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(DIY) How To Make A Custom Bearded Dragon Cage Homemade

Are you looking to save some money with your bearded dragon cage?

Do you want to stretch your DIY muscles and make some of your bearded dragon’s gear yourself?

Then you may want to learn how to make a custom bearded dragon cage.

These don’t have to be tricky with the right instructions, but you will need to get the right parts and follow the instructions carefully.

how to make a custom bearded dragon cage

Needed For This Project

  • Wooden box or container such as an old dresser
  • Insulation Board (See on Amazon)
  • Box Cutter
  • Spray Foam (optional)
  • Tile Grout
  • Paint
  • Acrylic Sheets (See on Amazon)
  • Hinges


The first and most obvious thing you need is the container, which will make up the bulk of your custom cage.

Some DIYers use particle board cut into 4′ x 2′ sections to piece together the side panels.

This is an excellent way to make your job easier by finding a box from something you no longer need.

An old wooden dresser or wooden trunk would work well.

old dresser to make bearded dragon cage

But you need to make sure the space inside whatever you use is sufficient for your dragon to move around freely.

The table below highlights the space requirement according to bearded dragon size.

Bearded Dragon SizeRequired Enclosure Size
Baby bearded dragon – less than 10 inches long20 gallons
Juvenile bearded dragon – 10-16 inches long40 gallons
Adult bearded dragon – between 16 and 20 inches long50-75 gallons
Adult bearded dragon – more than 20 inches long75-125 gallons

In general, you’ll need at least 4′ long by 2′ wide by 2′ tall.

This will give the 40 gallons you need at minimum for an adult bearded dragon.

Tip: Bearded dragons grow fast. So, even if you have a baby beardy, get a 40-gallon tank. It’ll save you the hassle of getting and setting up a new one in a few months.

Insulation Board

You’ll use the insulation board to shape your tank how you want it for your pet.

Remember, beardies love to climb, so using these to help make a fun area will keep your pet happy. 

The insulation will also help keep the cage warm, which is a common problem with DIY cages.

Box Cutter

You’ll need the box cutter to help cut the foam insulation boards.

A good, fresh blade will make the shaping process much more manageable.

Spray Foam (optional)

Spray foam, specifically to fill gaps and cracks, creates fake but convincing rock-like formations.

This isn’t necessary, but it will turn out nice.

Tile Grout

Tile grout is used to cover the insulation and hardened spray foam.

It helps smooth out the texture and seal those items further.

Non-Toxic Paint

A non-toxic paint will be needed to unify the look of your custom cage.

Going for a rock or earth color makes the most sense, but if you want a hot pink background, nothing is stopping you!

You also will want to get paint for the outside of your cage.

While this paint doesn’t need to be non-toxic, any paint you use on the inside must be.

Acrylic Sheets

Acrylic sheets provide your glass look to see into the cage.

We recommend at least two large ones to complete the front looking in your tank.

You may also want to use one on the top of your tank as a lid


The hinges will be needed to make the top move and open up.

You also use the hinges to make the acrylic front sheets a door, but then make sure you use some kind of latch to prevent the beardy from opening the doors.

Building A Custom Bearded Dragon Cage From A Dresser

DIY Bearded Dragon Cage from an old dresser

DIY Bearded Dragon Cage from an old dresser

In this section, we’ll offer the step-by-step instructions you’ll need to build a bearded dragon terrarium.

Be sure to read the directions carefully.

#1 Clear Out Or Set Up Space

First, you need to get the space set up.

The easiest way to do this would be to use an old dresser or other wooden containers of at least 4′ x 2′ x 2′.

Then, remove the interior pieces using your hammer, screwdriver, and other tools.

Your goal is to create an empty box space.

You won’t need to do anything for it at this point, but you do need to decide what way the cage will be oriented.

Use the opening for the top or use the opening for the front.

#2 Shape The Insulation Boards

Picture the shape of the cage interior in your head or sketch it out.

The board is cut and used to create different levels like floors or other places to climb.

making stairs with insulation board

Use your box cutter to cut and shave the boards into how you want them.

If you need to attach the boards firmly, use strong glue.

Also, use cut boards stacked upon one another to create stairs.

You should also include a layer of insulation on the sides of the cage as well.

This isn’t for looks, but it will help to keep the cage warm.


This is also where you may want to use spray foam to create a rugged look in the space.

Just remember, a little spray goes a long way.

#3 Grout And Paint

Do 3-4 layers of grout over the interior foam and bottom of the cage.

The grout is applied according to the specific brand’s instructions.

