If you’ve listened to your higher calling to be a parent to a bearded dragon (or beardie, as they are lovingly called), congratulations! You’re in for a world of love, laughter, and tail wags. But before you can enjoy all the good things that come with beardie ownership, you need to set your little one up for success by getting them a proper starter kit.
Let’s start with the basics.
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Can a bearded dragon be a good pet?
Bearded dragons make great pets! They are relatively low maintenance, and their docile nature means they enjoy being handled and spending time with their human guardians. Beardies are also intelligent creatures, so they can be trained to do tricks and behaviors. Plus, their prehistoric appearance is just plain cool.
What do I need to prepare before bringing my new beardie home?
The most important thing you need to do before bringing your new pet home is to set up their habitat. This means having the right size enclosure, the appropriate substrate, and the correct temperature and lighting. We’ll go into more detail on each of these items later on.
You’ll also want to gather some essential supplies, like food and water dishes, a hiding spot or two, and a few toys. Again, we’ll go into more detail on these items later.
Last but not least, you’ll need to do some research on proper care and handling of your new pet. Bearded dragons come from a desert climate, so they have specific needs when it comes to temperature, humidity, and diet. We’ll cover all of this information and more in this guide.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s move on to setting up your bearded dragon’s habitat.
What should I look for when choosing a bearded dragon starter kit?
When choosing a starter kit for your new pet, you’ll want to make sure it includes everything they need to live a long and happy life. A good starter kit should include:
Essential bearded dragon starter kit:
A proper-sized enclosure:
Bearded dragons can grow up to 24 inches long, so their enclosure should be large enough to accommodate their full adult size. A 20-30 gallon aquarium or 40-60 gallon terrarium is a good starting point. If you get a 20-30 gallon aquarium, you’ll still need to upgrade to a bigger 40-60 galon terrarium after 6-12 months.
According to White House Vet Hospital, 1-2 adults should have a tank that is at least 4ft x 2ft x 2 ft, but the enclosure can be as big as possible.
You may have heard these tanks or terrariums being called vivaria and this means, glass-walled or fronted enclosures designed to house reptiles or amphibians.
Some people choose to build their own custom-sized reptile enclosures, which is fine as long as you make sure the materials you use are safe for your reptile and do not off-gas any harmful chemicals.
The vivarium should not be placed in direct sunlight since they may quickly overheat. The vivarium should be kept secure and ventilated.
A good tank will cost you anywhere from $100 to $300.
Heating and lighting:
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded creatures, so they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. In the wild, they bask in the warm sun to heat up, and then retreat to a cooler area when they need to cool down.
In captivity, you’ll need to provide a basking spot for your beardie with a specialized basking lamp. This lamp should emit both heat and UVB light, which is essential for your dragon’s metabolism and calcium absorption.
A basking bulb should be placed on one end of the tank so your beardie can move between the warm and cool areas as needed. The basking spot should be about 95-110 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cool side of the tank should be 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You’ll also need a full-spectrum UVB light to provide your dragon with the UVB rays they need. This light should be placed on the opposite end of the tank from the basking bulb, and should be left on for 10-12 hours per day.
A good heating and lighting setup will cost you about $100.
The substrate is the material you use to line the bottom of your beardie’s enclosure. There are many different types of substrates available, but not all of them are safe for beardies.
The best substrates for bearded dragons are those that retain moisture, such as coco coir, cypress mulch, or moss. These substrates help to keep the enclosure humid, which is important for your dragon’s respiratory health.
Avoid using sand as a substrate, as it can cause impaction if your dragon ingests it.
A good substrate will cost you about $20.
Food and water:
Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they need a diet that includes both plants and animals. In the wild, their diet consists mostly of insects, but they will also eat occasional fruits and vegetables.
In captivity, you’ll need to provide a variety of insects for your dragon to eat, as well as leafy greens and vegetables. A good diet for a beardie includes crickets, roaches, mealworms, earthworms, waxworms, and grasshoppers. These should be supplemented with dark, leafy greens like collards, kale, and turnip greens.
Fruits and vegetables should only be given as occasional treats, as they are high in sugar and can cause weight gain.
You’ll also need to provide a constant supply of clean, fresh water for your dragon to drink. A shallow water dish should be placed in the enclosure at all times, and the water should be changed daily.
Food and water setup will cost you about $30 per month.
You’ll need a few basic cleaning supplies to keep your beardie’s enclosure clean and sanitary. These include a reptiles-safe disinfectant, paper towels, and a small brush or broom.
You should clean the enclosure weekly, using the disinfectant to clean all surfaces and then rinsing them with water. The paper towels can be used to wipe down the glass, and the brush or broom can be used to sweep up any substrate that’s been kicked out of the enclosure.
A good cleaning supply kit will cost you about $20.
The total cost of setting up a bearded dragon starter kit will be about $550. This includes the cost of the tank, heating and lighting, substrate, food and water, and cleaning supplies.
20-Galon Beardie Starter Kit
This Zoo Med ReptiHabitat juvenile bearded dragon kit is perfect for anyone who wants to provide a functional habitat for their pet baby or juvenile bearded dragon. The kit comes with a terrarium, light fixture, heater, food samples and a bearded dragon care book, so you have everything you need to get started. The habitat is designed specifically for juvenile bearded dragons, and it’s fully loaded with all the features they need to live comfortably.
Zoomed brand also another bigger 40-galon terrarium bearded dragon kit that has all the necessary bearded dragon supplies your pet needs. This bearded dragon kit includes a 40-gallon glass terrarium, a full spectrum UVB light, a basking bulb, a reptile thermometer, a moisture-resistant substrate and more. Plus, it comes with an easy to follow instruction manual on how to set up the habitat and care for your bearded dragon. This bearded dragon starter kit is perfect for anyone who wants to provide their pet with a large, comfortable habitat.
Zoomed has listed the following as all the items you’ll find in the 40-galon starter kit for bearded dragons;
- 40 Gallon Terrarium (36″ x 18″ x 18″) with sliding screen top.
- ReptiSand® Substrate (Desert White, 12 lb)
- Combo Repti Rock Food and Water Dishes (large)
- Dual Analog Thermometer and Humidity Gauge
- ReptiSun® 10.0 Compact Fluorescent
- Repti Basking Spot® Lamp (100 w)
- Combo Deep Dome Dual Lamp Fixture
- Bearded Dragons Care Booklet
- Bearded Dragon Food Sampler
Total cost: The total cost of setting up a 40-gallon bearded dragon starter kit will be about $650. This includes the cost of the tank, heating, and lighting, substrate, food and water, and all items listed above including cleaning supplies.
Other website sources listed a more condensed list to include;
- UVB light.
- Heating element, thermometer, and hygrometer.
- Basking rock or log.
- Some shallow dishes for water and food.
- Live feeder insects and tweezers.
- Adequate space in your home.