Bearded Dragons are quickly becoming highly popular exotic pets throughout North America. But before getting one, it’s important you have the proper setup to make your Beardie feel safe, secure, and happy at home. The key to keeping your Bearded Dragon healthy is through their environment, and this can be daunting for first time owners as there are plenty of details that can fall by the wayside. To help you out, here are the most important Bearded Dragon tank accessories and how to find the best options for your scaly friend.
8 Bearded Dragon tank accessories that all Beardies need
Bearded Dragon habitats may seem complicated, but it’s simply because there’s a wide variety of options out there and it can be impossible to decide everything you want. It’s easiest to start with the basics – heat, water, and shelter – and then start thinking about enrichment activities and decorations as well to keep your Beardie stimulated and happy.
1. A nice, large hide
Bearded Dragons are desert animals, and one of the ways they’ve adapted to stay cool and feel secure is by making full use of any rocks or logs to hide underneath. A hide that’s large enough for them to get underneath comfortably with room to spare is a great way to make you Bearded Dragon feel more at home. It’s also important for allowing them to acclimate to anything new in their tank and can act as a sort of safety blanket for them when they’re stressed.
This hide can also grow/be replaced as they grow bigger, so it’s important to measure your lizard beforehand to make sure it won’t be too snug of a fit! From there, it comes down to aesthetic and what you think your Beardie would enjoy. Many like the look of more rock-like hides, while others prefer logs or other novelty options, so it depends on the size and how it fits in your tank as well.
The recommended substrate in your Beardies terrarium can vary from person to person, but it’s unanimously agreed that it’s an important aspect of their habitat. The substrate gives your Bearded Dragon traction and contributes to their overall hygiene, so it needs to be cleaned or replaced anytime it becomes soiled. This is important to keep in mind, as different substrates require cleaning and replacing at different times.
If you choose to use sheet-like substrates that cover the whole bottom, the entire sheet usually needs to be removed and cleaned or replaced entirely. Others, such as sand and mineral-based substrates, can be sifted with a sieve like cat litter. However, the smaller the substrate particles, the more likely it is that your Bearded Dragon may become impacted from accidental ingestion.
Reptile carpet is considered to be the most convenient substrate for first-time owners, as it can be removed and washed without having to sift through sand, but some keepers don’t like the unnatural look of it. Newspaper is another option, but be on the look out for any ink that may rub off on their skin. There are also substrates made for Beardies who are avid diggers, and are especially recommended for any females who appear to be close to egg-laying.
3. Water Dish
Water is an essential part of your Beardie’s tank and should be paid special attention to. Water is the most common vector for bacteria and other illnesses for your lizard, and should always be kept fresh and clean. Spot checks are usually sufficient daily, but the dish should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a week.
Using an automatic water dispenser can be a great, low-maintenance way to make sure that your pet has enough water while maintaining a fresh supply. Getting a dish large enough for them to lounge and soak in is a plus if you’ve noticed your Beardie has an affinity for swimming or soaking. The water dish shouldn’t be attached to anything and can be easily removed, as one of the best ways to maintain your Beardie’s humidity level is by adding or removing water from their environment.
4. Heat Lamp
All lizards, including Bearded Dragons, are cold-blooded animals, meaning they require plenty of external heat to keep their body temperature up. Your Bearded Dragon should have two distinct sides of their terrarium – a basking area and a cooldown side.
The term “heat lamp” in regards to accessories has multiple parts, and all are essential for the well being of your Bearded Dragon. For one, the reflector dome is the actual lamp fixture that focuses the light and heat down on your Beardie. One that’s highly reflective with good heat dissipation will ensure that the heat of the tank stays more consistent.
The other most important aspect of the heat lamps is the bulbs themselves. On the basking side, basking bulbs provide the radiant heat that reptiles need. On the cooler side, a 100 W Reptile bulb is required to keep the heat consistent throughout the vivarium while still allowing them to control their own body temperature by moving between the two sides.
For nighttime use, the lights should be turned off to maintain and establish important light cycles of daytime and nighttime. If you’re worried about them getting cold, their preferred temperature at night is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If your home is dropping below this, it’s recommended to add supplemental heat with ceramic heat emitters in your reflector dome.
5. Tank Thermometer
A tank thermometer is another necessity for a Bearded Dragon terrarium, as these lizards require a warm and arid environment. Generally, for adult Beardies, the basking area should be between 90 and 93 degrees and their cool-down side should be between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Bearded Dragons also require lower nighttime temperatures, and a tank thermometer is a great way to see if you’ll need supplemental heat while your daytime lights are off.
It’s helpful to also have a tank hydrometer, which measures the humidity within their vivarium. Many thermometers already include this feature, and depending on the reading, it may be recommended to buy either a mister or a dehumidifier for your Beardie – they prefer readings between 30% and 40%.
