A 40-gallon tank is a standard option for a bearded dragon from being a juvenile into adulthood – as long as you use caution on the lighting and accessory setup.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of a 40-gallon tank and how to set it up correctly for a bearded dragon to ensure it can live a long, healthy life.
40 Gallon Tank Types & Dimensions
A 40-gallon tank is a popular choice for many bearded dragon owners. When choosing a tank for a bearded dragon, consider the dimensions and type of tank, either open-top or front-opening, that best suits you and your beardies needs. With the right tank, your bearded dragon will have plenty of space to move around, climb, and explore.
Here are three types of 40-gallon tanks to consider:
40-Gallon Breeder Tank
Dimensions: The 40-gallon breeder tank measures 36 inches long x 18 inches wide x 16 inches tall.
The 40-gallon breeder tank is one of the most popular choices for bearded dragon owners.
This tank is wider than the 40-gallon-long tank, providing more floor space for your bearded dragon to move around. This tank is as tall as the 40-gallon-long tank, maintaining the same vertical climbing space for your bearded dragon.
40-Gallon Long Tank
Dimensions: The 40-gallon long tank measures 48 inches long x 13 inches wide x 16 inches tall.
This tank is longer than the 40-gallon breeder tank, which provides more horizontal space for your bearded dragon to move around. However, this tank is skinnier than the 40-gallon breeder tank, so your bearded dragon will have less floor space to move around.
40-Gallon Front Opening Terrarium
Dimensions: This standard 40-gallon front opening terrarium measures 36 inches long x 18 inches wide x 18 inches tall.
The 40-gallon front-opening terrarium is popular for bearded dragon owners who want easy access to their beardie. The front opening also makes cleaning the terrarium easier than an open-top tank.
This tank also provides plenty of floor area and vertical climbing space for your bearded dragon.
Bearded Dragons in a 40-Gallon Enclosure by Age
Baby & Juvenile Bearded Dragons
If you have a baby or juvenile bearded dragon, a 40-gallon enclosure will be perfect. When set up correctly, these young bearded dragons will have enough space in a 40-gallon tank to move around, explore, and bask under the heat lamp.
Adult Bearded Dragons
If you have an adult bearded dragon, then a 40-gallon tank may not be enough. The biggest concern is controlling temperatures for the larger bearded dragons – the basking spot on one side and the cool area on the other.
40-Gallon Bearded Dragon Tank Setup
This section will review the different aspects of setting up a 40-gallon tank for a beardie so you can ensure your bearded dragon has good places to bask, hide, sleep, eat, climb, and run around.
Selecting the Tank
We recommend either the 40-gallon breeder tank or the 40-gallon terrarium. Both provide a wider floor area than the 40-gallon long tank, which gives more room for bigger accessories without having to stack things higher.
When choosing the tank or terrarium, ensure it has a secure lid made of glass, acrylic, or a metal screen top. The top should be able to mount securely – ideally locking to prevent the bearded dragon from escaping.
Bearded dragons require both UVB and heat lamps to stay healthy. Place a UVB lamp of around 10-13 watts on the top of the tank in a central position so the rays shine adequately across the entire tank area. Make sure to replace this UVB light every 6-12 months, as these lights degrade over time.
Place a 100-watt heat lamp on one side of the 40-gallon tank. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the basking area is at 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit. Use different accessories to find the right height below the heat lamp to where the basking spot is within this temperature range.
A sturdy stand is necessary to support the weight of the tank and all the accessories. Make sure it is made of a durable material and can withstand the tank’s weight and any additional weight you may add.
Several substrate options exist for a bearded dragon tank, but not all are safe. Crushed coconut coir is our go-to bearded dragon substrate. It is effortless to maintain and very close to the type of ground found in wild bearded dragon habitats.
We do not recommend never to use reptile carpets or paper towels. We also avoid calcium sand at all costs, as this sand can cause impactions in bearded dragons.
Finally, ensure to sterilize any substrate before putting it into your bearded dragon’s enclosure for the first time and on a regular basis following our guide on how to sterilize reptile substrate.
Bearded dragons need a few accessories in their tank to keep them happy and healthy. A basking spot, hiding spot, and water dish are essential. You can also add branches, rocks, and other decorations to provide enrichment for your bearded dragon.
40-Gallon Tank Accessory Ideas for Bearded Dragons
Here are a few accessory ideas to help you create a comfortable and stimulating environment for your bearded dragon in a 40-gallon enclosure.
Bearded dragons love to climb and bask, so adding natural rocks to your tank can provide exercise and a place to relax. Please ensure the rocks are big enough for your dragon to climb on but not so heavy that they might fall over. Also, thoroughly sterilize the rocks before adding them to the tank to avoid potential bacteria or parasites.
Resin Rock Structures
If you want to add extra interest to your tank, consider adding resin rock structures. These structures are lightweight, come in different dimensions and configurations, and are easy to clean, making them a great addition to any bearded dragon tank.
Bearded dragons love to hide, so adding a cave to your tank can provide a great hiding spot for your pet. A cave also creates the perfect cool-down area during the day when your bearded dragon wants to take a break from the basking location.
You can purchase a pre-made cave or create your own using rocks or other materials. Just ensure the cave opening and interior is big enough for your dragon to fit comfortably inside and secure it so it won’t fall over.
Adding live plants to your tank can provide visual interest and a natural environment for your bearded dragon. Ensuring the plants are non-toxic and won’t harm your pet if ingested is crucial. Some great options include spider plants, pothos, and bromeliads.
40-Gallon Beardie Tank FAQ
Yes, a 40-gallon tank is suitable for a bearded dragon. However, it’s important to note that the tank size should increase as the bearded dragon grows. A 40-gallon tank may be appropriate for a juvenile or small adult bearded dragon. Still, a larger adult may require a larger tank.
A juvenile bearded dragon may be able to live in a 40-gallon tank for a short period, but it will eventually outgrow the enclosure as it becomes a larger, more active adult. A 40-gallon tank does not have enough space to provide the proper temperature gradient, UVB exposure, and enrichment necessary for a bearded dragon’s health and well-being in adulthood.
A 40-gallon tank is not recommended for multiple adult bearded dragons, as it may need more space to move around freely and establish their territories. Bearded dragons are territorial creatures and may become aggressive toward one another if they do not have enough space to develop their territories.
Each adult bearded dragon should have at least a 40-gallon tank, but we recommend a larger tank if possible. If you plan on having multiple bearded dragons live together, it is best to go with at least a 75-gallon tank for two and a 100-gallon tank for three bearded dragons. However, be careful with having more than two bearded dragons in a tank, as they will most likely become aggressive toward each other at some point.
The basking spot should be around 100-110°F, while the lower temperature end of the tank should be around 75-85°F.
At night, the temperature should drop to around 70-75°F with the lights off. An infrared heat lamp at night may be necessary to maintain this temperature without disturbing the bearded dragon’s sleep habits.
It’s essential to provide a temperature gradient, so your bearded dragon can regulate its body temperature, which can be difficult in a 40-gallon tank unless you give a nice cave area for them to rest in.
A bearded dragon’s 40-gallon tank will require a basking lamp with a wattage between 75 and 100 watts to create a warm basking spot for your bearded dragon and a UVB lamp with a wattage between 10-13 watts.
It is generally recommended to have a depth of around 2-3 inches, allowing a good depth for the bearded dragon to dig. In a 40-gallon tank, this would require approximately 20-40 pounds of sand.