A shopping list for Bearded Dragons


This list tells you what you will need
before you take your new dragon home.


You can get most items from pet stores
and some at lower cost from a hardware store.


housing

  • 10-20 gallon tank for juveniles; minimum of 40 gallon (50 for pairs) for adults
    • Low tanks are recommended over high tanks as they give best access to the full spectrum light.
    • Supply branches as basking sites, particularly in tall tanks.
    • Many people construct their own housing for adult dragons.

  • screen top (glass or plastic won’t pass the critical UVB light)
    • Again, many people make their own cage cover.

  • basking site (wood, rock, piece of lumber) that lets your dragon get within 6 inches of the UVB light.

  • hiding site
    • e.g., piece of bark, small box
    • some like a paper towel as a “blankie” to sleep under

  • fluorescent fixture (“striplight”) that will work with a timer
    • (do check; some won’t)

  • full spectrum fluorescent bulb that gives light in UVB wavelengths
    • Reptisun 5.0, Iguana 5.0 or Vitalight are recommended.
    • A UVB bulb is essential to prevent metabolic bone disease (MBD).
    • Only fluorescent-type bulbs give UVB.
    • An incandescent bulb is useless for preventing MBD.

  • 30-60 watt light bulb for basking area
    • Check actual temperature before using a higher wattage.
    • Don't cook your dragon.

  • fixture to hold the light bulb
    • A metal holder with a ceramic center works well.
    • Place this light at one end of the tank, not in the middle, to create a temperature gradient.

  • thermometer
    • You need 95-105 deg F at the basking site and 70-80 deg F at the cool end.

  • timer
    • Both lights should be on 12-14 hours a day (10-12 winters).
    • Both lights should turn on an hour before you feed your dragon in the morning;
      • Dragons must be warm to digest their food.
      • Lethargic dragons might be ill, but more often they are too cold

 


substratum:
a contentious area: opinions differ

  • for juveniles:
    • paper towels (my preference) or reptile carpet.
    • I recommend that you avoid fine silica sand or crushed walnut shells
      which can cause death by impaction, particularly in young beardies.

  • for adults:
    • rabbit pellets (my preference),
    • calcium carbonate sand (crushed limestone)

Food & water:

  • spray bottle for watering your young dragons or misting your older ones
    • you don't need a water dish inside the cage

  • greens:
    • DARK greens; e.g., collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, dandelions, parsley,
      endive, escarole, etc.
    • Juveniles will eat more insects than greens and more greens than veggies.

  • veggies:
    • e.g. green beans, squash, yam, carrot, parsnip, peas, radishes, fruit, etc.
    • Chop well.

  • crickets of the correct size:
    • no longer than your dragon’s head is wide.
    • Smaller is better.
    • Overly large crickets will be eaten, but can kill your dragon: terminal indigestion.

  • Superworms are good food, once the dragon is big enough
    • (5-6 inches snout-to-vent length).

  • AVOID MEALWORMS for younger beardies;
    • They can cause impaction.
    • You can feed them freshly-shed, white mealworms safely.

  • Waxworms are good treats:
    • high fat dragon candy

  • Insect keeping supplies
  • 5-10 gallon tank with screen lid or other container to keep and feed your crickets in
  • egg crate, toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls for your crickets to hide in
  • food for your crickets
  • e.g., alfalfa, oatmeal, left over lizard greens and veggies, potato slices

food supplements

  • phosphate-free calcium supplement
    • e.g., Rep-Cal; Powdered Tums work in a pinch.

  • multi-vitamin supplement such as Herptivite
    • Use sparingly, a pinch once every 2 weeks.
    • High vitamin A, found in some herp-vitamin preparations, is toxic to dragons

     


optional

  • under-tank heater
    • Do NOT buy a “hot rock”; they can badly burn your lizard.
    • Dragons don’t sense heat well with their tummies, and can be lethally scorched;
    • They use their “third eye” to detect light levels for basking and adjusting their circadian rhythms.

  • thermostat to control the heating element
    • i.e., the light at the basking site

  • extra 10 gallon “feeding tank”

  • decorations for the dragon lair if you feed in a separate tank or feed by hand
    • tree branches
      • pretreat with 10% bleach to kill fungus and mites; rinse very well and dry,
    • rocks
    • flat area with paper towels for “litter” training
      • This ploy works only with some individuals
    • for older dragons: casserole dish to hold superworms as snacks
      • with some food for the worms
      • The glass bowl in the picture above holds superworms;
      • the red bowl holds greens and veggies.
    • wadding pond (e.g., Rubbermaid container);
      • Put it on your kitchen floor, fill it dragon-neck-deep with warm, not hot water
        for a weekly/monthly swim.
      • Warm water can stimulate defecation;
        • you can soak your (adult) dragon
          before letting him roam (under supervision)
          to avoid “accidents”.


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