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One of the most important things a bearded dragon owner can do is create the best bearded dragon habitat setup.
If you want them to be happy, you must provide them with all they require in their enclosure for the duration of their life. If you don’t do this, your beardie will have a less enjoyable life, suffer from health issues, and even have a shorter lifetime. When it comes to setting up a good cage, many new owners don’t know where to begin.
To keep things simple, we’ve kept the list here short and easy-to-follow. We hope this article works out well for any future beardies!
Bearded Dragon Tank Setup: Supplies
You’ll need the following items before you can bring your dragon home:
Light that is classified as UVB
A thermostat, a thermometer, and a hygrometer will all be needed to control the environment of the habitat.
A rock or log that is soaking up the sun.
Flooring and dishes for food and water
Having enough room in your house for the setup
A safe out of the tank area for your beardie to explore
In the sections below we will detail each item and give suggestions and tips to help you setup an amazing habituate for your bearded dragon.
The Enclosure – Bearded Dragon Tank Setup
First and foremost! What kind of habitat do you envision for your bearded dragon? An critical decision has to be made here. Dragons spend a lot of time here, so it’s crucial to keep them happy and entertained.
The size, material, and location of your bearded dragon tank enclosure all play a role in determining which enclosure is best for your pet.
A 20-gallon tank may be enticing if you plan on getting a newborn bearded dragon. If you decide to do this, keep in mind that dragons grow quickly, and you’ll need a 40-gallon tank in no time. A 40-gallon tank for a newborn dragon is a common choice among Dragon Keepers, but it’s entirely up to you.
If you’re in a tight spot and planning on moving in the near future, you may want to start with a 20-gallon container. Just note if you go with a smaller bearded dragon tank while it is small it will require an upgrade in the near future.
When you first bring your bearded dragon home and it’s time for it to acclimatize to a new environment, it’s very important to make sure it has the right tank size so that it feels safe and secure. Glass surfing is less likely in a large tank since the dragons don’t feel cooped up.
It’s important to keep the floor area of your bearded dragon’s tank large because the reptile is a land dweller and enjoys exploring. A fully-grown beardie can reach a total of two feet in length, including its tail, thus the cage should allow for plenty of room for the animal to roam around comfortably and easily.
Glass is the most commonly used material for bearded dragon enclosures. Although acrylic and wood give more insulation, glass lets you to see your pet and keep an eye on how clean the cage is.
In order to keep more than one bearded dragon, you’ll need a much larger tank than a 50- or 60-gallon tank.
Next up, we will discuss some common tank sizes for breaded dragons.
Recommended Bearded Dragon Tank Size
The size of your dragon’s tank will depend on how old it is and how much space it needs to grow.
Please take into account the following suggestions for bearded dragon tank size:
A 20-gallon tank is ideal for raising a baby bearded dragon.
At least a 40-gallon tank is required for a 10- to 16-inch juvinile bearded dragon.
Once your beardie is more than 16 inches in length requires a 75-gallon tank for an adult dragon.
The recommended tank size for large adult dragons (over 20 inches long) is a 125-gallon tank.
Now that we know what size of tank is needed for a beaded dragon, next up is to pick out the type of material for the enclosure.
Let’s now talk about the best material to employ for your tanks construction. There are a plethora of options available, and it’s easy to become daunted by the sheer volume of information available. To save the hassle of building your own tank, you may prefer to buy one online or at a local pet store. Some of the most common tanks you can pick from include:
Glass Tank Enclosures
In addition to being strong and generally available, most glass terrariums feature a screen lid to allow for better circulation and to help maintain the low humidity levels that dragons require. Alternatively, a front-opening glass terrarium allows you to reach your pet and clean the tank more quickly. As a caveat, you’ll have to keep an eye on the temperature frequently because glass is a poor heat insulator. If you have a thermometer gun, this shouldn’t be too tough for you to commit to.
Some benefits of a glass enclosure include:
Glass terrariums, like fish tanks, are an excellent choice since they provide 360-degree visibility and are quite inexpensive.
Terrariums made of glass are extremely long-lasting and can be found at almost any pet store.
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As an added benefit, the screen lid on top of a glass terrarium provides for good air movement and lower humidity levels, which are ideal for bearded dragons.
Some drawbacks of a glass bearded dragon enclosure
Glass does not hold heat well so temperature checks will be required more often. As a result, your bearded dragon’s color may fade faster than it would in a more conducive environment.
