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 under baby and juvenile dragons will attempt to dig under anything such as a water bowl, bricks or rocks. once underneath the object they may not be strong enough to pull out and can easily smother. heavy rocks or bricks must always be put directly on the bottom of the terrarium for full grown adults as well. 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 bricks for legs for the flagstone and sheltered areas underneath the flagstone or tile. blocking partially so the dragon has shelter from observing eyes. which can also be used as a natural looking hiding space. 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. there is nothing cookie cutter in nature and I have also seen some baby dragons roost and sleep on the plastic leaves of the artificial plant making that plant a favorite spot.
In order to create a warm looking home for the dragon consider a backdrop for the terrarium. A beautiful scene will hide the cords and will also finish the look of the home. The eye will be drawn to the tank like a nice piece of furniture.
for some time i recommended carpet for baby dragons. Until they reached 8 to 9 inches in length. However, I have come to realize that parasites can easily continue to survive in moist fecal on the carpet. dragons can see color very well and are drawn to color thinking of something to first lick and then eat. by licking their urine a gradual buildup of parasites will ensue.
i now feel the best substrate for babies, which a lot of people use is tile. buy a rough surface so the baby has purchase when walking but not so rough that the fecal matter cannot easily be picked up and the spot cleaned with a small amount of soap and water. we use rubbing alcohol to quickly dis- infect. this is not mandatory. after the dragon reaches the recommended size sand is then used so the dragon can dig and eat as they do in their natural evolved environment.
Lighting for Basking and a Heat Source
I always recommend having a Heat Pad under the Tank for nighttime temperatures. Of course, if the terrarium is not of glass then that is not an option. using a heat emitter that throws just heat would be the next best option. Do not use a red or black light heat lamp. dragons need darkness for good sleep as do most living beings. Putting it near one of the hiding areas is recommended so that they can sleep comfortably If they choose to be hidden. Keep in mind, not to have too big of a heat pad. Basking is very important for your dragon and will likely be where they spend most of their time during the day. a wonderful new UVB bulb recently came on the market. it’s manufactured by zoo med and called ReptiSun Led UVB linear bulb. the strength for dragons is 10.0. this light comes as a fixture with the LED lightbulb in. if this light cannot be found locally it can be purchased at petproducts.com. the UVB bulb must extend from one end of your enclosure to the other. One spot bulb that shines like the sun and throws the heat like the sun. I cannot recommend a spot bulb since our environment at atomic lizard ranch is much different than a home care givers environment. purchase a non-contact Infrared Thermometer (IR Gun) for quick temperature reads under the spot as well as at different times of the year when heating and cooling in the room changes. Save the receipt of the spot bulb in case it is not correct in temperature making sure it can be returned. 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.
Hopefully this will give you some good ideas on housing and getting your set-up started.