Bearded Dragon – new owner checklist

Teesho the beardie

Teesho is not a digger nor a bath enthusiast but he is cute as hell

I adopted Teesho last January 2020. It took me time to get to a point where I was content with the setup we have. Here you can see my notes about these last three months.

Enclosure

  • Terrarium: 40 gallon minimum
    • I bought this one from Carolina Custom Cages. Today I think I’d buy a zen habitats or critter condo or something customized for bearded dragons and with no glass. I live in California, I don’t trust too much in having a glass terrarium in a place that has earthquakes.
    • It’s pretty good, but I wanted to get it fast and didn’t have much space to go for something bigger. Ended up arriving in one week, but one of the doors was smashed. I contacted their support and they sent me a new one, but it took more 2 weeks. :/
    • The other con is that is super heavy. I use it on a table and I can move the table when I need to clean up under it. I used some felt pads in each table’s leg, so it’s a bit easier to move it around a bit.
  • Screen habitat, if you have an outside area
    • I bought this one to have some extra space to use outside, when it’s sunny and I can be around to keep an eye on him. I almost didn’t use it during the winter, but now that the spring started, we’ll be using more. Teesho loves to be outside in the sun.
  • Day/night timer if you usually isn’t home early in the morning or afternoon.
  • Thermometer (2): one for each side of the terrarium
    • I had simple thermometers, but bought this one that has both (thermometer + hygrometer) and the display can be outside the tank.
    • Sometimes Teesho is up for mischief and trashes his tank and the thermometers would be nowhere to be seen from outside.
  • Hygrometer: 1 or two, if you want to monitor both sides.Check the item above, you can have both in the same device.
  • Substrate
    • Reptile carpet: my friend gave me two. It’s really simple to clean up, but I felt like a more natural substrate could be better. Besides, his nails, even shorter, were getting stuck all the time.
    • Sand: I hated it. It’s a mess, it stains the skin, it’s a nightmare to change it every month (heavy tank!). Teesho is not a digger, so no fun with sand at all. It looks good in the tank, but I think I kept for less than 4 days. The only thing I liked was that is super easy to cleanup: just scoop the poop and go.
    • Excavator clay: I’m using it as you can see in the pictures below. It was a lot of work to get it in place. All I wanted was to create an amazing environment as I see on Pinterest, but I’d probably need a ton of clay and 25 years. I covered the floor and use it to make some walls, his hiding spot, etc. I did this last February, it was cold here, it took more than one week just to get dry. If you’re in a hurry, try to find another option. It’s not easy to clean up, and every week I need to fix a bit here and there, but helps with the nails and it isn’t slippy.
    • Zoomed Repti Chips: This one I did not use as substrate in the tank, but I use it in a box, so he can go play a bit if he wants. Not a big hit with my picky BD.
    • Slate Tiles: Soon probably I’ll need to change and I’m thinking about using slate tiles, that a lot of BD owners like to use it and the maintenance seems to be easier.
  • Background: I have the ledges, so I used a simple background in the back and made the side backgrounds with pictures and other cute stuff. If you look in the Internet, you’ll see some really cool backgrounds, Etsy has lots of custom options, pricey but awesome.

Heating and lighting

Heating

  • Heating lamp: Zoomed, 100W, ceramic, for the 40 gallon tank or the 150W, for the 67 gallon tank. It does a pretty good job!
  • Heating clamp lamp: Zoomed, porcelain, 5 1/2 inches
  • I bought a heat mat, but I don’t think it helped at all. I tested first, just let it on my kitchen and tested on my hands, but it never warmed much. I could feel that it wasn’t cold anymore, but barely noticed any difference. I didn’t even tried in the terrarium.

UV light

  • UV light: Zoomed, 39W, T5-Ho 10.0. I ordered from Amazon, here is the link.
  • UV light fixture: depends on the size of your tank, of course. Amazon and PetSmart have it.
  • UV test cards: I wanted to make sure my lamps were working, but the device is expensive, more than US$100. I found the card is a good and way cheaper option.

Basking spot

  • Basking light: Exo Terra, 150W, Intense basking, 120v, 60 Hz
  • Basking light fixture: don’t forget to buy with ceramic socket. These bulbs get hot, so a regular socket won’t last.

Safety

  • Lamp stand: Same problem as the tank. I wanted the lamps be safely secured in case of earthquakes and I wanted to avoid to just let them over the cover, to not have to worry about skin burns. I found this lamp stand at Amazon and use for the basking and ceramic lamps. PetSmart had a simpler version, for just one lamp, in case you don’t need the double feature.
  • Temperature gun: Pretty cool to make sure everything is at the temperature it should be from the outside of the tank.

Furniture

I had some problems trying to find a good piece of furniture that could hold the whole terrarium, size and weight. It wasn’t a easy task.

I didn’t want it directly on the floor, cleaning is way more complicated this way and oh my, I couldn’t be kneeling there to clean, play, etc. , I’m getting old… haha

The aquarium stands are expensive, tall, mostly fit for 40 gallon tanks and they all looked very cheaply made. I wanted something with storage, to help keeping his stuff in place. After looking all Amazon and going to every pet store around here, I couldn’t find anything. So, started looking for alternatives.

I didn’t have the money to buy a custom one, so I got a kids’ activity table, I found this one at Amazon. I liked because there was a lot of storage and it wasn’t too high (earthquakes!) and because I wanted Teesho to be able to go in and out of his bedroom anytime he wants when I’m at home.

