In another article, we outlined the 12 essential things that all bearded dragons need. These essentials are the minimum for keeping a happy and healthy bearded dragon as a pet, but what about those of us that don’t want just the minimum for our beardie?
Your beardie will spend the majority of its life in a vivarium. That vivarium, compared to their natural habitat of central Australia, is kind of small. Even if we give them all the things they need, it’s nice to give them something extra every now and then.
Here we have compiled a list of 11 things you might not have thought of but we think your beardie might love. As a treat every now and again, brighten up your beardie’s day with a change of pace or something new and different. It might sound weird, but you will be the highlight of their day because of it!
1. A well-designed bathtub
Our beardie, Bacardi, does not really like bath time every time. We do it 3 times a week because it’s good for her. She enjoys it some days and merely tolerates it on others, but when she has had enough, she can’t get out of the water fast enough.
Most bearded dragons enjoy a nice warm bath. They will splash and play and drink and generally have a great time. We put together a complete and detailed guide to beardie bath time that you can read here.
Something we briefly mentioned in that guide is using a dedicated tub for bathing (we like bins like this). It’s not a great idea to use your tub or sink (household soap and cosmetic residue are dangerous to your beardie), and instead, we recommend using a dedicated bin to bathe them in.
But why stop there if they really like it? Why not make it a nice little play area for your beardie? Cover the bottom in textured tape, so they have a grip. Add a rock or two for them to get out of the water for a minute. Make one side lower so they can get out if they want.
Never leave your beardie unattended in the bath, but let them play and explore as much as they want. If your beardie enjoys bath time, make it fun for them. Don’t just do the bare minimum. Give them a great place to take a bath, and they’ll look forward to their regular bathing as much as you do.
2. Being wrapped up in a beardie burrito
While Bacardi does not like bath time, she loves beardie burrito time, which comes immediately after.
When she is ready to get out, she scampers over to the side of her tub and climbs out. She’s quick when she wants out of the bath, so we have to be equally quick in our reactions.
When this happens, we pick her up and put her down in a towel. Then we carefully wrap her up in the towel, leaving only her face sticking out of the front. Voilà, beardie burrito!
Bacardi loves this, and she’s not the only one. Lots of bearded dragons enjoy this treatment. Many of them, Bacardi included, will totally relax and close their eyes. It’s not long after that that many of them drift off to sleep.
We don’t know if they feel extra safe and secure that way or if it has something to do with the feeling of being enclosed like that. Whatever it is, bearded dragons seem to love it. Google “beardie burrito,” and you’ll see plenty of YouTube videos with folks showing you how much their bearded dragon likes it.
3. Multiple hides
Speaking of your bearded dragon feeling safe and secure, one of the places they should feel most safe and secure is in their hide.
All bearded dragons need at least one hide in their enclosure. This is something that they can crawl inside when feeling stressed or threatened. It’s a place where many of them will sleep, knowing they are safe from predators. It’s also where your beardie will probably choose to hunker down while brumating (if they do at all) (see our full guide to brumation here!).
In the wild, almost every natural predator, from dingos to birds of prey, attacks bearded dragons from above. This is one of the reasons you will regularly see your beardie looking up. They are trying to make sure they don’t get eaten!
Crawling inside of a hide is a means of protection for bearded dragons. It is a natural survival instinct of almost all bearded dragons. It’s for this reason that we, as owners, should provide them a hide to make use of when they want to.
If we really want to give them a great home, we should provide 2 hides.
Preferably one on the warm side of their home and one on the cool side. Then they have a place to go that is comfortable for them no matter what.
Our beardie, Bacardi, prefers the hide on the cool side and sometimes sleeps the night in there. She gets way back inside, burrows a little in her substrate, and nestles in for a snug night’s sleep. Her favorite hide is the one you see her in in the image above. You can get your beardie one just like it right here on Amazon!
The closer we can make our vivariums to the natural habitat of our reptilian friends, the happier and more comfortable they will be. Giving them a second hide is a great way to do this!
We’ve seen some slow, fat, and lazy bearded dragons. If they’re hand-fed daily and don’t have a lot of room to move around, bearded dragons can quickly become accustomed to the good life of being a pet.
This also means they forget what it’s like to have to move and hunt and evade predators on a regular basis.
