Introduction: The Proper Way to Set Up a Bearded Dragon Enclosure
I've noticed throughout Instructables that people are throwing out the wrong information on bearded dragons! really kills me to see that people are telling to put things next to there dragon that can severly harm it or kill it. Please, even for this Instructable, back your information up.
1. 20 - 40 Gallon Tank
2. UVB Light (Recommended: ZooMed Reptisun 5.0 Compact Fluorescent Lamp)
3. Basking Lamp (Recommended: ZooMed 100w Repti Basking Spot Lamp)
4. Nocturnal Heat Lamp (Recommended: ZooMed 100w Nocturnal Infrared Heat Lamp)
6. Humidity/Temperature Thermometer
7. Light Hoods
8. Hammock (Optional)
9. Food Bowl
10. Fake Plants (Optional)
11. Electrical Timer
12. Rock (Optional)
13. Reptile Carpet
Step 1: Tank
Firstly, you will need a tank. You will need a good amount of room for your dragon to walk around, bask, and whatever else it wants to do. 20 gallons is a good size for baby bearded dragons but you will need to get a bigger one for adults. Don't forget that it needs a top. I have no pictures of mine, but it is a metal/wood frame with wire mesh in the middle. When choosing your tank, you don't always have to buy a tank, but you can build one. If you build one, most people use white lamenated plywood as the structure of it. There are some good instructions on how to build them on the internet as well.
Step 2: Lighting Fixtures & Humidity
Bearded dragons are obviously reptiles so they are cold blooded so they will need warmth to be happy. First, you will need to get your basking light and your nocturnal heat light and put them in a double light hood. You can probably get these at a hardware store, but I prefer light hoods that are made for animals like ZooMed. You will also need to put the UVB light in a light hood, but it needs to be separate from the heat lamp. You can also get the UVB light hood from ZooMed because it is made for the light. Also, when the UVB light reaches around 6 - 8 months of age you will need to replace it because it will wear out. When you hang the lights up you will need to either make or get a light stand. You can get them from pet stores but they are really expensive. I don't know if everyone wants to spend around $40 for a tube of metal with a flat piece of metal stuck to the bottom of it. My stand is just a pieceof wirehung off the top of the book shelf above the enclosure and it has a hook on the bottom for the lamp. Very simple. The UVB lamp just sits on the mesh of the top next to the heat. Also, put a ramp under the heat lamp so your dragon can get closer to the heat if cold. When it comes to turning on and off the lights, you may want a timer to do it for you. In my opinion, I keep my nocturnal light on 24 hours to keep it warm enough and the basking light on only in the day as well as the UBV light. Humidity is a big part to. If the humidity is to high or low your dragon has the risk of getting upper respitory infection. To keep from that happening, keep the humidity around 20% - 30%. Your dragon can get URI from the temp being to low or high. Keep it around 110 degrees during the day and 80 degrees at night.
Step 3: Substrate
One of the biggest mistakes with people caring for bearded dragons... Sand... Please don't use it. Use reptile carpet or nothing at all. I will even put in a link why you should not use it. If you choose reptile carpet, cut it out to the size of the tank and just put it in. Done. Alot easier than cleaning out dirty sand weekly.
Don't use sand - Calcium Sand is the Devil
Step 4: Accessories
You and your bearded dragon will enjoy these. They can make the tank look great and make your dragon more comfortable. First you can get a reptile hammock or you can make one. I found instructions one how to make one so I made mine which I will give the link for the instructions. There is one that ZooMed makes which looks like a pretty good one due to the suction cups to hold it up. Secondly, you can get some fake plants which look nice. Don't even think about getting real plants. They are messy and some can be poisonous. Thirdly, you can get a food bowl for the greens.
*Note that there are many more accessories!
DIY Bearded Dragon Hammock - DIY Bearded Dragon Hammock
Step 5: Try It!
Your basic setup is done! Just put him or her in and see how it like it! Just remember to keep looking for ways to improve your dragons life! Keep them alive!
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