Below are the supplies I suggest for a Bearded Dragon. Much of my research was via the forums at www.beardeddragon.org and The Bearded Dragon Manual from The Herpetocultural Library. We bought our Bearded Dragons off of Craigslist in December 2014 as a breeding pair. I have since spent hours and hours researching their care. I am writing this post primarily for the parents of our babies that we have raised because I know from experience how overwhelming it can be to suddenly own a new pet about which you know nothing. Please note my disclaimer is that I am still educating myself on Bearded Dragons and I believe this information to be correct but am open to discussions.
Supplies needed before purchasing your bearded dragon:
The tanks with the front doors are really cool and make it easier to access the lizards while not having to deal with moving the lights on the top of the tank. They sell these at pet stores in town and on amazon. Priced at like $240. 36″ x 18″ x 18″ ( you don’t want anything smaller then 18″ depth because of their size including tail). This is a little small for our Bearded Dragons because they are extra large at 18″ and 20″ in length.
You can also use what’s called a 40 gallon breeder tank. Sometimes Petco has a dollar a gallon sale in like June. You can house a baby in a 20 gallon to start but you will eventually need 40 so you might as well not buy it twice. The breeder tank is a little wider then a traditional tank. Ours is 18″ deep, 17 ” high and 36″ wide. You only need a terrarium, not an aquarium. The lid will need to be a metal wire lid. They sell them with hinges so you can lift the front, leaving the back in place holding the lights and heater.
Ours is a Showcase Cage. They’re great and are even stackable. This one is 4′ x 2′ x 18″
You do not need an under tank heating pad. Some lizards may not move if they start to burn on their bellies.
You do not need a water bowl. Babies need to be misted 3 times a day till they get older. They will lick the droplets and it’s adorable. The adults get a soak bath once a week. This is how they drink. Water should be warm and you may need to drain and refill because soaking can also help them poop. And no one wants to drink their toilet water.
You need a food bowl. Something heavy. We have a cool glass ashtray I got at the thrift store.
We use a storage tub for insect feeding.
You need to choose a substrate for the bottom of your tank. Tile is best. Paper towels and newspaper are also good options. Sand can be dangerous especially for babies because they taste their environment and can ingest the sand and become impacted. Plus it gets the poopoos on it and can stink.
You need to buy powdered vitamins and powdered calcium. This can be sprinkled onto their veggies and insects before they eat. Vitamins once a week and calcium every day. We feed these supplements to our Cockroach colony instead of to the lizards. This way they ingest it second hand. If you feed them crickets you can shake the powder into the cricket bag.
A spray bottle is used to mist babies and to mist veggies so they can up their water intake.
You will need a hide/shade structure. This can be simply made from two bricks and a flat stone or you can get something more expensive at the pet store.
You will need a CHE bulb (ceramic heat emitter).
You need a basking bulb
You need a UVB bulb.
We have a timer and use the Che at night (cuz it’s cold where we live) and the basking bulb during day. The uvb bulb is timed to be used during day too. Someday I’d like to get a thermometer regulator. It shuts the heater on and off to maintain the desired temperature. But so far I’ve been bleeding money while getting everything set up so I’m going to wait a few.
You need a lamp to hold the CHE and the basking bulb. You can buy two or you can buy a combo lamp. The combo lamp mini has two plugs but is smaller and fits into the lamp pocket of the showcase cage we use. Make sure it works with the bulb wattage you have chosen.
You need a hood to hold your bulb UVB/UVA light. Mercury vapor bulbs are also common to be used in place of this strip bulb but I have not researched enough on that subject.
A temp gun is the best way to monitor the temperature inside the tank. They need a hot side (where the CHE and basking bulb is placed ) to be about 103 degrees and a cool side of about 70 degrees (where you also put your shade structure/hide). Night time temperatures can be lower. The babies we have are kept with a CHE on 24 hours a day because we don’t keep our house temperature warm enough for them at night.
In the winter, bearded dragons can have a four month brumation period where you turn down temperatures drastically. Please refer to the recommended resources for more information regarding brumation.
You will need some sort of container to hold your feeder insects. We have an aquarium in the garage with a metal mesh lid for crickets. We only use small crickets for the babies. We have a Dubia cockroach colony to feed our adult bearded dragons. Provide your insects with carrots or orange slices and a bowl of water crystals. We feed our Dubias a special cockroach mix to keep them healthy. You are what you eat.
Local store in Reno, Nevada: Sierra Aquatics is quiet reliable. Don’t rely on people at petsmart or petco to give you any accurate information.
