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How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
05-16-2012, 03:46 PM,
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ArmyOfDreams Offline
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How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
I have a juvenile bearded dragon (I'm thinking between 4-6 months old, she's 8 or 9-ish inches long), and I'm looking for quick and preferably cheap options for improving her current enclosure; right now I don't think the tank gets warm enough as she doesn't defecate unless given a warm bath, but will eat a good amount daily.

Currently:
--40 gallon aquarium, screentop
--100 watt daylight heat bulb (lamp rated to 150 watts)
--Newspaper substrate
--Branch at an upward angle & a driftwood branch along tank bottom
--Roundish rock, big enough for her but would be small compared to an adult
--Half-log hide, again big enough for her but a little tight for an adult

I feed her twice a day, once being a salad of spinach or dark greens (she won't eat broccoli and isn't fond of strawberries or bananas) and again with a few crickets and/or a beheaded superworm, most of this coated with Fluker's Calcium/D3 supplement.

Help I know it's not good for her to be eating but not pooping on a regular basis. Feces looks normal. She'll go days without feces unless I give her a warm bath, which I do at least once every other day...how can I get her warmer/closer to light/whatever is necessary for proper digestion? Again, emphasis on the "preferably cheap" but I can invest some money.
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05-16-2012, 05:58 PM,
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Fishbone Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Hi Army, nice to meet you Smile

Do you have a digital thermometer, or an infrared temp gun? What are the actual temperatures in the tank? A 100 watt bulb should be more than enough to heat her, unless your house is cold. You want a basking spot, right under the lamp, of 100-105 F. with the ambient air temperatures on that side of the tank around 90. You can adjust the branch higher and lower to achieve the desired basking temp and use that as a basking platform underneath the light. That is how I regulate basking temperatures, the height of the basking area. If they can't bask properly, that can lead to digestive issues sometimes, even if the temps are good. The basking is very important.

If she is less than 10" she is still small, it might be best to adjust your feeding schedule. Give her a salad in the morning every day. Avoid the spinach altogether, it is very high in oxalates, and can cause a problem in proper calcium absorption and usage. The best greens to base your salad around are collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and turnip greens. Most dragons take best to mustards, but they are all different, so whatever she likes best. Butternut and other winter squashes are also very good staple veggies. This is a very good list of most of the foods commonly fed to beardies, with nutritional values. I would recommend giving this page a good read.

And if she is that small, she should be getting more insects, they need protein to grow. A dragon that small should be eating allot more insects. Give her insects at least twice a day, about as many as she can eat in 15 minutes each time. 3 times a day wouldn't hurt for a while. I'd go with crickets out of the cheaper options. Your probably looking at quite a few more than you have been feeding her. Avoid the supers until she is bigger, at least 12", I wait until they are 14-16". And no mealworms. They are nutritionally almost empty, and a young dragon will eat enough of them to hurt themselves, as they are far more shell than meat. Other good staple insects are Phoenix worms & silkworms, but that can get pricey with a young dragon. But you can still supplement with them.

And I didn't see you mention a UVB bulb. Do you have a high output UVB bulb on her? That can cause allot of problems if she is not getting UVB.

Do you have any pictures of your beardie? What colour is she?
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05-17-2012, 02:35 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-17-2012, 03:08 AM by Ram.)
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Welcome to the forum, Armyofdreams.
It sounds you have a very nice setup there. I'd like to see a photo of your bearded dragon enclosure.

Fishbone is THE reptile guy here. He is very knowledgeable in many lizards and snake species with decades of experience and research. His advices on reptiles are always good. Smile

Good luck!
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05-17-2012, 03:06 AM,
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ArmyOfDreams Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Hey guys, nice to meet you all Boozing Thank you so much Fishbone!!

I'll track down a camera and post a picture of her full enclosure later on today and get a shot of her sitting pretty. Also I finally tracked down a ruler to measure her with (simple things like this are easily forgotten around here, haha) and discovered she's more on the order of 11.2 inches from nose to tip of tail. Fairly dark coloration compared to other beardies I've seen, and she seems to be in good health for the moment except for this whole pooping issue.

I can switch her feeding schedule without much problem at all, but before I got any concrete answers on this I was way leery of feeding her too much and then discovering some sort of health problem because she wasn't pooping. The food page is fabulous! Funny story, I have the rest of that website bookmarked...it was one of the places I went to when I was first trying to figure out how to set up her enclosure.

