I would recommend the following equipment items you need as a bare minimum before buying your new bearded dragon. This will help your new dragon settle in faster and remove any stress factors or setup issues that might otherwise be caused:
- Vivarium – Adults – 4ft x 2ft x 2ft (48′ x 24′ x 24′) – However, with babies smaller vivarium can be used, but he/she will quickly grow out of it
- Basking lamp – Heat light – Spot Bulb
- Lamp holder/fixture – please use ceramic type to avoid fire hazard
- A thermostat to ensure the vivarium doesn’t overheat – dimming stat recommended
- UVB fluorescent tube 10 – 12% and a starter unit to control the tube
- Reflector for the above (optional)
- Substrate – either repti carpet, newspaper, floor tiles or paper towel
- Stones and/or branches for basking
- Digital Thermometers so that the zone temperatures can be checked
- Food dishes
- Timers to control the lighting
- Live food
- Greens / Salads
- Calcium supplements
Useful setup tips for a bearded dragon vivarium/tank
When using a thermostat, place the probe in the middle of the vivarium as shown above. Set the temperature to approximately 90°F and check the ambient temps in the vivarium. To adjust the temperatures either adjust the thermostat or move the probe towards the basking spot for lower temps or towards the cool area for higher basking temps.
Are you using a basking rock or wood? Using a stone will provide better thermal conduction (act as a radiator when heated from the spot) compared to wood. From experience, having rocks in the basking area can result in higher temperatures in vivariums, especially late afternoon/evening therefore switching to wood may help lower temps. The type of stone has an influence too… lighter coloured limestone are generally cooler than dark coloured slate.
Keeping the uvb fluorescent tube approximately 6 – 8 inches from where the basks and/or rests will help the dragons received the optimum amount of uvb. Basically the further away the bulb is from the bearded dragon the less uvb it will receive. Using a uvb meter, it’s been noted and recorded that a fluorescent tube can give little or no uvb at large distances distance (18 + inches).
Look to give approximately 12 – 14 hours of heating/lighting for your bearded dragon. All lights including spot bulb and UVB should be turned off. Further information is available on the lighting setup section.
Basking spot temperatures/temps should reach around 105°F (40.5°C) to 115°F (46°C), with the surrounding hot zone approximately 95°F (35°C) and the cooler zone should be around 85°F (29.5°C). Night time temperatures should not fall below 65°F (18.3°C) and best kept around 65°F (18.3°C) – 70°F (21°C).