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How to Set Up a Bearded Dragon Habitat

With several pets of his own at home, Dakota has plenty of experience under his belt when it comes to caring for animals.


Five Tips to Your Bearded Dragon's Home

What, you're buying a bearded dragon? Congratulations!

Preparing his or her new house before he or she arrives is one of the most exciting aspects of owning a bearded dragon. Nonetheless, setting up a bearded dragon tank can also be a daunting task because there are many opinions on the subject. How should you choose the material? What temperature should the tank be set at? Is sand really such a bad thing? Is there a specific kind of lighting you need?

But, hey! Don’t be overwhelmed!

We're sharing five tips to get the best bearded dragon tank setup and an overview of what you should prepare to get your dragon ready for a new home. You can add items to the terrarium following these steps as your bearded dragon experience grows and your confidence grows.

Here is a basic bearded dragon habitat setup guide.

1. Select a Terrarium

Having a home is the first thing you need to provide for your bearded dragon. Usually, this is called a terrarium, an enclosure, or a habitat. They all mean the same thing—your bearded dragon's home.

Dragons love to roam free in the wild because they are land-based creatures. Although they do not require a lot of space vertically, they enjoy climbing up trees and rocks to bask. Therefore, we should provide a home with ample room for the bearded dragon so it can roam freely and easily.

A terrarium is about three times as long as the dragon is ideal since adult bearded dragons can reach lengths of up to two feet, including the tail. When the bearded dragon is young and in a smaller enclosure, it can live comfortably, but the enclosure will need to be upgraded as it grows older and larger.

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2. Provide Heating & Lighting Elements

To keep your new bearded dragon healthy, you will need to provide it with adequate heat. The bearded dragon is a desert-dwelling species. Their captive environment must mimic the temperatures they experienced in their native areas.

It's not uncommon to find a wild Bearded Dragon soaking up the sun. By providing a basking perch underneath a basking bulb, you can replicate this behavior. It is possible to purchase specialized bulbs for basking reptiles. Likewise, bearded dragons also require full-spectrum sunlight for them to synthesize calcium and maintain strong bones. Utilizing specialized fluorescent bulbs made for reptiles can provide the necessary UVA and UVB radiation. Lighting and heating bulbs need to be fitted into fixtures designed for their use.

3. Add Substrate & Décor

You need to add specific substrates to your bearded dragon's enclosure because you wouldn't want your creature to live on bare glass. Choosing a substrate is dependent on your experience and budget. If you are a beginner, we recommend Reptile Cage Carpet or newspaper.

Carpeting for cages is relatively inexpensive, easy to clean, and relatively simple to install. Newspapers are even more cost-effective, easy to clean, and very safe to use but should be replaced once a day. Keep your baby and young bearded dragons away from sand-type substrates. It is possible to choke on loose particles, called impactions, when swallowed, which is the most common cause of death among pet bearded dragons.

Be sure to provide your bearded dragon with a stable and spacious basking perch. It's dangerous for the perch to fall over, causing an injury. Rocks, driftwood, and grapevines make excellent perches for basking. Bearded dragons will eat any live plants you place in the enclosure. So, decorate with fake plants instead of real ones. Make sure you provide a large hide box for your bearded dragon. Leaving your pet unattended for long periods can cause stress. During moments of unrest, bearded dragons need places to hide.

4. Provide Adequate Food & Water Bowls

Providing your bearded dragon with enough food and water is a necessity. To prevent drowning accidents with water bowls, it is best to use shallow bowls so baby bearded dragons can see and reach their food.

At most pet stores, you can purchase attractive bowls. However, any shallow bowl works fine as well. To prevent the food from spoiling quickly, you should situate the water and food bowls out of the basking area.

Related: Best Bearded Dragon Food

5. Monitor Conditions

You must continually monitor the terrarium a couple of times per day. You should check the temperatures in the basking area and the cool spot to make sure they are not too high or too low.

Attach thermometers to both the basking area and the cool zone of the terrarium—one in each. You should also monitor the humidity of the terrarium. Some thermometers combine hygrometers and digital displays to provide both temperature and humidity information. Keep checking the water levels throughout the day and replace any dechlorinated water that is necessary. You should also clean up feces and leftover food after each meal.

So, there you have it! Five practical tips to get you started on your bearded dragon habitat setup. What other tips can you give fellow bearded dragon owners?

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