Step 4: Housing and Substrate

Bearded Dragons are large reptiles, and need plenty of room to move. In addition you will need room to establish a temperature gradient. This does not mean that a hatchling dragon needs a huge tank, as this can make it hard for him to find food.


A 20 gallon long aquarium is adequate for a hatching dragon, but keep in mind that they will outgrow it in 3 - 6 months, a young healthy dragon with proper care can grow an inch or more per week.

An adult bearded dragon will need a 40 gallon breeder tank or larger. Many people build custom enclosures from wood or melamine.

No matter what kind of enclosure you use it should have a secure top.


For young dragons the best substrate is newspaper or paper towels. These are easy to clean and completely safe for the Beardie. Young Bearded Dragons are at a very high risk for impaction (when the bowels become stopped up from foreign objects) and should not be kept on sand, calcium sand, repti-bark, wood chips, ground walnut hulls, or any substrate that could be swallowed. Reptile carpet is not recommended either, as they can become hung in the fibers.

For adults newspaper or paper towels can be used as well. Some people use finely sifted play sand, and this is fine if the animal is healthy. Rabbit food pellets made of alfalfa can be used, as these can be digested, however if water comes in contact with the substrate it will mold. Keep in mind, any pelleted substrate can cause impaction, including substrates many think of as "safe". Calcium sand, repti-bark, wood chips, ground walnut hulls, or any other substrate that could be swallowed should not be used.

Another natural looking option is ceramic tile, just make sure that the tiles fit firmly together in the enclosure, with no gaps that the Bearded Dragons nails could get hung in.


