Bearded Dragon Enclosure Size & Cohabitation

 


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Terrarium Size Guidelines

A bearded dragon enclosure needs to be big enough to provide enough space for appropriate mobility along the horizontal and vertical planes, accommodate freedom of choice, and facilitate a proper temperature gradient. According to my observations, this cannot be accomplished in anything smaller than 3x the lizard’s total length and 24″ / 60cm tall.

Bearded dragons have an average total length of 19-23″ (The Bearded Dragon Manual, Vosjoli et al., 2001), which means that the absolutely minimum appropriate size recommended by ReptiFiles for permanently housing a single bearded dragon is 6’L x 2’W x 2’H (1.8m x 0.6 x 0.6m). For enclosures of alternative dimensions, the internal volume should be no less than 24 cubic feet.

Given that climbing is a natural and frequently-occurring part of Pogona vitticeps‘ behavioral repertoire, whenever possible, a bearded dragon enclosure should offer at least 3′ / 0.9m of usable vertical space.

Remember: Bigger is always better, as long as you use the space well.

Why such a large enclosure for just one bearded dragon?

You may have noticed that the above recommendation is different from most sources. The thought of requiring a 6x2x2 enclosure or larger for a single lizard may seem unreasonable, and even disheartening if you’re already keeping your pet in a 4x2x2 and thought that you were already following best practice.

Once upon a time, a 36″L x 18″W x 18″H enclosure was thought to be plenty of space for a bearded dragon, despite the fact that they are active lizards capable of growing up to 24″ long. This minimum standard was raised to 48″L x 18″W x 21″, and then 48″L x 24″W x 24″H as it became apparent that the former standards were inadequate for meeting a bearded dragon’s basic needs for thermoregulation and exercise in captivity. Now, after observing that the 4’x2’x2′ standard is still not quite meeting pet bearded dragons’ needs, it’s time to raise the bar yet again.

ReptiFiles’ current recommendation for bearded dragons still pales beside other widely-accepted sources of best practice in reptile housing. According to the Federation of British Herpetologists’ 2022 update to minimum housing for reptiles, members of the Pogona genus should have an enclosure which measures at least 6x3x3 SVL, or roughly 6’L x 3’W x 3’H for bearded dragons. Furthermore, according to the German Society for Herpetology and Terrariums, the recommendation for Pogona is 5x4x3 SVL, or roughly 5’L x 4’W x 3’H.

Although I would like for ReptiFiles’ minimum recommendation to be more in agreement with these authorities, I have to take into consideration that 36″x18″x18″ is still widely practiced in the USA and some new keepers still struggle with the 4’x2’x2′ standard. This 6’x2’x2’/24 cubic feet minimum is my attempt at a “compromise” which pushes USA bearded dragon keepers toward a better standard without shocking the system too much.

As the United States improves in its standard of care for bearded dragons, I intend to revise the housing standards in this care manual again.

ReptiFiles-approved enclosures for bearded dragons:

Custom Reptile Habitats (read the ReptiFiles Review)

Kages (with the “2 square screens” top option)

Zen Habitats (read the ReptiFiles Review)

Toad Ranch Luxury Reptile Habitats

Can you house 2 (or more) bearded dragons in the same tank?

It’s so tempting to buy more than one bearded dragon! They’re too cute to get just one, right? And housing them together just makes sense, right? After all, everyone needs a friend, and you’ll end up saving money on equipment, right?

Wrong. Here’s the facts of the matter:

Two adult female bearded dragons have been known to get along well enough, but they will have dominance disputes . This means that you will get to see beard flaring, head bobbing, and arm-waving. The submissive one will typically get last rights to basking spots and food, and will be more prone to illness due to stress.

Click here to see what happened after two long-term roommates got in a squabble.

Two male bearded dragons should never be housed together. Period. With them, dominance disputes can turn into real fights, and one or both may be injured or even killed.

One male and one female should also never be housed together. Putting two animals of opposite gender together nearly always results in mating, which leads to babies. Unless you want tons of baby bearded dragons (one female can produce up to 100 babies from a single mating), buy only one.

If you do want tons of baby bearded dragons, know what you’re getting into and please reconsider. There are lots of reptiles which need a passionate person to establish a viable captive population, but there are already too many bearded dragons on the market already. You will have a very difficult time finding homes for all of the babies.

Bearded dragons of different ages/sizes:

Well, this picture shows more or less everything you need to know on the subject. Just don’t do it!

Incompatible bearded dragon roommates

Source unknown

To sum it up, bearded dragons are not social animals in the sense that they need or even benefit from being housed together with other members of their species. Cohabitation of bearded dragons comes with lots of risks and few, if any, potential benefits to the animals. ReptiFiles strongly recommends against housing bearded dragons together under any circumstances.

 


Keep reading about bearded dragon care:

  1. Introduction to Bearded Dragons
  2. Bearded Dragon Shopping List
  3. Enclosure Size & Cohabitation
  4. Heating & Lighting Requirements
  5. Substrate Options
  6. Enclosure Decor & Environmental Enrichment
  7. What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
  8. Handling Tips
  9. Common Diseases and Other Health Info
  10. Additional Resources

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