Make sure you give plenty of time between each layer to allow for it to be set.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions.

The grout helps change the texture of the insulation to look more natural.

It also helps seal the insulation in and prevent the bearded dragon from accidentally eating it.

Choose the color of the grout to match the rugged look you may be going for.

grouting the cage interior

Use a non-toxic paint to help it look even more natural.

Do two layers of paint, and it should begin to look pretty cool.

#4 Cut Out And Install Top

Use the box cutter or a small jigsaw to cut out a rectangle in the top.

The hole size depends on what you’re using the top for, but a larger top will make it easier to get in and get the bearded dragon.

If you’re cutting out a top for access rather than using the front as access, you need to make sure there is some kind of latch.

Beardies are excellent escape artists.

Attach the hinges with glue on the acrylic side and screw in the other into the top.

Then over the sheet or remove it temporarily while you finish the outside.

#5 Finish Outside

Using paint and primer of your preference, finish painting the outside of the cage.

painting the cage exterior

Be sure not to get any toxic paints on the inside of the enclosure.

If there are rough edges, you may also want to sand them down before you paint.

#6 Install Doors

Install the acrylic sheets on the top (if you haven’t yet) and on the front.

Use the hinges with glue on the sheet and screws on the wood as needed.

If you’re using the front sheets as access, consider adding latches or hook to prevent the beardy from escaping.

You may also want to attach a door handle to make them easier to move.


You know how to make a bearded dragon cage.

For more ideas on this, check out the following video.

How To Set Up A Bearded Dragon Habitat

Once your DIY bearded dragon enclosure is ready, you’ll have to set it up. It’s a fun task that requires attention to detail.

Before you get started, you must have answers to the following questions:

  • What are the best substrate options for bearded dragons?
  • How to maintain proper temperatures in a bearded dragon enclosure?
  • What plants and other decorations are safe to use?
  • What do I need for my dragon’s feeding session?

In the next section, we’ll answer these questions and more to help you stay on top of bearded dragon care.

Bearded Dragon Substrate

There are a lot of options available to you, but are they all safe?


You must be extremely careful when choosing the right substrate for your scaly friend.

bearded dragon tank substrate

The table below separates safe substrates from unsafe ones.

Unsafe Substrate for Bearded DragonsSafe Substrate for Bearded Dragons
Calcium sandNewspaper
Corn cobReptile carpet
Walnut shellsFloor tile
Children’s play sandClay
Silica sandBioactive substrate

The wrong substrate can cause impaction, eye and nose infections, and internal injuries. Some are harder to maintain, resulting in bacterial growth.

Some of the substrates to avoid are:

  • Calci-Sand – This is calcium carbonate and will cause impaction if ingested. Since the particles are too fine, they can even irritate your beardy’s eyes and nose.
  • Corn Cob Bedding – Fungal growth and digestive blockage are the two main concerns with this substrate.
  • Walnut Shells – They can cause intestinal impaction and may get lodged in the cloaca.

It’s best to also avoid children’s play sand and silica sand. They are linked to respiratory issues in beardies.

Bonus Info: Bearded dragons love to dig, so they need a substrate that lets them do this.

So, what are some of the best substrate options for bearded dragons?


Easily the most cost-effective substrate for your beardy’s cage. Use ink-free, unbleached paper. It’s easy to clean up and replace.

Newspaper is best for baby bearded dragons. They are the little poop machines!

Reptile Carpet

This is another pocket-friendly option. It’s also easy to clean and helps prevent odor. We recommend investing in two carpets so you can switch them out when one is being cleaned.

Some reptile carpets have a rough surface, which can be extremely dangerous for your pet’s nails. They can get caught and ripped out. The trick is to use a soft reptile carpet with a smooth surface.

Floor Tile

Floor tiles are the best flooring option for your beardy’s cage. They are easy to clean, look aesthetic, provide traction, and pose no threat to your pet’s health.

Be careful when placing the tile in your pet’s enclosure. It can crack the terrarium floor, especially if you have a glass one.


Feeling creative? Use clay to sculpt terrains similar to those in the bearded dragon’s natural habitat. This is an excellent option for pet owners who want more control over their pet dragon’s environment. The only issue with clay is that you’ll have to change it occasionally.

Bioactive Substrate

A bioactive substrate is as close to your pet’s natural home as it gets. It’s a self-cleaning substrate with tiny organisms that break down waste. Bioactive substrates should be at least 4 inches deep to help with drainage.

It’s also good for your lizard’s mental and physical health.

