Can I Take My Bearded Dragon Outside?
A common question we hear is can I take my bearded dragon outside and is it safe to do so? The answer to both theses questions is yes. But much will depend on where you live.
It’s good to give your bearded dragon some natural UV rays from the sun. Taking your bearded dragon outside will also provide them with additional stimulation and exercise.
Before taking your bearded dragon or any other reptile outside, there are two factors which need consideration. First is the Climate where you live and the daily temperature. Second is the Environment.
Climate and outside Temperature
The climate in which you live should be the biggest factor when deciding on taking your bearded dragon outside or not. For the colder, wetter climates temperatures often will not get warm enough. The arid, desert and tropical regions will not have a problem with temperatures being warm enough they may however be too hot and you should provide shade or somewhere cooler to retreat to. For those who live in a temperate climate, the weather is extremely changeable and have distinct seasons. The winter months will generally be too cold but late spring through to early autumn will reach some good temperatures even in the UK on occasions.
Micro-climate – are small areas in which the temperature is greater than the surrounding area. for example an enclosed or sheltered area can become a sun trap generating temperatures up to 11f / 6 degrees higher.
Where ever you live you should be guided by the daily temperatures.
First you will need to make the environment safe for them. You don’t just open the door and let your bearded dragon wander off outside.
So what can I do to make the outside environment safe and secure for my bearded dragons? The same principles will apply to other reptiles you have, for example iguanas and monitors.
You will want to make the environment as safe as practically possible. Make sure the area that your bearded dragon will be in is free from debris and rubbish including sharp objects, broken glass, exposed nails etc. Check that there are no holes or burrows that they could get stuck in or be used as an escape route.
You will also need to provide them with somewhere to hide as they may feel vulnerable and threatened when outside. The hide can also provide them somewhere to keep cool if its too hot. Just the same as we provide them in their vivarium.
When it comes to predators a lot will depend on where you live. Many countries will have wild snakes other reptiles and predatory mammals, all will not think twice about feasting on your beardie. Even domesticated cats will pose a threat, not to mention predatory birds. If predators are a worry don’t leave them unattended not even for a short time. Use an enclosed outdoor run with a lid as this will minimize predator attacks. Jump to outdoor enclosures
Ticks and parasites
Taking your bearded dragon outside increases the risk of exposure to parasites. this is mainly because beaded dragons check out their environment with their tongues. Increasing the risk of ingesting nasties. Do not let this deter you from taking your beaded dragon outside but your beardie should have regular fecal checks. Deworming may be required.
Ticks and mites can be picked up from outside, they are easily transferred from one bearded dragon to another. Ticks and mites can be seen moving between the scales and fold of skin. Treatment will require anti parasitic medication either applied to the skin or orally – be advised by your vet. After treatment the vivarium will require a thorough disinfection to prevent re-infestation.
Reptile Leads, Leashes and Harnesses
Leads and harnesses have for a while now been used to securely take out the larger lizards such as the monitors and iguanas. Harnesses are now becoming a popular choice among bearded dragons owners.
Theses are good if you have an open space and want to walk or sit with your beardie and still allowing them freedom to roam around without them running off or hiding away.
They are relatively inexpensive around £5 – £15 and roughly the same in Dollars. Available in various colours and designs some even come with wings! Harnesses come in a range of sizes too so you will need to roughly measure your reptile before ordering.
The harnesses are simple in design yet effective. Made up from a small piece of material with two holes cut out. This is placed on the underside of the reptile and the front leg put through the holes. It is secured on the back with a drawstring fastening bead. The lead can be attached to the back fastening loop if it hasn’t already been prefixed.
Leads leashes and harnesses for you bearded dragons are sold on Amazon, eBay, and pet stores.
If you don’t think that a lead is a good option for you and your beardie, or you are worried about opportunist predators. An outdoor enclosure of some kind might be worth considering……….
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Outdoor Enclosures Suitable For a Bearded Dragon
When it comes to outdoor enclosure you have two options….Buy one or make your own.
What do I buy as an outdoor enclosure for my bearded dragon?
When doing an internet search for outdoors reptile enclosures the options are limited. Often the results are suited to tortoises which aren’t ideal for bearded dragons or any other larger lizard you may want an outdoor enclosure for.
When buying its a good idea to think outside the box, not only will this give you more options but more importantly can save you money!!
As mentioned enclosures for bearded dragons (or any lizard) are limited in choice. So my advice is to search instead for a more conventional pets outdoor run. Do a search for small animal run or outdoor enclosure and your options will widen. Rabbit, guinea pig or rat runs for example are ideal for bearded dragons and there is plenty of choice in design and style. And because rabbits and guinea pigs are main stream pets accessories are often much cheaper.
