New Beardie Father w/ Concerns Looking for Advice

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So a couple weeks ago I adopted Amelia from a local PetSmart, from what I've read from several forums she's adapted really well to the move at least (no glass surfing, eating well, loves to play and go outside for walks on my shoulder). PetSmart told me she is 6mo old, I measured her from tip to tip (nose to tail) and she was 5.6in in length, and after just 2 weeks grew about another inch and a half and she's an even 7in now. She has the 40gal Thrive Bearded Dragon Terrarium Kit (with whatever that all implies). Ig I'm looking for advice on the proper tank set-up (ie. wether or not I need to cut the top to let in more rays, fully remove the top and just hang the lamps, should I give her sand to dig in or just stick with the substrate mat provided with the kit), potential growth expectations since she's still so small, and if there's an expert on Beardies reading this I'd love to be able to get in contact with you and pick your brain.
I am not an expert but I’m familiar with that terrarium and I know you can buy reptile carpet for the 40g tank which is much better for the beardie than substrate…or you can even use paper towels or a rubber mat bottom for the tank. The substrate or sand is not recommended because they end up ingesting it. There’s a lot of great advice on lighting in the care sheets and lighting discussion forum. I personally like the reptile carpet because it’s easy to replace and gives a little padding for the beardie.

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
From what I see, it looks like that kit does come with reptile carpet. This is OK to use, but requires frequent washing (I usually put it in the washing machine and let it hang dry). The frequent washing can cause the carpet to wear out quickly. If it starts to smell bad (even after a wash) or starts to tatter, it should be replaced. Using a solid substrate like non adhesive shelf liner works well too.

It looks like this comes with a 26w compact UVB bulb. These aren't terrible (as long as it's the 26w version rather than 13w) but not really enough for a large enclosure (in my opinion). It's absolutely worth investing in the 22'' or 35'' version of an Arcadia Pro T5 (12% bulb)

I would also replace the dial thermometer/hygrometers with a couple of digital thermometers with probes so you can get a better surface temp reading. I put one on the basking surface and the other on the cool side surface so I can see the gradient across the enclosure. Something like this should work well
Once you have accurate surface temp readings, you can adjust your basking light as needed. Shoot for 100-105ish on the basking surface and 75-80 or so on the cool side during the day.
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