Skip to content
What Size Enclosure Does A Bearded Dragons Need?

What Size Enclosure Does A Bearded Dragons Need?

What Size Enclosure Do Bearded Dragons Need?

Many new bearded dragon owners bring home their new pet with “bearded dragon kits” and care pamphlets from the pet store. Some may never question this, and assume that the pet store would not sell anything inadequate for animals. After all, if the kit was designed for bearded dragons, it must be ideal... right?
If you are here, perhaps you are questioning how adequate these ready-made pet store kits are, or you may have even discovered how dangerous pet store kits can really be!
We are here to shed some light on what bearded dragons really need to thrive!
This article will help you give your bearded dragon a safe and adequate setup that will last their entire lifetime!

Zen Habitats Reptile Enclosures

Understanding Bearded Dragon Habitat

Bearded dragons are native to the arid, semi-desert regions of Australia, where they have ample space to roam and bask under the sun. Mimicking their natural habitat in captivity is essential for their physical and psychological health. Enclosures serve not only as shelter but also as environments where they can thermoregulate and exercise. Too small of an enclosure can hinder the bearded dragon’s ability to express natural behaviors and even their bodies ability to complete essential processes.

Why 4x2x2 Enclosures Are Ideal

The minimum required enclosure size for a bearded dragon is 4 feet in length, 2 feet in width, and 2 feet in height (4x2x2). This of course is a minimum, and does not mean you cannot go larger if you’d like. Here’s why ~120 gallons is the minimum required space for a bearded dragon:

Space to Move: Bearded dragons, although only a medium-sized lizard, can be quite active creatures that require space to roam and explore. In a 4x2x2 enclosure, they can move freely and exhibit natural behaviors such as climbing, digging, and basking.

Thermoregulation: Bearded dragons are cold-blooded (ectothermic), meaning they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. A larger enclosure allows for the creation of thermal gradients, with cooler and warmer zones, essential for proper body processes and long-term health. Without adequate thermal gradients, bearded dragons may not be able to adequately escape heating sources, leading to overheating and/or inability to brumate properly.

Environmental Enrichment: Enriching your bearded dragon’s habitat with branches, rocks, plants, and hides encourages natural behaviors and provides mental stimulation. A 4x2x2 enclosure offers ample room to incorporate these elements without overcrowding the space. If you choose to create a bioactive habitat with live plants, a 120-gallon habitat also allows for the proper light and thermal gradients for growing various arid plant species like succulents or cacti.

Growth and Development: Young bearded dragons grow rapidly during their first year of life, often reaching their full adult size around 10-months of age. A larger enclosure accommodates their quick growth rate. Young bearded dragon’s started in a smaller enclosure will likely need to be upgraded to their adult setup in as little as 6 - 8 months; therefore, it is better to start your young beardie in an enclosure that is adequate for their adult size instead of purchasing multiple enclosures.

Why 40-Gallon Breeder and 20-Gallon Long Tanks Are Too Small for Bearded Dragons

While 40-gallon breeder tanks and 20-gallon long tanks were previously the standard of care for bearded dragons and still widely used for other commonly kept reptile species, they are inadequate for adult bearded dragons due to the following reasons:

- Limited Space: These tanks do not provide enough floor space for bearded dragons to move freely and exhibit natural behaviors.

- Stress and Behavioral Issues: Glass is not understood by reptiles and can lead to stress and behavioral problems such as aggression (head-bobbing/black beard), confusion (glass surfing/nose rubbing), and agitation (pacing) when the animal sees their reflection or tries to get through the “invisible wall” repeatedly. Reptiles can also become stressed when their owners reach overhead into top-opening enclosures to service their habitat. The animal feels like a predator is swooping down for them, and may react in fight or flight mode.

- Temperature Regulation: It's challenging to maintain proper temperature gradients in smaller tanks, potentially leading to health issues related to improper thermoregulation. Additionally, glass is a poor choice for heat retention, leading to wasted energy and difficulties maintaining proper temperatures. 

Choosing the right size enclosure is crucial for the long-term health and happiness of your bearded dragon. A 4x2x2 enclosure provides the optimal environment, allowing them to thrive by allowing them to exhibit natural behaviors and properly thermoregulate.
Avoid settling for smaller tanks like 40-gallon breeders and 20-gallon long aquariums to ensure your pet has the space and conditions they need to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
By offering your bearded dragon the largest enclosure you can, you can provide your pet with a comfortable and stimulating habitat that mirrors its natural habitat as closely as possible.

More Resources

Cart 0

Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping