SETTING UP AN ENCLOSURE

Bearded Dragon Enclosures

Setting up and getting ready for a new Bearded Dragon is simple and easy if you have the right knowledge from the start. Getting your enclosure right is the first step. Follow our basic rules to get it right.

Enclosure Size:

Hatchlings and young Bearded Dragons require a minimum enclosure size of 900mm wide x 450mm high x 450mm deep. Keep in mind that your hatchling will eventually require a larger enclosure. If you do start with a larger enclosure ensure that the animal can easily find the heat source. Larger enclosures may require partitioning to reduce the floor size for the first 9-10 months. This will ensure the animal is getting correct heat and lighting levels.

Adult Bearded Dragons will require a minimum enclosure size of 1200mm wide x 600mm high x 600mm deep.

 

The bigger the enclosure size the better is the theory for both Bearded Dragons and Water Dragons. A bearded Dragon in the wild will occupy 10-12m square and bask on a chosen warm spot (usually a flat rock) roughly 4-5m from their burrow (small hole dug into the soil and often covered with small branches or leaf matter, holes / burrows can vary in size).

Construction materials:

Enclosures can be constructed from glass, a mix of glass and timber, or for a slightly more cost effective option, the use of sealed plywood and perspex (as doors). Ventilation must be included with the use of mesh or wire on the top of the enclosure or ventilation ducting vents installed on the sides and rear of the enclosure in the situation of timber or plywood constructions. Adjustable flow extraction fans can be installed to extract heat and avoid overheating in summer. Always mount fans where the animal can not interfere with the mechanical workings of the fan.

 

Positioning and Temperatures:

Position the enclosure away from direct sunlight. In the summer months it is harder to maintain a constant temperature if there is sunlight heating up the enclosure. It may overheat and harm the animal. Create a cool end and a warm end of the enclosure by mounting the heat lamp at one end of the enclosure rather than in the middle of the enclosure. The cool end should measure 25.c and the hot end 30.c. The basking spot temp should be between 35-38.c directly under the heat source.

Lighting / Heating:

UVA Lighting - We recommend using Ceramic fixtures rated high enough to take the E27 bulb size 60w-75w Reflector spot light / flood light bulbs or 75w-100w Ceramic Heat Emitter bulbs. These bulbs are a screw in bulb ideal for Ceramic light fixtures. The higher wattage Ceramic Heat emitter bulbs are ideal for creating the basking spot, both daytime and nighttime temperatures will be constant under the ceramic bulb. Ensure the ceramic fixture will run a 150w capacity.

UVB Lighting - We recommend that the UVB Light fixture covers two thirds of the enclosure width and recommend the use of fluorescent tube bulbs rated .10 or higher.

Mounting lights:

Always use high quality fitting mounts for lighting, screw UVB fixtures to ceiling of enclosure or hang the UVB light fixture securely to top of glass or mesh roof type enclosures. Always use a protective cage over heat bulbs and UVB bulbs if mounting the fixture inside the enclosure. Some enclosures are designed to sit the lighting on the top of the enclosure. Burn risk is removed from the enclosure entirely this way and bulb cages are not required.

Thermostat set up:

Controller: You require a Thermostat / Controller to be connected to the UVA heat lamp. Use a quality controller plugged directly into your power board then plug the heat lamp UVA fixture into the controller. All thermostat controllers come with a heat sensitive probe that you place inside the enclosure directly in the basking spot heat zone.

 

Secure the probe to your desired basking location. Select the heat setting you require on the controller. Controller units vary and some are digital some are dial. The probe will read the temperature at the basking spot and switch off the heating fixture once the desired basking temperature has been reached.

Hides plants and branches:

Hides: Important for somewhere to retreat from the heat, somewhere to sleep and also somewhere to take refuge if stressed out or frightened by the external environment. Provide a hide large enough for the Bearded Dragon to enter and exit with a clear path at the entrance to the hide. Keep the hide dry inside and position at the cool end of enclosure. Have a hide large enough so that the animal can enter and make a full turn within the hide itself and can be completely covered from view. Keep hide heigh low, up to 18cm high. See our range of Bearded Dragon Hides here: HIDES and HOUSING.