6. Sunning rock
The sunning rock will occasionally double as a hide, but it’s generally smaller and meant to be climbed on top. The sunning rock is meant to be placed on the basking of their terrarium so they can lay out and receive important nutrients. Bearded Dragons enjoy laying out for hours on end, and a sunning rock gives them more options for heat regulation as the rock soaks up additional heat and provides warmth on their underside as well.
Like the hide, be sure to measure the size of the sunning rock, especially since Bearded Dragons can grow much larger than other lizards. It should also be stable and able to withstand their weight comfortably. Again, it comes down to aesthetic as well as terrarium size. As long as they have an open space directly beneath the basking light, they’ll be happy and comfortable in their home.
7. A hammock!
Hammocks may appear to be only human items, but Bearded Dragons absolutely love them! Some individuals are especially avid climbers, so if you see that, then a hammock might be just the thing they need. The swinging around and the height can make it an added challenge and a wonderful enrichment activity to keep their mind and body stimulated.
Hammocks allow them a high perch to sleep and help make them feel secure. It also can make for a great workout if your Beardie is starting to gain some weight. A hammock can also help make you feel closer to them, as the more comfortable they feel around you, the less they’ll feel the need to hide and they’ll stay in the open for longer.
8. A leash
So no, technically this isn’t part of the tank, but it’s highly recommended for all owners to get a leash for their Bearded Dragon! They’re one of the few lizards that would love to go for a walk with you, and it makes for a memorable sight when you go to the park with a lizard on a leash. A leash also allows them to explore their natural curiosity.
Going on walks with your Bearded Dragon is great for both of you. It can take some getting used to, as they like to wiggle when putting their legs through the harness, but it provides great outdoor time and essential vitamin D from the sun! It’s recommended to practice while still inside the home before going out, but it makes for a great bonding experience and will bring you and your Beardie closer together.
Bearded Dragon tank accessory FAQ
What size tank should I get for a bearded dragon?
An adult Bearded Dragon will survive and thrive best in a tank between a minimum of 50 and 120 gallons. It’s important to remember that bigger is generally better when it comes to picking a tank. A tank should be at the least large enough to allow your fully grown Bearded Dragon to turn around without being restricted.
For babies and juvenile Bearded Dragons, it’s best to start with a smaller enclosure – a temporary tank of 20-40 gallons generally works best. This is because the smaller lizards might have trouble catching their food in a larger tank. If you notice this is a problem you’ve been consistently having, you can block off portions of the larger tank as well and allow them to run around in a more restricted area for feeding time.
How can I keep my bearded dragon warm without a heat lamp?
A Bearded Dragon can survive 24 hours without heat, but they require warmth to survive and heat lamps are a necessary part of their enclosure. If you’re taking a trip and can’t bring their lamp in transit or your power goes out and you’re worried about them being in danger, you can cover their enclosure to keep in heat while keeping the ambient temperature in the room up.
It’s also possible to temporarily use non-toxic hand warmers in the enclosure if you’re worried about their temperature dropping, but this should not be a permanent solution for them. Heat lamps provide both heat and UV light that Bearded Dragons require for bone strength and should always be included in a vivarium.
Do Bearded dragons need a heat lamp at night?
This depends on your ambient temperature during the night. In a house that’s within their temperature range of 70-75 degrees, then no. However, if you notice the temperature dropping below that on their thermometer, then a ceramic heat-emitting bulb is recommended to keep them healthy. Learn more about how to care for a Bearded Dragon at night.
How deep should water be for bearded dragon?
Essentially, their water bowl should be deep enough to keep a steady reserve of water available for them. This usually ends up being one or two inches deep, and it’s recommended to have one closer to 2 inches to allow your dragon to submerge its body while easily keeping their head out of the water.
Do bearded dragons like toys in their tank?
Yes and no. Keeping your Bearded Dragon busy and entertained with toys and activities is incredibly easy and rewarding to do, and is essential for their mental well being. However, they aren’t always toys that people may think of for say, a dog.
Bearded Dragon enrichment items include their hammock and leash, as they provide needed mental and physical stimulation. Another great enrichment is simply placing a mirror by their tank and watching them interact with their reflection. This should only be done for about 15 or so minutes a day, as it may stress them out to have an “intruder” around all day.
What should never go in a Bearded Dragon enclosure?
- A second Bearded Dragon – they’re very territorial and can cause extreme stress
- Regular sand – there’s a high risk for impaction and other digestive issues
- Bark or mulch – high risk for impaction
- Pebbles or gravel – high risk for impaction
- Direct sunlight – can overheat the tank and is difficult to monitor; indirect sunlight is best
- Ceiling Fans – these remind your Beardie of circling birds of prey and can stress them out if in eye sight
Are heat rocks or heat mats bad for bearded dragons?
Heat rocks should never be used in your enclosure, as they can cause severe burns to your Bearded Dragon’s underside and cause permanent nerve and skin damage. Under tank heat mats have a similar issue, as they shouldn’t be in direct contact with any part of the tank. They can be used in small amounts, but it’s recommended to use a ceramic heat emitter instead.