You can provide you Bearded Dragon with decor such as rocks for basking, just make sure they are sterilized. Branches are not recommended as they provide hiding places for crickets. River stones are a good choice under the basking light as they are easy to clean and aid digestion.
I really liked your instructable but can you please right something about taming and handling them
is there any exception to insects? my mom is VERY paranoid that they will escape.
No, young bearded dragons must have protein in their diet, while some people successfully keep adult bearded dragons on a veggie only diet, young beardies need the protein in order to grow. If you are worried about crickets escaping (and believe me, they will) you could try another feeder insect, such as tropical roaches. Species such as B. lateralis and B. Dubia are excellent choices. These roaches have several advantages to crickets, -Low to No smell (crickets can have a horrible odor when kept in large numbers. -Breed eaisly (raise your own) -They cannot jump -B. dubia cannot fly -The cannot climb smooth surfaces -Cannot reproduce at temperatures below approx. 78° F. While the thought of roaches gives many people problems, they are a much better feeder than crickets. If you are interested in ordering some feeder roaches check out aaronpauling.com (I am a very satisfied costumer). He has the best prices on the web But to answer your question, there is no exception to feeding insects, if you cannot provide insects for a beardie you should consider another pet, such as a uromastyx.
Will it hurt them to only be on veggies
<p>You can use dried crickets as a supplement once the bearded dragons are older. Mine <a href="#" rel="nofollow">loves</a> them and I put the crickets over his salads. They can't run away, can't bite my lizards, and don't make the house smell! </p><p>I'm just not sure if the dried are okay when the beardie is young. I didn't start with the dried until my dragon was over a year old. The container says that it has a minimum of 56% of the total protein need. Bearded dragons need a good bit of protein when they are young. Something else I'm looking into is feeder goldfish. A friend suggest putting the small fish in my beardie's water dish, so he go eat them when he needs more protein. My friend had a different kind of lizard though, so I'm still researching that option.</p>
I wouldnt leave a water dish in your tank ever, only because they are prone to just pooping in their water anyway. Beardies get their water from the insects and veggies they eat, as well as when they get misted or go for a soak.
Love this Instructable!! This pretty much explains everything that a beginner would need to know.. I firmly believe that pet shops thrive on a person's naivety to gain more sales, so I recommend you do your homework as to what your pet NEEDS! What's the difference between UVA and UVB bulbs?? Thank you for sharing your gained knowledge! :)
<p>Hi All, just found the site and I agree, very helpful and thorough, nice to find this, but I have to say, I've yet to find anywhere that comments on their &quot;poop&quot; to put it bluntly, besides to say that they may be sick if they have diarrhea or to worry if they get impacted!! My curiosity is with the horrible smell, and with my beardie, as soon as he poops he wants out of his cage, which I do, and then clean up right away and have some mommy and me time before putting him back in,..... but it has the brown part and then a white part!! I'm assuming this is fine since he's done this since we got him, but can I safely assume this is unused calcium or something, or what? And on another note, our Beardie, Zed, has started getting orange coloring on his left eye and side, is this normal for him to begin getting his coloring more, now that he's between 10-12 months old? </p><p>And to give some of you a new idea if you've run out of ways to keep them happy or occupied when you can't hold or play with them, we got one of those clear very large hamster balls, and I mean very large, it cost about $30 if that tells you about how large it is, and he just loves it!! It took him just 1 day to figure out how to get it moving and now he loves to go all over the house or stay put and be in front of the t.v. and watch something with me!! He doesn't mind being out of his cage for a bit longer than I expected, and my worrying about his needs to stay heated and under the UVA/UVB light! So he doesn't stay in it long, but it gives him some excitement and he can go wherever he wants, especially around our 3 big dogs and very curious cat, who he gets along with all just fine!! And luckily, he's only pooped in that once, since I usually put him in it when he's caught my attention by scratching at the cage all over, trying to get out, cuz he's just done that!! :)</p><p>Sorry for being so wordy, I'm not known for little notes!! LOL!! Thanks in advance for any responses! </p>
Please be sure to use UVA (so he stays active, happy, and alive) along with the UVB!
Keep in mind that some breeders will discount animals that have &quot;nipped&quot; tails or missing toes. These are both very common with large breeders who keep mulitple babies in the same enclosure. Though it is a cosmetic issue, if it doesn't bother you, make sure that any wounds are healed properly before purchase. And take the discount, these animals normaly can not be sold wholesale to pet shops, so the breeder will be hung with the imperfect animals. Who doesn't mind a little imperfection everyonce in a while... If your looking to breed your own beardies, it will make no difference and this is a cheap way to get good genetics at good prices. One of my best breeder females is missing two legs, one front, one rear. She takes a bit more time to dig her nest, but I help her out and she is the family favorite in the beardie category.
Yes, I breed B. lateralis for my dragon. You can also fry them for human consumption. I got mines from aaronpauling, too. Highly recommended. <br> <br>My dragon is about 2 months old but does not eat greens at all. Should I still provide greens or can I wait until he grows up?
Purchasing a Bearded Dragon online has risks, but can be very rewarding. Finding a reputable store or breeder can be hard, but here are some things to look for<br><a href="http://www.progressiveint.com" rel="nofollow">custom labels</a><br><a href="http://www.progressiveint.com" rel="nofollow">labels and stickers</a>
n addition to the standard grey/brown color there are now many variations, known as color morphs, which range from deep reds and oranges to white.<br><a href="http://www.faceboksymbols.com/" rel="nofollow">Facebook Symbols</a>
Bearded Dragons are large lizards, with adults reaching 18 to 26 inches (45-60 cm) from head to tail. An adult Bearded Dragon can weigh 300 grams (10.5 ounces) or more. Bearded Dragons have triangular heads, and flattened bodies.<br><a href="http://www.progressiveint.com" rel="nofollow">custom labels</a><br><a href="http://www.progressiveint.com" rel="nofollow">labels and stickers</a>
That was a very very good care guide. It was filled with all the right information which is not always easy to find online!!! I wish I had found this before I got my beardie. A problem with people caring for bearded dragons is that they trust the pet stores and herp companies too much... Just because the heat rock &amp; calcium sand packages show a picture of a dragon doesn't mean you should use it... When I got my bearded dragon I bought a bearded dragon set-up kit that came with a complete care guide. It was all garbage, the first few weeks of having a beardie were complete hell. First of all the kit was a 10 gallon tank which is too small to maintain proper temps, so we went out two days later and bought another tank. Secondly, it came with a basking light only so my beardie wasn't getting UVB and the handy dandy guide never mentioned it. Two weeks later our beardie had a broken wrist. The guide was useless, it made it seem so easy and I can't stand how it made it seem like beardies are great pets for small children. It isn't that beardies aren't great pets but children aren't great caregivers. Bearded dragons are very time consuming because they eat constantly and love attention. They need proper temps, humidity, lighting, and nutrition that a child could not maintain alone.
I do agree that for little ones paper towels should be used since they can cause many accidents. However, for adults I think all substrates are fine if used properly. <br><a href="http://www.beardeddragoncaredr.com">Bearded Dragon Care</a>
The point is: Why risk it? <br><br>Some links:<br>http://www.beardeddragon.org/articles/impaction/<br>http://www.draconian.com/dragons/bearded-dragon-care.php<br>
Interesting guide. Good work overall
Good Job, This is one of the best written care guides to any animal I have seen on instructables.
how can i make my cage bigger without having to buy a new one please send me a personal message response
I don't fully agree. But I do agree that for little ones paper towels should be used since they can cause many accidents. However, for adults I think all substrates are fine if used properly. I've heard and have had success stories by everything from sand to alfalfa. My beardies have been on zillas walnut shells for a loooooooong time. And nothing has ever happened. So I will only speak from personal and friends experience before ruling anything out.
Even healthy adults can become impacted on substrates that are easily swallowed. While you can keep bearded dragons on walnut shells, most experts do not recommend it. If you notice in my the post above I mention using sand and alfalfa, and both are fine if used properly. Thanks for the comments. ANY pelleted substrate can cause impaction and death. <br/><br/>References:<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.beardeddragon.org/articles/impaction/">http://www.beardeddragon.org/articles/impaction/</a><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.draconian.com/dragons/bearded-dragon-care.php">http://www.draconian.com/dragons/bearded-dragon-care.php</a><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.kricketskritters.com/dragons/dragon-faqs/41-substrate-bedding.html">http://www.kricketskritters.com/dragons/dragon-faqs/41-substrate-bedding.html</a><br/>
Very thorough guide. Though I disagreed with a few things, but overall good work.
these things seriously hate me
This instructable is very well written and informative. Nice job! You also did a good job covering the various lighting and heating elements as well, but I was surprised to see no mention of using rheostats for people who choose to use ceramic rocks, heat emitters or basking-type lights.
Thanks for the comment, I had completely forgotten about heat control. The instructable has been changes to reflect this, along with addition of using thermostats. Again thanks for the comment!

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