How to Make a Terrarium for a Bearded Dragon

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Good bearded dragon enclosures are often the simplest to set up.
Good bearded dragon enclosures are often the simplest to set up. (Image: young bearded dragon image by Robert Percival from Fotolia.com)

Bearded dragons are energetic, friendly and personable pets, and require simple care compared to many other reptiles. A large terrarium is the most important requirement to meet, as a full-grown dragon should be kept in no smaller than a 50-gallon habitat. You can make your dragon’s terrarium as detailed or as minimalist as you choose, but always keep in mind that simpler enclosures will be easier to clean in the long run.

Things You'll Need

  • 50-gallon+ terrarium
  • Substrate
  • Branches
  • 2 thermometers
  • Mesh reptile lid
  • Cage clips
  • Basking light
  • Food and water dishes

Locate the terrarium in a draft-free area of the home, away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations.

Place a substrate or cave covering in your bearded dragon’s terrarium. The substrate can be as simple as newspaper or artificial grass, or you can use a commercially available reptile substrate meant for desert reptiles. Bearded dragons will especially enjoy digging in sand-style reptile substrate, which you can easily clean with a fine-grade kitty litter scoop.

Decorate your dragon enclosure with plenty of wide, sturdy branches for climbing, and provide at least one hiding place, such as a cardboard box, for your bearded dragon to escape to. All branches should be at least as wide as your dragon’s body for his comfort, and need to be sturdy enough not to tip over when climbed upon.

Place one thermometer in each end of the tank to monitor the “hot” and “cold” sides of the terrarium.

Secure a mesh reptile lid over the terrarium with cage clips. Be sure that the clips hold the lid firmly in place to prevent your bearded dragon from escaping.

Place a basking light over one end of the terrarium, in an area where the bearded dragon cannot touch it directly. Commercial basking lights designed for reptiles provide both heat and the essential UV light your dragon needs for proper metabolism and vitamin absorption. Bearded dragons do best when kept at 78 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and the low to mid-70s throughout the night. The area immediately below the basking area should be kept at 95 to 100 degrees in the day. Always make sure that your bearded dragon can move away from the heat of the basking light if it should get too hot.

Place food and water dishes in the terrarium.

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