What Your Beardie Needs BEFORE You Bring It Home!

This page is designed to make shopping for your bearded dragon easier. It contains information about supplies for your new beardie that you need to know BEFORE you bring your new bearded dragon home. The suggested items are products that we use at Herps & Habitats. Most are universally accepted for this particular use (i.e. raising bearded dragons) and we are happy to also be able to endorse their use.

Supplies List

A more in-depth look at necessary supplies follows. We have also made some personal recommendations in many of the categories. We use and so feel we can recommend the products we have listed by name. We hope your experience with these products is every bit as good as ours has been.

aquarium tank-We suggest an initial purchase of a 29L glass tank. Although a bit big for a hatchling, with proper food and exercise, a baby with quickly grow into the 29L tank. That leaves you with plenty of room to grow for a bit before the final purchase of a much larger tank for your full grown adult bearded dragon. We suggest the 29L (for long) tank because it is remains at the 10 gallon tank height rather than taking on vertical height like most larger tanks do, thereby providing better access to the UVB full-spectrum light source.

Reptarium brand naturalistic habitat enclosures-Built specifically for reptile use, the Reptarium is a quality housing solution. It snaps together using ABS tubing and a reinforced nylon mesh cover slips over the frame and zips closed on either end. The Reptarium is light weight which makes it easy to move and to clean. It is extremely durable since reinforced nylon is stronger than aluminum, fiberglass or other cloth mesh materials. It allows for air flow, heat circulation and allows for easy misting or drip system use. There are several sizes available.

build your own-Many people plan and create their own design for a bearded dragon enclosure. We will have more on this later.

screen lid-We only suggest the wire screened lids that are available. We do not use screens that have any plastic framing. Often the heat of the lamp will cause the plastic to melt. To avoid any problems, we only use metal-framed lids with wire screening. It is also necessary to know that neither glass nor plastic tops allow the essential UVB rays from your light to pass through them. Glass tops are standard on most aquarium set-ups, as is the plastic strip that covers the light fixture in most aquarium hoods. We also suggest that each light source rests on a wire screen lid. This avoids any problems associated with broken light bulbs exploding into the enclosure, and prevents any reptile from getting too close to the light source and getting burned, the bulb being knock around by rambunctiuos reptiles,etc. In the overall scheme, the ounce of prevention taken goes a long way.

basking site-There are many types of basking site items to use in your enclosure. Many shops sell wood specifically for bird and reptile use. You can also use wood you have collected, but care needs to be taken to ensure that it is cured properly. The same goes with rock you find. Make sure they are not from a construction site to avoid any contact with toxic contaminants, and properly clean and cure all items before using it in your reptile enclosure. Each week when you thoroughly clean the tank and all items in it, you can rearrange the scenery for your bearded dragon by building different basking sites with the available wood and rocks you have on hand.

fluorescent striplight-Can often be found at Home Depot type stores for much cheaper than the pet store counterpart will offer. Usual fixtures are in 24 and 48-inch lengths.

timer-Can be as inexpensive or elaborate as you want it to be. I use a rather inexpensive Intermatic Time-All model. You manually set the time on and off, plug it in and forget it. Reset after any power outage.

full-spectrum fluorescent UVB bulb-A full-spectrum UVB fluorescent light bulb. We recommend the Reptisun 5.0 UVB reptile bulb. The Reptisun 5.0 bulb emits high UVB output for a farther distance, up to 12" from bulb surface rather than the ususal 4" dissipation. Prevents MBD if used initally, but can also help reverse MBD in younger lizards. Safer than powdered D3 supplements as it allows the reptile to regulate its own Vitamin D levels through endogenous synthesis (from within).

basking bulb-Can be one of many reputable brands on down to a regular household light bulb. We use several different brands of full-spectrum light bulbs. We only suggest regular household incandescent light bulbs for a basking light/heat source in an emergency situation. Although the full-spectrum type incandescent lights run a good bit more in price, there are several kinds to chose from that offer different benefits and several different price ranges. Please note that no incandescent light buld will prevent MBD. They are for a heat source only.

We suggest these lights over regular bulbs since they are made by people that know about reptiles. You are still using the same wattage bulb, usually 60-100 watt bulbs, these are just enhanced for reptile use. Once you start getting into using 100 watt and 150 watt bulbs to heat your enclosures different basking sights, you should be looking for regular flood-type lamps at the local Depot to save money. You must also be careful not to use too much wattage in your enclosure. Among the variety of problems that can cause, over-heating your bearded dragon is the most important. Always check temperatures before upgrading to a higher wattage bulb.

dome fixture-Are usually cheaper at the Depot. Be sure to check the accepted wattage rating listed on the tag. Some only take a maximum 60 watt bulb which would not be a good buy if you are planning to use 150 watt flood bulbs.

thermometer-Again, there are many kinds and types of thermometers. Price can make a difference, performance and accuracy are of most importance. We usually use several types in each enclosure. In glass aquarium tanks we use both the stick-on strip thermometer and the dial type reptile thermometer. The dial type usually comes blister packed with a humidity guage, which I tuck away in a tank corner for future reference.

substrate-This is a hotly and widely disputed subject.We know what works for the Herps & Habitats team. We spend a lot of time researching these subjects and feel we know what IS and IS NOT recommended by the majority of bearded dragon breeders.

water dish-All captive creatures need a water source available. At Herps & Habitats, ALL of our bearded dragons have water available either continuously or on a daily basis. Hatchlings and young babies only bathe with supervision, they are on a daily routine. Most of the adults in our collection have water available from roasting pan size containers on a continuous basis. These water troughs are washed and changed daily, and are almost always inside the enclosure as a water source. We do not believe in the philosophy that you don't need water inside the enclosure.

