Bearded dragons are naturally found in the deserts of Australia. For a bearded dragon to live a health life you will need to duplicate their natural environment as much as possible.
Bearded Dragon Cage
Your first decision in becoming a beardie owner will be choosing the right type of bearded dragon cages. Creating the right home for your beardie is essential in maintaining proper care for them.
What size, material, lighting, accessories, as well as ease of access for cleaning, are all things that must be considered and provided even before purchasing your reptile. The worst thing you could do to yourself or your pet is to find out how unprepared you are after bringing home your lizard.
Many animals (beardies included) take relocation hard. This puts a lot of stress on the animal, and having an inadequate home for them will only increase the amount of tension they will experience.
Beardies love to roam, and although they are are relatively small when young, they can grow up to two feet in length as adults and must have a home large enough to accommodate them. This needs to be taken into consideration when choosing an enclosure.
A typical home for a full grown adult dragon should be at the very minimum 36x18x16. This allows enough width and length for these active little guys to roam. Wire cages are not recommended as they can cause injuries. A curious lizard can easily get body parts caught in the wires, or even climb up too close to the lights and get burned.
A custom built enclosure made with a solid, easily cleaned material, or proper sized aquariums are most ideal. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
A custom built enclosure has plenty of up-sides. They can be built to the exact size, shape, color and specifications that you desire, and for fairly cheap if you’re handy. You can have the lights mounted at the top and have the front side accessible via sliding doors to make feeding, cleaning, and anything else you need to do in the cage very easy. A big frustration with aquariums is having to move, or work around the lighting each time you need to get in the tank. Cleaning a custom cage may also take a bit more caution depending on the type of material it was built with.
Aquariums do have their up-sides as well. For starters, you don’t have to mess around with building, or having someone else build them. It’s as easy as finding the store that carries the size you want, and then transporting it home safely. There is maximum visibility, whereas a custom enclosure would most likely have just a front-side view, or three sides with blind-spots in the corners. Cleaning is very easy because you don’t have to worry about scratching the glass surface of an aquarium with scrubbers, and they are waterproof. Also, using a wire cover creates plenty of ventilation to keep humidity at optimal levels.
So now you have the perfect cage…but it’s empty. There are a few essential accessories your beardie will need… and plenty more that you can add to “spice things up”. The first thing you need to choose is what type of substrate you will use. There are many different substrate options ranging from play sand, non adhesive tile, reptile carpet, and even bricks. It’s really a personal choice as to what type you prefer, but you want to keep in mind safety, cost, and how easily it can be cleaned.
You want a food bowl that has smooth edges as not to harm your pet, and easily accessible(it may be difficult for a young beardie to reach into a high sided bowl).
The next piece you will want is a hide. These are sold in many shapes and sizes, most commonly designed as log and rock forms. Whatever you choose, make sure it is large enough for the lizard to get completely out of direct light when they wish. Many hides also double as a basking area, which can save some money and cage space.
Hammocks and Logs
Hammocks and logs can also be purchased and used for a basking area.
The last thing you need to have before introducing your new pet into their habitat is proper lighting. Bearded dragons require a gradient of heat within the cage ranging from 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit in the basking area, to 75-85 degrees on the cooler side.
They also require UVB/UVA light to properly produce vitamin D3 within their body and prevent many harmful health issues. This UVB lighting can be produced using a fluorescent tube light specifically made for reptiles and should cover at least 3/4 the length of the enclosure. Maintaining proper heat depends on the climate of your particular area, and the time of year.
For many people a normal household light-bulb can produce enough heat. Whereas in colder regions, or even during winter, an additional ceramic heat emitter, or a higher watt light bulb can be used to keep temperatures at the proper levels. Heat rocks should never be used as they can cause burns, and heating pads should be used with extreme precaution.