 

Plants:

We recommend the use of Dry Zone Plants in Bearded Dragon Enclosures. It is sensible to use plants that can tolerate a dry conditions. You can see a comprehensive list of Bearded Dragon plants here: DRY ZONE PLANTS FOR ENCLOSURES. You can also use artificial plants. See our range of great looking artificial plants here: ARTIFICIAL PLANTS.

Branches:

Driftwood of various types that are suitable for aquariums are widely available. Avoid pine and green wood that may exude sap. Use cut dried branches of Australian Bottle Brush (Callistemon). You can see our range of driftwood and branches here: DRIFTWOODS.

Food and Water:

Water - Provide a water bowl / tray large enough for the animal to lay in the water with a water depth up to the elbow.

Food - Will vary depending on the age of your Bearded Dragon.

Hatchlings and Juveniles - Predominantly Live food should be offered 80% Live food (insects) and 20% vegetable / fruit. See full food lists here.

Adults - Most adults prefer a 30%-50% Live food and 50% Vegetable / Fruit. See full food lists here.

Food and water bowls vary depending on the size of the animal. Use bowls that are designed to be tip-proof so the animal can cross the bowl easily without the food and bowl turning over under the animals weight. You can see our food bowl selection here: FEEDING BOWLS.

 

Feeding Live Foods:

We suggest using tweezers for feeding live foods at feeding times. This can help create a bond. The use of fingers for giving live food is up to the individual, however it can form a habit of finger biting over time.

It is highly recommended to grow your own live foods if you have the space and time. Locusts and Crickets being favoured.

See our range of live foods available: LIVE FOODS.

Water Dragon Enclosures

Setting up and getting ready for a new Water Dragon is just as simple and easy as setting up for a Bearded Dragon. The only difference is that most Water Dragon Keepers choose to keep their adults housed outside in an outdoor enclosure.

Enclosure Size:

Hatchlings and young Water Dragons up to one year maximum age require a minimum enclosure size of 900mm-1200mm wide x 450mm high x 450mm deep. Keep in mind that your hatchling will eventually require a larger enclosure. If you do start with a larger enclosure indoors ensure that the animal can easily find the heat source. Larger enclosures may require partitioning to reduce the floor size for the first 9-10 months. This will ensure the animal is getting correct heat and lighting levels.

Adult Water Dragons will require a minimum enclosure size of 2200mm wide x 1800mm high x 600mm deep indoor enclosures for animals up to the age of 3-4 years old. After this age it is best to house your Water Dragons outdoors, especially if you intend to breed.

 

The bigger the enclosure size the better is the theory for both Bearded Dragons and Water Dragons. Either indoors or outdoors. A Water Dragon in the wild will occupy up to 20m square and bask on a chosen warm spot (usually a flat rock near the water's edge). He will guard over and mate with a harem of up to 10 females in the wild.

 

The females will lay their eggs in the sandy soil near a river or waterway roughly 6-8 weeks after mating. They will lay their eggs in a small hole dug into the warm soil and often cover the laying site with soil, small branches or leaf matter. Egg numbers vary from each adult and will hatch approximately 60 - 90 days after being laid. The female adult will guard the nest for a short time after laying.

Construction materials:

INDOOR: Enclosures can be constructed from glass, a mix of glass and timber, or for a slightly more cost effective option, the use of sealed plywood and perspex (as doors) indoors. Ventilation must be included with the use of mesh or wire on the top of the enclosure or ventilation ducting vents installed on the sides and rear of the enclosure in the situation of timber or plywood constructions. Adjustable flow extraction fans can be installed to extract heat and avoid overheating in summer. Always mount fans where the animal can not interfere with the mechanical workings of the fan.

