Bearded dragons are kept in terrariums. For them to stay healthy you need to pay attention to few things in terms of the terrarium equipment, the size and the materials.
Because bearded dragons are desert dwellers, you need to create similar housing conditions. They need it warm, be able to climb and need the optimal substrate in which they can move freely.
We have summarized everything you need to consider when setting up a terrarium for your bearded dragon.
Bearded Dragons Terrarium: What You Need To Know About Buying, Location And Setup
There are roughly eight different bearded dragon species, all of which have different needs in terms of terrarium equipment.
In addition to the terrarium size, you should always pay attention to the different materials from which it’s made. Furthermore, there are some accessories that you need to consider.
When you buy your bearded dragon, you should already have a fully equipped and functional terrarium.
Bearded Dragon Tank Location
While many pets have adapted to domestication, the bearded dragons have not. They have only adapted to a very limited extent to keeping them in a desert terrarium.
Thus, the terrarium must be tailored to their needs.
First of all, it is important to put the terrarium in the right place. Under no circumstances should it be placed in a dark and windowless room. The bearded dragon feels most comfortable in bright rooms with sufficient sunlight.
However, it is also important to pay attention to the optimal temperature. In direct sunlight in summer, glass terrariums quickly reach life-threatening degrees.
In addition, however, cold and drafts as well as cigarette smoke and noise, for example from loudspeaker boxes, must be avoided.
You Have to keep this in mind when choosing the location
In the wild, bearded dragons are solitary animals. Under certain conditions, they can also be kept together in a terrarium. However, it is usually not possible to keep two male bearded dragons in a group.
If you buy several bearded dragon terrariums for this purpose, they should be set up in such a way that the animals cannot see each other. Just the visual contact of the animals with each other can trigger such a stress that they could die from it.
How Big of a Terrarium Do I Need For a Bearded Dragon?
When buying a terrarium, you should always stick to the recommended minimum size.
Unfortunately, pet shops often sell terrariums that are often small and not recommended for species-appropriate keeping.
Very small terrariums are best suited for raising young animals.
Keepers can determine a bearded dragon terrarium size with a simple formula.
How To Determine The Optimal Terrarium Size
In order to determine the optimal size of the terrariums, you must first determine the size or head-torso length (CRL) of your bearded dragon. If you want to keep a pair of bearded dragons, then the following formula applies to the habitat size:
- Length: CRL x 5
- Width: CRL x 4
- Height: CRL x 3
This is the minimum size requirement for the bearded dragon enclosure. The general minimum size is 150x80x80cm.
Vivarium Size by Species
In general, the following always applies to a terrarium for bearded dragons: the bigger, the better.
However, a dwarf bearded dragon needs a little less space than, for example, a Pogona Vitticeps.
We have summarized below the recommendations for the right habitat size for different bearded dragon species.
Why Should The Main Terrarium Be At Least 150x80x80cm?
With species-appropriate husbandry, the enclosure must have a depth of at least 15 to 20 cm.
At the same time, you must ensure species-appropriate lighting and sufficient distance between the light source and the seating.
Therefore, the minimum height is 80cm.
Why Does The Quarantine Terrarium Have a Minimum Size of 120x60x60cm?
In a quarantine terrarium you have to do without the substrate. This reduces the minimum size. At the same time, however, a minimum height of 60 cm must be guaranteed for species-appropriate lighting.
Terrarium For Dwarf Bearded Dragon (Pogona Minor)
If you are buying a terrarium for pygmy bearded dragons, remember that they love to chase live prey through their habitat.
Like all other bearded dragon species, they should have enough space for this. The recommended minimum size for a dwarf bearded dragon terrarium is 150x80x80cm (LxWxH).
Terrarium for Striped Bearded Dragon (Pogona Vitticeps)
In the case of large species such as the Pogona Vitticeps, the body length is 25cm for adults. According to the given formula, this results in a minimum enclosure size of 150 cm length x 100 cm width x 80 cm height.
These dimensions are the minimum for individual housing. But even if Pogona Vitticeps are solitary in nature, they can also be kept in pairs.
In this case, the size of the terrarium should be adjusted to the number of animals. Add about 20-30% area for each additional animal.
Note: It is best to speak to your breeder about the minimum habitat size for other bearded dragon species. Bearded dragons reach an average size of 30cm, but can also be 70cm depending on the species.
Terrariums larger than 150x80x80 must have a front and upper rear ventilation (chimney effect) so that enough oxygen can circulate.
For a quarantine enclosure measuring 120x60x60, side ventilation, for example, on the bottom left and top right is sufficient.
