When we first got a bearded dragon, we were starting from scratch. We needed everything and knew nothing. Luckily, there is an amazing reptile store in Chicago (Curious Creatures) that helped us figure it all out.
Before we picked up our beardie at the College that rescued her, we purchased all the things we would need and headed home to set up our beardie’s new habitat. What we didn’t plan on was just how big the enclosure was going to be (see our full article on proper enclosure size here).
When we got the tank in the house, we had no idea where we would put it. Where would it fit? And where in the house would be the best place for our new bearded dragon?
A bearded dragon’s tank should be placed in a quiet, climate-controlled room in your home. The tank should be out of reach of household pets as well as small children. The tank itself should never be placed in direct sunlight as this could be harmful or even fatal to the bearded dragon inside.
Don’t place your tank in direct sunlight!!!
Some beardie owners, who mean well, place the tank near a window or in a spot that gets regular direct sunlight. They do this because they know a bearded dragon’s natural habitat is a hot, arid region in Australia. They think the sunshine might be nice.
The problem with this thinking is that in direct sunlight, a glass enclosure is basically a small oven. The heat from the sun gets in, but it cannot escape. This raises the inside temps to dangerous levels.
It’s the exact same reason you should never leave dogs or children in the car out in the sun. The inside of the car can reach temperatures that will kill animals or people inside. The same happens with a bearded dragon’s tank when left in direct sunlight.
One more note here, don’t rely on remembering to close curtains or shades to block the dangerous sun. You only have to forget once and you could have a very dead pet on your hands. It’s best not to leave things to chance.
Don’t put the enclosure where there is any possibility of direct sunlight at all!!!
Place the tank on a stable base
Properly sized bearded dragon enclosures can be fairly large. 2’ x 4’ x 2’ (60cm x 120cm x 60cm) is a common size. Normally constructed from particle board or glass or a combination of both, these tanks can also be fairly heavy.
If you don’t have a stable base to place the tank on, the floor can do in a pinch. That may cause a problem in other areas (pets, kids, and ease of access – all discussed in a moment), but if the tank is not secure and stable, none of the rest of our advice in this article matters.
If at all possible, though, find a base of some type that will safely support the tank. Tables, desks, and aquarium stands are the most common. Get the tank up off the floor. It will be a more enjoyable experience all around.
Make sure the tank is easily accessible
You are going to want to access your beardie at least once a day if not more. Make sure you can easily get to the tank.
Getting the tank up off the floor is a big step towards this goal. Not sticking it behind things is another step.
This one is kind of a no brainer, but we have seen tanks that are hard to get to and what happens over time is that things start to get neglected. Baths don’t happen as often as they should. Snuggle time gets limited or missed altogether. Even feedings can get spaced out too far.
An easily accessible tank makes for a healthier and more enjoyable bearded dragon.
Limit access to the tank from small children
Everyone’s kids are different and this advice will definitely not apply to everyone. But in general, the tank should be out of reach of very young children.
At some point, the kids will want and need access to your family pet. This is how it should be and beardies make amazing pets for kids!
For the very young, however, it’s a good idea to keep your bearded dragon out of their reach.
Place the tank out of reach of household pets
While you want your beardie’s home to be easily accessible to you, the same is not true for the family dog or cat.
Dogs and cats are predators. We know it’s hard to picture fluffy as being anything but the adorable ball of fur in your lap who loves you and seemingly would never harm a fly.
But the truth is that dogs and cats are predators. Bearded dragons are prey. When you aren’t around, nature and instinct are likely to take over. The result will almost never be good for the beardie.
Cats, especially, can be a problem. Not only do they have a natural instinct to hunt and kill small animals, but they have an uncanny ability to get to those small animals no matter where they are.
If you have dogs or cats, it’s best to limit their access to the room your bearded dragon is in. If that’s not possible or something you want to do, then make absolutely sure of two things. The enclosure must be stable and not easily knocked over and the lid must be secure and not easily removed.
If those two guidelines are followed, you should be okay. But we recommend erring on the side of caution here.
We have owned both cats and dogs our entire lives. We love them dearly. And it is a really fun thing to have a house full of pets we love. Mixing dogs and cats and beardies is completely doable.
Just make sure to be careful and take a few precautions!
Keep the tank away from loud noises
Bearded dragons, on the whole, are not fans of loud noises. And it’s important to remember that what’s not that loud to us, crazy loud to their little ears. It’s important to be sensitive to this fact.
When we brought our beardie home, our first instinct was to put the tank in the living room next to the TV. That’s where we spend a lot of time and we wanted our new pet to in the room where we were.
The problem with this was the surround sound on the TV. It simply put out too much sound to be a good environment for our dragon.
So we opted for our home office. We are still in there a lot, but there is no TV or loud stereo.
Even in that office, though, we need to be careful of prolonged loud noises. There are speakers connected to the computer and invariably if the music gets turned up too loud, Bacardi gets agitated and her beard goes black.
She then sits in her hammock and gives us the stink eye until we turn it down. It seems like it’s the bass that really sets her off more than anything. Loud classical music doesn’t seem to offend. Turn the 2-Pac up too much and she is not a happy dragon.
It’s not always bass that’s the issue. We recently got a dehumidifier for the office as the humidity levels were way too high for her (everything you need to know about beardies and humidity can be found here).
The dehumidifier is loud. Really loud. And she doesn’t like it running at all. It took 3 days to bring the humidity levels down to the 35% mark and Bacardi spent 3 straight days with varying shades of black in her beard.
She eventually went into one of her hides and didn’t come out for the last day and a half. Once the unit turned off, she was good within an hour or so and back out and active.
We are now very sparing in how much we turn the unit on. We even moved it down the hall a little to mitigate some of the noise.
Your mileage may vary, but it’s a good idea to limit regular loud noise for your bearded dragon. They will certainly thank you for it!
Avoid constant light in your bearded dragon’s room
Bearded dragons are diurnal creatures. That means they are up in the daytime and sleep at night.
In order to sleep, your beardie will need darkness. For this reason, it’s important to keep them in a room that gets dark at night.
Basements with neon lights that stay on all the time are a good example of something to avoid.
Home offices where someone works through the night are another area to be wary of. Even a small desk lamp and the light from a computer screen can cause problems for a bearded dragon trying to sleep.
If possible, try to place your beardie in a room that is bright in the day yet dark at night.
Rules vs guidelines
We realize that not everyone has an unlimited amount of places to put their bearded dragon’s home. We certainly don’t. And that means that you have to pick the best spot out of what you have to place your bearded dragon’s tank.
The only hard and fast rule in this article is the one about direct sunlight. That will kill your beardie, so it’s really important.
The rest of these are guidelines. Do them if you can and make the best of it if you can’t. But remember, you are bringing another life into your home and it’s now their home too. We owe it to our pets to try to make their new home as comfortable and healthy as possible.
That all starts with choosing where their home within your home will be.