4ft Fish tanks (1.2m) make good cages, but ensure that there is enough air circulation in the roof. There are many custom built cages in good pet shops, that are also suitable. Cages 1.2 m by 0.6 m are suitable for single adults or a pair of Dragons.
Bearded Dragons need a hot cage, with a basking spot on one side and a cooler section on the other side. The hotspot should be between 32-35ºC and the cooler spot around 28-30ºC. A basking spot can be created by placing a spotlight on one end, over a suitable rock or branch. Don’t attach spotlights or lights that get hot directly to plastic fish tank canopies, rivet a piece or sheet metal or hardboard onto the plastic first and then attach the light fitting. Only use ceramic fittings as these don’t get as hot as the metal ones. Temperature is ultra important, as Dragons can’t digest their food properly at under 32ºC.
Night-time temperatures can be maintained by placing a heat pad under the glass of a fish tank, or under a piece of masonite (hardboard) in a wooden cage. Another way is to fit a red light bulb in your cage, this is suitable to use at night and wont disturb your pet. Your Adult Dragon will be fine as long as your temperature doesn't drop below 10ºC at night, but babies need it a bit warmer.
Dragons need UVB Rays from the Sun to absorb Vitamin D3, necessary to process Calcium. You can put your Dragon in a secure wire cage, in the Sun, for at least 20 hours a week, and supplement with a good Calcium powder with D3. You must place in direct Sun, not through glass, glass filter out UVB rays. Another way is to fit a 5.0 UVB Fluorescent tube into your cage. These tubes are specially made for reptiles and should be replaced every year. A new UVB light that resembles an energy saver bulb has come onto the market, it fits into a regular light fitting and is cheaper. Your Dragon will die a painful death, from MBD (metabolic bone disease) if this step is neglected. Never put a fish tank in the Sun, unless you want Roasted Dragon for supper.
Substrate (ground covering)
The only suitable substrate to use in cages is pebbles, river stones or coarse fish tank gravel. Never use sand of any kind, even if the packet says it is suitable for beardies, as this will lead to compacted gut. Use stones big enough so that the Dragon can’t accidentally eat them, and not too big so that crickets can hide under them. Pick up the Dragons mess immediately, along with surrounding stones, to avoid frequent cage cleaning. To clean stones wash them in a bleach solution, rinse, and let dry in the Sun. You need to clean your cage when it becomes smelly.
The main food item for Dragons is good quality, Gut loaded crickets. Some eat more and others less, but about 10 crickets is usually enough for an adult. (Gravid females require much more) Dust the crickets daily with a small amount of Calcium and vitamin powder. If you need to gut-load your crickets feed them on tropical fish flakes and Pronutro or baby cereal, and feed butternut or gem squash for moisture. Mealworms, silkworms and flying ants are OK in small amounts, but only for adults.
Dragons also need leaves and vegetables to be truly healthy. Suitable leaves include: Mulberry leaves, rocket, turnip leaves, mustard greens, Swiss chard (spinach), Chinese cabbage, watercress and salad herbs. Avoid regular lettuce and cabbage, except frilly lettuce and oriental cabbages. Vegetables can be grated onto the leaves, suitable ones include: butternut, broccoli, cauliflower, baby marrow, green beans and patty pans. Try to vary the leaves and veggies as much as possible.
Always have a clean water bowl in the cage at all times.
For more information order the book : The Complete Book of Bearded Dragons in South Africa, available from this web site. The book has detailed feeding sections, breeding sections and even a section on building an incubator.