If you do not take this into account, the humidity in the terrarium can increase, which in turn can promote the development of lung disease, fungal diseases or dehydration.
Bearded Dragon Terrarium Temperature
There is no such thing as the optimum temperature in the terrarium. You have to create 2 temperature zones in the terrarium for your pets.
The coolest corner of the terrarium should be around 25 °C. Directly below the heat spot, the hottest spot, the temperature should be around 50 °C.
On average, the temperature during the day is around 30 °C. At night, the terrarium cools down to around 20 °C.
Depending on how warm it is in the room. However, when it comes to climate, temperature alone is not enough. The humidity must also be right.
During the day, this should be in the range between 30 and 40%. At night, on the other hand, this should be around 50 to 60%.
If the value is too low, you can take countermeasures in no time at all with the help of a spray bottle. You simply spray the device with a little water and check the values again later.
What do bearded dragons need in their terrarium?
Now that the size, the material, the location and the climatic conditions have been clarified, you can finally start on the interior design and the technology.
Here, too, one has to know and observe a whole lot. After all, the animals should feel comfortable in the terrarium.
But what do you actually need? A whole lot. Therefore, before the detailed explanations, here is a quick list at a glance and in no particular order:
side and rear walls
Drinking and feeding bowl
Decoration and plants
This topic overwhelms many terrarium newbies in terms of technology. However, the lighting is not nearly as complicated as it is often portrayed.
First of all, you should internalize that the animals need a lot of light to be merry and lively. After all, they get more than enough sunlight in Australia.
Then we come to the technical side. Lighting for bearded dragons is divided into two areas.
There are lamps that bring warmth and lamps that bring light. Most beginners only put the latter in the terrarium and so there is almost always twilight in the bearded dragon terrarium.
UV light sources
Like all reptiles, the small bearded dragons need proper UV light. It is used for the production of vitamin D3. If there are bottlenecks here, a calcium deficiency can cause soft bones and lead to MBD.
There are 2 options to ensure that the animals get enough UV light. You can place a strong radiator in the terrarium. Such a 300-watt monster is only allowed to run for about 30 to 40 minutes every 1 to 2 days. Furthermore, the pets must be gradually accustomed to the UV light.
This usually starts with 5 minutes. After that, you slowly increase the timing from day to day until you finally arrive at 30 or 40 minutes.
Such a strong UV radiator should be installed at a distance of about 1 meter from the bearded dragon.
The second and more common option is to purchase a combination device. We are talking about a normal spotlight that is used both as a main heat lamp and as a UV lamp.
Since this has about 75 watts of power, you can easily leave it running all day.
As already briefly mentioned, we also need lamps that are used to heat the terrarium. You can choose between normal halogen spotlights and reflector lamps.
Both variants can be linked to a dimmer in order to be able to adjust them better. You can also choose between different wattages.
It is important here that they are mounted high enough in the terrarium that the animals cannot touch them under any circumstances. Otherwise there is a risk of severe burns and you definitely want to spare your bearded dragon.
Once you have taken care of the heat spots and UV lighting, you should finally provide a little more light in the terrarium. Since bearded dragons love nothing more than light, you should invest some money here.
We recommend metal halide lamps, which are usually sold under the abbreviation HQIs or HCIs. Depending on the size, 75 or 150 watts are available here. HCI lamps are recommended here, as they offer higher luminosity and are more durable.
Unfortunately, the lamps have a big problem. They shine more selectively than across the board. Therefore, fluorescent tubes should also be installed. This avoids shadow areas and really illuminates the terrarium completely.
It is best to use T5 tubes here. These are slightly brighter and also more energy-efficient due to their higher efficiency. If you want to save some money, you can also buy a discontinued model with T8 tubes.
The required lighting at a glance
To make choosing the right light setup even easier, here are our recommendations:
UV lamps: 300-watt lamps or better a 75-watt UV spot lamp.
Heat lamps: Reflector lamp or halogen spot including dimmer.
Basic lighting: 75 or 150-watt HQIs (quartz burners) or longer-lasting HCIs (ceramic burners). Fluorescent tubes should also be installed.
Thermometers and Hygrometers
The climate in the terrarium should be monitored. For this you need 2 thermometers. One of them placed in the warmest place, the other in a cool one. You should also check the humidity from time to time. A hygrometer is ideal for this.
If you are particularly interested in technology or do not want to have 3 measuring devices in the terrarium, you can also use a combination device.
