Creating a home for your bearded dragon

Bearded dragons originate from the hot dry deserts of central Australia. Like most reptiles, they are normally housed in an enclosed cage with glass doors, known as a vivarium. They have specific requirements, therefore it’s essential that the environment within the vivarium is controlled precisely and monitored continuously.

A single adult will need a vivarium which is the minimum length of 90cm, pairs or trios should be allowed at least 120cm. It is essential that the lighting and heating within all vivariums is correct. Without having the right levels of ultraviolet (UV) light, they are unable to absorb calcium which will cause deformities. This can be prevented by choosing the highest UV rated specialist reptile lights. The output from these lights can diminish over time and therefore they must be replaced every 6-9 months. Lights should be controlled by a timer and be on for 12 – 14 hours each day. These lights can prove expensive, therefore it is necessary to consider the cost implications of keeping a bearded dragon before purchasing one.

As these dragons are desert animals they need to be kept warm. Their natural routine is to bask in the heat of the sun in the morning, giving them enough energy to feed and move to and from cooler areas. To allow them to do this, they need a spotlight to bask under at one end of their enclosure, so that the other end can be kept cooler. The temperature under the heat source should be at least 35ºC and at the cooler end, 20º – 25ºC. At night, the temperature should not fall below 15ºC, although it is best to keep younger dragons warmer. A substrate of sand can be used with a stone or other décor so that your pet can bask under the spot lamp within 150mm of the UV light source.

There should also be areas of shelter to enable them to hide and feel secure; without hiding places they can feel very nervous. Artificial ornaments and plants can be used to create a desert-like environment, they are also easy to clean and less likely to harbour germs, although must be fixed securely so that they cannot be knocked over.

The shopping list in this guide can be used as a guide. Our reptile experts in store will also be happy to offer advice and guidance.