Cage setup

Be sure to find out exactly what equipment your lizard need needs before you get the lizard and get it all set up before you bring home your dragon. It could be a matter of life and death for the dragon. With the wrong environment, temperatures etc the dragon will suffer and maybe even die.

If you buy everything before you get the lizard you have plenty of time to set everything up properly, because it takes some time to get the right temperature for the basking spot etc. Measure the temperature at several places in the cage and with several occasions. The temp varies a lot during the day.

When Teo moved into her first cage it looked gigantic. But very soon I realized that a baby-bearded dragon grows very fast and the cage was getting too small - quickly. Today my females has separate cages with the measurements (in inches): L 60 x D 24 x 24. The males' cage is L 47 x D 24 x 24. For me - giving them enough space is essential. In Sweden we even have a law that says how big the cages must be. That is good - I think. Don't give your dragon a cage that is too small… Please…

Facts - what do you need?

It is absolutely necessary to have a full spectrum UVB-light for your dragon. Instead of writing about it here I recommend Veronicas page Beautiful Dragons. She has some great information about UVB - read it! :)

Your dragon needs a hot spot to bask. The temp under the lamp shall be high 90's to 100 degrees for an adult dragon, babies shall have it a little warmer. The ambient temp shall be at the lower 80's. If it is too cold the food will rot in the stomach. Use an "in- and outdoor" digital thermometer and measure the temp carefully - at different places. Check the temp under the basking spot and at the cooler end - and in between. A temp of high 90's to 100 at the basking spot is very important if the dragon shall be able to digest its food. But cooler areas are also essential. The dragons have to be able to choose.

Nighttime temp
Nighttime temps can drop to the mid 70's. If the lights aren't enough to warm up the cage you could use a heating mat. I keep a mat under all my cages - just in case. I rarely use it, but if the temperature should drop for some reason it is good to have the heating mat ready. Do not use white light as a heating source during the night. The dragon needs its rest in darkness.

Never ever use a heating-rock. They can easily overheat and burn your dragon. A dragon doesn't have any good "sensors" in its belly and it can't feel when it gets too hot. I have seen pictures of severely burnt lizards using heating rocks - and believe me - you don't want to experience that first hand…

Hours of light
During the summer-months I let the light be on approximately 14 hours/day and during the winter-months around 8-10. When it is time for brumating I reduce the hours of light even more and then turn off the light completely. See "Brumating"

I use timers to all my cages. This way I don't have to worry about the lights at all.

Bearded dragons like to climb so you should have some branches, stones, corkbark or something else for them to climb in their cage. Make sure everything is securely attached so it doesn't fall down and hurt your dragon. You also need some hiding places - at least one for each dragon in the cage. The hiding places should be located in both the warm and the cold area so the lizard has a choice.

The size of the cage
Make sure the cage is big enough for your dragon. The bigger the better. For one bearded dragon the measurements shall be at least (in inches): L 47 x D 24 x 24. For two you need (in inches): L 60 x D 24 x 24.

If you buy a baby-bearded dragon - buy a big cage from the beginning. Don't start with a small cage. Dragon babies grows very fast and they'll soon grow out of the small cage. You save money if you buy a big cage from the beginning.

How much?
I get some emails with the question "How much does a cage with all the cage-furniture costs?" I am sorry - but I have no idea. That varies a lot. You just have to ask around.

The cage

This is Disas cage.

The cage

This is Teo's cage that I built 2003.

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