If you are a newbie looking for an enclosure for your bearded dragon, you may come across the bearded dragon starter kits. These kits come in a complete package of all accessories with the tank. However, mostly it is not recommended to use starter kits because of the quality of the accessories and the tank size.
If you have bought a hatchling or a juvenile bearded dragon, the size of the tank may seem alright; however, you would later have to replace the tank, which will be stressful for your bearded dragon.
Also, the UVB lights and temperature gauges might give some problems, yet a few can be a great deal to use with minor adjustments.
Here, you’ll find some popular bearded dragon starter kit recommendations and whether or not to get a starter kit.
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Why you should never purchase a bearded dragon starter kit
While you look at the details that each of the starter kits provides and their bamboozles might be able to have you buy one; however, these starter kits aren’t as good as they look. There’s a list of reasons you shouldn’t buy these starter kits, and each of these has been listed below.
Reason#1: They feature a small tank size
The tank of a bearded dragon should be spacious enough to allow him to do his daily activities, which means the size of the tank should be twice the size of the dragon.
The first drawback of having a bearded dragon starter kit is the small-sized enclosure. These enclosures may work well for the hatchling or juvenile beardie; however, you need to change the tank after a few months as your beardie keeps growing.
As evident from the name, this starter kit may work alright for the baby beardie of about two months. However, the tank size is roughly 40 gallons which is way too small for an adult beardie.
Reason#2: Their UVB bulbs are too weak
The UVB radiations are a type of ultraviolet rays that are shorter than the UVA rays. UVA causes sunburns and cancer; however, UVB results in premature aging. The bearded dragon needs both of these radiations to keep his body functions going and good health.
In the wild, beardies get unlimited access to each of these directly from the sun. However, in captivity, you need to fix special bulbs in the cage responsible for providing these UVB rays.
UVA can be provided through any ordinary light bulb; however, for UVB, you need to have efficient Mercury vapor bulbs.
UVB exposure is very important for the beardie, as it provides vitamin D3, which is essential for the beardie to absorb its calcium.
Without D3 nutrients, beardies will be unable to absorb calcium which will result in metabolic bone disease.
The UVB lights that come with the starter kits are weak and inefficient to provide enough heat and warmth for the beardie to absorb calcium. Furthermore, they sometimes are compact fluorescent bulbs that are harmful to the eyes of your beardie.
Reason#3: They often use colored basking bulbs
Bearded dragons require white UVB light to keep on with their activities; the colored UVB lights might look attractive, yet they aren’t healthy for your beardie in the longer run.
Red or blue-colored UVB lights will also be intimidating for the bearded dragon, and you don’t want to stress them.
Reason#4: They randomly include a night light
Imagine sleeping with lights on! You didn’t like the idea of it, right? So, how can your beardie like it?
Many starter kits come with night lights, which may become stressful for your beardie. It would be amazing to see your beardie at night because of these night lights; however, these lights will disturb your beardie’s sleep and disturb his sleeping cycle, which can cause stress to your beardie.
Reason#5: They provide dangerous substrates
The substrate is the enclosure floor and is an important parameter to look at while setting up the cage for your beardie. You may have sand, newspaper, carpet, or any other suitable material for the substrate. However, some substrates are potentially harmful to the health of the bearded dragon.
Starter kits come with poor substrate choices, which have loose particles that your beardie may chew down unintentionally. Unfortunately, sand is one of the very dangerous substrates around that you must keep your beardie away from.
Reason#6: They come with cheap and inaccurate temperature and humidity gauges
The beardies love to bask around in the sun when they are in the wild. However, in captivity, the UVB lights are adjusted to have a specific temperature suitable for the beardie.
The average temperature of a beardie’s cage must be around 95F- 120F.
Very high and low temperatures result in health complications, so it’s essential to maintain the temperature in the cage. This can be done by installing thermometers and hygrometers to measure the temperature and humidity of the enclosure.
The All-in-one starter kits come with inaccurate and inefficient temperature and humidity gauges. This may result in burning down your beardie or slowing down the metabolism of the beardie, and weakening its bones by causing metabolic bone disease.
Actual must-haves for bearded dragons starter kits
After getting to know about the drawbacks of the bearded dragon starter kits, there are a few things that you must have for setting up the starter kits according to your need. Adding a few details to the starter kit will make it worth using.
Must-have #1: A large tank
The size of the tank, as mentioned earlier, should be twice the size of the bearded dragon. It’s recommended to have at least a 40 gallons tank for your juvenile or baby bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons need space to move around freely and even bask in the UVB light; a smaller tank will restrict its movements.
A bearded dragon above one year should be provided with a tank of 75 to 90 gallons; this will help the beardie grow and roam around easily.
You can use the tank with a size suitable for your bearded dragon in the starter kit to make it worth living for the beardie.
Must-have #2: White Incandescent or Halogen bulb
You can replace the colored lights of the starter kit with the white light incandescent bulbs. These bulbs provide the required amount of UVB and UVA light to your bearded dragon.
Furthermore, you can even use Mercury vapor bulbs to provide the short UVB radiation to your bearded dragon.