Below is my son’s report for his GT photojournalism report and will provide more information about caring for a Bearded Dragon:
INTRODUCTION–CHOOSING A BEARDED DRAGON AS PET
If you’re looking for a new pet, I would suggest a bearded dragon. They are great reptilian companions. They’re calm and appropriate for all ages. Cory, an employee at Sierra Aquatics says they are, “…pretty much good for any age as long as they can handle it; the adult/parent anyway. They’re one of the more common (reptilian companions) because they are so relaxed and fun to have around. They’ll just sit on your shoulder and be very friendly. Very rarely do you find a mean bearded dragon.” When picking out your new bearded dragon it should look healthy and active. They come in multiple colors so if you like colorful pets, pick a fancy. Cory says, “You don’t want to buy them under anything like a month or two. When they’re hatchlings it’s not good to give them out because they’re fighting the hardest to survive and eat. They can be very stressed out easily as well so you don’t want to move them around a lot.” “They can live quite a long time. Sometimes over 15 years if they’re taken care of very well.”
When Bearded Dragons are a baby under one year they eat 10% vegetable and 90% meat. When they are an adult it is the opposite. “They are omnivorous, but they eat a lot of crickets when they’re younger. The older they get the more greens and vegetables they’ll eat. So I suggest some really healthy greens but mostly just crickets and a good variety of bugs like that. People even feed worms and roaches as well.” I feed my dragons Dubia Cockroaches from my own colony, and dandelion greens. Sometimes we have other foods but these are really good for them. Dubia cockroaches are better than crickets because they have a higher “meat to shell ratio,” like my mom always says. Sometimes we gave them a pinky mouse and that’s good for them too. Once I fed my lizards dead gourmet crickets in a golden can. They didn’t’ try to eat the crickets, they tried to eat the can!
Bearded Dragons need to be bathed four times a month so they can drink water. You can also spray them or their food with water so they can drink. They do not need a water container in their habitat.
Bearded dragons should have at least a forty gallon tank. But the bigger the better. Sierra Aquatics Associate says, “I suggest only one per cage. There’s a lot of dominance issues with bearded dragons. If you mix them you’ll get eggs. I wouldn’t put two males together. Sometimes even females will fight. They are pretty much solitary animals. They very rarely run into one another in the wild and that’s only to make eggs and that stuff.”
There are multiple types of substrates. Three common are sand, tiles and paper towels. I would suggest tiles because, unlike sand, they can’t eat it. You can’t use sand for any dragon that is under one year old because they will eat it and could die. They sometimes try because they taste their environment. Tiles are better then paper towels because whenever you clean it you just wipe it instead of getting another paper towel.
Bearded Dragons need a cooling place so you have to provide a shade structure. They will also need a food bowl wide enough so they don’t knock it over. They like to have plants in their cage, too. The dragons will need a UVB/UVA bulb and a basking light during the day. The temperature on the hot side of the habitat will be 103 degrees. The temperature on the cooler side will be 69 degrees. Another heating device called a CHE (ceramic heating element) might also be needed if the cage isn’t hot enough.
Cory says, “Females eventually lay eggs. Whether they have (a male) to help them with eggs or not. Sometimes they’ll have infertile eggs and it can take quite a toll on their body and stress them out. But obviously you can work around that. You can give them supplements like vitamins.” When my male wants to breed with my female his beard turns black and he bobs his head a lot. “Males are very showy. They kind of like to bob their heads and move around like they’re all that,” says Cory. A nesting box must be provided when the female is ready to lay her eggs. She is usually more heavy and bigger and she starts digging when she is ready. If you do not provide a nesting box she may become egg bound and you have to take her to the vet for surgery.
While we were incubating our eggs we used a homemade incubator. We lost ¾ of our eggs. There was a few we lost after transferring to the new incubator. We had three survivors. The eggs took two months to hatch. Right now we have our babies and they just hatched a few days ago. They eat mini crickets and a few dandelion greens. We will give them a new home when they are six weeks old.
In conclusion Bearded Dragons are great companions, but are not the easiest. I agree with Cory when he said, “Normal they are labeled as beginner pets but I would probably call them intermediate because of the lights and they’re special needs they have, their diet too.” If you would like more information about Bearded Dragons go to Sierra Aquatics or www.BeardedDragon.org and not any ordinary pet store.
Cory at Sierra Aquatics
The Bearded Dragon Manual from The Herpetocultural Library
and my mom.