Glass Bearded Dragon Enclosures
Many Dragon Keepers prefer a terrarium constructed of wood and glass rather than just glass with a screen on top. ” For the most part, this implies the door has a glass front and a wood back. For those who want to maintain their homes at a lower temperature, a wooden terrarium may be a better option than a glass one. You won’t have to stress about your dragon’s heat as much if you use this method, too.
Benefits of a wood enclosure
Using melamine to make a bearded dragon habitat is a terrific idea because it’s a great insulation material.
Using melamine to keep your beardie warm is a great idea.
Melamine’s white tone means it will reflect more light, which helps keep your bearded dragon’s colors vibrant.
Drawbacks of a wood enclosure
Melamine has a few drawbacks, including its high price, its weight, and the fact that it might be damaged if it gets wet.
Note About DIY Bearded Dragon Enclosures: If you choose plywood as your source material, make sure it has a nontoxic sealant.
You may choose from a wide variety of colors when it comes to plastic, which is both light and versatile. If you plan on adding more beardies in the future, stacking PVC enclosures is a great option. Since poor airflow is a major problem in PVC terrariums, maintaining proper humidity levels is an absolute necessity. As long as you make it a practice to monitor the humidity, this shouldn’t be too tough.
Benefits of a plastic enclosure
A good smooth finish and a light weight are two of the many advantages of using cages.
A broad variety of colors and even the option to have the lights installed for an extra fee are sometimes offered by suppliers.
Plastic cages are great at retaining heat, which is great for your dragon.
In addition to being stackable, these cages look well in any room of the house because of their neutral color schemes.
Drawbacks of a plastic enclosure
Depending on the size, plastic enclosures might cost hundreds of dollars.
When using PVC cages with an enclosed top that restricts airflow, humidity control can be a challenge. To avoid this, keep an eye on the humidity level on a regular basis.
With built-in lighting fixtures, vision cages may be the best solution In addition to being easy to clean, these cages are often chemical-resistant as well but can be pricey.
A Note About Metal Screen Cages for Your Bearded Dragon
If you’re looking for a terrarium, you might come across one with wire screen walls. Bearded dragons should avoid these at all costs. In addition to the apparent problem of overheating, bearded dragons can be injured in screen cages. A screen lid on a glass terrarium is an exception, as the bearded dragon is unlikely to be able to access it. It’s only a matter of arranging any decor or plants in a way that protects your dragon from the wire screen and keeping a watch out for scratches on his nose.
Now that we have our cage size and enclosure type chosen, now the fun part, where will this fit in our home!
Enclosure Location in Your Home
You may not know how vital it is to plan where you’ll keep your bearded dragon in advance. Clearing a space and getting everything ready before bringing your new reptile companion home will save you a lot of hassle. If you’re having trouble determining where to put your dragon’s new digs, consider these suggestions:
Keep your dragon out of the sun. Your bearded dragon may die as a result of this. In the natural, sunlight is beneficial to these animals, but in a confined space, it can be lethal. You can easily trap the sun’s rays in the terrarium, especially if it is made of glass, and your dragon will be at risk. Heating and light can be provided by using a high-quality UVB lamp.
Preparation is key, so figure out how much space you’ll need ahead of time. Most people do not understand just how much room a reptile’s tank takes up, especially if they have never had one before. 40-gallon tanks are 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches deep in standard size. If you don’t have a solid surface, you’ll need to measure in advance.
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The bearded dragon’s tank should be out of the reach of other pets or small children. Your dragon can be killed by cats and dogs. Keep an eye on the stability of the cage and the safety of the lid if you can’t keep your dragon in a separate room from your pet. If you have tiny children, keep an eye on them and keep the terrarium out of their reach at all times. If the tank is knocked over, not only may children be gravely injured, but your dragon could also be killed.
In addition, make sure that you can readily reach the tank. You’ll want to make sure you have easy access to the tank so you can clean it, play with your dragon, and show your dragon lots of affection.
Avoid placing the enclosure in a room with a lot of background noise. Bearded dragons are easily frightened by loud noises. Try to keep your dragon out of sight if you have a large-screen TV, play electric guitar, or live on a side of your house where you can hear continual traffic.
