Menu Close

Bearded Dragon Enclosure Size [What Size Do You Need?]

Bearded dragons are becoming very popular among those who enjoy having a reptile as a pet. One reason is that “beardies” are one of the few reptile species that actually don’t shy away from being handled.

In fact, some will sit on your shoulder as you go about your day, much as a tame parrot. Some even get to enjoy being petted and handled. They also are active during the day, unlike some exotic pets which are strictly nocturnal. They also don’t require the hard-to-obtain food that some lizard species require.

As far as a bearded dragon enclosure size, a bare minimum of a 30-gallon breeder tank is recommended. Since these lizards can grow up to two feet long, it’s much better to provide a bigger space, such as a 50- to 75-gallon tank.

If you start out with the larger tank, your pet can grow into it. However, if you start with a baby, it should start out with a smaller tank and switch to the larger size when it grows into it. While these lizards don’t need a huge space to climb around in, they do require several items which may take up quite a bit of floor space, so you don’t want a small tank. Remember that you want your pet to have as close to his natural environment as you can provide.

Natives of Australia, these lizards feature a triangular-shaped head with a spiky collar around the neck. They have a wide, flat body, also decorated with thorn-shaped scales. Adults get up to 18-24 inches long, including the tail. Males are usually much bigger than females. They can also live up to 15 years old in captivity, so they aren’t as fragile as some other reptiles.

Types of Bearded Dragon Enclosures

Bearded dragon terrarium – These are usually made of wood with a glass panel or door in front. The rest of the front is screened to allow air inside. These terrariums provide better heat insulation than a cage or glass tank, and they are relatively easy to make.

Since they don’t weigh as much as some other choices, they can be stacked on top of each other if you have more than one beardie. The cons are that these will rot if the wood is not properly sealed. Look for a sealant that is non-toxic with low volatile organic compounds, and let it dry for several days before setting it up.


Bearded dragon tank – Glass terrariums are the most popular type of beardie enclosure. They are easy to find, available at most pet stores or even some big box stores. You can easily keep an eye on your pet with these, and your beardie can look around at the room outside his tank as well. Covering it with a screened or wire mesh cover will give him all the air he needs. They also aren’t an eyesore, as the transparent glass allows them to blend in with the surroundings.

The cons are that these tanks are heavy, especially with all the necessary items inside, so it’s wise to give placement some thought so you don’t have to move it later. Some beardies are upset by seeing their reflection in the glass. Pet stores can provide a background made for reptiles to help with this problem. Of course, a glass tank doesn’t hold temperature well, so you will need to be sure to keep watch on the temperature inside the tank.

Bearded dragon cage – If you want a more open type enclosure that is more like a cage than an enclosed box, you may have a hard time finding an appropriate one for a bearded dragon. This is where your DIY skills come in.

You can easily build a wooden frame the size you want, and either put screen or wire mesh on top or in front. However, since beardies are always naturally on the lookout for threats, having a cage with mostly solid sides will keep him calmer, while making it easier to hold proper temperature inside.

The one problem is that any screen or mesh you use should be coated with plastic. This is to keep the lizard from rubbing his nose raw when he bumps against the screen. Some material for house screens is now made of plastic, so this may be what you need. If you can, get mesh that has the strands molded to each other rather than woven. This is to keep your pet from getting his toenails stuck in the mesh. It may not harm the lizard, but it will cause defects in the mesh. If you want to save some money on setting up an enclosure check out my article How To Set Up a Bearded Dragon Enclosure on the Cheap.

What Does a Bearded Dragon Enclosure Need?

Enclosure – Basically, a bearded dragon enclosure size needs to be geared to the general size of the lizard you get. Adults need an enclosure of the right size to start with. If you buy a very young or baby beardie, you may want to start with a smaller enclosure, then step up to an adult size when he starts to outgrow his baby cage.

You want one that will be easy to clean and easy to move if necessary. It will save you some stress if you buy or make one that’s mostly enclosed as it will hold temperature and humidity better. It will also keep your pet from getting stressed at being too visible to possible predators from all directions.

Remember, however, that he does need air, so having a screened top is a good idea. He’s less likely to scrape his nose on a screened top as much as he would a screened front. A glass top will interfere with UV-B rays from the full-spectrum lighting he needs.

UVB light – Reptiles need full-spectrum lighting containing both UV-B and UV-A rays. There are bulbs specifically designed for reptile keepers that are perfect. UV-B rays aid the synthesis of calcium and vitamin D3 for bone development.

UV-A rays help produce hormones and may increase appetite. These bulbs should be replaced every six months or so. Many keepers have a red bulb for daylight and a different, blue one for night heat to provide 12-hour day and night cycles.