These can be placed in inconspicuous places or completely out of sight. For example, the subframe is ideal for this. The built-in sensors make the hiding possible.
Side and rear panels
Although bearded dragons tend to live on the ground, they can also climb quite well. Therefore, you should build a back wall with rocky outcrops in the terrarium.
On one hand, this increases the activity area for the animals, on the other hand, plants can be accommodated in the ledges. And something like that enhances the terrarium even further.
Furthermore, many bearded dragons like to hide behind the plants. How you implement the design of such a rear or side wall is up to you. You can buy ready-made structural walls or build them yourself out of Styrofoam.
It is only important that they are firmly connected to the terrarium wall. Plus, you should seal the resulting slots with silicone. If this is neglected, small animals or mites can settle in the cracks. And this should be avoided at all costs.
Anyone who is not particularly skilled in terms of craftsmanship or does not want to fully exhaust their budget can also buy and attach a photo back wall. These walls are beautiful to look at and cheap too.
A back panel made of pressed cork is also a good alternative. Such a wall looks natural. It is only important that the cork was pressed and not glued. The solvents used for this would be harmful to the bearded dragons.
There are specially developed substrates that can be bought as substrate especially for bearded dragons and their needs. If you want to save some money, you can also use a mixture of sand and clay. After all, this is the natural substrate of the country of origin Australia. It doesn’t always have to be the expensive terrarium sand.
Furthermore, fine bark substrate is an alternative. Only beech shavings, as known from keeping snakes, cannot be used. There is a risk of intestinal blockages in our beloved bearded dragons.
Ultimately, everyone can decide for themselves which soil substrate they prefer. It is only important that the objects contained in it have no sharp edges. Since bearded dragons occasionally swallow the substrate, internal injuries would otherwise occur. Therefore, quartz sand should not be used.
Feeding and Drinking Bowl
With all the technology, it’s easy to forget the most basic things. Of course, our bearded dragons also want to drink and eat green fodder. In order to be able to provide our darlings with fresh water at all times, a commercially available flat bowl is ideal. The same applies to the green fodder.
Many bearded dragon owners want to provide their animals with a bathing facility. To do this, they often use large and flat bowls that take up a lot of space. Therefore there is a lack of space for the water bowl. But you don’t need that anymore. If necessary, the bearded dragon can simply drink from the tank.
Plants And Decoration
Mandatory equipment includes large rocks, roots and climbing branches. In addition, a hiding place for the animals should not be missing. If you want to make your terrarium even more beautiful, you should plant it.
There is a wide range of options here. Just be careful not to use any plants that are poisonous to bearded dragons. The freedom of movement of the animals should also not be restricted too much. It is therefore important to take into account the growth of the planting.
We therefore recommend beginners to use artificial terrarium plants. That makes everything a little easier. In addition, these are not nibbled on by the bearded dragons or even eaten completely bare. In addition, you do not have to actively take care of them and thus have more time for the basics.
If you want to make the effort of planting right away, you should use tillandsia. They are easy to care for and can be housed in hard-to-reach positions for bearded dragons. The structured rear wall is perfect for this.
With some hot glue you can attach the tillandsia there. They make the terrarium and the back wall much more beautiful and the bearded dragons cannot nibble on them there either. They are also available in different shades of gray and green. However, not all types are suitable.
For hours you have informed yourself, bought everything to the best of your knowledge and belief and then the scales fall from your eyes. You forgot a few important items:
Timer for the lighting / heating
programmable power strip for lighting / heating
Lock for the terrarium door as child/escape protection
The order list for terrariums can be long and confusing. Because of this, before sending the order, you should carefully check again whether all the required items are included in the shopping cart. A good book or two doesn’t hurt here, nor does bookmarking our website.
What Type of Terrariums Is Best for a Bearded Dragon?
If you buy a terrarium, you have the choice between a glass enclosure, a plastic habitat and a wooden one.
Hereunder the pros and cons of each of them.
Full Glass Vivarium
All-glass terrariums are available for purchase both in pet shops and on the Internet. They can be ordered in different sizes and have the advantage of looking good and being easy to disinfect.
A disadvantage of the glass terrarium is its high fragility during transport.
Another disadvantage is that a full glass terrarium can heat up quickly if it is not in the best location.
- Look high quality
- Easy to disinfect
- Animals get a lot of light
- Easily breakable
- Heavy and expensive transport
- Possible overheating
- Stores little heat (higher power consumption)
Beardies habitats are also offered as wooden kits made from OSB panels. The rear and side walls are made of wood, a glass plate is used in the front.
