they sell setups that are absolutely not appropriate for a bearded dragon´s needs.
Besides all that, getting information on the internet is pretty hard as well. Google one question on bearded dragons and you will receive 10 different answers. The beginner can only choose which answer he or she goes with and hope for the best.
So beginners do not really have an easy start.
Don´t worry though, I am here to help. To avoid any problems with the lighting setup, read my bearded dragon lighting guide here.
You Have To Change The Water Every Day
This might not be surprising, but if you use a water bowl, no matter if it is only for drinking or also for swimming, you have to change that water on a daily base.
You can also use a dripper to make sure that your bearded dragon stays hydrated. If you have a dripper with a huge water tank, you don´t have to change that water every day.
Changing the water and cleaning the water bowl with hot water requires probably 2 minutes of your time.
A lot of people do not even use a water bowl though. Many bearded dragons do not drink much, because they get enough water by eating greens. This leads us to the next point.
Feeding Greens Every Day
Baby bearded dragons mostly eat live food and do not need greens at first, but adult bearded dragons should eat greens on a daily base.
Greens are very important for hydration. In addition to that, greens are very healthy and they can help bearded dragons to have a bowel movement.
Bearded dragons that only eat meat (meal worms, crickets and so on) will become fat, lazy and unhealthy. That is why you definitely must offer greens.
Cutting salads and vegetables into the right size, and cleaning the food bowl with hot water every day will take 5 to 10 minutes of your daily time.
Feeding Live Food A Couple Of Times Per Week
As I said above, baby bearded dragons eat mostly meat and they eat a lot. It can happen that a baby bearded dragon eats a whole box of crickets in one go.
However, when your bearded dragon gets older, you have to start feeding more greens instead of live food. Adult bearded dragons should eat crickets, roaches, etc. around three times per week.
I recommend to not use a food bowl for this. Bearded dragons should hunt their food to get a little bit of exercise and to make this whole process more natural. So throwing in a couple of crickets every second day or so takes around 2 minutes of your time.
However, you also have to buy that food. If you have a pet shop near you that sells live food for reptiles, great! You can also order food for your bearded dragon online though, which takes 1 minute per week.
Cleaning The Bearded Dragon Tank On A Daily Base
Don´t worry, you don´t have to do much on a daily base to clean the tank. It is important though, that you always clean the bearded dragon tank from feces and it would be best if you do that as soon as you see that your bearded dragon has left a present for you.
I don´t have to tell you that there is bad bacteria in feces and sometimes bearded dragons crawl through their feces by accident. To avoid that, just clean it up immediately.
Bearded dragons have a bowel movement at least once a week, but some have to go every day. This also depends on what you feed your bearded dragon.
Further you should get rid of uneaten food inside the tank. Whether it be salad or dead insects, you should get it out to avoid any bad bacteria which could make your bearded dragon sick.
Cleaning the tank on a daily base takes around 3 minutes. Just make sure you have a shovel for the feces, this will make it easier for you.
Changing The Substrate From Time To Time
Many people use reptile carpet or newspaper as subtrate. I am not a fan of this and I actually recommend to get some diggable substrate for your bearded dragon as they are natural diggers.
This is a different topic though and if you want to know which substrate I recommend, read my beardie substrate guide.
So how often you have to change the substrate depends on how dirty the tank is and which substrate you are using. Loose substrate can be kept clean pretty easily and for a long time as you can remove parts of the substrate that are dirty quickly.
Newspaper and reptile carpet have to be cleaned and changed more often.
Changing The Lighting Once A Year
UVB bulbs need to be changed every six to eight months, because the UVB output decreases over time. If your bearded dragon does not get enough UVB it will become sick.
Buying the bulb online and changing it also only requires a couple of minutes.
Visiting A Reptile Vet
You should get your bearded dragon checked for parasites once a year or if you notice some behavior changes in your bearded dragon. You don´t even have to visit the vet for that, you can also send them a stool sample and they call you and tell you if your bearded dragon is okay.
Other than that you only have to take your beardie to the vet if it is sick. Common sense, right?
Some people like to do yearly checkups and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but you don´t really have to do that if your beardie is okay. Just be quick if you notice that it behaves differently.
What About Giving Baths And Playing?
If your bearded dragon is not extremely dirty or impacted, there is no need to give it a bath. Bearded dragons do not smell, only their feces can smell horribly.
There are a lot of people who will say that bearded dragon need regular baths. Whatever reason they have to say that, the facts say that they don´t need it.
What about playing? If your bearded dragon is calm and doesn´t freak out you should definitely offer some playtime (exercising).
Activities like hunting their food, running around outside or even swimming are appropriate for your beardie. Read more on that in my article on bearded dragon toys and activities.
As you see, bearded dragons do not require a lot of your daily time. It is just the beginning that can be pretty hard and time consuming.
Other than that you will need around 15 minutes per day to take care of your bearded dragon.
So are bearded dragons a lot of work? They are definitely not.
If you have any questions, leave a message in the comment section below.