How to Prepare a Reptile Tank, Specifically a Bearded Dragon

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If you’ve decided on a reptile for your next pet, there are a variety of things you will need in order to ensure he has the best setup, light and heat source, food, and housing.  Without knowing the proper way to set up the tank, your reptile could be missing out on things that are necessary to his survival.  This article will focus on the Bearded Dragon, a species that displays a hand-waving gesture to show submission.  They also have a head-bobbing action that shows dominance, mainly between other dragons.

Bearded Dragons are a popular reptiles among children because they are typically friendly and calm, and are relatively easy to care for.  Growing between 16 and 24 inches, it is important to remember they will need a tank to fit their size.

Here is what you will need to prepare the tank for your Bearded Dragon:

1. 25-75 gallon glass tank with tight fitting screen lid – If you start out with a 75 gallon tank, place a cardboard divider inside, giving the dragon a third of the tank.  If given too much space as a baby, he will become overwhelmed and could die.  Move the divider to allow for more room as he grows, giving him the full 75 gallon area by the time he is one year old.

2. Children’s play sand that you can get from any home improvement store.  When putting the sand into the tank, pour it through the screen lid to sift out any rocks that could potentially be eaten.

3. Heat Lamp, also called a basking lamp (NOT a heat rock).  Place the heat lamp on either the right or left side of the tank, not the middle.  Position it so that it is 6 inches to 1 foot away from the area the dragon will sit on to sun itself.

4. UV Light to provide necessary Vitamin D.

5. Some type of log that the dragon can crawl underneath, as well as other items to crawl on such as rocks that can be purchased in any pet store.

6. Barometer to check humidity and a thermometer to check the temperature of the tank – the side of the tank with the heat lamp should range from 90-110 degrees, and the other side should not go below 60 degrees.

7. Food bowl and water bowl.|

8. When the bearded dragon is small, it requires gut loaded baby crickets as its food source, making sure the crickets are no larger than its head.  You will also need to evenly coat the crickets with calcium powder.

9. As the dragon grows, the crickets can be replaced with gut load food mix, which can be purchased at any pet store.

The best place to get a bearded dragon is from a breeder, not a pet store, as often times they are so small they are not able to receive the proper nutrients.