In the wild, your bearded dragon would cover a lot of terrain. There would never be a concern about droppings accumulating in her living area. In captivity, however, your dragon has much less space, even if she has a large cage. In order to keep your dragon happy and healthy, her cage will require daily maintenance as well as extensive regular cleaning.
Because bearded dragons are large lizards with a varied diet, they can be somewhat more intensive to clean up after compared to small reptiles. If you would rather not have much daily cleaning to do, consider a smaller lizard that produces less waste for the size of the cage, like a small anole lizard. If you do decide that it is worth it to you to have a bearded dragon, keep in mind that daily maintenance will be a part of your life together.
Learn about the daily maintenance that is required for your dragon, including cleaning up leftovers and spot cleaning substrate and decor. Find out what tasks will be required weekly and monthly to keep your dragon as healthy as possible, including how to clean different types of substrate and cage decorations.
Daily maintenance is essential to your dragon’s health and happiness. Cleaning keeps the room that your dragon’s cage is in pleasant to be in. Learn how to clean up leftovers, spot clean substrate, and deal with messes on decorations every day.
Weekly cleaning keeps your dragon’s cage in good shape between the monthly cleanings and is also a good chance for your dragon to take a bath while you clean up her cage. This ritual may not take a long time, but it is important to adhere to it.
Monthly cleaning is a catch-all to make sure that no bacteria or other pests are developing within your dragon’s cage. If you miss a weekly cleaning or have not been as good about daily maintenance as you should be, monthly cleaning gets you back to a baseline.
Every dragon’s cage requires some daily maintenance. The way that you have your dragon’s cage setup will affect the ease of daily cleaning. Like most birds and reptiles, dragons produce a dropping that contains both hard components and liquid. The droppings have a strong smell and will rapidly make your dragon’s cage, as well as the room that the cage is in, smell very bad. This, along with the possibility of attracting pests or growing mold, is why it is so essential to clean out the cage every day.
Clean up Leftovers
Your dragon will probably not eat everything that goes into her bowl. Most dragons pick and choose among the fruits and vegetables offered to them. Since dragons will develop new tastes as they age, it is important to continue offering a wide variety of fruits and vegetables even if your dragon rejects most of them. Most dragons eat every insect presented to them, but there may still be some dead insects or parts of insect left over after meal time. For this reason, most days will include cleaning up the leftovers. Don’t leave foods for more than one day. If your dragon rejected something the first day she probably won’t eat it once it has been sitting around for a day. You should remove all foods that are not eaten every day.
Spot Cleaning Substrate
It is essential that you remove your dragon’s dropping every day. This makes sure that disease does not develop and keeps the cage smells fresh between cleanings. If your dragon is housed on reptile sand, it is relatively easy to remove droppings. Simply scoop them out with a slotted spoon similar to cleaning a cat’s litter box.
If you are using paper, clean up is also simple. Just pick up the affected pieces of paper and lay down new ones. Reptile carpet can be a little more difficult to spot clean. You may be able to lift droppings off of the carpet or scrub them off with a little bit of water mixed with vinegar. It may be easier to simply have several carpets available. You can switch them out every day, and clean them weekly or monthly.
Spot Cleaning Decor
Natural decor is valuable to your dragon. Decorations make her home more engaging and attractive. They also provide natural surfaces on which to wear down nails and offer opportunities for exercise. Decor can be a challenge to clean, however, especially natural materials like wood and porous stone. can be You can clean off smooth, hard decorations with a weak solution of vinegar and water.
Decorations that cannot be easily wiped off must be removed and washed in dilute bleach and soapy water. Make sure to try them thoroughly before putting decor back in the cage. Provide a basking area composed of easy to clean material like smooth stone or plastic. This is where your dragon will leave most of her droppings. If you have lots of wood or porous decorations, it may be a good idea to have spare decorations. You can place them into the cage while other decorations soak in a cleaning solution.
Once a week you should remove your dragon from her cage so you can clean more thoroughly. This is a great opportunity to give your dragon a weekly bath. Never leave your dragon unattended unless she can easily get out of the shallow water in the bathing container. While your dragon is occupied, you can remove all of the decorations from the cage and inspect and clean them thoroughly if necessary.
You can also wash the food and water dish in soapy dilute bleachy water. Depending on your substrate, you may want to change out the substrate at this time, clean it completely, or spot clean it. Sand can be thoroughly sifted for scraps or droppings that have been missed. If sand still has an odor after a thorough weekly cleaning, it may be time for a more complete monthly cleaning of the sand.
Change out paper completely. Wipe up any droppings that have leaked through with a solution of vinegar and water. Use vinegar nad water to clean up droppings on the sides of glass. If you use a reptile carpet, this is a good time to take out the carpet and clean it thoroughly.
Once a month remove everything so the entire aquarium can be thoroughly disinfected. This is important for preventing the build-up of debris which can lead to bacteria or other problems. If something undesirable has started to grow in your dragon’s cage, the monthly cleaning will destroy it. Monthly cleaning makes sure that your dragon has a perfectly clean cage.
If you are using sand as a substrate, you can clean it by rinsing thoroughly with fresh water and then soaking in a mild bleach solution. Thoroughly rinse and completely dry sand before returning it to the cage. You may find this process more laborious than is worth it and choose to simply replace sand every time that you clean the cage.
Reptile carpets can be soaked in a bleach and water solution to thoroughly break loose and clean anything that has been stuck and escaped weekly spot cleanings. Whatever substrate you use remove it completely so that you can thoroughly wipe down the entire aquarium with a bleach and water solution. This solution will kill anything that has been developing in the cage. Make sure that the cage is completely dry and free of any odor before returning your dragon to it.
Decor can be soaked in a bleach solution or baked in the oven for about 30 minutes at around 300 degrees in order to eliminate any bacteria or pests that are growing on it. You should soak even your smooth and plastic decorations which normally are sufficiently cleaned with just a wipe down. Bacteria and viruses can hide in even the smallest nooks and crannies, so a thorough clean is better.
It is essential in all of your cleaning that you remember that your dragon is very susceptible to chemicals. Even the odor of chemicals can do serious damage to your dragon. Keep her far away from everything that you are using to clean. Make sure that everything that she will come into contact with is thoroughly rinsed and dried.
Cleaning is probably not the first thing you think of when you are excited about getting a new pet. The daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning regiment that you will need to follow in order to keep your new pet healthy is a very important consideration. Bearded dragons do not need as much care as the average dog or even cat. That said, daily cleaning, along with feeding, will take up some time every day.
One of the reasons that bearded dragons and other reptiles are so attractive as pets is because they do not get our spaces dirty. Instead, they live in their own space. This means you won’t need to worry about cleaning up after your bearded dragon in your home. It also means that it is much more important that you make sure your bearded dragon’s cage is clean. After all, she has no choice but to be in it. Carefully choose your substrate and decorations to make cleaning easier. Remember that if your dragon’s cage has a smell, it needs to be cleaned.