Desert-dwellers, bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are quite docile omnivores well-suited for captivity. Attaining up to 24 inches in length, they require roomy accommodations. Your living situation, husbandry approaches and experience will influence your enclosure selection. Factor your lizard's needs and your own needs to determine what's best for your bearded dragon.
Plastic Commercial Caging
For the majority of keepers, purchasing a plastic commercial cage designed for bearded dragons or similar lizards is the best course of action. Good examples of these cages feature design elements like integrated lighting and heating attachments, front opening doors and litter dams, all of which will make life much easier for the keeper. Additionally, premium cages are designed with footprints more suited to bearded dragons. Plastic cages are easy to clean and maintain, and often have fewer cracks and crevices than custom-built cages do.
Cattle and livestock troughs are large water and feed containers, available at feed supply stores. Though they're not terribly attractive, cattle troughs are affordable, durable and lighter than comparably sized glass cages. Historically made of galvanized steel, plastic models exist now as well. These containers often come with drains that allow simple draining and cleaning. Though it will require some ingenuity for you to safely attach lights and construct a lid, your lizard will thrive in such an enclosure. While you may not like the aesthetics of these cages, your lizard will love it. Given their functionality, it shouldn't be surprising that professional breeders often use these for habitats.
Building a custom enclosure is an option if you have carpentry skills. Some bearded dragon experience is warranted before you set about designing a cage, as you will be able to better predict how your lizard will engage it. A variety of materials are appropriate; glass, wood, melamine and plastic are among suitable choices. While much of the point in building a custom cage is the flexibility, it makes good sense to start with a layout similar to that of a commercially produced unit, to capitalize on the experience and expertise of others.
Aquariums Aren't Ideal
Glass cages and aquariums offer great visibility and are widely available, but glass is heavy and fragile, and it does not retain heat well. Aquariums large enough to suit a bearded dragon are prohibitively priced compared with plastic enclosures of the same size. At any rate, front-opening glass cages are preferable to proper aquariums, which require removal of some portion of the top to access.
- Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection: Reptile Housing: Size, Dimension and Lifestyle
- Dragon's Den Herpetoculture: Bearded Dragon Care Info
- Sunshinedragons: Care Sheet
- Doctors Foster and Smith: Habitat Checklist: Bearded Dragon
- Sunshinedragons: Setting Up for Your First Bearded Dragon
- Pro Exotics: FAQs