And no, I do not have a UVB bulb; that was/is a lot of money I just don't have at the moment, but it's on my list of future improvements (so is a set of thermometers). Her calcium powder has D3 supplement included, at 100,000 IU/pound (calcium "not less than" 36%). I know the D3 supplement isn't nearly as good as true UVB light for Ca absorption but I figure it's better than nothing.

When I post a picture you guys will see what I'm talking about, but at the moment her tank is under a window; I don't like this setup at all, our windows are absolutely horrible by every standard. The house is usually a little cold unfortunately, and being under a window isn't helping the temp in her tank...if I have my way it'll be moved shortly. The rock is beneath the lamp at the moment and it gets fairly warm to the touch as the day goes on. Also, moving the branch doesn't work the greatest, it's only at an upward angle if I lean it into a corner and brace it with the rock. Kind of an awkward basking spot, but she does enjoy climbing all over it.
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05-17-2012, 04:00 AM,
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Fishbone Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Your welcome Thumbsup Glad to help. It can seem kind of daunting at first to get things going well. But after you have what you need and know the ins and outs it's pretty easy.

Well, let me first say, that the #1 upgrade to your tank is a UVB light. It really is essential. It could also play into the possible impaction. In addition to enabling the beardie to produce the D3 naturally, it seems to affect their energy levels, activities and encourage normal behavior. It varies lizard to lizard. Last thing on that, and I won't beat the subject any more. For 20 years, long before they became popular, until now, I have never met anyone with a 2 year old healthy bearded dragon, that didn't get UVB on them. Either in the way of a quality UVB bulb, or some way to get the dragon outside with access to direct sunlight, (glass filters out most of the UVB), safely with a place to retreat to if it gets too hot, and safe from predators and chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides, or any insects they may try to eat that have come into contact with these.) If not, it always ends up in the same place: Metabolic Bone Disease, or MBD. So that really is the most important thing you can do. The d3 added to the calcium will do very little against this. There are allot of bulbs out there and I have used most of them. Some can be a bit dangerous if placed to close, not angled properly, etc. In a 40 gallon breeder I would recommend a 10% - 12% fluorescent tube. It is the safest and simplest way to go, and generally they last the longest, so you get the best "bang for the buck", so to speak. Let me know if you have any questions with this or any of the available types of bulbs, how to set them up, the cheapest places to get the good brands, etc... and I'll help you out.

That Beautiful Dragons site is fabulous! The lady that runs it rescues neglected beardies, has done allot of work researching and collecting information from tons of reliable sources. If every pet had a site like that dedicated to them with that much information, the world would be a better place. Big Grin

I wouldn't be so sure she actually is impacted, she really isn't eating that much for her size. So every other day wouldn't be that weird. Does she have any problems or seem to struggle to go? It is easier for them to defecate in water, and I do know people that who have dragons that are so used to it, they will wait for their owner to give them a bath Smile How long will she go without defecating if you don't bathe her? I would bump up the insects and keep an eye on her, maybe to just two insect feedings a day for now.

As for the window, I don't know how cold it actually is in your house, but I think you should be fine. 105 degrees doesn't feel as hot to the touch as you probably think it does. And a 100 watt bulb in a 40 breeder should do the trick not elevated. I'm in FL, and I use a 75 watt on my 75 gal's, with an elevated basking area, and it more than does the job. And as far as night temps go, if all else is well and the dragon is in good health, nighttime temps of 72 - 78 F are actually better for the dragon IMHO. They seem to do well with this, most of the larger breeders I know do this with all but hatchlings and babies (under 6").

A thermometer would also be a good investment. I prefer infrared thermometers (tempguns), but they can get pricey. Sometimes you can find them for around $20 at pet shops too. But all you really need is a digital thermometer with a probe, like the indoor/outdoor types you can hang inside and place a probe outside. You can hang the probe in different parts of the tank, and place it right on the basking rock to know the exact temp of that spot. Check home depot, walmart, target, etc... You can normally find a fairly cheap version. But when you have the money, a tempgun is 1000 times more convenient. I have dozens of animals and I use 1 tempgun for everything. (I do have a backup though.)