I couldn’t find many information in the page or at the shop’s website, but I wrote to them asking about the load capacity and they answered fast. It could hold the tank plus substrate and decor, besides of course, a 350 grams lizard. 😀

The store had a used table, the box was opened and the product returned, so it cost less than US$100. If you don’t mind, look for the open box opportunities too. It came with 2 storage boxes and I had the last four. So I have 6 boxes to keep all his things.

For a couple of weeks I was testing and teaching him how to get in/out and he got it after some time. I was using a box and a lot of stuffed animals as homemade stairs. When he was able to go in/out on his own, I bought this pet stairs to get rid of the box and the pile of toys.

The tank from beginning

Decor

  • Artificial Plants: I bought some artificial plants to give him some hiding spots and to hide the hygrometer/thermometer probes too. I wanted some right under the basking spot, so I bought the fabric version. At the time just the ficus was made of fabric, so I bought a mandarin too, that is made of plastic, but I use it in the cold side of the tank. They are easy to clean and dry too.
  • Hammock: Amazon, PetSmart and Etsy have lots of options and seems that they all love theirs hammocks. It’s made of seagrass and take a bit longer to dry, so I keep 2 of them, this way he always has his hammock.
  • Basking rock: There are many options, just keep in mind the size of your dragon if the rock has a hiding spot. My first 2 are now too small and he could get stuck inside.
  • Hiding spot: It can be combined with the basking rock, but sometimes they want to hide in a cooler place. I keep one hiding spot in the cooler side and the plants in the warmer side, so he can use the ledge and plants as a place to hide.
  • Ledge: I read about magnetic rocks to use more vertical space in the tank and not have the floor to cluttered. They seemed sturdy enough, so I gave it a try and ordered a large one. Teesho loves it! It’s his favorite basking spot. I ended up buying a medium sized too so he can go around half of his tank just using the ledges and clay details. I still want to buy some more, to add succulents, so he can climb to get some treats.

Bath time

  • Thermometer: It’s perfect to get the water ready for your BD, and cute as hell.
  • Bath tub: I made an alternative bathtub from a cat litter box, the size is great, not too big, but I can fit his whole body, tail included, with some extra space, and it’s way cheaper.
  • Bath towel: Teesho doesn’t like baths at all, but he likes the part where I turn him into a burrito to get him dry. I have some hand towels I bought for him.
  • Brush: When my friend gave me Teesho, there were two toothbrushes inside his bag. I was thinking how on Earth I was going to brush his teeth. Nope, they are to use in the bath. They are great after a big poop painting session and even more now during shedding.
  • If your BD likes playing in the water, you can use your own bathtub (way more fun!), just remember to clean it up before and after your beardie uses it.

Food

  • Feeding tongs: They are great if you don’t want to touch feeders. After almost 3 months with Teesho, I’m way less icky from touching them, but still use them. We have 2 long and 1 short one.
  • Food and water bowl: Lots of options, I found the cheaper at Amazon, but pet stores have them too.
  • Veggie clips: I like to add some greens to his tank, as enrichment, when I’m not home. My BD can go “hunt” for some food.
  • Reptile carpet: even using excavator clay as substrate, I still have carpet. I cut it in smaller pieces, so his bowls are always on top of a piece of carpet. Easier to grab the food spilled around and helps to keep the clay dry.

Cleaning products

  • Wipe Out: I use this one for the weekly cleanup. Your BD can’t stay inside while using it. So I put Teesho on his spot by the window and clean up and let it dry before letting him inside.
  • Odor eliminator cleaner: This one is great for daily use, you can even use it while your BD is in the tank. It doesn’t substitutes the wipe out or the F10, but helps that fast cleaning to make the house smells less like lizard poop.
  • F10 Veterinary Disinfectant: After cleaning up all his decor, hidings, artificial plants, toys, etc., I spray everything with F10 and let it dry before putting back in place. I wash all his blankies, bed, pillows, cleaning cloths and stuffed animal with a bit of F10 to make sure everything is really clean.
  • Vinegar: I like to rinse his bowls, tongs and all food related accessories. To clean up I use regular dish soap, like Dawn.
  • Bleach: It’s great for general cleaning, but I use more for the glass, inside and out. I never use with Teesho inside, of course.
  • Spray bottle: I currently use 3:
    • One for filtered water, to mist his veggie bowl;
    • One for a mix of water and bleach to daily cleaning;
    • One with a mix of water and Q10 for a bit more hard cleaning, poop paintings in the terrarium or pooping around the house. Teesho stays a lot of time outside his room.

Emergency

I still don’t have a good emergency kit, but I’m creating one and buying the stuff required to be ready. The first aid kit will arrive in few days. Mostly sure this will be a post soon. I love this blog: Grimm The Dragon, Ashley, the author and BD owner, has awesome posts and ideas. Her emergency plan is amazing.

  • Mini UVB compact fluorescent: I know this one is not good for everyday and I do have another one for his terrarium, but I just want to have something, in case we don’t have sun or access to his terrarium.
  • Extra basking light: Exo Terra, 150W, Intense basking, 120v, 60 Hz
  • UVB mini fixture : I have 2 of these, they are small and the clip on option helps when you don’t have access to lamp holders.
  • Repashy: I ordered from Amazon, in case I don’t have enough food for my boy.

I’m sure I forgot a lot of others things, but I’ll try to make smaller posts from now on.