Introduction: Bearded Dragon Enclosure

About: I've built houses, decks, custom cabinets, furniture of all types. Ive done furniture repair and restoration, residential and commercial remodels, restaurant seating and tables and hotel furniture. Ive been a …

I bought my fiancé a bearded dragon 3 years ago. I built his enclosure for him and it has served well. The enclosure is 4' wide and 2' deep 2' tall. This is an ideal size for a fully grown adult (normal) bearded dragon. However Goliath is far from normal. He has a thing for the living room window. He loves laying on a pillow on the window sill and wanders around the living room. Sometimes he will lay behind my PS3 and take a nap. He sleeps in his cage at night and will bask on his rock in the morning but by early afternoon he is scratching on his doors. When we slide them open, he crawls out and up the ramp to the window sill, where he just stares outside all day. We even purchased a second UVB bulb for basking while outside his cage. His enclosure has become nothing more than a bedroom for him. So the fiancé and I decided to shrink it down a bit to save some space.
PLEASE NOTE: The proper sized enclosure for an adult bearded dragon 8 square feet and at least 8-10" of distance from the bottom of the heat bulb.
In this step by step, I am dis-assembling the old one and using that material to make a smaller enclosure (about half size.)
I have included Sketch-up plans for the large version and smaller version of this Enclosure. You could easily change any dimension that you would need, to suit your pet.

Sketch-up plans for the smaller enclosure 30"X24"X24"
Sketch-up plans for the larger enclosure is 48"X24"X24"

Step 1: Dis-assemble or Gather Your Materials

I started by removing the decoration and the basking shelf. Then I removed the poultry fabric top and the Plexiglas doors with the slide rails.
Once I dis-assembled the entire enclosure I cut the bottom panel to size. The sides did not need to be cut.
I did have to peel off a bunch of old tile and glue blotches. This material has been re-used quite a bit. It's looking a bit rough so the end result is going to be more function than looks. Later on, I can put molding on this unit and paint it if I need to, but for now it is fine.
This unit can be made with a half sheet of ply-wood (and some extra shop scraps for the horizontal beams on top and in front.) I recommend 1/2" but the sketch-up plans use 3/4" It is all ply-wood except, the slide rails for the doors and the doors of course.
Material list (if buying new)
  • 1 sheet 1/2" Baltic birch ply-wood
  • 3/4"X1"X8' poplar
  • 2- 1/8"-1/4" Plexiglas 15 1/2"X17"
  • 1/4" hole Poultry fabric for the top
  • 1-1/4" screws (I used drywall screws, they may not be that strong for structure assembly but I can compensate that weakness with numbers!)
Tool list (What I used)
  • Cordless drill and cordless screw-gun
  • Table-saw
  • Crosscut sled
  • Tin-snips (for cutting the poultry fabric)

Step 2: Cut the Bottom and Back Panel

I had to cut the bottom panel and the back panel first. After these are cut to the same width, I screwed them together. I also had to cut the horizontal front and top beams to the same width as the back and bottom panel. I decided to use the better looking sides of plywood for the inside of the enclosure. I will later fill any holes and paint the outside. I also kept the floor tile on the bottom panel, this makes it easy to keep clean.

Step 3: Begin Assembly

Once the bottom and back panel are screwed together I attached the side panels. Nothing real special here, they are just screwed in to the bottom and back panel.

At this point, it’s a good idea to drill a couple vent holes in the bottom sides or back. Nothing big is needed, the top is completely open so a little hole in the bottom will pull plenty of fresh air in (physics).

I added a basking shelf at this point. The shelf is optional and will give a cooler area for your beardy to go hide and sleep in. My shelf goes across the entire width of the enclosure and about half deep.

Step 4: Cut and Install the Sliding Doors

Using the same dimensions as your front and top horizontal beams. Cut 2 sticks of 3/4" X1" Poplar and using the table saw cut 1/4" grooves that will allow the Plexiglas doors to slide freely in. Then using a spring clamp hold the slide rails in position and pre-drill and countersink a hole on each end of the sticks, then attach the rails at one side only (the same side) with screws.

Now measure the width of the opening and divide it in half, then add 3/4" and you have the proper width for each door. Then, while the rails are screwed in at one end measure the height. Remember, you want a little bit of play on the height dimension to ensure easy sliding and no binding of the doors.

Then simply slide each Plexiglas panel in different grooves. Slide them all the way to the side that is screwed in and push the rails flush with the front and screw that side into the front frame.

Step 5: Finish It

The last thing I did was screw the poultry fabric to the top. I used tin snips to cut it to proper size.
Once this is done I sanded any sharp corners inside the enclosure and vacuumed the inside. Then a final wipe down with a damp rag.
Place his rocks and decorations, then install the heat and UVB lamp.
The outside is not pretty. I will later on add molding and fill the holes and screw dings then paint it.

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