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 décor 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.
For more information on the importance of enrichment for bearded dragons, check out my video on providing enrichment for lizards:
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. They use their hide when they want to escape the heat, are looking for some extra humidity, are brumating, or simply want a protected place to take a nap.
Another reason I like cork bark logs is that they can double as a hide and a basking platform.
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 drought- and heat-tolerant live plants I recommend for use in bearded dragon enclosures:
- Air plant (Tillandsia)
- Carex grass
- Elephant bush
- Festuca grass
- Hens and chicks (Echeveria)
- Ice Plant
- Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
- Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia danicolor) (spineless)
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 high-PAR 6500K plant grow light to your lighting setup (I 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 décor, you’ll find a goldmine. This is a fulfilling way to make a natural-looking enclosure for your beardie that is deceptively lightweight!
If you’re not particularly crafty (like me), you can also purchase surprisingly realistic-looking pre-made foam décor from brands like Custom Reptile Habitats.
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.
Are hammocks safe for bearded dragons?
Hammocks have become something of a standard piece of décor for bearded dragon enclosures, but just because something is a standard doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s best practice. And in this case, it turns out that hammocks are largely NOT safe for bearded dragons.
Aside from the fact that they make a lousy basking surface, they’re also a safety hazard. Through their widespread use, it’s become clear that woven-style hammocks are capable of trapping bearded dragon nails, toes, and even whole limbs. When the dragon tries to free itself, the resulting struggle can lead to broken nails at best (ow) and broken limbs at worst (much bigger OUCH!). This doesn’t happen to every bearded dragon with a hammock, but it is possible, so it’s safer just to omit this piece of décor entirely.
However, an exception to this rule are fabric hammocks that don’t have holes big enough to cause problems. However, because they’re made from a porous material, they’re quite capable of harboring bacteria, so you’ll have to be very diligent about washing and disinfecting the hammock every time it gets soiled.
Bearded dragons like hammocks because they like to climb and get up high to survey the surrounding terrain. You can accommodate this preference just fine without a hammock with climbing objects such as sturdy branches and magnetic ledges.
How to Clean Bearded Dragon Décor
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 soak them in a veterinary-grade disinfectant that is safe for use with porous surfaces, like Clean Break or F10SC. (Make sure to pay attention to the product’s recommended dilution and contact time so it’ll actually work!) This prevents parasites and diseases from spreading from one reptile to another.
What does bearded dragon habitat look like?
The best way to brainstorm how to arrange your bearded dragon terrarium is to simply look at photos of their habitat in the wild! After all, these animals were shaped by the landscape that they evolved to thrive in.
Bearded Dragon Terrarium Design Ideas
Custom Reptile Habitats offers an absolutely gorgeous décor 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.