However, creating a bioactive terrarium isn’t easy. It’s time-consuming and requires some skill.

Maintaining Proper Temperatures, Lighting, and Humidity

Bearded dragons are cold-blooded creatures that need a warm basking spot to regulate their body temperature.

Improper lighting and heating can result in metabolic bone disease. It is a serious condition that can paralyze your pet lizard. If left untreated, your pet will eventually die!

Let’s look at ways to meet your pet lizard’s heating, lighting, and humidity needs.


Bearded dragons prefer a temperature gradient in their enclosure – a range of temperatures where they can move around to regulate their body temperature. The cool side (during daytime) should be between 70-85°F, and the basking spot should be between 95-110°F.

At night, it’s safe to let the temperature dip to 65-70°F.

The following bearded dragon enclosure essentials will help you maintain the temperature:

Heat lamp: Place the heat lamp directly above the basking rock, a little to one side of your pet’s enclosure. Your bearded dragon can sit under it when it needs more warmth. It’ll help your pet digest food.

Ceramic heat emitter: This is the best option for night heating. It doesn’t have any light, so your bearded dragon won’t be disturbed in its sleep.


The lighting system in your pet’s enclosure provides two vital things – warmth and UVB.

Bearded dragons need both UVA and UVB light to thrive.

The following lights are essential:

UVA: Your pet needs this to be able to see. Since UVA is part of natural sunlight, it helps beardies become more active. It also helps regulate your pet’s circadian rhythm and aids digestion. Use a reptile basking light for this.

UVB: This is critical for your dragon to absorb calcium and prevent metabolic bone disease. The best way to provide UVB light is through fluorescent tubes or compact bulbs specially designed for reptiles. 12 hours of UVB lighting is ideal. Also, change the UVB bulb every 6 months.

Tip: If you’re placing your UVB lamp on top of a screen lid, use a lid with large squares. It’ll allow UV rays to get past the screen lid all the way to the bottom of the tank.

It’s important to note that bearded dragons don’t need light at night. In their natural habitat, they go to sleep when it gets dark. Leaving the lights on or using red light will disturb their sleep and disrupt their day-night cycle.


Bearded dragons require a humidity level of 35-40%. Luckily, it’s easy to maintain these levels.

Here are some tips that’ll help:

  1. Ensure there’s proper ventilation in the tank. The screen lid will help here.
  2. Keep your pet’s water dish away from the basking light.
  3. Avoid misting the tank too often. It can cause respiratory infections.
  4. If you live in a dry climate, use a humidifier or soak a towel in water and place it on top of the screen lid.

Now that we’ve covered some essential aspects of bearded dragon care, let’s move on to decorating your pet’s enclosure.

Decorating Your Bearded Dragon Enclosure

A well-decorated, beautiful terrarium doesn’t only look good in your home but also keeps things exciting for your beardy.

If you’re a new bearded dragon parent, go with a minimal setup. It’ll be easier to maintain. You can always make changes as you learn more about your pet’s likes and dislikes.

bearded dragon on hammock

Add the following things to your pet’s tank to make it more aesthetic. You can easily find them at your local pet store.

  • Hiding spots – Rocks, logs, and caves are great for your bearded dragon to hide in when it gets overwhelmed. You can also create a hiding spot using cork bark.
  • Plants – Live or plastic plants will make the tank look more natural. If you choose live plants, make sure they’re safe for your beardy (don’t use toxic ones!). Plastic plants are easier to maintain and clean but may not provide all the benefits of live plants.
  • Rocks and branches for climbing – Your beardy loves to climb. Place some sturdy climbing rocks and branches in its tank, but be careful they’re secure. You don’t want them falling on your pet!
  • Basking rock – This is where your dragon will spend most of its day. Make sure it’s big enough for your pet to bask comfortably. 
  • Hammock – Bearded dragons love lounging on hammocks. It’ll also provide an elevated basking spot for your pet.

Bearded Dragon Feeding Supplies

You’ll need a few tools to feed your bearded dragon. Make sure you have the following items before bringing your pet home.

  • A shallow dish of water
  • Food bowl
  • Tweezers for feeding live insects
  • Measuring spoons to measure powdered supplements and additives
  • Live feeder insects 

How To Keep A Bearded Dragon Warm

In a custom cage, you may need to worry about keeping a bearded dragon warm.

Here are a couple of quick tips to help with this:

  • Use insulation on the inside while building the cage
  • Choose a good heater
  • Use a thermometer to check the temperature regularly
  • Keep the cage away from windows

Remember, bearded dragons come from the Australian deserts, so they need higher temperatures.