OUTDOORS: Again, a mixture of timber and glass or perspex is used. Treated wood is fine. A water based pet safe paint can be applied for extra guard against the elements. For an adult group of 6 animals we suggest a minimum enclosure size of 3m wide x 1.8m high x 2.2m deep. This is a minimum outdoor enclosure size suggestion and you can always go larger.

Positioning and Temperatures:

Position the indoor Water Dragon enclosure away from direct sunlight. In the summer months it is harder to maintain a constant temperature if there is sunlight heating up the enclosure. It may overheat and harm the animal. Create a cool end and a warm end of the enclosure by mounting the heat lamp at one end of the enclosure rather than in the middle of the enclosure. The cool end should measure 25.c and the hot end 30.c. The basking spot temp should be between 32-35.c directly under the heat source.

OUTDOOR ENCLOSURES: Position where there is shade falling on a third of the enclosure during the midday sun. Water Dragons do prefer to retreat from the extreme heat of mid day.

Lighting / Heating:

UVA Lighting - We recommend using Ceramic fixtures rated high enough to take the E27 bulb size 60w-75w Reflector spot light / flood light bulbs or 75w-100w Ceramic Heat Emitter bulbs. These bulbs are a screw in bulb ideal for Ceramic light fixtures. The higher wattage Ceramic Heat emitter bulbs are ideal for creating the basking spot, both daytime and nighttime temperatures will be constant under the ceramic bulb. Ensure the ceramic fixture will run a 150w capacity.

UVB Lighting - We recommend that the UVB Light fixture covers two thirds of the enclosure width and recommend the use of fluorescent tube bulbs rated .10 or higher.

 

Mounting lights:

As with Bearded Dragon indoor enclosures

Thermostat set up:

As with Bearded Dragon indoor enclosures see above info.

Hides plants and branches:

Hides: Important for somewhere to retreat from the heat, somewhere to sleep and also somewhere to take refuge if stressed out or frightened by the external environment. 

 

Plants:

We recommend the use of Tropical Zone Plants in Water Dragon Enclosures. It is sensible to use plants that can tolerate wet and dry conditions. You can see a comprehensive list of Water Dragon Enclosure plants here: PLANTS FOR WATER DRAGON ENCLOSURES. You can also use artificial plants indoors.

Branches:

Indoors - Driftwood of various types that are suitable for aquariums are widely available. Avoid pine and green wood that may exude sap.

 

Outdoors - Use cut dried branches of Australian Bottle Brush (Callistemon) or hardwoods. Place branches on a 45 degree angle over water areas outdoor or indoors. Ensure that all branches are secured fast. Leave no room for error as a large branch falling onto a small animal will end in serious injury or death. You can see our range of driftwood and branches here: DRIFTWOOD.

Rocks - Use rocks that are not likely to topple over on the animal. Secure with mortar if required.

Food and Water:

Water - Provide a water bowl / tray large enough for the animal to lay in the water with a water depth up to the elbow.

Food - Will vary depending on the age of your Bearded Dragon.

Hatchlings and Juveniles - Predominantly Live food should be offered 80% Live food (insects) and 20% vegetable / fruit. See full food lists here.

Adults - Most adults prefer a 30%-50% Live food and 50% Vegetable / Fruit. See full food lists here.

Food and water bowls vary depending on the size of the animal. Use bowls that are designed to be tip-proof so the animal can cross the bowl easily without the food and bowl turning over under the animals weight. You can see our food bowl selection here: FEEDING BOWLS.

 

Feeding Live Foods:

We suggest using tweezers for feeding live foods at feeding times. This can help create a bond. The use of fingers for giving live food is up to the individual, however it can form a habit of finger biting over time.

It is highly recommended to grow your own live foods if you have the space and time. Locusts and Crickets being favoured.

See our range of live foods available: LIVE FOOD

Frog Enclosures

We will updating this section soon. Bookmark / Follow us or join our mailing list for updates on Frogs.

Leopard Gecko Enclosures

We are currently creating a whole section for Leopard Geckos. Stay tuned...

Native NZ Gecko Enclosures

We are currently creating a whole section for Native New Zealand Geckos. Stay tuned...

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