Welcome to the Hatchling Care Page
This is an offshoot of the breeding page.
Most of the care information on the rest of the site has been geared towards adult Bearded Dragons. Hatchlings are much more high maintenance, and so I felt they should have their own section on the site. I also encourage you to go to the links page and check out some of the care sheets on the sites I've linked to to read about the care of Juvenile and Sub-Adult Bearded Dragons.
Preparing For Hatchlings - Before They Hatch
You need all the things to house and care for the hatchlings before they have hatched. First off you need enclosures for them. Since Bearded Dragons have such large clutches, and several clutches at that, most breeders find it impossible for each hatchling to have it's own enclosure. So it's suggested to keep them in groups of 3-5, and no more. (I will go into this more during the housing section.)
Each group should be in a 20 gallon long enclosure (30 by 12 by 12). You can buy glass ones, but it's cheaper to get rubbermaids, and they are just as good. If you go the rubbermaid route, you should get opaque ones, not transparent ones. Hatchlings seem to be more comfortable in enclosures that are not see-through. You will also need several extra enclosures, to separate those who are fighting or not thriving (both the instigator and the victim will need to be housed separately from then on in cases of aggression).
Each enclosure will need it's own substrate. Some breeders don't think you need a substrate in a rubbermaid, but I've found that the plastic bottom sharpens the claws too much. You will also need a heat lamp, basking light, and climbing furniture for each enclosure. It is possible to get a long fluorescent UVB to stretch over more than one enclosure if you lay it correctly. Have food bowls and misters to spray water into the enclosures as well. Enclosures should be fairly simple, but climbable basking furniture is important. There are less instances of injury and fighting if there is climbing furniture included.
Young Bearded Dragons need a huge amount of food. Have a place to buy in bulk lined up, or have you're own feeder colony going. You also need a plan on how to sell the hatchlings. Whether it's to a pet shop, the classifieds in generic newspapers, online, on reptile forums, at reptile expos, or if you plan to open your own breeding business you need to be ready in advance.
You will need to keep the hatchlings with you until they are 6 weeks old or 6 inches long. That's whichever comes last, not whichever comes first.
The First Week
So you open the incubator and find that you have hatchlings where there were eggs. Or perhaps you are lucky enough to see them hatch.
Hatching can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days. It is best not to help the hatchlings get out of their eggs.
Once the hatchlings are out, they will be exhausted and still. Sometimes they will play dead as well. Leave them in the incubator until they become active and start moving around a lot. That shouldn't take very long. They are not like humans, which are helpless as babies. They can run around, see, smell, etc. shortly after hatching. Once they are moving around and active, you should place them in one of the enclosures you have ready.
Some hatchlings are born with what is called an egg-sac still attached. This egg-sac provides food for the hatchlings. Do not remove it. If it is still attached and it is time to move the Bearded Dragon into his enclosure, make sure that the substrate is wet paper towels and ensure that they do not dry out. If the substrate gets too dry, the egg-sac may stick to it and rip off. That is not good at all.
Many hatchlings have absorbed the egg-sac before hatching. There is nothing wrong with this. The substrate those hatchlings are put on can be dry since they lack an egg-sac.
Some Bearded Dragons eat straight out of the egg once they are active. Most, however, won't eat for the first few days. There is nothing wrong either way.
For the first week, you should not handle the hatchlings very much. Only handle them when you absolutely have to for their care. It is stressful for them to be handled when they are so young, and they are exceedingly fragile. Handling and socialization is appropriate, and even needful, once they are two weeks old and after. Until then, it's best to keep the handling to a minimum.
Feeding and Watering
Once the hatchlings start to eat, they eat a ton. They need 30-100 1/4 inch crickets a day, spaced out into 3-6 feedings per day. They should also have fresh greens at all times in their cage too.
Hatchlings can eat crickets, small roaches, silkworms, and phoenix worms. The crickets need to be 1/4 inch in size at the largest. Roaches need to be, as always, smaller than the space between the Bearded Dragon's eyes. Silkworms must be small, and phoenix worms should be as well. If at all possible, you should give a variety of feeder insects. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it is the healthiest option for the hatchlings. The second is that it will be much easier for the prospective buyer if this is done. It is also much easier to feed hatchlings outside of their cages, in feeder bins. This helps you monitor how much each hatchling is eating and reduces competition among cage mates.
Greens should be offered from the very beginning. The hatchlings probably won't touch them for the first couple of weeks, but if the Greens are there from the beginning the hatchlings will be much, much more likely to eat them once they are older. They will also start on them early this way. Put collard greens, either chopped extremely fine or in thin strips, in a food bowl and change them out daily. Once they have started eating the Collard Greens for awhile, more variety can be added. The reason that no hatchling will touch greens right off the bat has to do the with their digestive system. Like many animals that take greens/veggies as a large part of their diet, Bearded Dragons rely on a process called fermentation to get their vegetables/greens digested. However, this requires a special bacteria. Mammals get this bacteria through their mothers milk, but Bearded Dragons don't have that option. So they get it from the crickets they eat and sometimes from eating their own feces as well, this gradually builds up the bacteria and eventually allows them to digest greens and vegetables.
They need a feeding with calcium supplementation once every day, and a feeding with multivitamin supplementation five times a week. Again, I recommend Repcal and Herptivite.
Pellets, just as greens, are more likely to be accepted if presented from the very beginning. Repcal makes a food meant specifically for young Bearded Dragons.
The leading killer of hatchlings is dehydration. They need to be misted a few to several times a day, and they need carefully supervised baths. I don't recommend water bowls, because hatchlings drown very, very easily.
It was stated earlier that most breeders keep their hatchlings in groups of 3-5 per 20 gallon enclosure.
However, young Bearded Dragons have the tendency to bite off their cagemate's toes, limbs, and tails. These are called "toe nips" and "tail nips" but they are hardly mere nips. They are nothing less than mutilations. They are common in hatchlings that are not fed enough and turn to cannibalism, in enclosures with too many hatchlings, in situations where the hatchlings have a significant size difference, when there is one particularly dominant hatchling, and sometimes from sheer territorial tendencies and aggression.
However, there are some things the breeder can do to minimize the risks. First, make sure you don't stint the food and that there are veggies in the cage at all times. Ensure that there are 5 hatchlings per enclosure max. Measure the hatchlings frequently, and do not keep hatchlings of different sizes together. Keep a very careful eye on the hatchlings' behavior. Watch for those who are thinner and those who eat less. Keep an eye out for signs of dominance, and separate if you see excessive or frequent signs. Feed the hatchlings their insects in a separate area. Make sure there is climbing furniture in the enclosures.
If there are any injuries, take the hurt animal to the vet. Don't attempt to self treat. Also, give both the aggressor and the victim private enclosures. Do not put either with other animals ever again. I have found that both the aggressor and the victim do NOT do well with other Bearded Dragons, no matter how long it has been. There are always issues.
Note: Do not get the hatchlings near the parents. The parents will see them as food. There are no maternal or paternal extincts, only hunger and aggression.