spray bottle-Make sure you get a sturdy sprayer. You will use it often so it pays to get a good quality, sturdy sprayer from the start.

phosphate-free calcium supplement-We use Rep-Cal brand Calcium (Phosphorus-free) with Vitamin D in an ultrafine powder.

multi-vitamin-We use several different products and adjust our dosing schedules as necessary. We suggest Herptivite which we use once every 1-2 weeks. There is also Reptocal Reptile Supplement by Tetra, and Vitolife Reptile Supplement also by Tetra. Each product offers a different supply of required vitamins and minerals. Use according to directions, read the labels, see what it is you are buying for your beardie and adjust your supplement schedule to reflect that observation. Please remember that a well-balanced, varied diet is the best starting place. Incorporate insects, fruits and vegetables into your bearded dragons diet from the start.

crickets-You must have the correct size crickets available for your bearded dragon. The rule of thumb for this is to feed crickets that are as long as the space between your bearded dragons eyes. (Look at the dragon from above and guess-timate the space between the bumps of its eyes), then have a good size quantity that size on hand. There are several reasons for this. First, the more days prior to getting your dragon that you have the crickets, the more time you can spend "gut-loading" the crickets for optimal feeding benefits. Also you may find that the local cricket supplier might be charging the maximum the market can bear, as high as 20 cents each which makes providing prey insects for your dragon a big expense. Even better, you can order bulk crickets in relatively small quantities and have them delivered right to your door. No fuss, no middle-man. Find out more about cricket care and then shop online for a cricket supplier. Another rule of thumb is to estimate in favor of smaller crickets rather than go for the bigger size. Crickets grow fast, they won't go to waste. But feeding crickets that are too big can create more problems than it is worth, to include the death of your new bearded dragon.

mealworms-mealworms are a very useful food to have on hand for your bearded dragon. There is a lot of controversy about mealworms and superworms. Again, personal preference is what works for you. We do not feed any mealworms to hatchlings. We feed only the recently shed, white worms to young babies and juveniles. We still continue to feed the shed white worms to our adults because we chose to. We do not use any superworms in our diet plan. Originally superworms were said to be genetically enhanced, so that made it something that we did not want to use. Now that they are said to be hormone free, we still do not chose to use them. Although one superworm makes a much bigger meal than the regular sized mealworms ever will, we do not feed any of our reptile collection superworms. Again, it is a personal decision on the part of the Herps & Habitats team, but it is what works for us. Taking care of 5,000-10,000 regular size mealworms is a big enough task, but that many in superworm size might be a bit much for even the bravest dragon keeper!

greens & vegetables-A must for every bearded dragon owner, greens make up a good portion of the dragon diet. We start feeding greens to our hatchlings as soon as they show interest in crickets, and continue to provide a varied vegetable diet throughout the life of our adult dragons. Most juveniles eat more crickets than they will vegetables, but keep them enticed daily with new, fresh salad variety. We suggest dark green leaf vegetables like collard greens, endive, kale, bok choy, mustard greens and parsley. We also include a variety of lettuce greens that include Romaine and red-leaf lettuces. We also include grated zucchini, tomatoes, yellow squash, hibiscus leaves (a true summer favorite for young and old dragons alike!), grated carrots and other favorites. Please read more on this. Rip into very small bits for hatchlings and young beardeds, coarse chop for adults. The vegetables we offer include green beans, yams, peas and raspberries (both a BIG favorite with even fussy hatchlings), peaches, and strawberries. We do not ever suggest using iceberg lettuce, and would only suggest cat/dog foods in a most dire emergency situation that is monitored by a vet.

pellets-Many people can't get their dragon to eat pelleted foods. It takes time and patience, like getting dragons to eat greens, but can be done. Some of our lizard collection have no problems crunching the pellets while other lizards show a marked prefence for other things. Some will learn to accept pellets. We suggest that you keep trying the pelleted foods simply because it gives you another food source to offer. Can be great in an emergency situation if you run out of crickets or greens or both! We have had particularly good luck with Rep-Cal brand Juvenile Bearded Dragon Food with Fruit.

supplies for keeping prey insects-

Optional items that you might want to consider

The following optional items are great to have on hand in case of an emergency or to help in a temporary beardie situation. You may also have these items suggested to you by the breeder or pet store.

under tank heater- hot rocks are not suggested with bearded dragons. Beardies sense heat through their heads rather than through stomach areas like some other reptiles do. Bearded dragons can often get severe burns from hot rocks. An under tank heater is suggested if you feel that the heat is not as high as it should be, but be careful. An extra heat source can easily produce too much heat. All heat source additions to your enclosure should be monitored for hours if not days, prior to leaving them unattended.

thermostat-Can easily point out fluctuation in heat output. Just like thermometers, type and price are the deciding factors. The more precise an instrument you buy, the better and more accurate the results.

drip systems-We often use drip systems in our dragon tanks. Some dragons are more interested in water if it is moving. We have used several different drip systems and prefer:

large tub to soak bearded dragon-A great fun item to purchase. Gets your dragon out for some supervised exercise. Should be low and easily cleaned. A variety of wading pools are available in a variety of sizes for adult dragons. Enamel-ware roasting pans work well for juveniles. Buy new rather than purchasing yard sale deals on either the pools or the pans. Use luke warm water and fill to about neck level. Some dragons love to "swamp" around, others are less interested in splashing around. Adjust the water level to satisfy your dragon.

feeding tank-You may also have a 10 gallon "feeding tank" suggested to you at the time of purchase. This is a matter of preference as well. We do not use feeding tanks. Some dragons take to the idea without problem, but other beardies are intimidated by the unfamiliar surroundings and won't eat at all. It got to be more of a hassle than a problem solving solution for us.

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