Another alternative for use as an outdoor reptile enclosure are animal play pens. Many are foldable, for easy storage when not in use. Also available in various size aimed for a variety of animals from rabbits to large dogs. Most pens are made from either galvanised steel or polypropylene (which is a durable, rigid plastic).
Animal play pens
Standard style metal play pen
Pros: These are portable, much cheaper and simpler in design than than the runs. They are durable, made up of galvanised steel railings and crossbars. They fold down flat when not in use.
Cons: The fact that they are available in a variety of sizes can prove problematic. It is extremely important to check the distance of the railings and crossbar gaps. They will need to be narrow enough to not allow your beardie to escape. They don’t come with a lid or top cover which will be needed if predators are a concern or if your beardie loves to climb. This could be remedied by fixing some netting over the top some pens are available with a top cover. See folding pet enclosure.
Verdict I personally would not choose to this option I feel the animal play pen would provide more problems than it would solve.
Polypropylene interlocking animal play pen
Pros: Portable and adjustable, These are great and can be added to and built to your needs. Due to the sides being smooth your lizard will be unable to climb out.
Cons: The only concern I would have if its made too small the material could turn your dragons play pen in to a sweat box. Again there is no top protection, you could always use some of the panels could be used to make a partial roof and the rest cover as necessary with netting. See interlocking plastic animal play pen.
Verdict: I think these are a better alternative that the metal play pen, mainly because of the escape issue. These are easy and fun to put together. The larger sizes would be preferable this would allow better air circulation, although the bigger sizes would be more expensive. You can save on panels by not using them as a floor base.
Outdoor Enclosure / Run
example of styles available:
Collapsible/ Foldable –
These are great for several reasons,
They are space saving – and can be folded down and stored away when not being used.
The foldability makes it portable. Easy to use inside and well as outside and great if you like to take your little buddy on vacation. Fold it up and away you go!!
It has a top cover.
There are many different styles and sizes available to buy. The picture shows an enclosure for intended use as a chicken coop but is in fact ideal for out door use for a bearded dragon or similar sized reptiles.
If you wanting to go all out and give your beardie something really fancy this has it all, this very elaborate small animal enclosure has A good sized run with some where to hide or cool off!
This house with run is reasonably priced around the price as the chicken coop shown above.
Verdict: I think that any of theses outdoor runs intended for smaller animals are great, they are available in different style and sizes and multi level. To buy new prices can vary considerably. There is definitely something for every budget. The important thing to remember the gaps between the wires are small enough to keep beardie in and predators out!
Smaller Enclosures / Cages
If you live somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of outside space or the space you have is not safe enough (for example you live in a flat / apartment with a balcony) then it may not be practical use the other options mentioned. Don’t let that put you off taking your bearded dragon outside. There is an alternative….
This is where the smaller options come in, although your beardie wont have the space to explore they will however get the benefits of being outside in the natural sunlight.
Again as for the other enclosures don’t search reptiles instead search small animals. In particular indoor rabbit hutch , hamster, rat, guinea pig or gerbil cage.
A smaller cage like these also have other benefits and uses. These work well if you bearded dragon is afraid of being outside. They are portable and have a deep bottom and a wire top. The bottom of these cages can be used to bathe your lizard in. They make excellent transport vessels if you need to take your scaly buddy to the vet for example or somewhere safe to keep them while your cleaning out the vivarium.
If you like the idea of recycling and you don’t mind using something that has been pre-loved. Buying a used enclosure will save you money or may even be free. Again search for small animal runs, rabbit or guinea pig runs /enclosures, chicken coops etc.
When buying used and pre-owned the condition will vary as will the price. Before buying used items give them a good check over making sure that the run will be fit for purpose.
What to look for
- Check the gaps both vertical and horizontally are small enough so your lizard cannot escape through the gaps.
- Check for holes or rotten areas, any broken wires or rusty areas.
- If you find that it has defects that need fixing before use; only buy if your sure you can fix them. You will be wasting your hard earned cash on something not fit for purpose!
Make your own Bearded Dragon Outdoor Enclosure
If you are DIY inclined , enjoy a project and / or (the best bit) want to save money then make your own.
Making your own enclosure is not necessarily the cheapest option especially if you need to buy all the tools and materials. If you already have the tools and materials making your own outdoor lizard run / enclosure will only cost you your time.
Things to consider before construction.
- Decide what type, shape and length of run you want
- Decide if you want fixed or collapsible/ foldable
- If predators are a concern you will need to make a lid. Having a lid will also prevent your bearded dragon from climbing out.
What will I need to make an outdoor run for my bearded dragon?
- Wooden panels
- Beading optional
- Chicken wire or similar
- Staple gun and staples
- Wood tacks
- Hinges optional
- Saw and tape measure if wood not already pre-cut
How to custom make your own bearded dragon outdoor enclosure video coming soon………