If you are a newbie looking for an enclosure for your bearded dragon, you may have came across the bearded dragon starter kits. These kits come in a complete package of all accessories with the tank. However, these kits are mostly not recommended 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.
In this article we will explain why getting a bearded dragon starter kit might be a bad idea. We will also list a few of the famous start kits.
Why are bearded dragon starter kits bad?
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.
Reason#1: They feature a small tank size
The tank of a bearded dragon should be spacious enough to support their daily activities.
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 will need to change the tank after a few months as your beardie grows.
Most of the starter kits come with a 40 gallon tank which is enough to house a baby or juvenile dragon. However, its too small to house an adult beardie.
For adult bearded dragons you will need 120 gallon tank.
Reason#2: Their UVB bulbs are too weak
Bearded dragons, like many other reptiles, require UVB light to produce vitamin D3, which helps the body absorb calcium. Calcium is essential for a healthy skeleton and overall health. Without access to UVB light, bearded dragons can develop metabolic bone disease, which can be fatal if left untreated.
The UVB lights that come with the starter kits are mostly weak and inefficient to provide enough heat and warmth for the beardie to absorb calcium.
Reason#3: They often use colored basking bulbs
Basking light is a heat source that provides warmth to the reptiles. The warm temperature is necessary for digestion and metabolism.
Having a colored light bulb, like blue or red, in your bearded dragon’s tank may seem visually appealing, but it could actually harm your pet in the long term.
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. These lights might look appealing to us however, it will disturb disturb their sleeping cycle, which can cause stress.
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. There are a wide range of substrates available that are used for beardies. However, some substrates are potentially harmful to bearded dragons.
Starter kits often come with loose particle substrates that your beardie may chew down unintentionally.
Reason#6: They come with cheap and inaccurate temperature and humidity gauges
Keeping your bearded dragon healthy requires a stable and controlled environment in its tank. This means that you need to invest in accurate thermometer and hygrometer tools to measure temperature and humidity.
But beware, starter kits often provide the cheapest options and are often unreliable. The stick-on dials that come with these kits have been known to be off by a significant 20 degrees, which is far from accurate.
Don’t risk your bearded dragon’s health by relying on these unreliable gages. Instead, invest in more trustworthy and accurate temperature and humidity measuring tools.
If you still want to buy a starter kit after reading the above then you must read the following too.
Actual must-haves for bearded dragons starter kits
After getting to know about the drawbacks of the bearded dragon starter kits, let’s explore what you should have in a starter kit for your bearded dragon! With the following recommendations, you can create a suitable and comfortable habitat for your pet to not just exist but flourish in.
Must-have #1: A large tank
As we mentioned earlier, we recommend getting a 40 gallon breeder tank for your baby or juvenile bearded dragon. This size of tank provides ample space for your pet to grow and move around comfortably.
However, if you have a full-grown bearded dragon that’s 18 months or older, a 75-120 gallon tank is the better choice in the long run. Many people still recommend a 40 gallon tank for an adult beardie but we think its way too small to house a full grown beardie.
Pro Tip: These tanks are excellent choices for your bearded dragon to live in throughout its entire life. While they may come with a higher price tag, they are made from high-quality materials that can withstand the test of time. Your beardie will never outgrow, outwear, or get tired of them.
Must-have #2: White Incandescent or Halogen bulb
Instead of spending on fancy colorful bulbs, opt for the good old-fashioned bright white incandescent or halogen bulbs for your bearded dragon. These bulbs are easily available at any hardware store, or even at big box stores like Walmart or Target. And the best part is, they are cost-effective and an essential component of your bearded dragon’s healthy setup.
If you need any help choosing the right lighting for your bearded dragon’s tank, don’t worry! You can always refer to our comprehensive lighting guide to get all the information you need. So, make sure to prioritize your bearded dragon’s health and happiness by providing the right lighting!
Must-have #3: A trusted UVB bulb or Mercury vapor bulb
Getting the right UVB bulb for your bearded dragon tank is very important to ensure your pet stays healthy and avoids developmental delays, especially if they are still young.
Many first-time owners face confusion and struggle to choose the best option. As a result, they often settle for substandard bulbs that can have a negative impact on their bearded dragons. Therefore, it is essential to select the correct UVB bulb to avoid making the same mistake as most beginners.
Must-have #4: A reliable thermometer hygrometer
Most of the bearded dragon starter kits come with a thermometer and hygrometer but unfortunately, they’re not always reliable. To ensure your dragon is living their best life, it’s best to invest in a thermometer and hygrometer that you can trust.
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 bearded dragons and even affect their eyes.
You should get a high quality 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
Never use loose particles substrates in bearded dragon tanks , as your beardie can chew it down the throat, which can cause health complications such as impaction.
There are a wide range of solid substrate available for your beardie, which cannot be ingested easily, to prevent your beardie from eating it down. Plus, they’re typically pretty affordable, so you won’t break the bank trying to keep your pet healthy.
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 bearded dragon relaxed in its new habitat.
However, you must ensure to use safe plants for bearded dragons to keep them away from harm.
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 baby and juvenile bearded dragons. 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
You can use mercury vapor bulbs to provide both UVB and UVA light radiations 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.