So, you want to create the perfect bearded dragon habitat for your new lizard?
Building a perfect terrarium for your pet bearded dragon can be a fun activity. There are so many options to choose from. Seriously, there a ton of hides, cages, lights, etc. It can be very overwhelming!
An environment that is similar to a bearded dragon’s natural habitat will help in reducing the stress level in your pet. This will contribute to there health and happiness.
It is important to remember that your pet will live in this terrarium you create for the rest of its life. While true you can take your bearded dragon out this is certainly where they will spend the most of their life.
So, in this article on bearded dragon habitats I am going to discuss the following:
- Enclosures & Cages
- Furniture, Backgrounds, & Rocks
- Water & Humidity
A glass aquarium is the most popular choice for keeping a bearded dragon. There are many varieties of cages available for reptiles like melamine cages, PVC cages, vision cages, which are more expensive and professionally made for reptiles. But a right-sized aquarium would do well for creating a home for your lizard.
Adult bearded dragons need 50-60 gallon aquariums, while a 20-gallon aquarium is ideal for baby bearded dragons. However, they do grow quickly so they will outgrow their 20-gallon tank with a couple months.
Wired cages are a big no-no for bearded dragons as they may cause nose or foot trauma and may not be warm enough.
Wooden cages are great. If your good at building stuff I would highly recommend doing it. If you are opting for a wooden cage, don’t forget to seal it with a waterproofing agent and caulk all the joints. This process will not only disinfect the enclosure but also make it easy to clean. Also, use glass so that you can see your bearded dragons throughout the day.
Buying one of the ready-made cages mentioned before might be an expensive option but a convenient one.
Here is a look at ready-made enclosures you might want to purchase:
These are excellent enclosures that you can use for your bearded dragon. They come in a variety of different sizes. The above one would be suitable for an enclosure where you only have 1 bearded dragon. Obviously, if you have more than one bearded dragon I would get a bigger enclosure.
You also need a lid or cover for the bearded dragon cage to prevent the lizard from escaping. Some bearded dragons are very skilled and can easily escape from the tank. A lot of bearded dragon owners actually use mesh lids. These are ok, but not ideal because they can block the UVB rays that are needed for their lights. So, if you’re going to go the mesh route make sure you put their lights in the tank with clamps or glue.
Never use a glass top. These will cause the temperature to get way too hot. This could end up killing your bearded dragon. Also, they change the way your reptile can absorb their UV rays.
A terrarium carpet is an ideal substrate for your pet’s cage. This kind of carpet aids in your lizard’s muscle development and helps in making them feel comfortable. It absorbs all the liquids and dirt, pulling it to the bottom and away from the lizard. These carpets don’t tear, and there is no fear of accidental ingestion by the pet. They are easy to clean and come in beautiful colors.
Newspapers, paper towels, and butcher papers are other options for flooring for your pet dragon’s cage.
You could go the sand route. But, if you do make sure you use washed play sand. This is a lot finer than other sand. Also, I would highly recommend that you don’t use calcium sand that they sell at most pet stores. This is very sharp and can easily cause your bearded dragon to get impacted and die.
Anything that is loose and easy to ingest such as wood chips and kitty litter is not suitable for a bearded dragon’s cage.
Your bearded dragon will love climbing, basking, and hiding in its enclosure. So, items or furniture that facilitates these actions should be part of its home.
Your bearded dragon will love to have some cage furniture set up in its enclosure. First and foremost, if you have opted for a glass tank, please make sure you get a tank background for them.
A tank background will not only make the cage aesthetically pleasing but also make your pet feel secure. Males specifically will see their reflection and think it’s another bearded dragon. They will get mad and puff out their beard when they see it.
Females seem to be more docile, but I would still recommend getting them a background to help them feel secure.
Branches & Rocks
Choose an assortment of branches that your dragon can climb safely. Also, you can get big rocks for your bearded dragon to sit on. You shouldn’t get a heated rock for your bearded dragon though. This can burn them and they absorb their heat from their head. Leopard geckos, on the other hand, absorb heat from their belly. Sticks and little fake trees work great for bearded dragons. They are going to spend a lot of time basking by their light so you want to make sure you get them something they can sit comfortably on.
Reptile hammocks are another big favorite for your bearded dragon. They do come in a variety of sizes and bearded dragons do like to sit on them. Just make sure you use some silicone glue rather than just using the suction. The suction can fall down and your bearded dragon could end up falling and get hurt.
You have to provide a ‘hide’ for your pet which is a small enclosure that the lizard can use to hide within the cage. When they want to cool down they typically will go in a hide. It can also be used for ‘brumation’ when the lizard sleeps for weeks together.
Since the bearded dragon is a cold-blooded animal that comes from a desert-like environment, the bearded dragon habitat you create should maintain a specific temperature for their health.
The cage should have a hot side which is around 95 F° – 110 F° and a cold side which must be about 85 F°. Your pet will need a basking spot where the temperature must be 95 F° for adults and 110 F° for hatchlings. Make sure the source of heat is safe like a ceramic heater or reptile basking light. You should make sure you keep the bearded dragon away from the heater in the cage. They can burn themselves by accident.
An under tank heater(UTH) can be used to maintain the night time temperature. A lot of bearded dragon owners are against getting tank heaters because they do run the risk of burning the lizard.
Ideally, there must be two thermometers placed in the enclosure to check the temperatures. Optionally, you could use an infrared light gun which shows you the temperature wherever you point the light.
Since the bearded dragons come from the deserts of Australia, they like a full spectrum of light for 12 – 14 hours a day. Full spectrum lights emit light in all UV ranges which keep the lizard healthy. A branch which is 6 – 8 inches close to the light source is ideal for basking.
Your pet lizard’s cage should have two types of lights. A full spectrum light that emits UV light and covers the entire cage area along with a basking light which heats up specific places in the cage is needed to keep the dragon healthy. This kind of lighting protects the bearded dragon from “Metabolic bone disease.”
I would highly recommend using a tube light for UV light versus using a coil light. Coil lights can cause loss of vision, fatigue, and don’t always provide the best UV lighting that your reptile needs.
Even though the bearded dragon gets most of its water from food, a small shallow bowl filled with water can be available in the cage. You must regularly replace the water in the cage.
However, a better option would be to get a spray bottle and mist their tank down 3 times per week. They will puff out their beards to absorb the water and then lick it off. I actually kind of think bearded dragons like when you spray them, too.
You want to keep the humidity between 30 to 40%. Keep in mind that leaving a bowl of water in the tank will raise the humidity. Also, you don’t want the humidity to become too high otherwise your bearded dragon will develop some serious health conditions.
Lastly, you need to make sure you clean out their cage once a week. This doesn’t have to take you a lot of time, though. Instead, do a quick clean 10-15 minutes per week. You want to remove any dead insects, vegetables, etc. Also, make sure you clean their poop out.
Once every month or so you can use reptile cleaner. This is safe for reptiles, but always make sure you use plenty of water after cleaning. Also, you can use a very small amount of bleach, but make sure you use a lot of water after using bleach.
Hopefully, this article has helped you get your bearded dragon habitat setup correctly. You can always switch out basking sticks, hides, artificial plants, etc.
Please leave your comments down below.