Keep the tank in an area that is well-lit during the day and well-darkened at night. Dragons have problems sleeping if the lights are on at night, so it’s ideal to keep them in an environment that is both calm and dark at night so they can get some rest. If your bearded dragon goes into brumation, this is extremely critical.
Alright, we have the enclosure and perfect placement for it in our home, next up, what substrate to use for the flooring.
Habitat Flooring Options
Choosing the right type of flooring for your bearded dragon is an important part of creating a cozy living space for him. Unfortunately, there are many possibilities, but not all of them are safe. What is best for your dragon is the most crucial consideration while choosing flooring. What can you do to make your dragon feel at home in their new environment? Exactly how are they going to be kept clean and protected? What type of flooring is both safe for them and simple to maintain? Let’s look into it more.
Depending on your bearded dragon’s health, some of the most popular alternatives may be harmful to him. Before making a decision, it’s always best to perform some research and get as much information as possible. Before I got my first beardie, I did a consultation with our vet to make sure they treated reptiles and also asked about safe flooring options.
Determining if You Want to Use a Substrate
Substrate is a hotly discussed issue among Dragon Keepers. For the following reasons, several substrates are actually dangerous for bearded dragons:
They have the potential to impair digestion, irritate the eyes and nose, and possibly cause internal damage.
In addition, they can be extremely difficult to keep clear of bacteria and other parasites.
Substrates are excellent hiding places for live insects.
If you decide to utilize substrate, do your homework thoroughly to ensure that you are providing your dragon with the safest possible environment.
For this reason, I have not used a substrate in any of my setups. If you do choose to go this route I know sand, pebbles and walnut shells are common substrates I have seen others used. I just have no personal experience on the subject.
You may be asking if I do not use a substrate, what should be used for the flooring of a bearded dragon tank. I have always used reptile carpet and find it works great for me and my beardies.
Most solutions are meant to keep odors at bay, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Having an extra carpet on hand is a good idea because you will need to remove it to clean it. More than two carpets may be needed in the case of a baby dragon, as babies use the restroom more frequently than adults.
Other options I have seen but not tried include:
Tile is a popular material of choice. Ceramic and slate tiles in dark colors are excellent options. Traction is provided by both materials and dark hues prevent the tile from becoming too cold for your dragon to walk on.
When placing the tile in your bearded dragon’s tank, exercise extreme caution. If it’s made of glass, it has the potential to scratch or even crack the terrarium’s surface. The tank’s floor can be protected by using a thin towel or newspaper between the tile and the floor.
If you want to find something cheap, try newspaper. It’s a good choice for babies because they pee a lot and it’s so easy to refill the paper.
If you have the time and are ready to put in the extra effort, clay is a great option for your bearded dragon. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can create a fascinating desert landscape complete with burrows, hills, and secret caverns.
Now that our tank has flooring, let’s move onto the next item, Lights and Temperature.
How to Setup Lights, Heating, and Humidity Control for Your Bearded Dragon
A inhabitant of the Australian outback, the dragon is a cold-blooded monster. Heating and lighting in a way that mimics their natural habitat is essential for them to live. The skeletal system of your dragon can be severely harmed by metabolic bone disease, which is caused by poor lighting or heat and prevents nutrients from being digested and absorbed. Failure to treat a dragon’s metabolic bone disease can result in paralysis and death.
Here are some of the things you’ll need to keep your dragon happy and healthy in the right conditions:
Self-ballasted mercury vapor full-spectrum light UVA and UVB lamps are popular among veterinarians because they produce heat in addition to UVB radiation. It’s essential to change the UVB bulb every six months to guarantee that your dragon receives the best quality rays and heat.
A heater and a UVB light bulb are required. You’ll need a heat lamp and a UVB bulb if you’re not using a UVB light that also emits heat and UVB rays.
Thermometer. Any time of day or night, you’ll need a decent thermometer to make sure your dragon is getting the right temperature care. Digital thermometers can be placed at either end of the tank, or a temperature gun can be used to swiftly scan different parts of the tank.
A ceramic heater. When the temperature drops below 65 degrees at night, you will need this.
Hygrometer. It’s a good idea to keep a hygrometer in your dragon’s tank to monitor humidity levels.
Now that we have the needed supplies, let’s find out how to setup the temperature and humidity in our bearded dragon enclosure.
What Temperature, Humidity and Light Requirements do Bearded Dragons Need?
