Creating a home for your bearded dragon

Bearded dragons need a very particular environment to live in, so if you make the big decision to bring one of these wonderful reptiles home, you'll need to consider a few important factors:

Your bearded dragon will need to be kept in a cage with clear glass doors called a vivarium. Since bearded dragons can grow to be 24 inches, you will need to buy a vivarium that's at least 90cm long; bigger if you are keeping more than one.

Bearded dragons originate from central Australia, so they need hot, dry conditions to live in. You can create this environment using specialist reptile UV lights, a heat lamp that creates a temperature of at least 35C, and a heat rock or heat mat. It's also important to create a cooler area of the tank, where temperatures are between 20 and 25C.

Make sure your vivarium is well ventilated and don't allow it to become humid.

Line the floor of the tank with a substrate of sand and place a stone or other item of décor under the spot lamp so your dragon can bask in the heat. Use décor to create little hiding places for your dragon, in case they feel nervous. It's a great idea to use artificial ornaments and plants as they are easy to clean, but make sure you fix them down securely so they don't fall over.

The vivarium will need to be spot cleaned regularly - where you remove their droppings (which are small and dry, they don't produce urine) - but you won't actually need to clean out their tank as you would with other pets. However, it's a great idea to disinfect their home thoroughly with reptile-safe cleaning products once each month.

You will also need to regularly remove uneaten or wilted foods, especially insects which may nibble your dragon while they are inactive.

These reptiles sleep at night and are active during the day, so you may want to make the most of them having the same sleep schedule as you and place the vivarium in a room you spend a lot of time in.