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Bearded Dragon Enclosure Size & Cohabitation

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?

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.

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

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.

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