The Proper Way to Set Up a Bearded Dragon Enclosure




Introduction: The Proper Way to Set Up a Bearded Dragon Enclosure

I've noticed throughout Instructables that people are throwing out the wrong information on bearded dragons! really kills me to see that people are telling to put things next to there dragon that can severly harm it or kill it. Please, even for this Instructable, back your information up.


1. 20 - 40 Gallon Tank

2. UVB Light (Recommended: ZooMed Reptisun 5.0 Compact Fluorescent Lamp)

3. Basking Lamp (Recommended: ZooMed 100w Repti Basking Spot Lamp)

4. Nocturnal Heat Lamp (Recommended: ZooMed 100w Nocturnal Infrared Heat Lamp)

5. Ramp

6. Humidity/Temperature Thermometer

7. Light Hoods

8. Hammock (Optional)

9. Food Bowl

10. Fake Plants (Optional)

11. Electrical Timer

12. Rock (Optional)

13. Reptile Carpet

Step 1: Tank

Firstly, you will need a tank. You will need a good amount of room for your dragon to walk around, bask, and whatever else it wants to do. 20 gallons is a good size for baby bearded dragons but you will need to get a bigger one for adults. Don't forget that it needs a top. I have no pictures of mine, but it is a metal/wood frame with wire mesh in the middle. When choosing your tank, you don't always have to buy a tank, but you can build one. If you build one, most people use white lamenated plywood as the structure of it. There are some good instructions on how to build them on the internet as well.

Step 2: Lighting Fixtures & Humidity

Bearded dragons are obviously reptiles so they are cold blooded so they will need warmth to be happy. First, you will need to get your basking light and your nocturnal heat light and put them in a double light hood. You can probably get these at a hardware store, but I prefer light hoods that are made for animals like ZooMed. You will also need to put the UVB light in a light hood, but it needs to be separate from the heat lamp. You can also get the UVB light hood from ZooMed because it is made for the light. Also, when the UVB light reaches around 6 - 8 months of age you will need to replace it because it will wear out. When you hang the lights up you will need to either make or get a light stand. You can get them from pet stores but they are really expensive. I don't know if everyone wants to spend around $40 for a tube of metal with a flat piece of metal stuck to the bottom of it. My stand is just a pieceof wirehung off the top of the book shelf above the enclosure and it has a hook on the bottom for the lamp. Very simple. The UVB lamp just sits on the mesh of the top next to the heat. Also, put a ramp under the heat lamp so your dragon can get closer to the heat if cold. When it comes to turning on and off the lights, you may want a timer to do it for you. In my opinion, I keep my nocturnal light on 24 hours to keep it warm enough and the basking light on only in the day as well as the UBV light. Humidity is a big part to. If the humidity is to high or low your dragon has the risk of getting upper respitory infection. To keep from that happening, keep the humidity around 20% - 30%. Your dragon can get URI from the temp being to low or high. Keep it around 110 degrees during the day and 80 degrees at night.

Step 3: Substrate

One of the biggest mistakes with people caring for bearded dragons... Sand... Please don't use it. Use reptile carpet or nothing at all. I will even put in a link why you should not use it. If you choose reptile carpet, cut it out to the size of the tank and just put it in. Done. Alot easier than cleaning out dirty sand weekly.

Don't use sand - Calcium Sand is the Devil

Step 4: Accessories

You and your bearded dragon will enjoy these. They can make the tank look great and make your dragon more comfortable. First you can get a reptile hammock or you can make one. I found instructions one how to make one so I made mine which I will give the link for the instructions. There is one that ZooMed makes which looks like a pretty good one due to the suction cups to hold it up. Secondly, you can get some fake plants which look nice. Don't even think about getting real plants. They are messy and some can be poisonous. Thirdly, you can get a food bowl for the greens.

*Note that there are many more accessories!

DIY Bearded Dragon Hammock - DIY Bearded Dragon Hammock

Step 5: Try It!

Your basic setup is done! Just put him or her in and see how it like it! Just remember to keep looking for ways to improve your dragons life! Keep them alive!

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    Question 2 years ago on Introduction

    What is the best place in-store or online to find all of the items you need for your beardie?


    6 years ago

    Ive had my bearded dragon for a little over 6 months now (he is probably around 8 months old) and ive been using a "solar mercury" bulb. They are expensive as hell (35-40 per bulb) but can last for over 2000 hours (ive had mine for 4-5 months now about and its still working. Keep in mind i have it on approx. 14 hours a day)

    Ive researched and scourged the internet to make sure i have the best bulb for my dragon. Bearded dragons need their basking spot to be a lot hotter than most lizards (100°+) and most "basking" bulbs dont do justice. They also need a considerable amount of UVB rays that most bulbs dont produce that the solar mercury bulbs i have.

    Remember to ALWAYS have your highest basking point at least 6-8 inches from the light for optimal heating conditions or else your lizard wont get the worth it needs.

    Ps. If your dragon is basking with its mouth open at the spot, consider it a good thing. Some sites may say that they are doing that because they are overheated but its actually what they do to cool down (similar to how dogs pant) when they are at their preferred peak of temperature.

    Pps. The bulb gets VERY hot and will stay very hot for a few minutes after it has been turned off. I recommend, as does common sense, to avoid touching it at all times (even the light dome since they are usually metal and black and conduct heat). If you absolutely MUST, wear heavy duty work gloves to handle it with


    Reply 6 years ago

    As gink below me also said, the nocturnal bulb isnt necessary. As long as your room temperature is above or around 70, its just a waste of money. Beardies are diurnal and therefore dont need the light as do nocturnal reptiles


    Reply 6 years ago

    This is the exact bulb i bought. I was a little generous on the price. Its usually 45 but petsmart had sales sometimes on them


    6 years ago

    Really should start bigger than 20gal to allow room to run around, as well as be able to have a proper heat gradient.

    UVB Should be a T5 or T8 Reptisun 10.0 or similar tube type, not CFL type which emit the UVB at potentially harmful wavelengths and intensities.

    IF you need night time heat (the room doesn't stay above 65 overnight), you should use a Ceramic Heat Emitter, that won't emit any light that will disturb your beardie.

    I know there's a lot of conflicting information out there, but these points are generally agreed upon.


    6 years ago

    A 40-gallon breeder is the absolute minimum size you want to use for an adult bearded dragon. Ideally, they should be in at least a 55-gallon tank. You also don't need nocturnal heat unless the temp in your home is routinely below 65 degrees. Never ever use nocturnal light. If you must heat your tank use a ceramic heat emitter that doesn't emit any light to disturb your beardie's sleep. It's very unhealthy for them.

    CFL UVB lights are also not recommended. A tube light such as the ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 HO T5 is much better for your dragon. A little more expensive but they last a year. Make sure the tube light is at least 70% of the length of the tank and also make sure that your beardie has hides and such to mitigate the light and heat if he wants.

    Be careful with reptile carpet. Your bearded dragon might possibly get his nails caught in the carpet and he can become stuck or rip off a nail which can cause him to lose a lot of blood. If you're not going to set up a bioactive tank then use slate tile. It has the added bonus of helping to keep his nails trimmed and it's much easier to clean.

    You should have a hot side around 105 degrees and a cool side around 85 degrees during the day. Like stated above, you don't need night time heat unless your house is too cold.

    Feel free to message me if you'd like more information.

    Here's my bearded dragon's tank. It's a 75 gallon with bioactive substrate. My dragon is 6 years old and 21 inches long.