Small Breed Rescue of Southern California


Animal Type:
Animal Breed:
Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragon Enclosure Requirements

Bearded Dragon Enclosure Requirements

Most all reptiles require a variation of the same basic components to be healthy; Appropriately Sized Enclosure, UVA/UVB Lighting, Timer, Overhead or Underneath Heating, Thermostatic Controller, Substrate, Hide, and a Water Source. It is important to size these components appropriately to each other as well.

Below is a diagram covering the basic minimum components of your reptiles enclosure. We have provided links at the bottom of this page to help you locate and purchase these items often at a much lower price than what you might find at your local pet store.

Basic Recommendations

Bearded Dragon

Enclosure - Optimally you are going to want a 30-40 gallon front opening terrarium. This allows you easy access to the animal without having to touch or move hot light housings. Most reptiles prefer to be approached from in front of rather than above as well. Any one of the following would make a good choice. Understand that differences in each enclosure what alter your heating/lighting needs.

  • Thrive 40 Gallon Front Opening : We Highly Recommend the Thrive 40 Gallon front opener from Petsmart. It has the most thought out design features of any of the front opening enclosures, however they are getting harder to find anymore and when you do they are often only available as a kit so make sure you can use what is included.
  • ExoTerra 40 Gallon Front Opener : A good terrarium with a quality build. You can often find these bare or in a kit (make sure you can use what is included).
  • ZooMed 40 Gallon Front Opener : Probably the most readily available of the 40 gallon front openers. Not as feature rich with the design as the prior two and the kits often include things you shouldn't use like reptisand or too small/wrong type of lighting. 
  • Kages Ethical Reptile Enclosures or some equivalent large melamine or pvc enclosure. These look and perform amazing but do come at a cost. We do not require these but do hope you consider it for the lifetime needs of your animal when the time comes. These do pose additional challenges to protecting your dragon from hot lights and fixtures.

Lighting - You are going to want strong UVB lighting with strong UVA lighting. We have found that a combination of fluorescent UVB and halogen heat lamps work the best when using a 30-40 gallon glass enclosure. The combination of these two generates a manageable basking area easily without the complications and risks of overheating when using a single mercury vapor bulb or underheating of flash heating when using a ceramic heat emitter. Note that not all halogen lights are safe for your reptiles, some have internal reflectors that do not diffuse light well, so they create intense hot spots light a magnifying glass even at a distance.

Heating - An under tank heat mat is not the primary heat, but rather your overnight heat and set to the lowest temperature you wnat your enlcosure to reach. As heat rises, you can help create a gradient for your Dragon to sleep i. This is especially important in the winter months.  

  • Flukers Heat Mat 20 w - This heat tape style of heat mat last the longest, has the lowest profile and provides more than enough heat to get you started on a 40 gallon glass enclosure.

Themostat - Do not ever place an heating with your reptile without it being controlled by a thermostat or you risk baking or burning your pet.

Timer - Having a consistent light cycle actually benefits your reptiles health both by ensuring a consistent 12hr UVB period and a consistent 12hr rest period.

  • Basic Light Timer - Any basic 120v timer that has a 3 prong switched outlet and provides a 12hr on/off cycle will work

Substrate - 

  • Sani Chips - This removes moisture well, is easy to clean up, and provides a safe bedding for your juvenile to adult Bearded Dragon. Consider using something less ingestable for your babies until they are old enough.

Hide- We are flexible when it comes to the hide as long as it is safe for the lizard and large enough for them to hide inside completely. Be careful when using fish decorations as hides as they may have sharp edges or passages the lizard can get up and into where they can get stuck.

Water Bowl- We are flexible when it comes to the water bowl as long as it is safe and large enough for your beardy to soak in but shallow enough they cant drown.

  • ZooMed Reptirock Corner Bowl We love corner bowls, the take up less room and come in all kinds of sizes. Its best to see these in person prior buying to make sure they are the right size.