Bearded dragons are reptiles requiring a precise environment that mimics the desert. Set up their tank or cage with everything bearded dragons need, and keep it clean and well-maintained. The best setups allow for movement, climbing, basking, hiding and viewing.
Choose a Tank
Take a look at the various reptile tanks and cages available on the market online and in pet stores. Glass, melamine and PVC cages are the three most common. For baby bearded dragons, a 20-gallon tank is ideal; for adult bearded dragons, a 50-gallon tank or larger is best.
Turn On the Lights
A bearded dragon requires two types of light, a full spectrum UVA/UVB light and a basking lamp, which produces heat. Together, these lights mimic natural sunlight. The UVA/UVB light bulb must be replaced every six months to maintain its effectiveness. Place the lights on top of the tank, facing down, so they shine directly over the cage and illuminate the entire space.
Set a Timer
Bearded dragons need to be kept on an exact light and dark schedule. Set up a timer to control the amount of time the lights are on. Ideally this is 10 to 14 hours per day.
Line the Bottom of the Cage
The bottom of the tank should have a substrate (floor or lining) like paper, paper towels, shredded newspaper or reptile carpet. It's best to pick something that your bearded dragon can't ingest. Keep it clean and replace it often.
The most important accessory is a platform, rock or other structure that allows the bearded dragon to get within 6 to 8 inches of the heat lamp. Bearded dragon tanks should also have a background for the back and sides of the cage, so only the front is clear. Reptile furniture, branches and rocks also make good additions to the habitat.
Sheila Zahra began working as an editor and writer in 2004. She has edited full-length works of fiction and nonfiction, and has written articles and essays for academic and business clients. Zahra earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and creative writing from California State University, Long Beach, in 2006. She currently lives and works in Eugene, Oregon.