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Thread: Bearded Dragon Exact Product Checklist

  1. #1

    Default Bearded Dragon Exact Product Checklist

    Im considering asking for a bearded dragon as i have a crestie and i would love more reptiles. Could someone please write the exact brands of stuff they use for heating and lighting and feeding supplements? Also maybe substrate? I know about vivarium and decor. Thanks💛

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    Starting from the bottom up I use a UTH on one end to help hold a base temperature in the big cages, especially at night. I prefer the ExoTera Desert UTH because they are self adhesive and put them on the bottom (on the outside of the cage). To control the heat, I use a Zilla 1000 watt thermostat controller(has been made by other companies in the past). The heating sources plug into it and you put the probe where the dragon will be and set it to the temp you want that spot to hold. You absolutely need to use a thermostat controller for your heat sources!! You don't want to burn your animal. They only "know" heat comes from above, so if the belly heat is too high, they don't realize it and can get burned. (I also use basking heaters from above and it keeps them from making a basking platform too hot).

    I use calcium type--sand because they can dig in it and it's not super dangerous (unlike regular sand/beach sand). I tried excavator and it just turns into a hard block and the dragons I had on it could not dig in it (also super hard to clean/remove). Do NOT use crushed walnut shells!!! It's super dangerous, I almost lost a dragon to impaction from her eating it by accident when she ate her other foods. As to brands of sand, I've used ZooMed Vitasand, ZooMed ReptiSand, and CaribSea used to make a very good one (but I don't know where to get it now). Oh, the dyed sands will very likely turn your dragon colors. I tried it once when it first came out and my citrus-and-lavender dragon turned sky blue and stayed that way till it shed. Other people use other things for the bottom. You'll want to use paper towels until you're sure your dragon is healthy (vet time), before you set up your substrate of choice. If you use the various reptile "carpet" or "sand carpet", just know you'll need two because you'll have to alternate when you need to clean and wash one. The regular carpet is also not the easiest thing to clean when there's dried on ureates (the white stuff).

    Climbing things/hides. Use whatever you like the looks of, as long as you can clean it easily (ceramic or resin work well and hold some heat), wood is extremely hard to disinfect, but looks nice. I use a Zilla corner basking platform (also made by several other companies in the past), one the cool side and one on the hot side. I have a neat gnarly grape vine in the middle that I sterilized. I'm a little leery of the hammocks because I'm afraid the dragon's claws will get snagged in it. Exo Tera makes rock outcrops to attach to the walls, as well as Pet Tech (which are magnetic). There are also instructions on YouTube for making custom hides and outcrops and stuff, if you want to go that way. I'm planning on adding some custom outcrops to the walls some time in the near future, or I may give up and just get the premade magnetic ones since they are pretty nice.

    Lighting---For the domes for the light I use various brands ceramic base "clamp" lamp domes. So long as the dome: A) has a ceramic base to handle the heat, b) is deep enough and wide enough for the bulb, brand doesn't super matter. Some have switches built in, some don't. I use light timers from the hardware store to control the on/off of the lights so I don't have to worry about getting up to turn the light on in the morning, or turn it off in the evening. Just make sure the timer you get can handle the wattage of the lights you're running on it (remember you have to add up all the watts from all the lights). I prefer the digital ones because they are easy to set, more precise, and don't usually get messed up. Also the older kind with the pegs can be noisy.
    ---Bulbs: I did a lot of research, and Reptiles Magazine every so often, publishes a review of UV lighting bulbs. Florescent bulbs have to be very close to work well, and the UV output drops off to practically nothing in about 6 months. The metal halide/mercury vapor ones not only provide UV for almost a year, they don't have to be nearly as close, and provide heat too...just like a mini sun. They do cost more though (but consider the cost of having to change a florescent every six months). I use ZooMed PowerSun 100 watt. I have also used ExoTerra 125 watt solar glo. I like the ZooMed better, personal preference. For a cage as big as you're going to eventually be in, 100 watt is what to shoot for. It will provide a nice warm basking spot, and the UV. Lower wattage probably won't heat as well, and higher wattage may make it too hot.

    I also have ceramic basking heaters above the cage to provide warm spots at night, one on an end, and one near the middle. They use the same types of ceramic domes as the lights. Ceramic heaters do not produce light, so there's no messing with the day/night cycle. They also last for a ridiculous amount of time, compared to the "night color" heat-light bulbs. I use ExoTerra 100watt ceramic bulbs (aka heat wave), ZooMed 100 watt ceramic heaters, and I use another one that I don't know what brand it is, but that one is 60 watts and I use it on a much shorter cage as a basking heat source for a baby ball python. I have no preference on brands for these and usually just get which ever one is cheaper/on sale. I've used both brands for years and they seem to last about the same amount of time. You will want to plug these into the thermostat control so you don't accidentally make a spot that's too hot. (In the winter mine are on almost constantly, but in the summer they are usually only on at night and early morning till the UV-heat bulbs warm the cages up and the ambient temp goes up).

