Bearded Dragons can make excellent pets, provided you offer them a great enclosure or habitat if you’re keeping them indoors. However, setting up a proper bearded dragon habitat for your scaly little friend can be quite the challenge to uphold, especially when you’re new to these creatures. Still, setting up a bearded dragon habitat isn’t that difficult once you have the right steps and guidance with you – case in point, this article.
When it comes to choosing a tank, cage, or an enclosure for your little beardie, you need to select the proper decor and lighting and monitor the temperature of the enclosure to match the creature’s natural habitat. Fortunately for you, we took the appropriate steps in preparing this article just in case future beardie owners ever had a hard time with their pets.
By following the given guidelines, you can give your bearded dragon a proper home where they’re happy and comfortable. If you have a cool looking bearded dragon morph, you can also upgrade your habitat with decor to compliment your pet!
Choosing The Proper Home
After going through countless resources, we can conclude that perhaps the best type of home for your bearded dragon is a desert-type terrarium. However, you should know that not every feature in a typical desert vivarium setup is suitable for the beardies, especially little ones. Even if you don’t prefer a sandy set up with all the desert decorations and stuff, you need to pay close attention to some aspects of the desert setup:
- Bearded dragons love hot temperatures
- They like low humidity. The dragons have grown to adopt breathing relatively dry air. They can withstand high humidity levels at 65% max. However, anything higher than that level could result in deadly pulmonary disease in your beardie. It is advisable to have around 30%.
- Beardies like a bright light hanging over the top of their tank providing them with warmth and keeping them alert. They also require an extra UV light source which can be UVA but especially UVB light as it’s essential for proper bone development and metabolism.
You should choose the following enclosures for your beardie:
A glass aquarium is the most common tank for a bearded dragon. They are affordable and easy to acquire at local pet stores or online sites such as Craigslist. The only cons with these are that they’re not properly insulated and are quite heavy. It is not only difficult to move the tank around before putting your dragon inside, but you won’t be thinking about moving it much after your dragon starts living in it. And even if the dragons don’t mind the inferior insulation of a tank, some owners have complained that their pet’s color is dulled due to low temperature.
Over the past several decades, plastic tanks have witnessed a commendable evolution going from basic plastic crates to advanced, professional enclosures. The ones that will do right for your beardie are those made from ABS or PVC plastics.
The front side is typically made from clear, transparent plexiglass-like material, whereas every other side is opaque. Some owners think that this may be a disadvantage when it comes to viewing their pets, but in hindsight, it gives them better security this way.
And unlike glass tanks, plastic tanks are less likely to break. You also have an extra option to drill in the holes for cables, which will make the setup even neater.
Perhaps the only downside to a plastic tank is that they’re quite expensive – especially the one-piece molded terrariums like the vision cages, that feature in-built light structures as well as other convenient features. If this is too steep for you, you can still get yourself a DIY plastic tank.
If plastics or glass tanks are too much for your wallet to handle, then you’re better off buying an enclosure made entirely of wood. For this you have two options between melamine and plywood.
Melamine is a very robust and heavy type of wood which is great for housing a beardie as it’s an excellent insulator. It will do a fine job of keeping your pet warm and safe. And because of its white color, it will be able to reflect even more light and keep the skin of your dragon colorful. Unfortunately, there are several drawbacks to this enclosure in that it’s not only heavy but also expensive and can be spoiled if it gets wet.
Many owners revel at the thought of making their own cage for their scaly companions. That’s why plywood is a great example of this DIY project as it is cheap, pretty lightweight, and easy to get. Furthermore, you obviously want to use a non-toxic sealant to seal the plywood just so the top remains open for a screen lid.
Recommended Size Of The Tank
The size of the tank depends on how big the dragon is. The larger the dragon, the bigger the cage has to be. For instance, baby dragons require a 20-gallon tank. The larger ones that measure between 10 to 16 inches require a tank that’s at least 40 gallons. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to get a larger tank than the minimum one so long as your dragon stays healthy and happy.
Substrate or Flooring
Usually in the wild, bearded dragons would typically run over and dig into various types of substrates, ranging from sand and dirt to wood and rock. But one thing is for sure, is that you should never keep a juvenile beardie on any loose substrate.
Why is that you ask? That’s because the young ones eat with great ferocity and energy. When they lunge at their prey, they’ll do it with incredible speed and excitement to the point that they may actually end up accidentally swallowing the flooring. If this happens, it could result in bowel impaction and other types of harmful health complications, such as irritating your dragon’s eyes or nose.
Therefore, your bearded dragon habitat will be much safer with non-particle flooring as it lowers the risk of them getting impacted, prevents them from getting riled up easily as well as irritating their eyes or nose.
The most common types of non-particle substrates include:
- Paper towels
- Reptile carpet
- Ceramic tile
- Non-adhesive linoleum
Despite many benefits of the substrates, there are a couple of cons that you need to be wary of. For example, the claws of your beardie could get stuck in the reptile carpet threads and some owners complain about how slippery ceramic tile can be for their pet’s feet.
So for such cases, it’s best to ensure that your dragon has things to climb on so they can trim their nails. And for tiles, we recommend using non-toxic adhesive, sand, and topsoil to give the surface more traction.
Of course, you want your beardie to be comfortable and in a proper mood rather than being in a bearded dragon habitat filled with practically nothing more than the bedding material. So it’s time for you to just spruce up the place by introducing a slew of neat and interesting furniture pieces that match the natural habitat of your beardie. Here are a couple of options you can go for:
Like humans, bearded dragons like to chill in a hammock. There are special hammocks that come for beardies especially ones that have books or suction cups at the end. This means you can hang or stick them anywhere you want in your tank.
Perches make for excellent claw sharpeners, so be sure to get one that’s big enough for your pet to climb on and is also stable. But make sure the perch isn’t light enough to topple over and injure your beardie in the process. Rocks, grapevine, and driftwood make excellent basking perches.
Bearded dragons are known for sneaking in and sleeping inside of little hides. You can find these at typically any pet store or even online retailers. These things are essential for your bearded dragon to enter brumation, which is the reptilian equivalent of hibernating in fall or winter.
Since bearded dragons are from desert regions, it’s important that their tanks remain heated. A bearded dragon’s tank should have a hot side where the temperature falls somewhere between 95 degrees Fahrenheit to 110 degrees Fahrenheit as well as a cool side where the temperature is around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why we recommend you get yourself two thermometers.
Secondary Heat Source
If your bearded dragon habitat is unable to maintain the aforementioned temperature within the desired range, then you should get yourself a ceramic heat emitter. This is because under tank heaters usually end up shortening out and could even burn your scaly compadre.
The tank needs to mimic the natural rays of the Sun; it would not only illuminate the tank but also ensures your beardie stays healthy. For this, you will need both UVA and UVB lighting. These light sources are essential for your pet to synthesize vitamin D and ensure their overall metabolism functions properly, providing them with strong bones and calcium metabolism.
For the younger ones, you’ll need a combination of a regular incandescent bulb that’s fixed in an affordable, and simple clamp lamp, as well as a separate UV fluorescent light in an ordinary case.
Water and Food
And last but not least, your beardies need an adequate supply of water and food bowls when it’s time for feeding. For the babies, shallow bowls are recommended for them to see and reach their feed. Shallow bowls also prevent drowning incidents with water bowls.
It’s best to keep the bowls away from the basking area of the tank to prevent the food from quickly spoiling.
How to Setup your Bearded Dragon Tank!
Here is a great video for beginners on setting up your beardie’s tank.
Hope our bearded dragon habitat guide helped! Amy questions or comments, leave them below, thanks!