I'll look forward to seeing some pics of your girl Smile
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05-17-2012, 04:21 AM,
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ArmyOfDreams Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
I don't know how to control the size of images in posts and I'm too lazy to mess with it on the host site. Buuuut here are some pictures of my pet:

[Image: DSCN0706.jpg]

Kaiah's enclosure: also there is a shallow dish of water. Forgot to say that. Her half-log tends to move around a lot, courtesy of me trying to get her out from under it so she can have her brunch Wink

[Image: DSCN0712.jpg]

Kaiah herself, salad included! Big Grin

She doesn't have any troubles when she goes, but I will forego the bath today and see how she does; sometimes she thinks she's a water dragon at bath time and other times refuses to stay in the water, so I don't think she's one of the bath dragons just yet, haha. And I don't think she's impacted, either, but I wasn't totally sure what the problem was or if there was actually a problem. Maybe a better feeding regimen will straighten her out Smile

Again, thank you loads, and I will probably be messaging you about the UVB lights in the future. Thumbsup
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05-17-2012, 05:11 AM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
The photo size is just fine.

Cool little bearded dragon you have there.
From the look of it, she likes to read newspaper too, just like Fishbone's reptile friends. I think she is into sports news. Big Grin
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05-17-2012, 08:06 AM,
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Fishbone Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Dragons get vinyl flooring at my house Big Grin The carpet pythons get to read...

She looks good Smile I would definitely bump up the feeding a bit. Bathing isn't bad though. When they are that small, at least twice a week is good. More is fine too. Just make sure it's not late (close to turning out the lights) so she dries off quickly. I took a couple of quick pics of one of my impromptu dragon cages. I apologize for the mess, I took these when I was getting ready to clean him up. He gets greens everywhere Big Grin

[Image: IMG_20120516_172234.jpg]

[Image: IMG_20120516_172216.jpg]

$10 dome lamps from home depot. The 48" fluorescent fixture was about $20 at Lowe's. It holds two bulbs, so there is a reptisun 10.0 for UVB, and then I bought a All Glass Aquarium brand pink aquarium light that was on clearance at a local shop to add some colour and light as well. I also give them a sand box. They do seem to like to dig. And it has a lid so I can close if need be when feeding, though he is pretty much past the cricket stage. He eats supers and silks at this point. And I just remembered something else. I don't know how creative you are, but you can build backgrounds, platforms, and climbing areas pretty easily and cheaply. Thar way you can make it to suit and fit your tank.
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05-17-2012, 09:40 AM,
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ArmyOfDreams Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Haha yeah, Kaiah learns all about our local sports teams. Only the best for her xD Although vinyl flooring is pretty sweet. I wouldn't have thought of that.

I will look into building my own. I had initially wanted to do something similar to a turtle platform, as in a flat surface attached with suction cups; local pet stores don't have quite what I had in mind and turtle platforms are designed to float. Shouldn't be too difficult to come up with my own, however Idea

I hear mixed reports on this, but I've been toying with the idea of switching to sand substrate once Kaiah's an adult. I am not fond of the idea of manhandling a 40 gallon aquarium to dump sand out for cleaning, however; the sand looks nice but that just seems like a pain Rolleyes
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05-17-2012, 10:20 AM,
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Fishbone Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
I'm a really big fan of the vinyl. And then the sand box. Moving anything bigger than a 20 gal with sand is a pain. I just take the sand box out. If you do anything with sand, make sure you use plain play sand, not the calci sand. That stuff causes allot of problems. The sand is also much more difficult to keep clean, and sanitary. I throw the sand in the box out completely every 7 - 14 days.

As for the platforms, they make some that have strong magnets that can be held up on the side of a glass terrarium.
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05-17-2012, 10:49 AM,
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ArmyOfDreams Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Yup, fine grain sterile/chemical free play sand. Calci sand is pretty much way too expensive. Once mine is an adult and not such a nongraceful cricket hunter I will install sand for her Smile

The magnet ledges are sweet. That's pretty much exactly what I had in mind, barring my own custom perch. Thumbsup
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05-18-2012, 05:09 AM,
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Ram Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Fishbone is showing off his reptiles again. Big Grin Very nice enclosure you have there. Beautiful bearded dragon too.