    A young dragon will need live bugs, as well as a veggy source to grow on. Adults are mostly on veggies, with some bugs. Once my babies were about 4 months old, I switched them completely to prepared foods and only give bugs as a treat. My adults usually won't eat crickets. They just don't want to chase them. However, superworms, silkworms, green giants (hornworms), butter worms, and occasionally wax worms are great. (I don't do roaches because my hubby won't let me have them in the house). The prepared foods I've used (that are still on the market) are: RepCal bearded dragon food (there's a juvenile formula and an adult)--it's colored kibbles. I'd count them out for each dragon, soak them in water for 10 min, drain off the water and feed. Worked fine, but I wasn't super happy with the nutrition of it because it's so processed and dyed. I switched to San Francisco Brand Healthy Herp Bearded Dragon food (juvi and adult formulas available). It's all freeze-dried plants and bugs. I measure out an amount, soak it in water for 10 min, drain, and feed. (The cheapest place to get big jars is Dr Foster Smith, not many places carry it for some reason) I've also gotten ZooMed's Can-o-grasshoppers for treats, there are canned silkworm pupa that are available too which make a great treat (they don't keep long once you open the can and you have to refrigerate them after opening). My beardie loves Repashy Bug Burger. You just measure an amount out, add boiling, or really hot water, mix it up. It cools into a gel that I break into pieces and feed occasionally. It's mostly bugs so it's not a good main food, but is a nice variation/treat.

    You will need a calcium with D3. I've used RepCal Calcium with D3, CaribSea used to make a stronsium/calcium/D3 but I don't think it's produced any more, and currently I use Repashy SuperCal Hy D. I like it because it's super fine powder and has a lot of vitamin D3. Being desert animals, beardies need a lot of D3 and unless they get a lot of real sun, even with good UV bulbs they have trouble making enough on their own. Vitamin mixes I've used are: Repcal Herptivite, another one I don't remember and haven't seen in years, and currently Repashy Supervite. I use the Repashy because it's a super fine powder and because it has a very good vitamin mix. I keep a small amount of each on the counter to use, and the majority in the fridge so it keeps longer. I alternate calcium and vitamins and just sprinkle it on top of the food after I drain it.

    I have kept and bred dragons for a very long time, and never had a problem with calcium deficiency or vitamin deficiency, or overdose on either. I've even nursed a dragon I adopted who had MBD back to health and he lived for a good number of years after that. (Though during the medical recovery treatment he got lots of extra calcium and D3 in a liquid the vet prescribed). This is by no means the only way to set up a bearded dragon. This is just what I've done and had good success with for years (decades). I am always looking at new research on their care for ways to improve and when something new comes out that is scientifically supported as being a good change (or if something comes out that says it's really bad), I change things. Never think that your set up can't be improved!! Oh, you will save a lot of money buying your supplies online as opposed to a store. Or if you can get them at a show you'll save a lot too.

    Good luck.

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    Oh, forgot to add: You're going to need a nail trimmer (styptic powder too), an infrared thermometer, and some cage cleaner/disinfectant.

    The nail clipper I use looks like a pair of little scissors with a curved out notch at the top of each blade, that style is usually used for cats and birds now. The pair I got were labeled for reptiles when I got them years ago. They are really good for cutting very small claws. The other kind that are more like a guillotine are better for bigger/thicker claws (monitors, iguanas, dogs), at least in my opinion. I've used both. Also...invest in some styptic powder just in case you cut too deep and nick the blood will happen at some point, even to those with lots of experience.

    The infrared thermometer is to check to make sure temps are right. It's especially important to check regularly when setting up a new cage; do a major renovation; different seasons. If you haven't gotten one yet, I'd recommend spending a bit more and getting one where you can change the emissivity on it and re-calibrate it. It will be more accurate because you can adjust it to the type of material (or skin) you want to measure. They can usually be calibrated too. I had a pocket "wand" "point-n-shoot" one that started giving odd values. I used a different method for a while (literally a thermometer on the surface). When I went back to try the point-n-shoot one when I was setting up for my new baby balls quarantine cages, it gave insane values (my arm was 134F, my dragon's head was nearly 200F). I couldn't calibrate it, changing the emissivity didn't do anything and there was no index for what setting to use on what surface. I tried new batteries. It was bonkers. So I got a better quality one on Amazon that had more control and calibration ability. I can now adjust it to accurately read sand, paper, concrete/stone (the hides), and my reptile pets or me (skin). There are a number of different brands. The one I got cost about $80.

    Cage cleaner/disinfectant
    My all purpose cleaner/disinfectant is chlorhexidine (generic name; brand name Novalsan and some others). I buy concentrate generic and mix it as needed into a spray bottle. It's very popular with vets for cleaning their exam rooms, surgery rooms, all sorts of stuff. It's used in mouth cleaner/disinfectant for dogs and cats, mixed in their water and they drink it. It's used for cleaning skin sores, mild cuts/abrasions, etc. including on people. It's super gentle on animals (not amphibians and fish!!!) As a bonus I discovered, it can kill very tiny bugs when used frequently, and be careful because it can mess up bigger bugs. I'm not sure what it does to bugs, but I used it on superworms that had dust mites a few times. The supers were paralyzed for a while but seemed to recover. You just spray it on the surface, and depending on why you're cleaning, either let it sit for a few min. or wipe it off immediately. And since it's so safe, you don't have to rinse. There's also a lot of brands of cleaner on the market you can use too that work just as well. I just like chlorhex. because vets love it and the generic concentrate is fairly cheap.

    I think that's all the reptile "extras" you'll need beyond cage set up stuff.


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