Build a Bearded Dragon Vivarium

  • Size depends on how many bearded dragons will be occupying the vivarium, the average bearded dragon will grow to around 18″ in length, however some can easily grow to 24″ so it is well worth checking the with the breeders what size the parents are. Absolute minimum size for a single adult bearded dragon would be 3ft by 2ft and for 2 adults 4 ft by 2ft. Height is not so important but 2 ft minimum.
  • Remember your pet will be living in his new home for most of the day, so you will need to consider carefully what you construct the vivarium from.
  • Bearded Dragons come from hot arid regions and will need suitable lighting which will mimic the sun in the natural environment. You have the option of a fluorescent tube which are available in lengths up to 4ft or a combined UV/basking lamp, I much prefer to use a fluorescent tube for the UV but this is a personnel preference. You will need to think how you will install this into your finished vivarium, hide the wires and make sure your pet can’t come in to direct contact with anything which may burn.
  • The vivarium will need to be heated with both hot and cool areas within the enclosure. As with all reptiles bearded dragons are ‘cold blooded’ and thermoregulate their body temperature by moving around the vivarium. The best way to achieve this is to create a basking area at one end of the vivarium, you can use either a ceramic lamp or a basking bulb. The basking area needs to be around 35-40° C / 95 – 105° F with the cooler areas around 25 – 28 ° C / 78° – 82° F during the day.
  • You will need to decorate your vivarium with suitable items which your bearded dragon can use to both climb and hide. Rocks and large pieces of wood are examples of what you could use. Bearded dragons are quite strong so make sure everything is stable.

Once you have planned your vivarium you will know the sizes of wood you need to have cut for the project. With luck you should be able to have the pieces cut to size when you buy them, this will ensure each piece is exactly the correct size. For instance 2 pieces of 4ft by 2ft conti board for the base and top of the vivarium and 2 pieces 2 x 2 ft for the 2 end pieces. For the back I would suggest plywood, it would be a good idea to cut the hole for the air vents prior to assembling.

With some help stand the pieces of the vivarium together and mark out where you want to drill the holes. After drilling the holes screw the pieces together using countersunk screws of a suitable length, please remember, until you fix the back onto the vivarium it will be very unstable and will need holding in place.

Once you have the walls and back put together you will need two narrow strips of conti board fitting the front of the vivarium. These will need to be approx 2″ in height and run the full length of the inside of the vivarium, these are what your glass doors will run on. After attaching these two strips of wood you can add the runners, available from most hardware stores, these can be cut to length before attaching to the vivarium using a suitable adhesive. Remember the runners come in two sizes; the larger one needs to be on the top of the vivarium in order to hold the glass in place.

You are now ready to insert your glass, when inserting the glass you will lift it into the top runner and push up before dropping into the bottom runner, so measure from the bottom of the top runner to the top of the bottom runner. Remember when taking your glass measurements to allow for an overlap when you close the doors, we would also recommend using toughened glass.

You will need some kind of background adding. Carefully measure the inner measurements of the back of the vivarium and cut your chosen background to size, suitable backgrounds are widely available on the internet and in specialist reptile shops. Using a sealant gun seal all the inside joints, any spilt liquids in the vivarium could cause the wood to warp if it leached into the joints as these will not be protected by the melamine coating.