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How to Choose the Right Cage Size for Bearded Dragons

Emma Stenhouse

March 29, 2021

Whether you’re looking to buy a new bearded dragon or have a juvenile that’s just had a growth spurt, selecting the correct sized tank for your bearded dragon is a critical step in keeping them happy and healthy.

If you’re not sure what size tank or vivarium you should be aiming for, though, keep reading, as we tell you everything that you need to know about finding the perfect setup for any age of bearded dragon.

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The problems of a small tank

Keeping your bearded dragon in a tank that’s too small will affect both their mental and physical health. Without enough space to move around comfortably, your young bearded dragon’s growth can become stunted, and they will never reach their full potential in terms of their size.

It can also lead to them becoming stressed or depressed. It may even contribute to other health conditions that will need veterinary intervention.

bearded dragon
Image Credit: Kevin Khoo, Shutterstock

Before you start

You might think that it makes sense to buy the biggest tank that you can for your baby bearded dragon, to save having to invest in more tanks as they grow and mature. But this actually isn’t a good idea.

You’ll need differently sized tanks to accommodate your bearded dragon as they mature from a baby into a juvenile and then a full-grown adult. Let’s take a look at the tank sizes that you should aim for at each life stage. For every stage, you ideally want to aim for the largest tank size.

Tank size for baby bearded dragons

Baby bearded dragons less than 10 inches in length need a tank size of between 20-40 gallons. Putting your baby dragon in a larger tank can actually make their life harder, as they may struggle to catch any live food that you put in there.

Aim for a 40-gallon tank with measurements of 36”x18”x18”.

As baby bearded dragons haven’t perfected their hunting skills, keeping them in a 20-40-gallon tank will give them room to grow but also make it as easy as possible for them to catch their food.

It’s always recommended to spend time watching your baby dragon as they hunt and catch their food, to make sure they’re coping. If your baby is struggling to catch enough food, you may want to consider placing them in a smaller tank (20 gallons minimum) or hand feeding them some of their food, as they practice their hunting skills.

When your baby bearded dragon reaches 10 inches in size, you’ll want to start preparing a larger tank for them.

orange bearded dragon
Image Credit: Rangga A Firmansyah, Shutterstock

Tank size for juvenile bearded dragons

Juvenile bearded dragons need a tank of between 55-75 gallons. Bearded dragons do grow quickly, often reaching maturity in as little as 18 months. As your juvenile bearded dragon approaches full size, you should start thinking about preparing a larger tank for them.

Aim for a 75-gallon tank measuring 48”x18”x21”.

Tank size for adult bearded dragons

The bare minimum-sized tank for adult bearded dragons is 75 gallons, but ideally, you want to aim for a tank of 120 gallons. This will give them enough space to hunt for food, bask in a warm spot, climb, and find cooler areas.

Aim for a 120-gallon tank with measurements of 48”x24”x24”.

Bearded dragons tend to be considered adult once they’re over 20 inches in length. They can grow to up to 24 inches in length, though.

What type of tank to choose?

You can find tanks made in a range of different materials, including PVC, glass, and melamine. You can even make your own vivarium or tank if your DIY skills are up to scratch.

Whatever material you decide on, there are usually two different types of tanks: top opening and side opening. Top-opening tanks are like fish aquariums, so they’re readily available and come in plenty of different materials. One issue with this type of tank is that you need to reach into the tank from above if you want to take your beardie out. Depending on the personality of your bearded dragon, this can spook them, as seeing something bearing down on them from above can feel like a predator attack in the wild.

The other option is a side-opening tank, which makes it much easier to reach in and tend to your bearded dragon without frightening them. These tanks can be a little more expensive, but they’re our preferred option once your bearded dragon is fully grown.

a bearded dragon
Image Credit: Built_Katbandit, Shutterstock

What about lids?

Whatever type of tank you decide on, make sure the lid allows for enough ventilation, while also keeping in heat. Screen lids are a good choice ,as they will keep heat in but still allow for air to circulate.

Bearded dragons love to climb, so make sure your lid is secure enough that it can’t be knocked out of place by an adventurous beardie!

Tank height and width matters

You might think that you’ve selected the right size tank in terms of gallons, but make sure it’s high and wide enough as well. We recommend a tank with a height and width of 24 inches. Taller tanks allow for your bearded dragon to move toward or away from the heat source at the top, so if you provide plenty of levels for them to choose from, they can find the perfect spot!

They also love to climb, so a taller tank allows for multiple climbing perches for them to enjoy.

You want to make sure your beardie can turn around comfortably, and a 24-inch tank width should allow for that once your dragon is fully grown.

Can bearded dragons be kept together?

This isn’t usually recommended, as they can be territorial, which will lead to fights and potential injuries. Unless your two dragons have been raised together since they hatched, this isn’t a route that we would recommend.

Keeping two bearded dragons together leads to increased risks of fights and subsequent injuries, which can lead to expensive veterinary bills. The dragons can become territorial, with one refusing to share food and basking areas.

If you do have two dragons that you need to house together, then combining two tanks of 75 gallons each should give them enough space, or you could invest in a large 150-gallon tank if you hope to keep them together long term.

We suggest having a back-up tank ready to re-house one dragon if they do suddenly become territorial.

two bearded dragons
Image Credit: Kevin Khoo, Shutterstock

Preparation

Before you go ahead and buy your bearded dragon, remember that you’ll have to kit out their tank to provide an environment as close to what they would have in the wild. This will include:

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The right tank size is crucial

Finding the right size tank for your bearded dragon will help make them feel comfortable and safe in their new home. Some baby bearded dragons can cope fine in a larger tank right from the get-go, but many owners prefer to start them off in a smaller tank.

Once your bearded dragon approaches full size, it’s always best to get them the biggest tank that you can afford! This will help them stay healthy and happy, with plenty of space to climb, chase their food, and bask in the warmth of their heat lamp!


Featured Image Credit: Josie Elias, Shutterstock

Emma Stenhouse

Emma is a freelance writer, specializing in writing about pets, outdoor pursuits, and the environment. Originally from the UK, she has lived in Costa Rica and New Zealand before moving to a smallholding in Spain with her husband, their 4-year-old daughter, and their dogs, cats, horses, and poultry. When she's not writing, Emma can be found taking her dogs for walks in the rolling fields around their home...and usually, at least some of the cats come along, too! Emma is passionate about rescuing animals and providing them with a new life after being abandoned or abused. As well as their own four rescue dogs, she also fosters dogs for re-homing, providing them with love and training while searching for their forever homes.