The advantage of a wooden terrarium is the comparatively easy transport. On one hand, these enclosures are not so heavy and on the other hand, they are usually supplied as kits thus can be stowed away to save space.
It is relatively easy to build such a kit. It does not require any in-depth manual skills.
The great advantage of a wooden terrarium is that wood insulates very well and can store heat.
Furthermore, it is usually cheaper than a terrarium made of glass. A big advantage, especially for the bearded dragons, is that they can withdraw easily, since the terrarium cannot be seen from all sides due to the wooden paneling.
But, a terrarium made of wood also has some disadvantages. The urine of the animals and the drinking water can cause waterlogging, which in turn leads to the formation of mold in the terrarium. In addition, a wooden terrarium is generally more difficult to clean than a glass or plastic terrarium. It also has a shorter shelf life overall.
- Light weight
- Easy transportation
- Available in kit
- Good isolation
- Animal gets a lot of rest
- Stores a lot of heat (less power consumption)
- Danger of waterlogging
- Harder to clean
- limited observation opportunities for owners
Tip: Cover the OSB terrarium with wallpaper or paint it
If you opt for a wooden terrarium for cost reasons and you don’t like the outside look. So you can dress it up with a nice wallpaper on the outside or paint it with a certain type of paint according to your taste.
Aluminum Plug-in System Tank
If you want to invest in a long-term, high-quality solution, you should familiarize yourself with a terrarium based on an aluminum plug-in system.
A great advantage of these systems is their flexibility. They are very easy to adjust to the desired size and are delivered disassembled to your home, which in turn saves on transport costs and is also good for the environment.
+ Durable solution
+ Great flexibility / Any size can be produced
+ Expandable terrarium
+ Low transport costs
– High price
Plastic Enclosure for beardies
Plastic terrariums for bearded dragons are not yet as widespread as terrariums made of glass or wood. The advantage of a plastic terrarium is its thermal insulation properties.
Heat is stored much better than in a glass terrarium, which means you can save on heating and heating costs in the long term.
Cleaning plastic terrariums is easier than cleaning a wooden terrarium. You can easily disinfect it to prevent disease and parasitic infestation. Plastic is flame retardant and therefore offers a high level of safety, precisely because there is a lot of technology in a terrarium.
The risk of fire can therefore be reduced to a minimum. Finally, the low weight of the material is also convincing. It is easy and safe to transport and can also be easily set up at home. The plastic terrarium thus combines the advantages of the other terrariums.
- Thermal insulation properties
- Easy cleaning and disinfection
- Flame retardant
- Light weight
- As expensive as glass terrariums
Base Cabinet For Heavy Terrariums
Glass terrariums in particular can quickly become very heavy. Not every parking space can withstand such a high weight.
The solution: You can buy a special terrarium cabinet on the market, or you can order a terrarium with a base cabinet.
You can even find a suitable terrarium cabinet, such as the Kallax model , in the Swedish furniture store IKEA . Two of these shelves can easily withstand a weight of several 100 kilos – so you should always distribute the weight of the terrarium over at least two terrarium cabinets.
Many owners underestimate the weight of the terrarium, which can quickly reach several hundred kilos with the sand on the bottom.
Tip: You can also reinforce the Kallax shelf with a matching worktop.
Note: Never save on the terrarium size
Some keepers skimp on the size of the terrarium to save weight. You should never do this. Better to use a suitable terrarium base cabinet instead.
You need these Kallax shelves for your terrarium
- 120x60x60: Fits on a Kallax shelf with 4 inserts (77×147 cm)
- 150x80x80: Place 2x Kallax (77x147cm) & 1x Kallax (77×77 cm) on the side of the 77×147 Kallax
- 180x80x80: Place 2x Kallax (77x147cm) & 2x Kallax (77×77 cm) on the side of the 77×147 Kallax
- 200x80x80: 2x Kallax (77×77 cm) & 2x Kallax (77x147cm)
- 250x80x80: 2x 2x Kallax (77x147cm) 3x Kallax (77×77 cm) on the side of the 77×147 Kallax
Custom-made Terrarium Cabinet
The alternative to the cheap Ikea variant is a custom-made product with a heavy-duty castor. But you have to budget for some costs. A price-intensive kitchen cabinet from Ikea can also be selected as a terrarium base cabinet.
If you are handy, you also have the option of building one yourself. The subframe is made of 18mm OSB panels and squared timber. You also need 4 dollies for furniture from the hardware store and 2-3 wooden pallets that you use stacked as base cabinets.
