Bearded Dragon Terrarium and Enclosure
I just found the Carolina Custom Cage Terrarium 48”x24”x18”. I was hoping someone would come up with the larger size. Low and below my wish came true. Amazon carries them or if that’s a bit steep for your first time enclosure look at the Exo Terra Reptile terrarium or the National Geographic enclosures. Both of these are 36”x18”x18”. They have the sliding front openings and a nice deep bottom for sand that will not spill out on the floor when cleaning or opening the cage.
Water Source, Food Dish and A Place To Hide
There are several important features needed in a Bearded Dragon enclosure. It is important to have a hiding area for your dragon with one opening that is large enough for them to fit into with ease but also sturdy without having substrate underneath it that could be dug out leading to the rock falling onto your animal. It is also important to have a water bowl large enough for them to get into to bathe. I have found that the 8″ Terra Cotta plastic flower pot bottom found at Ace Hardware. They are a nice height and perfect size and shape for your Beardie to get into and out of without much effort. Most water bowls at the pet stores are not that good, too shallow, too high, too small etc. These are perfect and the price is just right!
Terrarium Substrate and Rocks
Use rocks for legs for the flagstone and sheltered areas can be made with such a set up. Very limited plastic plants making sure that if you use one that it is in a corner so the dragon cannot climb, try to eat or poop on it. I did have wonderful examples of set ups but my computer went bad and I am hoping to find them at some point in my external hard drive. Haven’t had the time. For small dragons below 8 inch snout to end of tail use carpet or nothing for about 2 months then switch to Children’s Play sand or All purpose sand found at hardware stores, Lowes and home depot carrys sand. Read the label on the bag making sure there r no additives in the sand. Also look at it before you purchase to make sure that it is not fine and powdery and hopefully will have different sized granules. All rocks and the water bowl should be on the bottom of the tank with the sand around them. At least until the dragon is full sized or strong enough to crawl out from underneath. Any heavy rock in the tank should always be on the bottom of the enclosure. Another neat thing that Amazon sells is the MagNaturals Rock ledges or even a climbing wall.
Lighting for Basking and a Heat Source
I always recommend having a Heat Pad under the Tank for nightime temperatures. Putting it near one of the hiding areas is recommended so that they can sleep comfortably while being hidden. Keep in mind, not to have too big of a heat pad as you also don’t want to scorch their underbelly. Basking is very important for your beardies and will likely be where they spend most of their time during the day. There are hundreds of different lighting options out there but finding the ones I like most took a lot of trial and error. After years and many different bulbs, I found that the Zoo meds, Repti-Sun 10.0 linear UVB bulb hung 36 to 48″ depending on the length of your enclosure works best. One spot bulb that shines like the sun and want to point out that I SAY “NO” to a night heat bulb. Making sure there is a solid and sturdy climbing area up to the basking spot is important as again, they will be going up to that spot regularly. A perfect set up would be to use flagstone that is wide enough for the dragon to sit close to the UVB bulb 3 inches is fine with the Repti-sun. I recommend getting a non Contact IR thermometer gun to keep an accurate gauge on the temperature of the enclosure. This allows you to check temperature in all spots through the tank rather than just one side of the air. A lot of the heat that is obtained by your bearded dragon comes from the substrate.
Hopefully this will give you some good ideas on housing and getting your set-up started.