Keep the heat up!

Examples To Base Your Cage On

It may be hard to imagine what you want in a custom cage.

So it’s OK to look to examples for inspiration.

Or, if it seems too difficult, you could always buy one.

REPTI ZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium, Double Hinge Door with Screen Ventilation Reptile Terrarium (See On Amazon)

This one is great for looking at a three wall see-through design.

The double-hinged top is of note, as well.

Exo Terra Glass Reptile Terrarium (See On Amazon)

This cage uses a raised bottom for the option of installing a floor heater.

Hagen Exo Terra Short All Glass Terrarium (See On Amazon)

This one features front opening doors.

REPTI ZOO 67Gallon Reptile Large Terrarium Upgrade Glass Front Opening Tank Sliding Door with Screen Ventilation Reptile Terrarium (See On Amazon)

From this cage, look into screen tops and a sliding door.

Tetra Deluxe Aquatic Turtle Kit (See On Amazon)

Although this is a turtle kit, it works with beardies as well.

This tank can use heaters on top of the tank through the top.

Any of these would make a great enclosure with no effort.

But if you want to make a habitat DIY, learn from their designs in your style.

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Bearded Dragon Enclosure Maintenance Tips

Your duty doesn’t end with setting up an enclosure. You must also keep it clean and germ-free to ensure your pet lizard lives a healthy life. 

Ideally, your cleaning routine should be divided into three parts – daily, weekly, and monthly.

Daily Cleaning Routine

This is also called spot-cleaning. The idea is to regularly remove waste and uneaten food from your pet’s cage. It’ll prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce odor. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Remove bearded dragon poop using a scooper or dustpan.
  • Change the water in the water dish. 
  • Remove any live insects your pet didn’t eat. You don’t want them crawling around the cage.
  • Get rid of the soiled substrate.

Weekly Cleaning Routine

This is a more thorough cleaning routine. Make sure you set aside some time for this; your bearded dragon’s health depends on it!

  • Change the substrate or clean the enclosure bottom. It’s best to replace or wash the substrate once in one to two weeks.
  •  Wash and disinfect the water dish, food bowl, and any other climbing accessories.
  • Wipe down the inside of the tank with a safe reptile disinfectant.

Monthly Cleaning Routine

This is where you deep clean the entire enclosure. It’ll take a little more time than your weekly cleaning routine. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take out everything from the tank.
  • Wash and disinfect all the items, including the basking rock, hammock, and climbing accessories.
  • Scrub down the inside of the tank with a reptile-safe disinfectant. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.
  • Dry the tank and reset it up.

DIY Bearded Cage Vs. Manufactured Cage

It’s natural for you to wonder whether it’s even profitable to invest time in building your bearded dragon’s enclosure yourself.

We’ve rounded some pros and cons of both to help you make a better decision.

DIY Cage


  • Customizable – You have complete control over the design and size of the cage.
  • Easy on the pocket – DIY-ing your pet’s enclosure can be cheaper than purchasing a manufactured one.
  • Sense of accomplishment – It’s satisfying to see your pet thrive in an environment you built with your own hands.


  • Requires time and effort – Building a custom cage takes time, effort, and sometimes specific skills.
  • Less experience – If this is your first time owning a bearded dragon, you may not have enough knowledge to build an ideal enclosure. Hey, but you’ll learn.

Manufactured Cage


  • Convenient and easy – It’s as simple as finding a suitable cage and paying for it.
  • Expert design – Manufacturers of reptile cages often consider the specific needs of bearded dragons, giving you an ideal environment for your pet.


  • Limited customization – You are limited to the design and size options available in the market.
  • Hard to find the right cage – it can be tricky to find a cage that’s big enough, has the right substrate, and features for your pet’s needs.
  • Expensive – Even if you find the cage you’ve been looking for, it’ll cost you a hefty amount.

In essence, it all comes down to your preference, budget, and availability of resources.

Wrapping Up the DIY Bearded Dragon Cage Adventure

Bearded dragons are hardy and robust pets that live about 10-15 years in captivity. You only have to make sure you provide your pet lizard with a physically and mentally stimulating home with properly maintained temperature and lighting. Humidity is crucial, too.

A well-planned bearded dragon tank will keep your pet healthy. Remember to use appropriate substrates, decor items, and heating sources.

As a caring parent, you must keep your beardy’s cage clean.

Did you find this article helpful?

At Oddly Cute Pets, our goal is to provide our readers with the best information on reptile care. If you want to learn more, our website is full of helpful articles like this one. Check it out!

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