IN THIS ARTICLE
- What Does Bearded Dragons' Natural Habitat Look Like?
- The Ideal Bearded Dragon Cage Environment
- Why is Temperature Important?
- Why Is Humidity Important?
- Monitoring and Maintaining the Cage Environment
- Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- Create a Healthy Habitat for Your Bearded Dragon With Quality Cage
Bearded dragons are remarkable creatures that have recently become increasingly popular pets. To be healthy and live a long life, these cold-blooded critters need a comfortable environment that may be a little different from what humans find cozy. In the wild, bearded dragons survive in the harsh conditions of Australia's rough deserts, where hot temperatures and low humidity are commonplace.
Once you understand this natural habitat, you can create a cozy home for them in a cage. This guide will show you how to set up the environment and what mistakes to avoid and explain why temperature and humidity play such a vital role in bearded dragons' lives.
What Does Bearded Dragons' Natural Habitat Look Like?
The sun-scorched lands of Australia are home to the bearded dragon. This continent has a varied climate. In warmer months, temperatures soar to 100°F (38°C) during the day and go down to a breezier 70°F (21°C) at night. With such a fluctuation in temperature, these lizards have learned to adapt to their environment and thrive in moderate humidity levels ranging between 10% to 30%.
Bearded dragons are native to different parts of Australia, ranging from the scorching desert climate of the mainland's interior to the more temperate and lusher coastal regions. This reptile species can be pretty tolerant of a wide array of temperatures and humidity levels when people keep them as pets. They are resilient critters. Still, bear in mind where your pet might've come from and adjust their surroundings to mimic that place as best you can. The more they feel at home, the better they will thrive.
The Ideal Bearded Dragon Cage Environment
Bearded dragons are ectothermic, so they rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature. This means you give them a nice temperature gradient in the reptile habitat, with a basking area ranging from 95°F to 105°F (35°C to 40°C), a warm side of 85°F (29°C), and a cooler zone at 75°F (24°C).
Although some parts of Australia are more humid than others, most bearded dragons come from dry landscapes. The most comfortable environment for them is at a humidity level between 30% to 40%. These levels promote proper hydration and help them with shedding. Too little humidity could create a dangerous situation for your pet, so keep an eye on the levels in their enclosure.
Somewhat similar to humans, bearded dragons need UVB radiation to create vitamin D3. Vitamin D3, along with supporting health by itself, also helps the body absorb another necessary substance - calcium. Let them have around 10-12 hours of UVB lighting per day, and also install a basking light to regulate the temperature in the basking area.
When choosing what to line your pet's habitat with, safety should be at the top of your list. Reptile carpet is easy to clean and non-toxic. Newspaper and ceramic tiles also work well. Avoid loose substrates like sand for this pet, as they can cause serious digestive issues if your pet accidentally eats them.
Having a good-sized home will contribute considerably to your bearded dragon's health and happiness. Young dragons should have a 20-gallon tank, while adults need something bigger — at least 40 gallons if you can swing it. You'll want enough room for a temperature gradient and plenty of space for your little pal to move around.
Why is Temperature Important?
As mentioned, bearded dragons are ectothermic, or cold-blooded, as an ordinary observer would call it. Just like other ectothermic animals, they depend on external sources of heat to keep their bodies warm and regulate their metabolism and activity levels. Temperature is important because they can't produce enough heat on their own. In the wild, these creatures seek out both sunny spots where they can warm up and shaded areas to cool off. Keeping your pet in captivity calls for recreating its natural environment – that's why you mustn't forget to provide the right temperature conditions and temperature variation.
Too much heat, or not enough for that matter, can put stress on the body and lead to lethargy, poor appetite, and even more severe issues if given time. They need heat to digest their food, as it speeds up the breaking down of what they eat. Similarly, a bearded dragon's metabolism slows down in lower heat. More noticeably, their activity levels are lower when they're cooler.
Setting Up the Right Temperature
To create the best environment for your bearded dragon, you'll need to set up a temperature gradient in its enclosure. Once you pick a spot for the cage, find a basking area that's between 95°F (35°C) and 105°F (40°C). Then, set up a slightly cooler area at around 85°F (29°C). Lastly, let them also have a cool side at about 75°F (24°C). Heat lamps and mats are great for regulating temperature and letting your pet have a comfy relaxing spot.
