Setup tips for a happy dragon
Everybody in the house has agreed, you’ve done your homework and you’ve found the ideal bearded dragon But before you can bring him home, you need to have his new living space ready. This means you’ll have to get a terrarium and make sure that the equipment is set up and ready at least one week prior to his arrival, to ensure that everything works as it should.
Don’t just go out and buy the first terrarium you find. Make sure the cage is made of durable and safe material, and that your dragon won’t be able to escape from it.
The size of the terrarium is also extremely important – it has to be at least three times the length that your dragon will likely be as an adult.
Also, make sure that the terrarium is deep enough for your dragon to be able to climb a few rocks and perches.
Heating and lighting
As they are desert creatures by nature, bearded dragons require hot temperatures. Therefore, you’ll need to put a heater in his cage. However, be careful not to place it in such a way that your bearded dragon can burn himself.
Reptiles love basking in the sun, so a basking perch under a basking bulb is also crucial for your dragon. He will also need UVA and UVB radiation for reptiles. Make sure all the lights are part of the cage fixtures and out of your dragon’s way.
Attach two thermometers, opposite each other, to ensure that the hot side of the cage is not too hot, nor the cold side too cold. On average, the temperatures should range between 27°C and 31°C. The temperature of the basking spot should range between 33 and 38°C.
Substrate and décor
Your dragon will need something on the floor, like special reptile carpeting, or newspaper. Stable, steady perches and rocks are ideal for him to explore in the cage.
Food and water
Use shallow bowls for your bearded dragon’s food and water. You want him to reach the food and water without falling into the bowls. Place these as far as possible from his basking bulb and light, so that the food doesn’t spoil too quickly.
Once you’ve placed everything in the cage or terrarium, and you’re sure that everything works as it should and that the habitat is secure, you can bring your bearded dragon home. Once he is in the cage, check on the equipment, thermometers and your dragon a couple of times a day to ensure that he is safe and comfortable. For any advice, remember to ask one of the assistants at Family Pet Centre in Fourways or Centurion, and remember you can also shop online at www.familypetcentre.co.za.
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