These bulbs are very efficient and powerful and must be placed outside the enclosure at a distance of about 24 inches from your beardie.
Must-have #3: A trusted UVB bulb or Mercury vapor bulb
Before bringing the beardie home, you must set up the enclosure with all the required parameters. Having a good UVB bulb or mercury vapor bulb for the beardie is one of the Must-haves while setting up the bearded dragon’s cage.
Because the UVB lights are essential for the beardie to produce Vitamin D3, which helps in absorbing calcium in the body of the bearded dragon.
Without good UVB light, your beardie will suffer from calcium deficiency that will result in metabolic bone disease, lethargic behavior, swollen limbs and tail, and much more.
Must-have #4: A reliable thermometer hygrometer
The hygrometer and thermometers used in the bearded dragon starter kit are inefficient and do not provide accurate measurements.
This is a serious problem as the temperature might not suit your beardie while the thermometer shows a perfect reading.
Furthermore, this deception in case of higher temperature would burn your beardie down. Very high temperatures can burn the skin of the beardie and even affect their eyes.
So for your beardie, get a digital thermometer, which provides an accurate measurement of the temperature inside the enclosure.
There are plenty of reliable and accurate thermometers and hygrometers in the market that can help you get the accurate measurement of temperatures and humidity in the tank.
Must-have #5: Non-particles based substrate
Introducing loose particles in the enclosure of your bearded dragon is very dangerous, as your beardie can chew it down the throat, which can cause health complications such as impaction.
So, you must make sure to use a solid substrate for your beardie, which cannot be ingested easily, to prevent your beardie from eating it down.
The non-particle-based substrates are also easy to clean and maintain, which will help keep the enclosure clean and hygienic.
Adding a few accessories to the enclosure of the bearded dragon will keep him happy and engaged. For the closest imitation of nature, you may add plants, natural or artificial, to make your beardie relaxed in its new habitat.
However, you must ensure to use safe plants for bearded dragons to keep your beardie’s health intact.
Now that you have enough knowledge about how you can use the bearded dragon starter kits, we’ll recommend a few worth using. But again, they are no good for adult bearded dragons.
Common bearded dragons starter kits
Zoo Med ReptiHabitat Bearded dragon Kit-40 Gallons
This bearded dragon starter kit is about 200$ with a tank size of about 40 gallons which is very suitable for bearded dragons of growing age. This kit has large water and food dishes, a thermometer, a hygrometer, a basking bulb of 100 watts, two lamp holders, and a suitable reptile carpet substrate.
You may switch the basking bulb with Repti-sun 10.0 as that will be more effective for providing UVB light for a beardie.
- This product is easy to use
- This product adds a great Value
- This product is Manufactured in United States
Exo-Terra bearded dragon habitat large
This one comes with a 20 gallons tank which is more shallow by 6 inches. Furthermore, this kit comes with an opening bearded dragon kit which consists of a lamp dome that can hold up to 160 watts, a large sand mat, a water dish of medium size, and a terrarium thermometer.
The bulb that this kit comes with is a mercury vapor bulb which is enough to provide both UVB and UVA light to your beardie according to its requirement. However, this can be improvised by adding a few live plants for bearded dragon to the terrarium.
- The Bearded Dragon Starter Kit includes:
- 20 gal long terrarium w/screen top
- Sand Mat
- Ceramic Light Fixture
- Solar Glo 125W
- Light Bracket
- Analog Thermometer
- Water & Feed Dish
- Calcium w/D3 & Multivitamin supplements
- Care Guide
Exo-Terra Glass natural Terrarium kit Nano tall
This Exo-Terra Glass terrarium is a very famous all-in-one starter kit for your bearded dragon consisting of a well-ventilated tank, closed doors to prevent your beardie from escaping the tank, and natural background to imitate nature for the comfort of your bearded dragon.
This terrarium has a waterproof raised bottom frame which helps you to use the substrate heater easily. The top of the terrarium has tubes where you can keep the feeder insects and other food items for your bearded dragon. It has a stainless steel mesh top with a sound locking system to keep your beardie safe.
However, the size of the tank is not suitable for giant bearded dragons, as they need more space to move around and thrive. Furthermore, the lamp is not very efficient, so if you are planning to get this one, you can go ahead with it by changing the lamp.
- Patented front window ventilation
- Raised bottom frame in order to fit a substrate heater
- waterproof bottom
- Escape-proof dual doors lock to prevent escape
- Closable inlets for wires and/or tubing management
Zilla reptile starter kit 10
This Zilla reptile kit is also a great choice as it comes with carpet substrate, incandescent bulbs, screen covers, thermometer and hygrometer, and two-bulb fixtures.
However, there is a night light that is not suitable for your beardie, as it can affect the sleep of the beardie and disturb his sleeping cycle, which may stress your beardie.
The substrate that comes with this kit is a reptile carpet and is very handy to clean with no danger of your beardie munching it down. However, this kit doesn’t include food and water dishes, a UVB light bulb, and a hammock which you need to purchase separately.
