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Out of all of our pets, I have to say, our !bearded dragon is the easiest to care for.
To start with, you will need supplies before getting a bearded dragon. A warm place to keep your beardie is priority.
Keep in mind, when you buy a bearded dragon, it can grow as long as 24 inches. They are usually done growing at 12 months of age. A 36 inch terrarium or larger will be best. Do remember if it is too big, it could make it difficult to keep heat regulated and hard for UV rays to reach your beardie, if it is not setup properly.
A terrarium, similar to an aquarium, is a great place to keep your beardie. The Exo Terra is a great terrarium that offers a 36x18x18 area. The front doors open and the top screen is easy to remove. This makes it very easy to clean. The glass terrarium will also help to keep the heat regulated.
Always read manufactures guidelines when setting up your lights.
The next thing you will need is lighting and heat. The bulbs you purchase should give 5% – 7% of UVA and UVB. Your beardie will need a basking light to keep him warm. It is important to give them 12 – 14 hrs a day of UV during summer and 10 – 12 hrs during winter. You can also purchase a timer that keeps track of the time your lights are on. It is recommended to change your bulbs out every 6 months. After 6 months they will get weaker.
You will also need bulbs that provide UV also.
- Fluorescent tube – these bulbs offer radiation through out the entire terrarium as long as it is 80% of your terrarium length. This should be placed 12 inches, on top of the terrarium, from the bottom of the terrarium.
- Flourescent compact bulb – all though this bulb saves on power, some people believe it may cause eye problems for their beardie or cause blindness. I do not recommend these from what I have read about them, but it is your personal preference.
- Mercury vapor bulb – these bulbs offer UVA, UVB, and heat. They last the longest, but they only offer the lighting and heat in a small space under the light. Place no more than 20 inches high from the floor of the terrarium.
When purchasing bulbs check to see what wattage you will need for your setup. The top is close to basking area, get a lower wattage bulb. If it is further, you may need a higher wattage.
Lights should be set on top of screen or use a hood that will hold your bulb. Glass can block UV exposure.
Keeping a thermometer will help you keep your terrarium at a good temperature. For a young bearded dragon, basking area should be around 95* – 110* and the cool side around 80* – 90*. For an adult beardie, basking area should be around 90* – 93*. At night the terrarium should stay around 70*- 75* for all ages.
The UVA rays help your beardie to stay healthy and keep a good appetite and the UVB rays help your beardie metabolize vitamin D3 and calcium.
Substrate for your terrarium
You will need a substrate, or material that covers the floor, on the bottom of your terrarium. They have mats, loose substrate, or even ceramic tile. Some people say that sand or loose substrate can cause impaction in younger beardies. This happens when the beardie has buildup in his gut or intestine. Again, choosing a substrate is a personal preference. I like to use a reptile carpet that is easy to clean when needed.
Food for your bearded dragon
You will need a dish for your beardies food. One for food and one for water or find one that has both. Bearded dragons that are younger, may eat more insects than vegetables. As they get older, they eat more vegetable than insects. There diets should consist of approximately 40% protein (crickets, mealworms, dubious roaches, etc.), 60% vegetables, and 10% fruit. Fruit can be fed two or three times a week.
You will want to offer calcium and vitamin D3 to your bearded dragon also. This can sprinkle this on his veggies or on the insects. You may want to add a multivitamin to his food. Please read the direction on the back to see how much your beardie needs.
- Place your beardie in warm water for 15 – 20 minutes to help with impaction.
- For essential oil users, try this gentle cleaner recipe
5 gallon bucket filled with 3/4 water.
1 drop lavender essential oil
1 drop melaleuca essential oil
Add reptile carpet and reptile housing in a bucket, soak for two minutes or so, wash thoroughly, and then dry.