Caring for Your Bearded Dragon-Housing
When you get your dragon, depending on the age, it will need a tank. When they are babies, they can easily fit into a 10 gallon tank. If you are going to go with the smaller tank to begin with, by the time they are about 6 months old they will need to be but in a larger tank, at least a 20 gallon. These can be fish tanks or breeder tanks. When full grown a bearded dragon will need a 40 gallon tank. Do not house dragons together unless you are breeding a male and a female. If you are going to buy a new tank for your dragon, I suggest going straight to the 40 gallon and save yourself the money from buying the smaller tanks.
At the bottom of the tank you will need to put a type of substrate. This is basically a type of sand that stimulates the ground. There are many different varieties including crushed walnut shell, calcium sand and vita sand. Whichever you choose is up to you, but you may find yourself experimenting before you finally settle on the one you prefer. Calcium sand and crushed walnut shell kick up a lot of dust when the dragons run. The calcium sand does offer more nutrition than walnut shell. It does tend to clump almost like cat litter when it comes in contact with dragon poop.
Your dragon will need UVA, UVB and heat lighting. When it comes to the heat light source, you will need two bulbs, one for day and night. You can use a combo light source for all UVA, UVB, and heat. These bulbs can be expensive, but you will only need one dome for everything. If you do not choose this route, you will need up to 3 domes, one for each bulb. Buying the bulbs separately can me more cost effective because you will not have to replace the UVB bulb very often.
For the day light, usually 100 watts is perfectly fine. You will want to monitor the heat levels on the hot side of the tank to make sure that it does not get over 120°F but not below 100°F. For the night light, I prefer the red light since the heat is stronger.
A heat rock is necessary. This will be placed underneath the day light. The stone will absorb the heat, offering a nice warm place for your dragon to bask.
Besides the heat rock, you will want to pick out some branches for your dragon to climb on. Dragons love to climb so this is an important feature. You may also want to purchase a dragon hammock for your pet to lounge around in. I find that there are many things available for aquariums that work very well for bearded dragons.