Bearded dragons are adorable reptiles. These desert-dwellers are friendly and curious. They’re also mild-mannered. They make an excellent choice for new and intermediate reptile caretakers.
If you’re considering bringing a beardie into your home, there are a few things you should prepare first. The first is an enclosure. This might be a glass aquarium or a bearded dragon terrarium. A 20-gallon tank is okay for a juvenile dragon. But plan on allowing your adult dragon a lot more room.
In fact, aim for at least 3 feet by a foot and a half of floor space in the enclosure. Anyone who’s flown economy class on an airplane understands how uncomfortable it is to be cramped for room. Now imagine spending every day like that. Even if you think you’ll take out your dragon to let him run, give him the freedom to relax at home, too.
Next, the substrate is an important decision. It can keep your beardie healthy or kill him in an agonizing way. If you use loose bedding, be careful what you put in his tank. That’s because he can end up with impacted intestines from eating it. Do the research to find the best substrate for your bearded dragon. You might decide to try washable, reusable reptile carpet instead.
After that, you’ll need a thermometer or two to set up the tank with a cool side plus a warm spot to bask. Keep the basking surface around 100 to 115 degrees F. The air temperature there can hover around 90 degrees. Then arrange a cooler area at about 80 degrees at the other end. At night, the temperatures overall can fall to 65-70 degrees.
Finally, don’t forget the full-spectrum light to help your beardie stay healthy. They need UV radiation to make Vitamin D just like humans.
These basics will get you started. But the more you know about your new friend, the happier you both will be. Have fun in your new adventure with a bearded dragon!