How To Build A Bearded Dragon Cage Out Of Wood
Full-grown adult bearded dragons can grow up to nearly two feet long - about 18 to 24 inches, to be more exact. This lizard’s size makes it tricky to find a suitable commercial cage, terrarium, or reptile tank to house your pet.
Fortunately, you can build a DIY bearded dragon enclosure yourself. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to build a good-looking, sizable wooden cage for your beardie. All you need is to repurpose an old wooden box or container and attach a few other things.
In this guide, you’ll learn the exact steps to build a bearded dragon cage out of wood. But that’s not all. You’ll also find a handful of useful tips to make the bearded dragon enclosure closely mimic the reptile’s natural habitat.
What is the Ideal Cage Size for a Bearded Dragon?
Before we get into the steps, it is essential to provide a bearded dragon habitat for your lizard pet that allows it to get enough exercise. If you cut corners and make a smaller cage, even a baby bearded dragon will soon outgrow it, and the enclosure will become useless.
During construction, keep in mind that the cage needs to be longer than it is wide. An ideal cage dimension for an adult bearded dragon should measure 48-inch long x 24-inch deep x 24-inch tall. In addition to giving your pet enough room to move around, it also helps you establish a thermal gradient to enable the reptile to get varying temperature needs.
Things You Will Need
The exact materials you need will vary, depending on the habitat you plan to design. However, we’ll go with the following list of materials to keep things as simple as possible.
Just about any new beardie owner can find and use these tools and materials to build a DIY bearded dragon wooden cage.
A wooden container or box (an old bedside cabinet or dresser are good options)
Table saw (or box cutter) and jigsaw
Spray foam (optional)
How to Build a Wooden Cage For a Bearded Dragon
Step 1: Clean the Wooden Box
Start by preparing the container, whether that’s an old cabinet or dresser.
To do this:
Use a screwdriver, hammer, or other tools to remove the interior pieces in the container.
Next, sand down any rough edges using sandpaper. Make sure to remove anything that can hurt your beardie.
Step 2: Plan the Interior and Cut the Insulation Boards Accordingly
Decide whether you want to use the container opening for the front or top of the cage. Also, hold a mental picture of what the interior should look like. Sketching it can help.
With the shape in mind, cut out and install the insulation board.
To do this:
Measure the insulation boards using the correct measurement for each piece.
Use a table saw or box cutter to cut out the insulation boards.
Apply hard glue to the boards and install them at the base and side of the wooden enclosure.
If using spray foam, apply some to give the cage a rugged look. Beyond looks, spray foam makes the wooden cage more compact, improving its longevity.
Step 3: Add Layers of Tile Grout and Paint
Next, add about three or four layers of grout to the bottom and sides of the interior. This will give the insulation a more natural look. After that, follow up with non-toxic paint.
Apply a layer of grout and wait for it to set before adding another layer. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the tile grout.
Apply two layers of paint and allow the enclosure to dry properly.
Step 4: Install the Top
It is time to install the top of the cage. For this part, you have two options; using the top as access or temperature regulation.
If you prefer front access in the enclosure, installing a mesh at the top will allow for temperature regulation. Here’s what to do in this case:
Create an opening at the top of the enclosure. It should be wide enough to accommodate the mesh.
Install the mesh.
On the other hand, you can opt to use the top for access. In this case, here’s what to do:
Create a sizable hole to make it easy to get your pet in and out of the cage.
Add a latch to secure the top access to keep the beardie from escaping.
Attach hinges to the acrylic sheet and install it at the top using screws.
Step 5: Measure, Cut, and Install the Door
Install the acrylic sheet for the front access. To do this:
Measure the sheets, ensuring they fit nicely with the space meant for the door.
Attach hinges using hard glue and screws.
Add one or two latches to secure the door.
Add a door handle if you prefer.
Step 6: Finish the Exterior
Now, apply the non-toxic paint to the exterior of the wooden cage. You can use any paint color you prefer but try as much as you can to stay close to the natural colors in the wild. For example, brown and green will make your reptile friend feel at home.
Step 7: Finishing Up
Finally, it is time to add some furnishing and substrates (if you want). Let your creativity shine, but also keep the needs of your bearded dragon in mind.
Making Your Bearded Dragon’s Wooden Cage Comfortable
An empty cage won’t do your pet any good. You will need to add a few items to make the enclosure look and feel like the reptile’s natural habitat.
For this, you will need the following:
Bowls: Add two separate bowls in the cage, one for food and one for water. Shallow dishes are a better choice because they make it easy for the reptile to get what they need.
Heat lamp: Bearded dragons need external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. A heat lamp provides the necessary heat as well as lighting during the daytime.
UVB light: In addition to providing heat, UVB light helps maintain the reptile’s calcium. Install a basking light in the cage and keep it on throughout the day but remember to turn it off at night.
Thermometer: Add at least two thermometers to the cage, one in the basking spot and the other in the colder area. These will help you monitor the cage temperature.
Thermostat: Although a thermostat is not mandatory for your beardie’s cage, installing one can eliminate the hassles of constantly checking the temperature levels. The thermostat will regulate the cage’s temperature, ensuring it doesn’t exceed the preset limit.
Furnishing: Add logs, low branches, climb rocks, hiding spots, hammocks, and other pieces of furniture. These do not serve as mere decorations. Instead, they are functional as they will encourage your beardie to be active.
Substrate: If you don’t want a bare cage floor, consider adding substrates such as a reptile carpet or newspapers. But avoid sand, gravel, and other loose substrate options because they can cause impaction.