Where to Buy an enclosure for a bearded dragon
There are many different ways you can buy a terrarium. At this point we have put together an overview for you and answer the question: Where can I buy a terrarium for bearded dragons?
Terrariums are available in most pet shops. However, for space reasons, they usually only offer comparatively small ones that are not big enough for keeping bearded dragons.
However, you can ask on site whether you can order a terrarium in the desired size from the dealer. This is often possible without any problems and offers the advantage that you can pick it up personally thus save on transport costs. You can also get the right accessories for your terrarium in specialist shops.
Online you have a very large selection of different terrariums for bearded dragons. You can usually get all sizes and materials, complete sets or just the terrarium there.
In addition to the costs for the terrarium, there are sometimes not inconsiderable shipping costs. When you buy a new bearded dragon terrarium, you have the guarantee that it is in perfect working order. If something goes wrong during shipping, you have the right to exchange it.
Buy a used bearded dragon terrarium through classifieds
Used terrariums are also offered on various sales platforms on the Internet. You can really save money here – sometimes even the technology is offered.
A disadvantage is that you can never be completely sure of the condition of the terrarium. If something is wrong with it or damage occurs during transport, the exchange or complaint is often difficult.
On some trading platforms for reptile exchanges, bearded dragons are sometimes offered directly with the terrarium.
People often sell their reptiles because the effort involved in caring for them has become too great or because they can no longer take care of the animal for other reasons.
As a breeder, we distance ourselves from such platforms, since sick or overbred animals are often offered as is.
Can I keep my bearded dragon in a converted aquarium?
It seems practical at first glance: there is still an old aquarium in the basement that can simply be converted to keep a bearded dragon. However, this is not as easy as it seems at first glance. Bearded dragons are fed live prey animals that are not allowed to escape.
So you need a tight-fitting lid to which you can attach the lighting at the same time. You also have to ensure adequate ventilation and do not have the option of reaching in from the front, as is the case with other terrariums.
Due to the lack of ventilation and heat builds up the animals can suffer from a severe lack of oxygen.
Is it worth buying a bearded dragon terrarium complete set?
A terrarium complete set is particularly worthwhile for beginners. There is a very large selection of terrariums for bearded dragons. Thus, it is not easy to decide on the right terrarium size and the accessories.
As a rule, a complete set is cheaper than if you buy a Pogona Vitticeps terrarium and its equipment individually, for example.
With a little more experience, you will later know which parts you need in which quality and you can put together your bearded dragon terrarium yourself.
What is a quarantine terrarium?
This terrarium is smaller than the one that is actually intended for keeping the animals. You only need a simple set-up and ideally it should be made of glass or plastic so that it is easier to clean.
However, you must set up this transitional terrarium in such a way that the bearded dragon can live comfortably and species-appropriately in it for a few weeks.
It needs the same light and heat source as your main terrarium, it needs to be adequately ventilated and provide a place to retreat. Simple kitchen paper or newspaper is sufficient for the floor.
Why do I need a quarantine terrarium?
Any bearded dragon that you buy new should first be placed in a quarantine tank. It is primarily used to monitor the health and to determine whether the animal is free of parasites. Alternatively, you can keep the offspring in it later.
In the quarantine terrarium, the newcomer can get used to the changed conditions and acclimatize. Each new animal should live in this transitional container for at least 6 weeks before it is allowed to move to the correct terrarium.
In a quarantine terrarium, the animal can also hibernate. If you keep several bearded dragons in one terrarium, you should always have a separate terrarium for each animal, as it can quickly happen that the animals suddenly no longer get along.
Does a new animal always have to be quarantined in advance?
If new bearded dragons are to move into a terrarium that is already inhabited, then they must first live in a quarantine terrarium. In this way you can prevent the other animals from possibly being infected with parasites that the new animal brings with them.
Put this terrarium into operation a few days in advance so that the right temperature is guaranteed. The quarantine terrarium can be smaller than the minimum recommended size.
Can you build a terrarium yourself?
This is also possible at any time. The material wood makes it possible. Building the bearded dragon vivarium yourself allows for great customization and size adjustment to the local conditions.
If you want to keep a whole group, you should definitely make the effort and lend a hand. Finished terrariums rarely meet the required size specifications. However, the whole thing takes a lot of time and you should not be clumsy with your hands.
Do you have to have plants in the terrarium?
This is where opinions differ. If you are really serious and want to keep your animals species-appropriate, you should make the effort and provide real plants in the terrarium.
As a beginner, however, you can safely do without them at the beginning and worry about the planting later. Artificial plants are sufficient for the time being.