Setting up your Bearded Dragons Habitat
Fully grown Bearded Dragons require a minimum of a 40 Gallon size tank or enclosure. You can
also choose to give your Bearded Dragon a much larger size enclosure than this if you desire. If you are starting out with a baby Bearded Dragon you can choose to start the baby off in a smaller enclosure, even a 10 gallon tank will do. If you do start your baby Bearded Dragon off in a smaller enclosure, keep in mind that you will have to move him/her into a larger enclosure within 6 – 12 months. Your Bearded Dragon's enclosure should be made out of solid material such as glass, Plexiglas, wood, melamine or PVC (A mesh lid is acceptable). Your Bearded Dragon's enclosure should never be made entirely out of mesh as it will not hold enough heat to reach desirable basking temperatures..
DO NOT use sand or any loose substrate for babies. Having loose substrate in a baby/juvenile’s enclosure can cause impaction and has the potential to make your beardie very sick.
Paper towel, newspapers and pet carpets can be used to put in the bottom of
your baby bearded dragons enclosure until he/she is old enough to have loose
substrate. (I had some fiber floor left over from renovations and cut this to fit the
bottom of my cages and find this works very well. Tile works well too)
When your Bearded Dragon reaches Adult age (Around 1- 1.5 years old) he/she
should be ready to have loose substrate in his/her enclosure if you wish.
Options for loose substrates for adults are sterilized play sand from a hardware store, mineral sand from a pet store although people often complain this type of sand is messy & dyes their bearded dragon), finely crushed walnut that looks like sand (found at most pet stores, I find this works best), and some people even choose to create a bio active substrate for their Bearded Dragon (Similar to creating a small eco system within your Bearded Dragons enclosure complete with bugs) although this is not commonly done.
You’re Beardie will need a UVB light and a heat lamp in his/her enclosure.
The UVB light is very important as this serves as their ‘’sunlight’’ for them by
providing all the types of UV rays that the sun provides. If this is not present
in a beardie’s enclosure then that beardie will not grow properly, can develop
Metabolic Bone disease, and will not be healthy. Even if the beardie’s enclosure is placed close to window they will still require a UVB light in their enclosure.
The most recommended brand for a full spectrum light is Zoo med’s Reptisun UVB 10.0, which can be bought in different long tube lengths or in a compact version at most pet stores or online.
You should have your beardies UVB light on for 12-14 hours in the day and then it should be turned off at night.
A Heat Lamp should also be present in a beardie’s enclosure (I suggest a ceramic heater, since they only give off heat and no light, making it perfect for day and night)
Place your heat lamp at one side of the cage, providing your beardie with a basking side and a cooler side if he/she needs to cool down.
The basking area should be between 95-110 degrees F and the cooler side should be between 80-85.
At night a beardie can handle having the temperature drop down to 65-70 degrees F.
Your beardie will like to climbs on rocks, logs and hide in caves. So be sure to provide your beardie with things to climb on in his/her enclosure. If you want to put real plants in his/her enclosure make sure the plants are non-toxic, your soil is free of fertilizers, and your dragon cannot get in the soil. Here are a few plants that are safe for Bearded Dragons: Basil, Mint, Wheatgrass, cacti, haworthias, gasterias, oddballs, and sansevierias.