This need for movement is part of their DNA. It’s a built-in need and one that can’t always be met inside a vivarium. If given the chance, your beardie wants to run, climb, and explore.
So give it to them! Take them out every once in a while. Not just to ride on your shoulder but let them explore. Turn them loose on your couch or bed or chair. Let them scamper across the floor.
Allow them to be just as curious as they would be in the wild. You will come to love watching them walk around, they will come to love doing it. Letting your beardie out of their enclosure to get some exercise is something they will really enjoy!
One warning—Your beardie will try to eat just about anything it can fit in its mouth. Make sure there aren’t things laying around that would be bad for your beardie to swallow. This also means that you need to keep a close eye on your beardie as it moves around. Don’t let them out of your site, they need supervision during their adventures!
Or, put them on a leash and harness. Not sure how to do that? We cover everything you need to know in our article here.
5. A laser light
It might surprise you, but much like cats, some bearded dragons enjoy chasing around a laser pointer!
It could be that they have a playful side, but it’s more likely their predatory instincts coming out. They see the light and its movement, and their inner hunter takes over.
This is a fun game to play with your beardie while they are outside their vivarium. It can be a blast to set them down on the floor and watch them hunt the little dot of red light.
This is a great way to get your beardie the exercise it naturally needs but doesn’t typically get inside their enclosures.
One suggestion is to reward them with a feeder insect when you are done. Make sure that you are rewarding their hunting instincts at the end of the game, and you will help to ensure they are a willing participant next time.
6. A treat
In the wild, bearded dragons eat a varied diet. Different types of plants make up their greens intake, while a variety of protein sources are found among the multitude of insects living in their natural habitat.
In an effort to mimic their natural diet, it’s always a good idea to vary their protein source. While many people rely on a standard diet of either crickets or dubia roaches, it can be a nice change of pace and a healthy idea to throw in some variety.
Whether it’s horned, butter, or super worms, worms can be a juicy, fatty treat for your bearded dragon. Most beardies really enjoy a juicy worm every now and again. Yours probably will too! See our full guide to wormy treats here!
One tip when feeding them worms. Worms don’t move very much, and bearded dragons like their prey to be mobile. They may not show interest in worms at first. Choosing the right kind of worm can really help here. Some are much more active than others. You can refer to our guide for help.
But be patient. Once they recognize what that fat little wriggling thing is in front of them, they will be quick to gobble them up when they see them again.
Make sure and check out our complete bearded dragon food list with 237 different foods listed. We’ll show you what’s safe, what’s not, and what the healthiest food choices are for your beardie!!!
7. A walk in the sun
While we are talking about adventure, there’s no adventure your beardie will love more than getting outside under the warmth of the real sun. Bearded dragons are outdoor creatures, and their native land of central Australia is abundant with sunshine.
No matter how good a job we do at the lighting set up in their vivarium, we simply cannot reproduce the natural goodness that comes from the sun above.
The level and quality of UVB and UVA light your bearded dragon will get from direct sun exposure is far superior to anything that comes from a bulb.
Combine this with the change of scenery, warmth, and human companionship that comes with a trip outside, and your beardie will have almost everything it needs to be happy!
Throw in a few live feeders and a bask in the sun for digestion, and that’s just about as perfect a day as your beardie can get!
Please, however, don’t just take their tank outside and set it in the sun! This will only cause them harm. The glass on your vivarium will trap the heat inside and slowly roast your beardie. Nothing good can come from this.
Instead, take them outside by hand. You can even find beardie leashes and harnesses so you can walk your bearded dragon. Check out the very unique and inventive options here on Amazon. Some of them are so cool!
The biggest bearded dragon we’ve ever seen in person was on a leash in front of a coffee shop in Geneva, IL. That big boy was loving the sun and all the attention he got from passers-by.
8. Something to climb
Unfortunately for most of us, we can’t keep our beardie outside all the time. In fact, for many, it will be a rare treat. Instead, our dragons will live out the majority of their lives in a 3-4 foot wide enclosure with just a few landscaping objects to keep them busy.
In the wild, they not only live in wide-open places, but they live in places with a lot of trees and bushes. Bearded dragons are semi-arboreal creatures. This means they naturally spend at least some of their time up in trees!
