Bearded dragons are incredible pets, boasting a unique combination of fascinating appearance, docile temperament, and endearing personality. To ensure your bearded dragon thrives and enjoys a healthy life, it’s essential to provide them with a suitable habitat. A critical aspect of this habitat is selecting the right tank size.
Juvenile bearded dragons should have a tank that’s at least 20 gallons large, while adults should have at least 60 gallons – though a 75 to 120-gallon tank is preferred.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about bearded dragon tank sizes for every stage of their life, ensuring your scaly friend lives comfortably and happily.
Understanding Bearded Dragon Growth and Size
Before diving into the specifics of tank sizes, it’s crucial to understand the growth and size of bearded dragons. These unique reptiles are native to Australia and can grow quite large as they mature.
Juvenile bearded dragon size
Young bearded dragons, often referred to as juveniles, are usually between 3 to 6 inches long when they hatch. They grow rapidly during their first year of life, reaching about 12 to 18 inches by the time they turn one year old.
Adult bearded dragon size
Adult bearded dragons continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace, eventually reaching their full size at around 18 to 24 inches in length. This includes their tail, which makes up about half of their total body length. Adult bearded dragons typically weigh between 300 to 600 grams.
Recommended Tank Sizes
Now that you have a basic understanding of bearded dragon growth and size let’s explore the recommended tank sizes for both juveniles and adults.
Tank size for juveniles
For juvenile bearded dragons, a tank size of 20 to 40 gallons is generally recommended. This provides ample space for your growing pet to move around, explore, and engage in natural behaviors. A tank measuring approximately 30 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches tall should suffice for juveniles.
Tank size for adults
Adult bearded dragons require a larger enclosure due to their increased size. A tank size of 75 to 120 gallons is advised, with a minimum size of 48 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches tall. The larger the tank, the better, as it allows your bearded dragon more space to roam and exercise.
Pros and cons of upgrading tanks
Some owners prefer to start with a smaller tank for juveniles and upgrade to a larger tank as their bearded dragon grows. This approach can save space and money initially but requires a transition to a larger enclosure eventually.
Alternatively, you can invest in a larger tank from the beginning, which may require a larger initial investment but can save a lot of money in the long run, as well as the hassle of upgrading later on.
How to Choose the Right Bearded Dragon Tank Size
While bigger is generally better when it comes to reptile tanks, there are a few more factors that play a role in this decision.
The two main types of reptile enclosures are those for ground-dwelling reptiles with mostly horizontal or floor space, and those for tree-dwelling reptiles with a lot of vertical space.
As bearded dragons are ground-dwelling, make sure to choose a tank with a focus on horizontal space! A height of 18 inches is generally recommended, as more provides minimal benefit. However, as long as you don’t sacrifice ground space, having more vertical space won’t hurt!
Available space in your home
Another factor is that of course, the tank has to actually fit into your home or apartment. It’s important to not place the enclosure in a place with direct sun exposure, which can hurt your bearded dragon’s eyes and overheat the tank in summer.
You should also not keep the tank in a well-frequented place – if you constantly run past the tank, or have kids playing near it, it would be too much stimulation and stress for your little reptile.
It’s better to have a slightly smaller tank in a good place, rather than a large tank in an awkward spot!
Effects of Tank Size on Bearded Dragons
A common thought is that a reptile tank only needs to be big enough to fit a hiding place, a dish for water and food, and a lamp. But this couldn’t be further from the truth!
A tank like that would feel like a prison cell to your reptile. Without an environment to explore and play in, hiding spots to escape to, and temperature gradients for self-regulation, your reptile will not feel comfortable or safe.
A small tank does not only stress out your bearded dragon, but can make them sick and shorten its lifespan!
Space for natural behaviors
Bearded dragons need enough space to engage in their natural behaviors, such as basking, climbing, and exploring. A properly sized tank allows them to move around freely, stretch their limbs, and comfortably navigate their environment. An enclosure that is too small can lead to stress, boredom, and a decline in overall well-being.
