Setting up the Ideal Bearded Dragon Habitat
In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to set up the ideal bearded dragon habitat that will cater to their natural needs and keep them happy and healthy.
Welcome to the exciting world of bearded dragon ownership! Creating the perfect habitat for your scaly friend is both an enjoyable and rewarding experience. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to set up the ideal bearded dragon habitat that will cater to their natural needs and keep them happy and healthy. Let's dive in and create a cosy and inviting home for your bearded dragon companion!
You can find all details in our Bearded Dragon Care Sheet.
Your Bearded Dragon Tank
In the wild, Bearded Dragons live in an arid environment, which is very dry and doesn’t have a lot of plants. This means that they need to live in a vivarium, a special enclosure that you can adapt to imitate their natural home.
For your bearded dragon's comfort and well-being, providing ample space is key. The HabiStat Standard Vivarium, with a minimum size of 48 x 24 x 24 inches (122 x 61 x 61 cm), offers the perfect starting point for their habitat. This spacious enclosure gives your dragon plenty of room to roam, explore, and bask under the warmth of their basking spot. A larger tank allows for the inclusion of various enrichments and hides to simulate their natural environment.
While it's true that juvenile bearded dragons can initially live in smaller tanks, it's essential to consider the long-term needs of your scaly companion. Choosing a larger enclosure, offers numerous advantages. It may require a slightly higher upfront cost, but it saves you from having to upgrade to a larger tank as your bearded dragon grows into adulthood.
More floor space allows the bearded dragon more room to hunt, climb and burrow. A Minimum size enclosure of 48 x 24 x 24 inches for 1 adult dragon will provide this, but bigger is even more beneficial.
We also offer help in setting up your tank with the HabiStat Bearded Dragon Accessory Kit. Simply add the contents to your enclosure along with your choice of substrate!
Bearded Dragon Heating
Proper heating is crucial for the well-being of your bearded dragon! These cold-blooded reptiles rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. Providing a suitable heating setup ensures that your beardie can thermoregulate effectively and stay healthy and active.
This vivarium will need to be heated to 23-30℃ (73-86℉) with a toasty basking spot at one end, which should be 38℃ (100℉). Use the HabiStat Daylight Spotlamp as your heat source and hold this with the Arcadia Pro Ceramic Lamp Holder & Bracket. At night-time, the temperature should dip to 18℃ (64℉).
To keep your vivarium at a nice warm temperature, you will need to put in an overhead heat lamp, which should run through a dimming thermostat. The dimming thermostat will help you to control the temperature. Correct placement of the probe is critical to avoid overheating and injury to the bearded dragon. The temperature should be checked regularly.
Using an overhead Heat Bulb such as the HabiStat Basking Bulb provides an intense bright basking area overhead replicating the sun, projecting down onto an large piece of slate, cork bark, branch, or even just substrate.
However, at night, the heat source should be turned off to allow the temperature to drop naturally, just like it would in their native habitat so Bearded Dragons can cool down to ensure proper thermoregulation.
Bearded Dragon Lighting
Bearded dragons need proper lighting to thrive! The right lighting, including UVB rays, is essential for their overall health and well-being. UVB helps them produce Vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption, critical for bone health. Providing a quality UVB light helps simulate their natural environment, allowing them to bask and stay happy.
Your bearded dragon will need 12 hours of UVB light per day. UV-B aids the synthesis of vitamin D3 in the body, which helps absorb calcium. UV-A helps regulate diurnal behaviours such as hunting, basking, mating.
In the designated basking end of your vivarium, set up your Arcadia Pro T5 Kit. Ensure this is fitted correctly and within the manufacturers distances. This will create an area of low to zero UV (ultraviolet light) in the opposite, cooler end of your enclosure. Arcadia recommended to replacing the UVB bulb every 12 months, (other brands considerably less). Should inadequate or improper lighting be provided a multitude of health conditions; from MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease), Thermal Burns, Cancers – proper heat and UV-B is their lifeline.
Bearded Dragon Substrates
By choosing a suitable substrate, you can provide a more natural environment that mimics their native habitat. This helps promote natural behaviours and ensures your beardie feels right at home. When selecting substrate, consider factors like safety, ease of cleaning, and how well it imitates their natural habitat.
We recommend lining the base with HabiStat Bearded Dragon Bedding, which is specially developed for Bearded Dragons and other desert species and 100% natural, or the Arcadia EarthMix Arid, organic, suitable for desert species and can help with plant growth. HabiStat Bearded Dragon Bedding has been developed to closely match their native environment and will help maintain humidity when sprayed as needed.
Reptile carpet is not recommended as it can harbour dangerous bacteria, even if washed regularly. Vets may recommend paper towel after an operation or treatment but a bare floor would be more suitable for ease of sanitation.
Impaction (when the digestive tract is being blocked by a hard mass) if using the correct substrate is very unlikely. Proper husbandry is crucial in reducing the risk of impaction and maintaining overall health. This includes providing appropriate heat, UV-B, hydration, diet and supplements.
Bearded Dragon Tank Decoration
Creating a stimulating environment for your bearded dragon is as important as providing the right heating, lighting, and substrate. Tank decorations play a key role in enhancing their habitat and making it an enriching space for your pet.
You can add some branches and wood for your dragon to climb on. Artificial and natural plants will provide a bit of interest as well as some shade for your Bearded Dragon to hide in. Real plants are great, air-plants, succulents, and Carex Grasses all work well. Plants that are suitable for Grassland, Arid and Semi-Arid environments. Natural decorations always works best, but there are Reptile safe artificial decorations that can be suitable. Just be careful if you choose fake plants, Bearded Dragons have big appetites and could try to eat them if they get hungry! Providing hides is great too, you can use natural logs to do this, which offer security and privacy, plus easy to clean! Also any other suitable reptile hide can work.
The cool end of your tank is also a good place to pop a small water bowl for your dragon. This should not be so big that your dragon can lie in it.
Once your vivarium is set up, you will need to keep it nice and clean. Every day you will need to give your dragon fresh water, do a quick spot clean of the enclosure and check that its vents aren’t blocked. Once a week, wipe down the glass and walls, and clean the water bowl using a reptile-safe disinfectant. It’s also important to remove dirty bedding and give the remainder a bit of a shake-up. This will help to prevent the build-up of nasty bacteria.
Around once a month, you’ll need to do a deeper clean. Wipe everything down with a safe disinfectant, remove all of the bedding and replace it with a nice fresh layer. This will keep your Bearded Dragon healthy and happy.
Remember: always wash your hands, surfaces and equipment with water and disinfectant once you have finished cleaning, feeding or handling your dragon.
Bearded Dragon Enclosure Shopping List
- HabiStat Vivarium (minimum 48 x 24 x 24” / 122 x 61 x 61cm)
- Arcadia Pro Ceramic Lamp Holder & Bracket
- HabiStat Heat Bulb
- High Range HabiStat Dimming Thermostat
- Arcadia Pro T5 Kit 39 Watt 14% (or 12% equivalent)
- Bearded Dragon Bedding with Arcadia Earth Mix Arid
- A small water bowl
Designing the perfect habitat for your bearded dragon is essential for their overall well-being and happiness. From selecting the right tank size to providing the appropriate heating, lighting, substrate, and decorations, every detail matters. A well-designed enclosure will not only cater to their natural instincts but also create a comfortable and stimulating environment for your beloved pet.
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