Bearded Dragon Husbandry
Today we are on the topic of how to properly house a bearded dragon.
Whether you are starting off with a baby bearded dragon or a full grown dragon, I would recommend using either tile or carpet for the substrate. One of the reasons why I recommend this is because of impaction, the other reason is because of cleaning. Bearded dragons almost poop everyday, now if you are using sand or any other loose substrate you have to scoop the feces out, and sand is VERY dusty. Not only is sand a harder substrate to clean, if you are putting the food directly onto the sand you can risk your bearded dragon eating that sand when they hunt their bugs. If you really do want to use sand then I would recommend making sure that the sand is hard as a rock, like excavator clay.
The next part of your new scaly friends' tank I will be discussing is the light source. Now there are two options when it comes to lighting. There is the Power Sun bulb which emits both UVB and heat or you can have two separate fixtures. If you would rather the two separate fixtures then your best bet would be to use the ReptiSun 10.0 tube bulb for the UVB and a 100W/150W basking bulb for the heat. A tip to keep in mind is that the UVB bulbs need to be replaced roughly every 6-8 months. After 6 months the amount of UVB the bulb is putting out diminishes quickly.
Now we are onto the decor. Of course the decorations are completely up to you, but I would consider having multiple different levels and basking platforms. I myself have 4 basking platforms ranging from 120 degrees to 90 degrees. The hottest part of your tank should go no higher than 125-130 degrees. A quick tip would be to have a rougher tile or a brick in the tank, partially as a basking platforms (they hold heat really well) and also so as they run across them it will file their nails down. :) As far as water bowls go, it is better to have a large dish that they can soak their entire body into. I also personally keep a air stone (connected to a air pump) in the water so it is bubbling (bearded dragons see moving water better than standing water).
A few more tips and tricks I would recommend:
- Buy an open front tank (Exo Terra or Zoo Med)
- Always have a salad in their tank (collard greens, bell pepper, squash, and strawberries are great options) this will encourage them to eat their greens so when they are full grown they hopefully will eat them in conjunction with their insects
- Keep them well fed! Switch up the diet often. I rarely feed the same thing twice in a row. Dubia roaches, horn worms, super worms, and occasionally crickets are all nutritious
- If you feed super worms make sure you are putting a good amount of calcium powder on them because they are high in phosphorus
- Give them exercising options, take them outside, buy a kiddie pool and fill with a thin layer of water and put a brick in the center. This will help them get natural sunlight and keeping that summer body year around!