Types of Enclosures
Glass Aquariums and Vivariums
These are commonly used enclosure for bearded dragons despite their inadequacies. Some of the biggest drawbacks for using glass enclosures is their small size (four foot is not large) and the lack of airflow, mix that with humidity and heat leaves potential for respiratory diseases and a number of other illnesses. This in turn changes husbandry practices (such as not providing the correct humidity) which can result in health issues down the track and certainly will not encourage providing any natural habitat.
Melamine Cages or Enclosures
These are constructed out of melamine board. The drawbacks of melamine are that if moisture gets between the the outer finish and the wood it will warp the underlying wood. This can be avoided by ensuring all edges are sealed or cannot come in contact with moisture. When sealed properly these can make ideal enclosures for indoors and provide plenty of room for adequate ventilation. Aquarium grade silicon makes an ideal sealant and assists in providing less knocks and crannies for any unwanted pathogens to harbor and grow over time.
Enclosures purchased specifically for reptiles are typically not very large, however they are easy to build from panels purchased at hardware stores or buy a kit pantry cupboard and convert it by adding some perspex or similar doors (also purchased at hardware stores). If the climate allows, then at least one door can be made from bird wire to provide additional ventilation. For the cooler weather a perspex cover can be made to cover it. Ensure the wire is not sharp or fine as bearded dragons do love to climb and are at risk from tiny toes being damaged or cut off.
Vents can be purchased from hardware stores and installed in the enclosure if home made or added to any prebuilt melamine enclosure if the existing ones are insufficient.
PVC (or ABS)
These cages are similar in form and function to the melamine wood cages, but are both lighter and generally more costly, due to the plastic that is used to make them. This makes this type of cage significantly more mobile, letting you move your bearded dragon around to different areas of your home. ABS plastic doesn’t have that plastic style odor that PVC setups can sometimes be plagued by. PVC is easily cleaned but can restrict ventilation, care should be taken when selecting the right enclosure.
Vision Cages – These are almost always professionally constructed, and are popular with those who breed bearded dragons as they are modular in nature and ready-made for stacking and storing. These cages are expensive and usually small.
Outdoor enclosures can be purpose built or as simple as a modified aviary or even a large kennel. Where a aviary, kennel or similar type of cage will be used ensure the wire is of a guage that will not cut toes when climbed on and is not a wide enough weave taht they can attempt to get through or even get stuck in.
Note: Australian states provide guidance on minimum sizes for enclosure. NSW Government, Environment & Heritage – Code of practice for the private keeping of reptiles