Keeping beardie outside of tank?


Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Hello all,

I posted a similar question a few months ago but I don't believe I got the answers I'm looking for, and I have new information. Thank you to everyone who responded before, and here goes again!

My beardie is a 2yr female and always glass surfs when we put her in her enclosure. She prefers sitting by a pile of pillows near the window and does so all day. I was wondering if we should move her back to the enclosure? The pile of pillows don't offer her many of the benefits the enclosure does. There are no hides or branches she can climb on. It's not naturalistic looking. There's no temperature gradient. I'm afraid she isn't getting the full quality of life if she stays on the pile of pillows for every day. I do handle her every day but I'm afraid it's not enough enrichment.

I do put heating and UVB over the pile of pillows. Basking temperatures are 36C. After basking, I remove a few pillows and temperatures are 29C. I use the Arcadia 12% light with a Zoomed 22" fixture 10-12 inches away when basking. The temperatures are measured at the area right above her back. She seems to be fine and doesn't move all day.

Here's a picture of her "habitat": IMG_9013.HEIC

I'm 95% sure the reason why she doesn't want to stay in her enclosure is because she considers the pile of pillows her "home". She used to be fine in her enclosure and would want to crawl back after being held for too long. But during the summer we would let her sit by the window instead, and I think she now associates it with safety and familiarity. When we handle her, she ends up trying to crawl back to the pile of pillows. I tried the same heating/lighting specs as above inside the enclosure, but she would still glass surf.

The enclosure is 85 gallon I believe.

If we do decide to move her back in the enclosure, I think I'll let her glass surf for a few days then see if she settles down. This would be a little stressful for her so I want to be sure that moving her back to the enclosure is worth it.

Otherwise, she seems to be energetic and happy. She eats her greens and poops regularly.

Any input on this topic is appreciated!


Hatchling Member
Staff member
Lead Writer
Excessive glass surfing is frequently a sign of stress. Things like re-arranging the tank accessories, improper distances for UVB/basking, boredom, hunger, or being nervous about seeing their own reflection in the glass can be stressful. Was your beardie also turning darker colors by any chance, especially in the beard? That could be an additional indicator of stress. What were you using to confirm temperatures in your basking zone and cool side? You wouldn't happen to have any photos from when she was still being housed inside the enclosure, would you, so we can take a look at the setup?

The Arcadia 12 % UVB is a good bulb though 22" is fairly short for an 85 gallon tank. If it is a T8 bulb, you should consider upgrading to a 36 " length. If it is a T5 High Output bulb it may be ok at the 22 " length but longer would be better. Typically we recommend that it spans 2/3 to 3/4 of the length of the terrarium. Do you replace your bulb about once per year? They give off significantly less UVB as they age.

The T5 with a reflector should be no closer than 12 inches from the basking spot. Also I would recommend using a reliable digital thermometer with a probe such as the one made by Zoo Med.

If you do move her back into the enclosure, I would probably double check that your husbandry practices are really solid, and then wait for a little while since the transition itself could be stressful and could lead to additional glass surfing at first. I hope this helps a bit!

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
I think that some of them are just very energetic and want to be out and about. My guy is like this. He glass surfs like crazy when he's in his enclosure and his energy levels are up (usually seasonal). I've been setting up portable basking spots for him around the house for several years now and he seems to be much happier with that. He will dart all over the house (it's been made safe for him) for most of the day and will return to one of his lights to warm back up then run around again. In the old house, he had a small dog bed set in the window sill so he could look outside. The new house has sliding glass doors which are at his level so he can look outside whenever he wants to.
I don't think that this is a good solution for everyone. I don't advise this if there are other animals in the house or if there are places they can access and get stuck or hurt etc. In your case, since she likes sitting in the window so much, I would accommodate that by setting up a place for her to bask nearby. She'll move to the basking spot to warm up when she needs to.
I've found that this is a good use for MVBs since the UVB and heat gradients don't need to be quite as exact when you're working with a bigger space. I currently have an Arcadia MVB set up alongside an incandescent heat bulb so he can choose if he wants some UVB or just wants to warm up. I've found that he will often go for just the heat, but tends to enjoy UVB in the morning. That's probably a personal preference though. At this point I hardly ever use the enclosure and he is free roaming all the time. With the amount he runs around, it's hard for me to keep him cooped up in such a tiny space.

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