Exercise and muscle development
Adequate tank size is essential for bearded dragons to get the exercise they need to maintain muscle tone and prevent obesity. A spacious enclosure encourages your pet to stay active, promoting healthy growth and development. An undersized tank can limit their ability to move and exercise, leading to potential health problems and a shorter lifespan.
Appropriate tank size is crucial for maintaining the necessary temperature gradient for your bearded dragon’s health. A larger tank makes it easier to establish distinct basking and cool areas, ensuring your pet can thermoregulate effectively. In a smaller tank, it can be challenging to maintain the correct temperature range, which can lead to stress, illness, and even death.
Mental stimulation and enrichment
A suitably sized tank allows for a more enriching environment for your bearded dragon. By providing ample space for various furnishings, hides, and climbing structures, you can create a stimulating habitat that keeps your pet engaged and mentally active. A cramped or monotonous environment can lead to boredom, stress, and a decline in your bearded dragon’s mental health.
A spacious and well-organized tank can significantly reduce stress in your bearded dragon. Providing your pet with plenty of room to move, hide, and bask helps them feel secure and comfortable. Stress can weaken the immune system, making your bearded dragon more susceptible to illness and reducing their overall quality of life.
Prevention of territorial disputes
If you plan to house more than one bearded dragon in a single enclosure, it’s crucial to provide ample space to prevent territorial disputes. Although it’s generally not recommended to cohabitate bearded dragons, if you choose to do so, a larger tank size is essential for minimizing aggression, stress, and potential injuries.
Setting Up the Tank
Once you’ve chosen the right tank size and type, it’s time to set up the perfect habitat for your bearded dragon. This is only a short summary – click here to read our full guide on setting up your bearded dragon tank!
Placement and location
The location of the tank is crucial for maintaining a stable environment. Place the tank away from drafts, direct sunlight, and heat sources such as radiators. Make sure the tank is in a quiet area of your home where your bearded dragon can feel secure.
Heating and lighting setup
Bearded dragons require a specific temperature range and lighting to thrive. Set up a basking area with a heat lamp on one side of the tank, allowing for a temperature gradient with a cooler area on the opposite side. The basking area should reach a temperature of 95 to 110°F, while the cooler side should be between 75 to 85°F. Provide a UVB light to help your bearded dragon synthesize vitamin D3, which is essential for calcium absorption and overall health.
Substrate and furnishings
Choose an appropriate substrate for the tank, such as reptile carpet, newspaper, or tile. Avoid using loose substrates like sand, as they can cause impaction if ingested. Provide furnishings such as branches, rocks, and hiding spots to mimic a natural environment and offer enrichment for your bearded dragon. Ensure all items are securely placed to prevent injuries.
Upgrading the Tank as Your Bearded Dragon Grows
As your bearded dragon grows, it’s essential to upgrade the tank to accommodate its increasing size. However, you can also skip this step and save a LOT of money by simply buying the “adult size” tank from the start!
Signs it’s time to upgrade
Monitor your bearded dragon’s behavior and overall health to determine when it’s time to upgrade the tank. If your pet seems cramped or has difficulty turning around and moving comfortably, it may be time to transition to a larger enclosure.
Transitioning to a larger enclosure
When upgrading to a larger tank, take the opportunity to reevaluate the setup and make any necessary adjustments to the heating, lighting, and furnishings. Ensure the new enclosure maintains the appropriate temperature gradient and UVB exposure.
Adjusting heating and lighting
As you transition to a larger enclosure, it’s essential to adjust the heating and lighting setup accordingly. You may need to upgrade to a more powerful heat lamp or use multiple lamps to maintain the proper temperature gradient. Additionally, adjust the UVB light to ensure it covers the entire length of the new tank.
Providing your bearded dragon with a suitable tank size is essential for their health and well-being. By understanding the growth and size of your pet, selecting the ideal tank size, and setting up a comfortable and safe environment, you can ensure your bearded dragon thrives in its habitat.
Continuously monitor your bearded dragon’s growth and make adjustments as needed to provide them with the best possible care. With the right tank size and setup, your bearded dragon will be a happy, healthy, and beloved member of your family.