- An ideal habitat for desert-dwelling animals
- Size 10 glass terrarium with fresh air screen cover
- Two 5.5” Reflective Dome
- Light Fixtures
- Night Black Incandescent and White Spot Bulb
Zoo Med Day/night desert lighting kit
This one is a starter lighting kit from the Zoo Med, which includes a spot basking lamp of 75 watts and an infrared night bulb of 75 watts, ceramic socket, and aluminum dome to increase the light output up to 30%. The reflector helps it last for about 2 hours.
The night infrared bulb is best for desert dwellers and basking pets. However, the night light does disturb the beardie’s sleep, and this starter kit doesn’t include any tank. Finally, this one is very hot for a small gecko reptile.
- Complete lighting kit for “desert” species
- Mini combo deep dome lamp fixture
- Repti Basking Spot Lamp 75 watts
- Repti Sun 10.0 mini compact fluorescent lamp 13 watts
Zoo Med Lamp Combo Pack
This starter kit is just suitable for beginners because it’s easy to fit, install and use. It has a reptile UVB light and spot lamp of 75 watts, which comes with a double reflector to increase the light output by 35%. The spotlight of the combo pack can last for two hours, and its UVB light is perfect for small enclosures.
After all these, the price of this combo pack is also very economical, providing you the best starter light combos at a very affordable price. However, you need to buy the bulb fixtures separately as they don’t come with the kit. Furthermore, the bulbs that come in this kit are fragile.
- Perfect for naturalistic terrarium hoods
- Easy to install
- 50 Watt basking lamp
- Country Of Origin: China
Exo-Terra Glass natural terrarium kit short wide
This Exo-Terra Glass kit comes with a glass enclosure with doors easy to open from the front. It comes with a tank of size 30 gallons and a top which is good for ventilation. In addition to this, there are five tubes on the sides of each wall for the installment of the waterfall, sensors, or rocks.
Furthermore, this enclosure comes with a raised bottom frame suitable for using substrate heaters. It has a stainless steel cover, ample space for a small beardie, and an easy twist lock for a screen cover. However, its price is slightly higher than other starter kits, and the screen on the lid rips from plastic.
- Front window ventilation
- Dual doors for an escape-free access
- Waterproof bottom
- Stainless steel mesh cover
- Closable inlets for wires and tubing
Zilla Verticle tropical kit
This Zilla tropical kit is constructed precisely for reptiles who live on the trees. This kit comes with a halogen bulb dome, light, decor, and food dish. The tank of this kit can hold water in the bottom for about 5 inches, and an additional feature of secure doors which can be locked and hinged screen top.
This kit has temperature and humidity gauges that can help measure heat and humidity in the tank. This kit is very easy to install and is perfect for small bearded dragons, which means it can’t work for giant bearded dragons. Furthermore, the food and water dish is very small in size.
- Glass Terrarium holds up to 5” of water
- Mini Halogen Dome with light bulb
- Front opening door with locking latch and hinged screen top
- Ideal for: Tree Frogs, Crested Geckos and more
Zoo Med ReptiBreeze Open-air screen cage
This zoo Med reptibreeze, as evident from the name, is an open-air screen tank, which is well-ventilated, spacious, and allows natural light to come on for unlimited approach to UVA and UVB light. In addition, it has two doors, one at the front and another one at the bottom, which allows the removal of the substrate.
This kit can easily be fixed by using a screwdriver, and the maintenance is pretty easy too.
- All hardware included
- easy to assemble using only a screw driver
- Easy access
- Easy to clean
Commonly asked questions about the starter kit
What is the tank size of the bearded dragon?
The tank size of the bearded dragon varies according to the age of the beardie. A baby or juvenile bearded dragon must have at least 20- 50 gallons tank, whereas an adult beardie needs a tank of size 50-75 gallons. Bearded dragons above two years should have a tank of size 75-120 gallons.
What type of light bulbs for bearded dragon starter kits?
You can use mercury vapor bulbs to provide both UVB and UVA light radiations to your bearded dragon.
What can I set up at the bottom of the bearded dragon cage?
The bottom of the bearded dragon must have flooring, which is called a substrate. You can use any solid substrate which not ingestable by your beardie; there are many options that you can have as a substrate. You may use newspaper, reptile carpet, or any other solid sheet substrate as the enclosure floor.
How can I provide diet and water for my bearded dragon?
You can provide food and water in a dish or bowl to your bearded dragon. The food must include insects as proteins and other greens and salads to provide essential nutrients to your bearded dragon.
If you’re a beginner and just getting to set up the enclosure for your beardie, you may come across the starter kits, which seem to be a great choice; however, these starter kits are not as good as they seem to be.
We recommend investing in a stand-alone enclosure. You can see our list of recommended cages for bearded dragons.
But if you still get your hands on a starter kit, you can make essential changes such as changing the tank, utensils, substrate, or the light bulb according to the need of the beardie to make the kit a perfect fit for your needs.
Finally, take your time searching and inquiring about every detail about bearded dragons before bringing them home. This will save you and your beardie from any sort of stress.