A silly question. It seems those bearded dragons look different in colors in different enclosures. Are they just different breeds based on colors, or do they have the ability to change their colors to fit in their enviroment?
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05-18-2012, 05:17 AM,
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Not a silly question! Bearded dragons can have different colors, Fishbone's is just a different color than mine. Wink
Kaiah might look like she's a different color in the picture of just her vs. of the enclosure; in one she had heat lamp lighting her and the other she had camera flash lighting her.
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05-18-2012, 05:53 AM,
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Fishbone's bearded dragon has almost identical color as the branch it was sitting on.
It can be misleading to the people who don't know about this particular reptile species. Smile

You both have very cool pets.

Army, if you plan to remodel/improve your enclosure, keep us updated. Show us more photos after the remodeling. Thumbsup
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05-19-2012, 05:39 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-19-2012, 05:43 AM by Fishbone.)
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
They are selectively bred for all sorts of colours. And actually they can change colour a bit, based on mood. They turn black or darker if they are upset/irritated. They generally have the prettiest colours when sleeping, or right out of the bath, as AOD mentioned earlier about hers sleeping.

And I wasn't trying to show of anything...Blush That is actually a quickly thrown together tank. Maybe I didn't make clear what the point was, I was trying to show a quick enclosure that was functional and met all of the animals needs. Without being fancy. Sometimes I have a few too many dragons before I can adopt them out.

And AOD, in my opinion, you really need to put the UVB light to the top of the list. Most of the "sick" dragons I take in are from people who try to keep them without UVB. The time it takes for the signs of MBD to set in vary greatly from animal to animal, as do the actual problems that arise. But, if you do not get some UVB on that girl soon, you will have problems. And most of the deformities that come about are irreversible.

I just reread that last post, and I didn't intend to come off as mean. I certainly don't think you are intending to harm your beardie Big Grin I just wanted to point out the importance of it, and that it really shouldn't ever be considered an option to keep a bearded dragon without the proper lighting. Hopefully you understand what I am trying to say Smile
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05-21-2012, 11:30 AM,
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
I understand! As soon as I can I will see to UVB, not sure when that will be exactly but it'll definitely happen. It's a priority Smile
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05-22-2012, 08:30 PM,
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Ram Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
If you order it online, it can be quite cheap. Smile


List of online pet stores.
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05-24-2012, 06:50 AM,
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Fishbone Offline
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
If you look for a light online, the reptisun 10.0 fluorescent, which is the best, easy to use UVB light for a bearded dragon enclosure, especially a tank/aquarium, is cheaper at the Doctor Foster and Smith website than anywhere else I have seen, including locally at most pet shops, including the shipping most of the times. And if you can find anything else you need and spend over $50, there is no shipping charge.

I am not trying to promote any place in particular, just showing the cheapest I have found a good product. I AM promoting the reptisun though, it is one of the two best UVB lights I have used, and heard about. The others are the Arcadia D3+ T5 and D3+ T8 reptile lamps. They are still pricey in the US though, as there aren't allot of suppliers. This is the first place, and maybe still the only place, to carry them here in the states.

Keep us updated and let me know if there is anyway I can help Big Grin
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05-29-2012, 06:50 PM, (This post was last modified: 05-29-2012, 07:14 PM by Ram.)
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Actually Petmountain.com has cheaper prices on many items. I should say they have the cheapest prices on most pet items. I have bought from them on many occasions with good experiences. Most items I ordered are fish equipments, and some medications. Yes, I shop around a lot on the internet for price comparison.

Zoo Med ReptiSun HO UVB Bulbs for example, their (Petmountain's) 48" lamp is cheaper than the 15" lamp from drsfostersmith.

Thatpetplace.com is another option. Their price is about the same as drsfostersmith, and they offer 10% off + Free shipping on orders over $100.
Check the same Zoo Med ReptiSun HO UVB Bulbs on their site. After the 10% off, they are even cheaper.

I wonder what is the difference between the lights used for reptiles and the lights for fish. I use T5HO day light lamps for my aquarium plants. If plants can use it, why can't reptiles?
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05-30-2012, 03:06 AM,
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RE: How can I improve my bearded dragon's enclosure?
Well, it depends on the actual lamp and the actual reptile. Most of the high end aquarium lighting & "full spectrum bulbs" doesn't produce any UVB, which is specifically what we are talking about here. That is light waves above the visible light spectrum to humans, from 280nm - 315nm. Replies in particular benefit most from rays between 295nm - 305nm for vitamin D3 production. And with certain lizard species that really can't be replaced by dietary D3 supplements. They will still end up with a hist of problems, the worst being metabolic bone disease (MBD).
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