Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habitat

Discuss substrates, lighting, heating, enclosure building ideas, share enclosure photos, and talk about any other enclosure-related topics.

Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habitat

Postby kingofnobbys » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:55 am

Very common for people (including Australian bearded dragon keepers and breeders - most of who never venture into the interior to see for themselves) to assume the natural habitat of central and rankins bearded dragons looks like the Sahara or the sandy deserts in middle east or in the high plains of the USA (in the Rocky's rain shadow). This is wrong . Very little of the natural range bearded dragons are found in is actually genuine sandy desert (maybe 5%).

Overview of natural ranges of Pogona
Image

This will help put the range of habitats in the natural range of central bearded dragons (and Rankins) into context .

Image
Total natural range for Central & Rankins Bearded dragons is approx. 4 million square km out of a total 7.7 million square kilometers (for Australian continent). Less than 300,000 square km of "sandy" desert , so less than 10% of the natural range is even remotely sandy.

Very little of it is sandy (like the Sahara) and none of it calcium sands.

Mostly the soil is ancient highly weathered clays .... known as bull dust. Dry it's like concrete.
Overview of habitats in Australia
Image
No fuel => sandy desert and bluffs.

Overview of grasslands in Australia
Image

So to address this misconception here are some scientific facts about the vegetation, climate and natural "soils" bearded dragons have evolved to thrive on , the studies are centred around Alice Springs which is close to central beardie GZ.

This is typical of flat landscape that is found in the natural habitat of bearded dragons :
Image
Note the crowbar laying on the ground behind the man digging, a crowbar is needed to break the soil to make digging possible.
The grass is a tough arid resistant grass called spinifex , the soils are highly weathered sandy clays, often rich in iron but poor in organic content.
There are also drought tolerant trees , mainly acacia and mallee


You might get a good look using sandstone boulders (I'm sure you can find these at any garden centre as lots of people buy these to add borders around flower beds and to landscape, like some of these https://anlscape.com.au/Products/sandst ... e-flagging
and https://anlscape.com.au/Products/sandst ... -bush-rock.

As to material to go under these and around them - that's tougher - maybe clay mixed mixed red ochre , mix with water and mold to shape and let air dry …. must be completely air dried (not baked) this will be close to the soil centrals encounter in their natural range.

Here is scientific information about what you SHOULD be trying to reproduce to have the enclosure as authentic as possible.
For those who want bioactive substrates : sorry - not likely to work using substrates that will be close as possible to authentic.

http://www.territorystories.nt.gov.au/j ... _Creek.pdf
scroll to page p50 and you'll see several examples of the natural habitat in the natural range of central bearded dragons.
Sumarised here
Image

Red stained tilers grout between the boulders and slabs is probably the best bet....lay it fill gaps and let it set and harden , very durable and impervious.
Last edited by kingofnobbys on Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:43 am, edited 8 times in total.
CBDs: Puff (M)(RIP 10Dec2015 @ 3.2 yrs old (aneurism)),Rex (F)(RIP 16Mar2017 @ 4.6 yrs old,Toothless (M)(sudden unexplained death RIP 26Nov2017) @ 2.1 yrs old.Peppa (F) (born 15Nov2015).
EBTSs : George & Mildred (born july 2010).
EWSs : Lucky (M)(wild juvenile), cat attack rescue, fatal SI RIP 21Jul2010.Wriggles (F)(rescued injured),thought she was a big lizard, 7-8 yrs old, died in her sleep, RIP 2Feb2016). Fluffy (F) rescued 14Nov2017 about 4 yrs old . .
kingofnobbys
BD.org Addict
 
Posts: 9215
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 10:56 pm
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Re: Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habita

Postby CooperDragon » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:33 pm

Good info. I wanted to confirm this and tack on with some photos I took in the Adelaide Hills while I was doing some lighting research (and looking for wild dragons). This is in the southern part of their range but they are found in the hills on the outskirts of the city and also in the vineyards nearby. The soil is a hard packed red clay with rocks and grass and leaf litter all over.

[Click image to enlarge]


[Click image to enlarge]


[Click image to enlarge]


[Click image to enlarge]
* this one isn't mine. It was posted by Kay Brothers in McLaren Vale. Wild dragon in their rosemary. They also reported that one got picked up in their harvester. He was OK but upset about it.
Image
User avatar
CooperDragon
BD.org Sicko
 
Posts: 22273
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:41 am
Location: Iowa City, IA

Re: Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habita

Postby kingofnobbys » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:09 pm

Been there , nice area , and I've seen wild centrals when I was there (on holiday), even saw some in local parks in Adelaide as well as Water Dragons.
Last edited by kingofnobbys on Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
CBDs: Puff (M)(RIP 10Dec2015 @ 3.2 yrs old (aneurism)),Rex (F)(RIP 16Mar2017 @ 4.6 yrs old,Toothless (M)(sudden unexplained death RIP 26Nov2017) @ 2.1 yrs old.Peppa (F) (born 15Nov2015).
EBTSs : George & Mildred (born july 2010).
EWSs : Lucky (M)(wild juvenile), cat attack rescue, fatal SI RIP 21Jul2010.Wriggles (F)(rescued injured),thought she was a big lizard, 7-8 yrs old, died in her sleep, RIP 2Feb2016). Fluffy (F) rescued 14Nov2017 about 4 yrs old . .
kingofnobbys
BD.org Addict
 
Posts: 9215
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 10:56 pm

Re: Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habita

Postby CooperDragon » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:59 am

I don't know how familiar you are with the hills on the outskirts of town. The top two pictures are from Morialta park. The third one is in Cleland park just a bit below the summit of Mt Lofty. It's cool you got to see them in the wild. I didn't see any when I was there. The parks around CBD are pretty great though. I saw lots of wild parrots.
Image
User avatar
CooperDragon
BD.org Sicko
 
Posts: 22273
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:41 am
Location: Iowa City, IA

Re: Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habita

Postby kingofnobbys » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:26 pm

CooperDragon wrote:I don't know how familiar you are with the hills on the outskirts of town. The top two pictures are from Morialta park. The third one is in Cleland park just a bit below the summit of Mt Lofty. It's cool you got to see them in the wild. I didn't see any when I was there. The parks around CBD are pretty great though. I saw lots of wild parrots.


