As you create an indoor habitat for your bearded dragon, keep in mind that Pogona vitticeps is native to eastern central Australia, where its habitat spans desert and grassland. That being said, there are so many options when it comes to bearded dragon decorations. Some people (like myself) prefer to respect the bearded dragon’s origins with desert theme. Others prefer a more tropical look. And still others like to turn their beardie’s home into something of a dollhouse. *shrug* The most important thing for you to do is
- make sure it can accommodate a bearded dragon’s temperature, UV, and humidity requirements
- make sure it’s dragon-safe
- decorate it appropriate for your dragon’s exercise and spacial needs
- choose furnishings that fit your taste
Good decorations make a terrarium look cool, but they’re also important for exercise, mental stimulation, and helping keep your bearded dragon healthy. In zoos, enclosure decor and “toys” are called enrichment items. A common misconception that modern reptile husbandry experts are working to remove is that reptiles are stupid creatures that do not need “toys” or “decorations” beyond their keeper’s fancy. I encourage you to review the importance of enrichment for reptiles in this article: Environmental Enrichment For Reptiles ; What? Why? and How…?
If you want ideas, visit ReptiFiles’ Pinterest page. I pin all kinds of stuff there on reptile enclosures and decorating them. It’s like planning my dream home — except it’s my dream reptile room. 😉
This is one of the bearded dragon decorations you can’t go without, because it helps your beardie find the perfect basking temperature. Bearded dragons also like to climb for exercise, so providing a basking fixture is perfect. Personally I really like using a cork bark log for this.
Bearded dragons need a place to hide out when they want to be left alone. This typically means one of three things.
- S/he is brumating. This is a pseudo-hibernation that most bearded dragons go through. More information in my future post about bearded dragon health.
- S/he wants to nap.
- S/he is shedding and feeling miserably itchy.
- S/he is sick.
Another reason I like cork bark logs is that they double as a hide and a basking fixture, freeing up floor space for my beardies to run around.
Bearded dragons have a strange but compelling love for hammocks. Some people use them for basking, but they also make great places for your dragon to just hang out.
Yes, bones. The man we bought our bearded dragons from used sterilized, dry cow bones he found in the wilderness to decorate his terrarium, and let me tell you—it looked cool.
Flagstone is a cheap, natural material with a plethora of uses in your dragon’s enclosure. Its rough texture makes it excellent for keeping claws filed down without inhibiting climbing ability. It also absorbs heat very well, making a perfect basking area when placed under the heat lamp. A word of caution, though: flagstone is heavy and large pieces can be difficult to handle.
If you want to include some green in your bearded dragon’s enclosure, it’s best to use live plants rather than artificial alternatives. Bearded dragons tend to try to eat anything green, so accidentally ingesting an artificial leaf or piece of toxic plant can be harmful or even deadly. Here are the some live plants recommended for use in bearded dragon enclosures:
- Air plant (Tillandsia)
- Carex grass
- Elephant bush
- Festuca grass
- Hens and chicks (Echeveria)
- Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
- Mint (Mentha)
- Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia danicolor) (spineless)
- Spineless agave
- Turtle vine (Callisia repens)
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, but still want to use live plants, The Bio Dude sells handy bearded dragon-specific plant packs here.
Keep in mind that having live plants in your enclosure will raise the ambient humidity. Many keepers choose to plant them on the cool side of the enclosure to create a humidity gradient alongside the temperature gradient. For best results, add a 6500K bulb to your lighting setup (we recommend the Arcadia Jungle Dawn LED) to keep the plants healthy by giving them the specific kind of light that they need to thrive.
If you go onto YouTube and search for tutorials on building reptile enclosures and decor, you’ll find a goldmine. This is a fulfilling way to make a natural-looking enclosure for your beardie that is deceptively lightweight. Eventually I will attempt this.
Backgrounds are a fun way to get rid your terrarium’s sterile-looking white walls. Or worse, glass and the cords hanging around in plain sight! You can make your own with foam, or buy a poster to mount behind. PetBackdrops.com has a wide selection of image-based backgrounds, but if you’re looking for something in 3D, you can’t go wrong with Universal Rocks.
How to Sterilize Natural Decor
Naturally-sourced bearded dragon decorations should be sterilized before use. For wood, stone, and bone, pop them in the oven between 200-250 degrees for 30 minutes. If you’re sterilizing wood, soak it first so it won’t catch fire. In the end your kitchen will smell terrible, but you won’t have to worry about weird bugs in your terrarium.
If you’re getting your supplies secondhand, take some time to clean them with a hot, soapy bleach or vinegar solution. This prevents parasites and diseases from spreading from one reptile to another.
Bearded Dragon Terrarium Design Ideas
Custom Reptile Habitats offers an absolutely gorgeous decor kit for bearded dragons and other arid reptiles housed in 4’x2’x2′ enclosures. If you want a ridiculously easy way to create a zoo-quality habitat for your pet, then this is the kit for you. The kit can be purchased here.