This also means that they like to climb. No, correction, they love to climb. Give a bearded dragon something to climb, and they will. Not only will they climb it, but they’ll also hang out on it, sleep on it, and otherwise spend more time up than down.
We see so many enclosures where the poor beardie has nothing to climb, meaning there’s usually nothing more than a rock or a hide to get on top of. They need something much more than that.
When we reviewed the proper size enclosure for bearded dragons, we referenced a minimum height of 18”. Preferably, you’ve given yours 24” or more. And if that’s the case, make use of that height!
Give your beardie one or more branches to climb on. Give them a hammock (Bacardi loves her hammock and spends countless hours lounging in it in all kinds of crazy positions!).
In other words, go a little beyond the basics when setting up your bearded dragon’s home. They’ll get more exercise and will be much happier that way!
9. Tank images and a textured back wall
This one might be as much for you as it is for your beardie, but in the end, you’ll both like it.
Your bearded dragon is not smart enough to know that their reflection is not another bearded dragon. Seeing their reflection in the glass is one of the reasons you’ll see them “glass dancing”. They are trying to get to that other beardie.
When they aren’t trying to get them, they often pace back and forth, getting stressed out about the other beardie in their home. This stress is not good for them.
The solution is to eliminate the reflections. A really great way to do this is to line the inside of your vivarium with images. This not only prevents reflections but it makes your enclosure look really cool.
You can also get 3d liners for the back of your enclosure. These work great for smaller beardies, but larger ones tend to tear them up a bit. Our beardie actually loves to climb hers, and she’s light enough not to do any damage.
As for the images, you have a few options. There are some really cool premade and pre-sized images you can on Amazon like these. Those are reasonably priced and will go in rather easily.
You can also have high-quality images printed to size at your local Kinko or FedEx store. If you have the right size printer, you can even do this at home. That’s what we did. You can see in the pictures below we put an image on both sides of Bacardi’s home, and it looks great!
10. A substrate they can dig in
This is a touchy subject for many beardie owners. The type of substrate that’s best or even safe to use is the subject of much debate in the bearded dragon community. We actually cover this subject quite extensively in our detailed guide to bearded dragon substrate that you can read here.
Go to that article for all the whats and whys. But for now, know that we highly recommend a substrate that your bearded dragon can dig in. Our choice is ReptiChips. They are a perfect choice, in our opinion, for your beardie’s substrate needs!
Since there are several products called ReptiChips but only one that we recommend and use, make sure to follow this exact link to the right product!
Why? While bearded dragons love to climb, they love to dig too! They are just built that way. They dig to sleep. They dig to hide. They dig to brumate. They dig just for the heck of it!
Digging is something that they naturally do. Giving them something to dig in means they can act on their natural urges. This means you’ll have a happier and more fulfilled bearded dragon!
We’ve mentioned this quite a few times before, but when creating a vivarium setup for your beardie, one of the primary goals should be to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible. Their natural habitat provides them a place to dig, so we should too!
11. Time with you
Bearded dragons are solitary creatures. They should live alone in their tanks. That’s what they like, and that’s what is most healthy for them. That said, most of them really like people, at least in small doses anyway.
A well-bred and raised bearded dragon will grow up with regular human contact. They quickly grow to enjoy their time each day with their human friends. In fact, most bearded dragons enjoy it quite a bit!
So take your beardie out and hang with them daily if you can. Put them on your shoulder while you watch some Netflix. Wrap them up in a beardie burrito and set them on your lap while you play some video games. Take them for a walk in the sun!
Do what you can to socialize with your beardie every day if possible. It’s not only something they’ll like, but it’s something that makes your duties as a beardie parent a lot easier, too.
If they are used to being handled, it’s easier to do a lot of things with them. It’s easier for the vet to check them. It’s easier to give them a bath or cut their nails (see our bathing guide here and our step-by-step nail trimming guide here). It’s easier to take them out for feeding time or to clean their tank.
All in all, only good things come from regularly chilling out with your beardie buddy. A lot of people only think of this kind of pet and owner interaction when it comes to dogs or cats. Even we thought it was a little weird at first when we learned that beardies liked being with people.
But weird or not, it’s true for most bearded dragons. See if it is with yours too!
And there you have it! 11 things that will bring happiness and fun into the lives of you and your bearded dragon. We love doing each of these things with our beardie and hope that you will too!