I've been to all those places, even the more hard to get to places requiring a 4x4 ( drove in on some difficult fire trails and stock routes (places the usual tourist never sees and where sometimes only 3 wheels are touching the ground occasionally) , and some long hikes) …. yes it's parrot paradise there !
Been to places where wild life never saw a human before and are more curious about you than scared of you.
CBDs: Puff (M)(RIP 10Dec2015 @ 3.2 yrs old (aneurism)),Rex (F)(RIP 16Mar2017 @ 4.6 yrs old,Toothless (M)(sudden unexplained death RIP 26Nov2017) @ 2.1 yrs old.Peppa (F) (born 15Nov2015).
EBTSs : George & Mildred (born july 2010).
EWSs : Lucky (M)(wild juvenile), cat attack rescue, fatal SI RIP 21Jul2010.Wriggles (F)(rescued injured),thought she was a big lizard, 7-8 yrs old, died in her sleep, RIP 2Feb2016). Fluffy (F) rescued 14Nov2017 about 4 yrs old . .
kingofnobbys
BD.org Addict
 
Posts: 9215
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 10:56 pm
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Re: Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habita

Postby PaulaO » Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:23 pm

Thank you so much for this information! I live in the Great Smoky Mountains (part of the Appalachian Mountains) so I see green everywhere. Went to Phoenix once. It was 113F / 45C. I'll take my humidity, thank you!

What plants would you suggest would work in a dragon tank? I've read the aloe is good (can take the heat). And agave. What about a grass? I know the dirt of the plant would need to be covered and watering to happen outside the tank.
User avatar
PaulaO
Newbie Poster
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:09 pm

Re: Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habita

Postby kingofnobbys » Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:55 pm

PaulaO wrote:Thank you so much for this information! I live in the Great Smoky Mountains (part of the Appalachian Mountains) so I see green everywhere. Went to Phoenix once. It was 113F / 45C. I'll take my humidity, thank you!

What plants would you suggest would work in a dragon tank? I've read the aloe is good (can take the heat). And agave. What about a grass? I know the dirt of the plant would need to be covered and watering to happen outside the tank.


The most common grasses encountered in the natural range of bearded dragons is called
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinifex_sericeus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinifex_longifolius
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinifex_sericeus

clovers and dandelions are often eaten by free ranging pet beardies in the yard.
CBDs: Puff (M)(RIP 10Dec2015 @ 3.2 yrs old (aneurism)),Rex (F)(RIP 16Mar2017 @ 4.6 yrs old,Toothless (M)(sudden unexplained death RIP 26Nov2017) @ 2.1 yrs old.Peppa (F) (born 15Nov2015).
EBTSs : George & Mildred (born july 2010).
EWSs : Lucky (M)(wild juvenile), cat attack rescue, fatal SI RIP 21Jul2010.Wriggles (F)(rescued injured),thought she was a big lizard, 7-8 yrs old, died in her sleep, RIP 2Feb2016). Fluffy (F) rescued 14Nov2017 about 4 yrs old . .
kingofnobbys
BD.org Addict
 
Posts: 9215
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 10:56 pm

Re: Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habita

Postby AHBD » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:52 am

Very good info, I like that it shows that they DO live on loose [ although tightly packed substrate ] along with shrubs and some rocks. That's one reason why I stay away from tile, a dragon on tile is forced to be on unnaturally hard surfaces all day, every day. I'd use newspaper over tile any day, with a layer of non adhesive shelf liner on top to produce a softer walking area.

But again, good info I've seen in my Google searches many times. Red clay/soil is from the iron oxidizing, a very pretty touch to the sometimes colorless landscape.
AHBD
BD.org Sicko
 
Posts: 21224
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:20 am

Re: Requirements to make a naturalistic substrate and habita

Postby kingofnobbys » Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:34 am

AHBD wrote:Very good info, I like that it shows that they DO live on loose [ although tightly packed substrate ] along with shrubs and some rocks. That's one reason why I stay away from tile, a dragon on tile is forced to be on unnaturally hard surfaces all day, every day. I'd use newspaper over tile any day, with a layer of non adhesive shelf liner on top to produce a softer walking area.

But again, good info I've seen in my Google searches many times. Red clay/soil is from the iron oxidizing, a very pretty touch to the sometimes colorless landscape.


I also line the top of the tiles with paper (a few layers of absorbant paper towels). Same reason.
CBDs: Puff (M)(RIP 10Dec2015 @ 3.2 yrs old (aneurism)),Rex (F)(RIP 16Mar2017 @ 4.6 yrs old,Toothless (M)(sudden unexplained death RIP 26Nov2017) @ 2.1 yrs old.Peppa (F) (born 15Nov2015).
EBTSs : George & Mildred (born july 2010).
EWSs : Lucky (M)(wild juvenile), cat attack rescue, fatal SI RIP 21Jul2010.Wriggles (F)(rescued injured),thought she was a big lizard, 7-8 yrs old, died in her sleep, RIP 2Feb2016). Fluffy (F) rescued 14Nov2017 about 4 yrs old . .
kingofnobbys
BD.org Addict
 
Posts: 9215
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 10:56 pm
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


Return to Enclosures

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users