Heating element, thermometer, and hygrometer – These are important to keep your pet happy. Enclosures should have a thermometer at each end, with a warmer and cooler end provided. A hygrometer to measure relative humidity is important. Remember that beardies come from a dry environment naturally and prefer a low humidity of 30-40%.

Basking rock or log – Bearded dragons need a warmer environment than the average household temperature. A raised surface, such as a rock, a piece of driftwood or an artificial log should be provided to keep things natural.

Check out this Bearded Dragon Manual, How to avoid the “most common mistakes” and tons of tips covering Habitat, Diet, Health Care and Health Issues…

A basking area should be provided at one end, kept to 90-95 degrees F for adults and 90-100 degrees for babies. Heat lamps above the cage if it has a screened top can help. There are also ceramic heat emitters that can be used, not to be confused with hot rocks. Those should be avoided, as they can cause burns. The other end of the enclosure should be cooler, between 80-87 degrees in case the lizard gets too hot.

Flooring – This is an important choice, as beardies are prone to swallow small particles such as sand along with their food, which can cause impaction, which means something stuck in the intestines. This can easily be deadly. While they do like to burrow in sand, if you do want sand, be sure to use washed play sand, and use it only for adults. Pet stores sell reptile carpet, which is great for beardies and is easily removed for periodic cleaning. Read my article What is The Best Bedding for Bearded Dragons? for more information and tips on which flooring type is best.

Some shallow dishes for water and food – Since beardies stay mainly on the enclosure floor, you’ll need shallow dishes that won’t tip over when walked over. Heavier ceramic ones are good for this. You’ll need to keep the water dish clean especially, as your pet may drag sand or plant or bug parts into the water dish as well as the occasional blob of waste.

Your pet may like soaking in the water, especially when dehydrated or shedding skin, which may require a larger dish. Beardies won’t drink from the water dish much if at all, getting their moisture from the food. However, the water dish is important to maintain proper humidity through evaporation.

Live feeder insects and tweezers – Your beardie will eat both plant and animal food and should be fed a combination of insects and vegetables. You can alternate days, feed both at once, or even chop up greens and insects together. Adults eat once a day, while babies often eat three times daily. You can get good advice from pet stores on quantities to feed.

Mealworms are often thought of, but their hard shells can cause intestinal problems. They do eat earthworms and a few other kinds of worms. The crickets sold at bait shops are perfect for beardies.

Once a week, you should dust the insects lightly with a complete multivitamin, and with a calcium and vitamin D supplement regularly to prevent bone diseases. You can even raise your own insects once you get the hang of it. If you don’t like touching them, you can use tweezers to transfer them to your beardie home.

Decor – Beardies need a few things so that they don’t get bored. They love some kind of box or hiding place on the cool side of the house. Pet stores sell many various designs. They also do like to climb at times, so some sturdy driftwood or something similar is great. Of course, they like rocks as well, but do choose those without sharp edges or points.

Any decoration items brought in from the wild should be soaked in boiling water to remove any parasites or bacteria before being used. Beardies also like hammocks, which are available in pet stores with suction cups for attaching to glass or with a stand. Also consider the type of dragon your getting as well, get more information in my article 8 Types of Bearden Dragons.

Can You Keep Two Bearded Dragons in the Same Enclosure?

You may be able to keep two females together, but males should have their own space. This is because males tend to be territorial and won’t like sharing their homes. If you do keep two together, they should be the same size. An adult may hog all the food when housed with a baby or may even make food out of the baby.

Where’s the Best Place to Put the Enclosure?

A quiet, climate-controlled room is best for the enclosure, one that doesn’t see a lot of traffic that might stress out your pet. It should be kept out of reach of both other pets and small children.

Cats, especially, seem interested in beardies, but the opposite is definitely not true. If you have dogs or cats, it’s best to keep the beardie house in a room that can be kept closed. Having a secure lid is another must. Your enclosure should be on a firm, level surface that is not in danger of tipping. Glass tanks especially need a sturdy base.

The floor is not a suitable place, as it may be too cool and drafty, and makes it hard to watch and enjoy your pet. Enclosures that are a pain to get to often lead to neglect in cleaning or feeding as well.

While you may like the idea of your pet being able to look out the window, a reptile enclosure of any kind should not ever be put near a window. Sun rays coming in and shining into a reptile home will heat it up to the point that it may well kill the occupant. It’s much like leaving a dog in a hot car. Since reptiles can’t regulate their body heat internally, they are that much more sensitive to excessive heat.

Conclusion

If you are a first-time reptile owner, a bearded dragon is a great choice for a beginner. They do require quite an outlay of funds to get the proper enclosure and get it furnished properly, but if you know what is necessary, you won’t be tempted to go wild in the pet store with all the cute offerings.

Once you get the feeding down, it won’t seem like a bother at all. Best of all, your beardie will become a friend and will enjoy sitting with you to watch television. If you want a reptile, take a look a bearded dragon first.