Bearded dragons are unique creatures. They have an interesting gait whenever they see another of their kind. You may notice them waving at each other to show that they recognize the other dragon’s precise and to display their submission to another beardie. There may be instances that you notice your dragon bobbing its head, especially when it sees a female dragon. This is just their way of showing their interest to a prospective mate. When excited, they will puff out their beards and open their mouths to project an authoritative stance.
These dragons are known to be docile and quite easy to manage. They do have a set of unique requirements. But as long as you are able to provide them with what they need, they will remain happy and healthy.
One of the basic requirement to provide proper husbandry to a pet dragon is to set up a proper enclosure for the reptile. If you are at a lost of how to do this, you have landed on the right page. Read on to read some interesting tips on how to provide your dragon with a proper home.
The Bearded Dragon’s Enclosure
Although a bearded dragon is mostly sedentary, it can run as fast as nine miles per hour. That’s quite an amazing fact about this easy-going pet. And even though they could recognize another bearded reptile, males of this species will not want to live with another male. Even females may compete when it comes to nourishment, so you would need to know the proper housing requirements to provide your pet dragon the best care that it will need to stay happy and healthy.
Size of the enclosure
First of all, you will need to use an appropriate sized aquarium made with a tight-fitting lid. You can also customize your dragon’s cage or enclosure, but the best one will be an aquarium as you can see what going on inside the cage once it is set up and your dragon is already inside the enclosure.
Hatchlings may be placed in a 10-15 gallon aquarium. However, adults will require at least a 55-60 gallon aquarium. A wire cage will not be an ideal enclosure as they do not retain heat. This type of enclosure can also cause foot and nose traumas. If you still would like to use a wire cage, you will need one that is coated with plastic to lessen the probability of your pet getting hurt.
Cages designed for a bearded dragon do not need to be complicated. A simple design will do. It will be easier to clean and ensure that there will be fewer issues when it comes to possible injuries. If you would rather use wood for the cage, by all means, do it. Just make sure that you have it sealed with polyurethane or a similar waterproofing agent. You also need to caulk the joints to make it easier to clean and to disinfect. If you do this, you will need to let a few days past before placing the dragon inside the enclosure to allow the polyurethane or other sealants to dry thoroughly and prevent any possible intoxication.
The substrate lines the bottom of your dragon’s enclosure. Though it should primarily be esthetically appealing, it should also be easy to clean, absorbent, as well as digestible if ever swallowed.
You have several options when it comes to the substrate for a dragon’s cage. Some use newspaper, sheets of brown wrapping paper, shredded papers, plain paper, paper towels, substrate liners, reptile carpets, and other natural or commercially available substrates. However, these items may not be good to be used as substrates for your bearded dragon: crushed corn cob, kitty litter, wood shavings, cedar shavings, gravel, or potting soil that contains vermiculite, pesticides, fertilizer, or wetting agents. Anything that can pose as impaction hazard or may contain toxic chemicals should never be used as a substrate for the bearded dragon.
Landscaping Your Bearded Dragon’s Enclosure
Your pet reptile will enjoy an assortment of branches in his new habitat. It can climb up plants, plants, or slate of rocks that you will place inside its enclosure. Just make sure that whatever you place inside the enclosure does not have any sharp edges, should be securely anchored and will not pose any danger to the dragon. If you intend to put branches, make sure that they are as wide as your gecko’s body to provide better comfort and safety for your pet.
Your dragon will enjoy having a place to seek shelter when the surrounding temperature becomes too hot for it.
Plants will also look a great addition to your lizard’s housing. Not only will it provide humidity and a sense of security to the dragon, but it can also enhance the appeal of the enclosure. Just make sure that the plants you choose are not health hazards and have not been treated with pesticide. Also make sure that the potting soil does not contain pesticides, fertilizer, or any wetting agents.
Your cold-blooded bearded dragon is used to desert environments. It will need supplemental heat to properly digest that foods that it consumes. You will need to provide a temperature gradient that mimics the natural heat sources in its original habitat. For this reason, you will need to set up primary and secondary heat sources that can keep your dragon’s body temperature to as high as it needs to synthesize the nutrients from the food it takes. You may need to keep your dragon’s enclosure at 78-88°F during the day and about in the 70s at night. A thermometer will also be needed to ensure that temperature changes will be monitored appropriately.
Special “basking lights” are necessary accessories to be installed in your pet’s housing. Make sure that the temperature under the light in the basking area is about 90-100°F. Hatchlings in smaller enclosures will need lights of lower wattage, however.
Water and Humidity
Even though your pet will get most of the water from the food that it consumes, you still need to make sure that fresh drinking water is available at all times. Place it in a shallow bowl that won’t tip over.
Proper humidity is also vital for proper shedding. So, when humidity is quite low, you may need to mist your dragon with water several times each week. You also need to give it a bath or allow it to soak in its tub 2-3 times each week. Just make sure that the tub is kept clean that water replaced regularly. Note that your dragon may urinate or defecate in the water, so it’s necessary that you keep it clean at all times.
Once everything is installed, you need to constantly monitor all accessories for any traces of feces or urine as these could cause disease-causing microorganisms to grow in the terrarium or the dragon’s enclosure. Wash and sanitize everything in the cage (including the food bowl and water bowl) regularly and allow them to rinse and dry thoroughly before re-installing them inside the cage.
If you can properly set up your dragon’s cage and provide appropriate husbandry it, you can be assured that your pet will live satisfied and healthy inside its enclosure for a long time.