Bearded Dragon Care for Beginners
Here are the absolute necessities to start with:
Glass vivarium (a 50-60 gallon fish tank will do in a pinch)
Newspapers paper towels or reptile carpet to fill the bottom
Smooth rocks, branches and other safe objects for the lizard to interact with
A heating source capable of keeping the dragon’s environment at 90 to 110 °F in the day and 70 to 79 °F at night
Food in the form of crickets or worms, as well as leafy greens & vegetables
Bearded Dragon Cages
Bearded dragons are happy to call most any enclosure home. Most beardie owners choose a glass aquarium because they are inexpensive, sold at every pet store and come in a variety of sizes. The issue with glass tanks is they are heavy! And, the glass doesn't hold in heat like other types of cages. Expert bearded dragon owners feel that glass tanks will cause a lizard's colors to dull because there isn't the right amount of insulation. So, if you are really in love with the colors of your new bearded dragon, you might want to look at a different option to preserve those colors!
What’s the alternative to a glass aquarium for bearded dragons? There are a few options that exist. Melamine cages are the second most popular bearded dragon cage. You can buy this wood material at your local hardwood store and build your own enclosure or find a vendor online. These cages are more expensive than aquariums and just as heavy, but the white wood boards help reflect light better and will make it easier to display your beardie. And, they’ll be extra happy with more light!
If you need a bearded dragon tank that is lightweight, PVC or ABS plastic cages are a great option. They look a lot better than the melamine wood enclosures and are incredibly lightweight. When money is no option, and you want the very best for your bearded dragon, vision cages are the best route. These are professionally made cages that have heat lamp hookups built in.
Your bearded dragon cage also needs a lid. The only option here is a screen lid. Glass and plastic covers make it much harder to control the humidity, which can be unhealthy for your beardie. Make sure your screen cover is sturdy enough to handle the weight of your tank’s lights!
Bearded Dragon Tank Size
When purchasing a bearded dragon terrarium, it's important to know what size of an enclosure to look for. The size of your tank is directly dependant on the size of your reptile. For baby beardies, it's better to keep them in a smaller tank, roughly 20 gallons. This ensures that they'll have no problem catching crickets and any other live prey you feed them. But, you're quickly going to have to upgrade to a larger enclosure. If your tank is too small, it can put a lot of discomfort and stress on your reptile and even stunt their growth. So, it's always better to go bigger. A full-grown bearded dragon can require a tank up to 50-75 gallon tank to fit comfortably.
Bearded Dragon Terrarium For Sale
You can find big enough glass aquariums at any pet store, but if you want a different style or a specialty tank, it is better to shop online. There's also a lot of DIY guides that will allow you make a customized home for your beardie with materials from the hardware store. Sometimes, you can even find someone giving away a terrarium that they no longer need! That said, if you're ever receiving an enclosure second-hand, be sure to clean it thoroughly before using!
Bearded Dragon Tank Decor
There’s a lot of freedom in how you decorate and set up your beardie’s “furniture,” as long as you make sure to maintain separate basking and cooling areas. If you have a large enclosure, you have a lot of space to decorate and add things for your beardie to interact with. Pet stores and online vendors have tons of reptile furniture for you to browse and purchase, everything from climbing surfaces, basking rocks, food and water dishes and more.
There are some decorations and items you need to be careful with. Anything that is small (even small pebbles!) can be ingested by your beardie and are extremely harmful. The same goes for decorations that might flake paint or break apart over time. You should keep most decorations away from the basking area because the high heat might cause them to melt or heat up to an unsafe level.
Some beardie owners choose to decorate the sides of the cage too. You can really make them feel at home with a desert-themed backdrop. However, it's vital that this background is on a material that is safe for your beardie and resistant to the heat of the basking spotlight. You may even want to make sure that the basking light is angled away from the backdrop.
Tank Setup Ideas
If you’re really out of ideas for how to set up your bearded dragon’s home, the Internet is a great resource. There’s a lot of blogs and websites dedicated to beardies. Social media channels like Pinterest and Instagram are exceptional places to look for new inspirations too. And, there are hundreds of YouTube videos of beardie owners sharing their tank setup and decor ideas!
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