The Best Size Tank For A Bearded Dragon
Something often overlooked by new bearded dragon owners is understanding that tank size matters.
For bearded dragons, having the proper tank size is essential for not only their health but also their well-being.
A tank that’s too small can cause both stress and health issues. So let’s get right into this one now.
Tank Size for a Baby Bearded Dragon
If you are getting a baby bearded dragon (under 12 inches), you may have read that a 20-gallon tank is acceptable.
Now, whilst this is technically true that it provides enough room for the beardie, it actually provides a few problems:
It Won’t Last You Long
A baby beardie will not remain a baby for long! Beardies grow quite fast, they have evolved to do so. Living as solitary animals in the wild, a beardie will need to fend for itself from a young age.
This means growing fast. Unfortunately for owners, this means that they quickly outgrow their stuff- like their tank!
If you go and purchase a 20-gallon tank, you will only really get about 3 months of use from it before you need to upgrade the size.
It would be far better to plan ahead and invest early in a suitable size tank which will last for at least 12 months.
Environmental Control is Difficult
In any bearded dragon enclosure, you need to provide a gradient of temperatures. Creating hot and cool zones in the tank allows your beardie to regulate its temperature effectively.
In a 20 gallon tank, it can be incredibly difficult to get this right. In the early months of your beardie’s development, this is definitely not something that you want to get wrong.
Beardies Hate Change
A bearded dragon is quite a particular creature and it likes things just-so. Making unnecessary changes to their environment can cause elevated levels of stress.
In doing so, a number of conditions can occur from eating disorders to a weakened immune system. Again, this is something you need to avoid in the early years.
It is therefore far better not to keep changing tank size.
One change from baby to adult is manageable, however, you do not want to be changing every 3 to 6 months in the early years.
A 40-gallon tank (36 x 18 x 18 inches) will last your baby beardie for 10-12 months until they reach a size of around 20 inches at which point you can transition to an adult size tank.
You may be thinking, “why not just go for an adult size tank right from the start”? Well, keep reading to find out why that may not be such a great idea.
Should I Just Get an Adult’s Tank for a Baby Beardie?
The simple answer is, no. It is actually possible for a baby beardie, kept in captivity to be placed in too large a tank.
You may have heard or read that beardies originate from the desert where they have infinite amounts of room, so a large tank won’t matter.
Now, you aren’t wrong in that thinking, however, truly replicating the natural environment is incredibly difficult and there are so many concerns to manage.
The provision of food is a primary concern, closely followed by the amounts of foliage for concealment.
Provision of Food
A baby beardie’s diet consists of around 70% insects and worms. Live feeders such as these are great however they like to move about.
Whilst beardies love this and it gives them a good level of mental stimulation, in a large tank, a baby beardie may struggle to actually catch its food without expending too much energy.
This can have implications for its growth.
In the wild, this would not be an issue as there would be an abundant supply of insects across the vast space.
In captivity, however, this is not the case and can be quite challenging to replicate.
In its natural environment, a bearded dragon will be prey to larger animals, particularly birds which fly overhead.
Because of this, a beardie likes a habitat that provides it with plenty of cover for concealment. If your baby beardie’s tank is too large, your beardie can actually feel quite exposed unless it has suitable amounts of cover.
This effect can be reduced by increasing the amounts of decor in the tank but all of these items require cleaning to prevent the spread of diseases.
If you have the time to do this then that is fine, however many owners find the cleaning process to be quite challenging.
Recommendation: Select a 40-gallon tank (36 x 18 x 18 inches) for your baby beardie and then upgrade once they outgrow this.
This will likely be the only change in tank size that you will need to make.
Tank Size for an Adult Bearded Dragon
For adult bearded dragons (over 12 inches in length), the minimum size tank that they require is 75 gallons (48 x 18 x 21 inches).
Whilst this is the minimum recommended size, a 120-gallon tank (48 x 24 x 24 inches) would be far more suitable.
Providing a tank of this size will allow your beardie to exercise a lot more, promoting good mental and physical health.
Additionally, a larger tank provides more vertical space, this is beneficial for a number of reasons:
A taller tank provides you with greater flexibility when it comes to heating and lighting. You will be able to mount your UVB light within the tank itself, offering greater exposure to the rays.
You will also be able to easily mount the basking bulbs and adjust the height without your beardie coming into contact with the bulb itself.
This is a great way to moderate the temperature within your beardies tank.
A bearded dragon loves to climb, it is ingrained in its nature. Providing a suitably large tank will give you more vertical space, allowing you to place climbing perches within the enclosure.
This can be a great way to give your beardie something to climb on. Climbing enhances both mental and physical health and will go a long way to ensuring your beardie has a good quality of life.
Remember earlier on we discussed how a bearded dragon likes to feel it has cover from above, well having a taller tank will allow you to provide this kind of concealment for your beardie.
You can increase the number of vines and branches within the tank to ensure this level of cover is provided.
Tank Size for a Large Adult Bearded Dragon
Sometime it may seem like your beardie just won’t stop growing. If this is the case and your beardie grows to beyond 22 inches, you may well need to upgrade the size of your tank once more.
It is a general rule that your beardie’s tank should be over twice its body length in size.
This will allow your beardie to turn around unrestricted. This can prevent injury to the tail from occurring and will also enhance your beardie’s mental and physical health too.
Finding the best tank size for your bearded dragon is something that will benefit both you and your beardie.
By having an appropriately sized tank, you can ensure that your beardie will feel less stressed and will be far happier.
In addition to having a happy dragon, having the correct tank size also promotes good health.
The key takeaway from this guide is that a baby bearded dragon should ideally be kept in a 40-gallon tank.
When they then grow older and reach adulthood at 12 inches in length, your bearded dragon should ideally be kept in a 120-gallon tank, this will allow for any continued growth beyond 22 inches.
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