Optimal nighttime temperatures for a bearded dragon's comfort fall between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18°C-24°C). Keep an eye on these numbers and make small changes to the cage or increase the heating level for their mats if it gets too cool, especially if you live somewhere with cold winters.
Why Is Humidity Important?
Humidity that's at the bearded dragon's comfort levels keeps them hydrated and helps them shed when it's time. If the moisture in the air is too low for them, your pet runs the risk of dehydration and uncomfortable skin problems due to improper molting. However too much makes them uncomfortable and lethargic and could also increase the risk of infection and vulnerability to disease. That's particularly true of respiratory infections. A sweet spot at around 30% is good enough for them. For certain humid and rainy regions, this might be at the lower end of average humidity.
Setting Up the Right Humidity
As mentioned, for your bearded dragon's cage, you want to ideally keep the humidity levels between 30%-40% as often as you can. You can do this by misting, filling up a water dish, or investing in a humidifier. If your house or apartment is generally humid, a dehumidifier could help, or a bit more air conditioning. There must be enough airflow around the cage too, which will maintain proper humidity and protect your pet from respiratory problems.
Monitoring and Maintaining the Cage Environment
If you want to keep your bearded dragon happy and healthy, you'll need to stay on top of its cage environment. Get yourself a thermometer and hygrometer to track temperature and humidity levels. You might want to get digital ones so it's easier to make adjustments, although something like Gallium might be more accurate, so take your pick. Check the temperature frequently, or at least when you feel a more noticeable difference in the air. Even more so when the seasons change – that's usually when you'll have to tweak the cage environment setup to make up for the difference.
Of course, the overall climate will be distinctive to other bearded dragon owners depending on where you live. If you feel like it, perhaps you can join online forums or communities from your area discussing best practices in bearded dragon care. Alternatively, you can go ahead and engage with global communities of people who adore these fab creatures. Anecdotes and experiences that ordinary pet owners like you share will help you tremendously whenever you feel unsure about something.
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Many pet owners fall into the trap of not providing their bearded dragons with a temperature gradient, monitoring the conditions often enough, or accounting for seasonal changes in the environment. To make sure your reptilian friend is happy and healthy, stay on top of their needs and keep a close eye on their environment. If you aren't sure, measure the temperatures and humidity levels around them and consult a vet to check if it's okay.
Don't assume that just because they come from a desertic area, they are immune to dehydration. Equally importantly, don't keep them in the dark too much; they aren't really the best fit for dark apartments or low sun exposure. Climate control can be a tricky thing, so don't forget to check up on it now and then.
Create a Healthy Habitat for Your Bearded Dragon With Quality Cage
If you already own a bearded dragon, you know that creating the perfect habitat for your little scaly friend can be a little tricky. But once you make it, your pal will be visibly happy and content. These critters can thrive in captivity just fine, so long as it reasonably mimics their natural habitat. If you're thinking of getting one of these critters, the exotic pet store Quality Cage offers fantastic products and services to help anyone craft a safe haven for their bearded dragon. They have all the exotic pet supplies you will ever need in one place.
What is the ideal temperature for a bearded dragon cage?
The basking area in a bearded dragon's cage should be between 95°F to 105°F (35°C to 40°C). The warm side of the cage should hover around 85°F (29°C) and the cool side slightly lower, at 75°F (24°C).
Is 100 degrees too hot for a bearded dragon?
Bearded dragons can handle temperatures up to 100 degrees in a basking area. But also give them cooler spots so they can keep their body temperature in harmony. That way, your pet can decide on their own how warm or cool they want to be.
Do I turn off the heat lamp at night for my bearded dragon?
It's best to turn off the heat lamp at night so the temperature can drop to a pleasant range between 65°F and 75°F (18°C to 24°C). That way, your pet will be comfortable, and you'll be saving money. But if nights are extremely cool where you are, perhaps lowering it might be better.
What temperature should a basking light be for a bearded dragon?
Adults should feel the heat of 95°F to 105°F (35°C to 40°C) under a basking light, while young ones may need temperatures slightly higher than that.
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