Well, now that we got the first tip, about research, out of the way, I better start giving you some information so you can research.
Before I get started I want to say that most of these bearded dragon tips may seem very basic. Even so, they are very important for being successful with a bearded dragon.
These success tips are things that shouldn’ t be overlooked, but can be very easily overlooked. I found this out by doing my share of overlooking. I have learned from experience that little things done wrong will eventually lead to possible health problems, and I like to avoid health problems like the plague….umm…..never mind.
I hope that you find these tips helpful. I know these tips have really helped considerably with my dragons.
Big Dragon in a Little Tank
If you have ever watched the movie ‘Tommy Boy’, you might find my headline a little funny. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, then it’s probably not funny at all. Oh well, you can’t say I didn’t try.
‘Big dragon in a little tank’ is more than just a funny heading. Keeping a bearded dragon in a tankthat is too small will eventually lead to problems.
If you are thinking about buying a bearded dragon or already have one stuffed in a little tank, please get them a proper sized home. Your dragon will thank you for it.
I can almost guarantee that your dragon will thrive in a bigger sized tank. They will have more room to roam and more places to hide and explore.
If that isn’t enough to convince you. Imagine being stuffed in a small room and having to live there your entire life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could do it.
A Big ‘Ol Dragon
If your dragon is still a baby or juvenile, don’t worry about the bigger tank size yet. It’s actually better to keep smaller dragons in smaller enclosures.
If you have an adult dragon, prepare to make room for that bigger tank.
An adult bearded dragon can reach a length of twenty-four inches. I don’t know about you, but that is a big ‘ole dragon.
Of course not every dragon will reach this massive size. Most of them will measure between sixteen and twenty inches. If you have the honor of owning a German Giant dragon, they will most likely make it to full length.
Even at a shorter length, bearded dragons need a fairly good sized enclosure.
Big Tank = Good Heat Gradient
Not only will a bigger tank give your dragon more room, it will help you provide a good heat gradient.
Having a heat gradient in your dragons tank is almost vital for owning a bearded dragon.
A bigger tank will allow you to have consistent temperatures in the hot and cool ends of the tank. A smaller tank is almost impossible to get a good heat gradient in.
Even if you could get a good heat gradient in a small tank, your dragon might be to large to fully reap the benefits.
For more information on heating and heat gradients, check out my pages on bearded dragon heating and also heat gradients.
Keep Your Bearded Dragon Warm
As I move on with my bearded dragon success tips I come to one that may be a little misunderstood. Actually, many of the care techniques for bearded dragons can be misunderstood, but that’s another story.
Heating for your bearded dragons cage is a very important part of owning a dragon. Improper heating can cause many illnesses and health problems in bearded dragons. Many health problems can be averted by paying close attention to the temperatures in your dragons cage.
I would actually say that proper heating is vital to the health and well being of bearded dragons. These animals come from a harsh land where air temperatures can continually reach over 100 degrees F. This is just the air temperature. Just think about how hot the ground is.
There have been people who have used temperature guns to measure how hot the ground is and there have been numerous readings of 150 – 170 degrees F.
If you get the heating part of bearded dragon care down, everything else should fall into place. This includes health, feeding and activity level.
Heat Gradient is Essential
Providing a heat gradient in your dragons cage is essential. A heat gradient is basically having a warm and cool part of the cage. This lets your dragon move back and forth between the two so they can regulate their own body temperature.
I have seen bearded dragons housed in all kinds of manners with all kinds of heating. I have seen some cages that had one consistent temperature throughout the entire cage. Not good.
Why is this bad? If the temperature is too hot, a bearded dragon will become overheated with no place to go for relief.
A dragon will mouth gape to try and cool down and also make throat movements when very overheated. If they are unsucessful in cooling down, they will go into self preservation mode and stop eating. The only thing they will be thinking of is surviving the heat. Constant overheating can even kill a bearded dragon.
Aren’t bearded dragons from a desert area? Yes, but in the hottest parts of the day they hide in shade and areas out of the direct sun. They do what they can to keep their body temperature at an optimal level.
A bearded dragon that mouth gapes doesn’t mean they are overheated. Some dragons like to stay at a hot temperature and will open their mouth to cool down a little. If you see your dragons on the cage opposite your heat sources and gaping and panting, you have an overheated dragon.
Just like one temperature too hot can be bad, so can one temperature that’s too cool. If a bearded dragon isn’t allowed to warm up to an optimal body temperature, they will be unable to digest their food properly. The food that they do eat will start to rot in there stomachs and cause all kinds of problems.
These are the reasons why we need a hot basking area and also a cool side in our dragons cages. This allows them to choose how warm they want to be. For more information on proper temperatures and more on a heat gradient check out these two pages:
Providing a Good Heat Source
There are many ways to get heat to your bearded dragons. There are basking lights, ceramic heaters, heat mats, heat rocks, and other assorted products on the market. Out of all these products I recommend using a clear reptile basking light.
I have heard of pet store recommending red heat lamps for daytime use with dragons. I don’t agree with this recommendation. I have no problems using a red heat lamp at night for some extra warmth but during the day bearded dragons need a white light.
Zoomed and Exo-Terra have some great reptile basking lights on the market. Zoomed has even come out with a halogen basking light that produces a better white light, more heat and give off more UVA rays. It will show your dragon off better too. I have used these and like them a lot better than the regular basking lights. They give off a whiter light and more heat. Though a little pricey, they are worth the money.
I truly believe that if you get the temperature levels right in your dragon’s cage, almost everything else will fall into place. So much of your bearded dragon’s well being depends on the heating in their cage.
Remember to provide a good heat gradient so your bearded dragon can thermoregulate their body temperature and they will love you for it.
Heating in your bearded dragon’s cage affects so many other aspects of their husbandry. If you are a having a problem with a dragon that won’t eat, make sure you have proper temperatures and a good heat gradient.
All aspects of bearded dragon care are almost equally important, but heating may be the one you might want to give a little more attention to. It really is that important to the health of your bearded dragon.
Now is the end of the article where I sum everything up. Hmmm……I guess I can sum it up by saying “Tommy Boy was a very funny movie.”
Actually, that doesn’t sum this article up at all. If you can, please disregard my odd sense of humor. I know that it’s hard to let go, but we must move on!
All joking aside. Providing a good sized tank for your bearded dragon will help your dragon thrive. I actually look at my tanks and wish I had made them a little bigger.
They are a proper size and everything, but I would like to go above and beyond minimum requirements. I know my dragons would me for it.
My last thought is, when buying or building an enclosure, don’t skimp. Your initial investment will pay of for years to come and your dragon(s) will thriving and not just surviving.