Rankins Dragon Housing Tips


The minimum housing requirements for Rankin's are:

  • An absolute minimum size vivarium of 24x24x18" for a single Rankin or 36x24x24 for two.
  • A UVB (5.0, 8.0 or 10.0) fluorescent reptile light tube & a fluorescent lighting controller to power up the tube.
  • A 150W ceramic heat lamp & a ceramic lamp holder (plastic ones melt!).
  • A 150W+ thermostat (temperature controller) to plug the heat lamp into.
  • Two sticky thermometers that range up to 110F.
  • A water bowl, feeding dish and some decorative sculptures that allow the Rankin to climb.
If you are unsure what these items look like, there are some examples at the bottom of this page.

Once you have purchased these items you will need to set them up so that your Rankin's environment is optimally balanced.
Start with the substrate; if you have a Rankin that is smaller than 8" you can either use a bare floor, newspaper, semi-smooth ceramic house tiles or Repti-Carpet (not household carpet). For larger Rankin's you may prefer a fine reptile sand, however we recommend that owners avoid Calci-sand.

Rankin's love water and will often sit in their water dish bathing, so ensure that the dish is not deep enough for them to drown in!
Remember to place the water dish away from the end of the vivarium that has the heat lamp, this is to make sure that no additional humidity is created from the evaporating water. It is best to also place the food dish away from the heater so that it doesnt dry the food out quickly.

The arrangement of the decorative sculptures is personal preference so have some fun moving things around! It is best not to get too technical with the arrangement though as you may need to frequently move things to get stray livefood out of the tank at night (more on this in the feeding section). Always wipe down any new items you place in to the vivarium with a reptile safe disinfectant, such as Bea Clean. Please please do not purchase any 'Hot/Heated Rocks' for your vivarium as they can cause burns to the soft undersides of Rankin's.

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Once you are happy with the arrangement you can begin to setup the electricals. First of all screw the ceramic heat lamp in to the ceramic lamp holder, making sure it's screwed in snug and then clamp (if the holder has one) or hang the heat lamp at one end of the vivarium. Plug the ceramic lamp in to the thermostat's plug socket and set the temperature to 95F. The thermostat should have a sensor lead, so that it can detect the temperature in the vivarium. The end of this lead needs to lie on the floor below where the heat lamp hangs. Do not plug the thermostat in to the mains just yet, otherwise it will begin to heat up as you work.

Next, gently push the UVB reptile tube in to the two end caps of the lighting controller. Hang the fluorescent tube along the back wall of the vivarium (on the inside!, this is important as the essential UVB rays will not penentrate glass), so that it is approximately halfway down, or at the top if you have a UVB 10 tube. Ideally you should buy a tube that is as long as the back wall of your vivarium (allowing enough space for the end caps), as this will allow your Rankin to benefit from the essential rays where ever it is in the vivarium. If you have a timer, then set this to provide 12 hours on and 12 hours off daily and plug your lighting controller in to it. If you do not have a timer, then plug the controller straight in to the mains and remember to manually provide consistent 12hr on-off cycles for your Rankin's well being.

Place one sticky thermometer at each end/side of the vivarium on the inside and plug the thermostat in to the mains. Leave it for approximately 1 hour to heat up and then verify that the thermometer at the heat lamp ends reads between 90 and 100F and the cool end reads between 70 and 80F. Adjust the thermostat slightly and repeat the process until the right balance is struck.
At night time you will need to drop the temperature slightly by turning down the thermostat by 5-10F. This should give you a target night time temperature of 85F at the hottest end and 70F at the cool end. Always remember to keep the vivarium temperature above 65F even at night time.

When you are happy with the temperatures, your vivarium is set to house your new pet!

Here are some examples of the equipment discussed in this section:

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