Exposure to UVB rays. Whatever UVB lamp you use, make sure your dragon gets 12 hours of UVB exposure each day no matter what. Keep in mind that putting glass between the bulbs and the animal will reduce their effectiveness. In addition, you cannot skip out on a full spectrum bulb as beardies need this in order to absorb calcium.
Humidity. The enclosure should be kept around 35 to 40% humidity because that’s what bearded dragons naturally thrive on. As long as you keep your dragon’s tank well-ventilated, keep the water dish away from its basking spot, and don’t spray it too frequently, you can do this.
When researching bearded dragon tanks, you may find that some have a red light on at night. This is a common practice among dragon keepers but is unnecessary and might be stressful for your bearded dragon. Sleeping in the dark was normal for bearded dragons in the wild, but it’s possible that they slept beneath the soothing light of the moon and stars. Using red lights or other night lights for your dragon isn’t going to be the same as using one of ours. When there is too much light, especially from a bulb or a screen, dragons have difficulty sleeping. The red light or night light in your dragon’s tank should be avoided at all costs.
Temperatures during the day. A temperature of 95 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for a dragon’s basking area. Your dragon’s body temperature can be adjusted by placing it in cooler areas of the tank.
Temperatures during night. The tank’s temperature should fall between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Of course, you are under no need to maintain a basking area at night.
Our enclosure is almost their, all that is left is to add some finishing touches!
Decorations and Other Items Needed for the Beardie Enclosure
There are a few items left to add to our habitat to ensure the perfect bearded dragon environment.
Water And Food Bowls
Insects are a favorite diet for bearded dragons when they are young, but adults are more likely to eat a wider variety of foods. The addition of a food bowl to their environment makes it simpler to provide a healthy meal for them (fruits, vegetables, and dry foods are all very bowl-friendly).
To choose a quality bowl for your bearded dragon look for something that is durable and has some weight so it is not sliding around when they try to eat. I usually use a cermic bowl that is around 3 inches in diameter.
For a juvenile bearded dragon, make sure the bowl is shallow enough for them to easily gaze into and reach the food.
The water bowl should also be shallow in order to prevent your beardie from drowning if he or she mistakenly gets in it. However, if you go too shallow, you’ll have to regularly replenish it.
For the majority of bearded dragon habitats, a shallow water dish will suffice.
Finally, be careful to keep both food and water bowls away from basking lamps in order to avoid food deterioration and overheating of the water supply. The positioning of each piece is equally as important as what you add when it comes to their layout!
Add Some Decorations
Your bearded dragon’s cage should not only look good for your own pleasure, but it should also provide enrichment, comfort, and a variety of methods to exercise for your beardie.
To keep things interesting, use a variety of materials, shapes, and textures. To keep your pet from getting bored, consider switching out the décor every now and then.
If you’re planning on making modifications to the decor, be sure to take it slow and steady. Because they won’t recognize their home after such rapid transformation, they would be anxious.
It’s important that any decorations you put in their environment are simple enough to clean. You’ll want to make cleaning their cage as simple as possible because it’s an essential element of their upkeep.
Also, keep in mind that your bearded dragon may be tempted to consume anything that seems appetizing. Live plants are a good illustration of this.
Some items you will want to include are:
A hide box is an essential part of your bearded dragon set-up. For those times when they need a little extra peace and quiet, this will be their go-to area.
With a door cut out, clay pots or plastic bowls can be used as hide boxes. You may buy a variety of conceal boxes, but if you want to save some money, you can also create your own.
Just make sure the box is big enough for your bearded dragon to fit comfortably in. If their tail is hanging out will make them uneasy.
More than one hide box may be necessary if your aquarium is large enough. They’ll have more diversity and the impression that they’re in a larger area with this.
A Basking Perch
An essential part of any bearded dragon environment is a basking perch. For larger tanks, many perches will allow your fish to select the ideal heat intensity.
In order to avoid unintentional falls, this item needs to be stable. Among the best perches to use are vines, boulders, and natural driftwood.
That’s all there is to it! A bearded dragon’s habitat should take all of these factors into account.
The bearded dragon’s environment, unlike other pets, is critical since even the tiniest of mistakes can have catastrophic effects.
If you want your bearded dragon to have a long and healthy life, you must first ensure that their tank is properly heated, lit, and free of any hazards to their health, such as being too small or having loose particle substrate.
You can leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below if you’d like!