Housing is a very important thing to think about with your bearded dragon as a good authentic well sized habitat will mean your beardie can be happy and have sufficient space.
Bearded dragons live in rocky arid semi desert regions of Australia and arid areas of woodland. Accomplished climbers they can be often found hanging on branches, bushes and on other plant matter whilst also basking in the open sun.
Whilst a tiny hatchling would find 10-20 gallon a sufficient space a full adult growing up to 2 foot ideally needs 60-80 gallon enclosure. That means for an adult bearded dragon the bare minimum would be 36″ x 18″ x 18″,comparative to a 50 gallon aquarium. Here is a list of good bearded dragon cages that offer enough space for your beardie to walk around and exercise.
Whether you decide to build your own or buy one from a retailer the bigger size is always advisable. A dragon unlike Chamelions prefer more horizontal floor space than vertical climbing space therefore a 42″ x 24″ x 20″ would be ideal.
Vivariums or Terrariums?
n. pl. vi·var·i·ums or vi·var·i·a
A place, especially an indoor enclosure, for keeping and raising living animals and plants under natural conditions for observation or research.
n. pl. ter·rar·i·ums or ter·rar·i·a
A small enclosure or closed container in which selected living plants and sometimes small land animals, such as turtles and lizards, are kept and observed.
So it really doesn’t matter what you call them as they are both very similar definitions however there are still lots of different choices. Whilst in your local pet store or online you will find glass, perspex and net/mesh vivariums I will explain why I prefer to opt for a wooden vivarium with a glass front.
Perspex Vivarium – Perspex is a low quality material which will do nothing to reduce humidity. While they are cheap and look okay they will scuff over time, especially if you use a grainy substrate like a sand.
Net / Mesh Vivarium – These vivariums release a lot of their heat, and also can greatly stress your bearded dragon as they will rub their noses against the surface causing nose trauma from abrasions.
Wire Cage – This is the biggest no no as it holds pretty much no heat so is far from economic and hard to maintain a temperature through the seasons it can also result in foot and nose traumas.
Glass Vivarium – Glass is the most popular choice in the community and is by no means bad however it will keep the humidity level a little higher than my preferred choice. Glass is very easy to clean and does hold the heat pretty well.
Wooden Vivarium – My favourite as it looks the best in your room and has very few plastic cheap looking parts, keeps humidity at a good level and has a glass front. The only thing to check with this choice is that you seal it well so if moisture does get in the gaps the wood doesn’t bow. I know with mine that if this isn’t sealed it voids the warranty.
It is also important to ensure the enclosure is spot cleaned when you notice some mess, as this can keep the general cleanliness of the vivarium both for longer and more manageable. To assist in this very fact it is advised to keep the layout fairly simple and not too cluttered that you find it hard to notice the odd poop here or there that has fell of the side of a log decoration.
Make Your Own
If you have the creativity, access to tools and the right materials then it can be both very affordable to build your own vivarium. The beauty of this option is the sentimental value that you hand crafted your little friends house and can elaborate on design’s you have seen by adding in shelves for your dragon to climb up to and bask on. There are guides online to explain how you would approach creating your own viv.
When buying or building a terrarium remember to always have it created, setup and at the temperature conditions necessary so when you get your dragon home he can go straight in, leaving him to wait whilst you assemble can increase their stress levels when really they need to begin adjusting to their new habitat. This also means try and get the necessary essentials setup and some decorations and hide’s for your beardie to enjoy.