Rabbit hutch to BD enclosure...Maybe

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Hello all,
I'm rather new here, I joined for information gathering and ideas before acquiring my beardie.
I've been trying to figure out what to use for an enclosure. I don't have a lot of money to throw around. My local walmart has big plastic tubs with lids that are 24" x 39" for only $20, but hubby vetoed the idea as looking 'too cheap'.
I have this hutch here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01K18YDMQ/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Disregard the measurements given, they measured to the edge of the roof (which I was a bit pissed about, as it means my chickens don't fit) It's really only 36" x 24" on the interior. I was thinking if I sat it on top of a piece of linoleum cut to fit, I could use it indoors.
I saw another person on this site use a similar enclosure for their beardie, and sealed the wood. https://www.beardeddragon.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=221994
Would I need UVB and heat on both levels? Or could I just let the bottom be the cool gradient, and the top be the hot part?
I'm thinking I'd probably have to add on to the ladder, as it's quite steep.


BD.org Sicko
Staff member
You might be able to convert it but those dimensions aren't very big. You'd want an area that has at least 12'' above the basking site so you can mount a good T5 UVB light. Overall you might be better off building a crossfire enclosure that has larger dimensions for roughly the same price. https://beardies.dreamwidth.org/2145.html


Original Poster
I guess I wasn't very clear... This hutch is currently sitting in my backyard.
There's definitely room to have a basking light 12" up, the roof of the top level is nearly 16" above the floor at the lowest point, and the bottom level is 15" from floor to ceiling.
I was under the impression that 36" x 18" x 18" was minimum space you could get away with and still have a happy, healthy dragon? Like a 40 gallon breeder aquarium? And this would be 2 levels of that measurement... Or do they dislike climbing?

As for building my own...I'm not much of a builder. Also, when I start adding up the materials cost, it ends up in the $300-$500 range.


Juvie Member

When you start out: "I've been trying to figure out what to use for an enclosure. I don't have a lot of money to throw around. My local walmart has big plastic tubs with lids that are 24" x 39" for only $20"

Stop, just stop. Do not get one of these animals, very seriously. Caring for a bearded dragon properly is quite expensive. If you can't afford even the most basic proper enclosure then do NOT get one of these. It's only going to end in misery.

Properly caring for a dragon costs over a thousand dollars in the first year. It will cost you at least $30 a week just in basic food, at LEAST.

There is no reason to get one if you can't afford it. It's a luxury, not a need, but their life depends on you. Once you buy one, you are on the hook for hundreds and hundreds of dollars for proper care. If you can't do it, they will suffer and die.

So, check your priorities. If now isn't the right time, then just save, wait until you are doing better financially, maybe help others. There are animal rescue programs out there you can volunteer for that provide you with supplies for your take temporary care of pets without homes, etc.

This isn't something to get into where on day one you already can't afford to even buy a proper home for the animal. That's not a starting place for this.


Original Poster
charmander16":c725syjl said:
If you can't afford even the most basic proper enclosure then do NOT get one of these. It's only going to end in misery.

Good grief, don't freak out.
I don't understand the slavish adherence to 'optimum'. Optimum is just that, the absolute best. 'Minimum' should mean the least you can use without a problem. If not, the minimum requirements need to be changed.
If something is the recommended minimum size or bigger, I don't think the dragon cares if it is made of plastic, wood or glass. So long as he has his heat, his UVB, plenty of good food, the right amount of ventilation, some time outside the cage with his humans, etc etc, the difference is only in looks, and that's for the human's comfort, not the dragon's.

I see many people building with plexiglass windows. Guess what? That's plastic!

Besides, I already said the Rubbermaid tub idea was vetoed, any way.

I plan to breed my own feeders. So I'm not seeing $30 a week being a viable number, just buying veggies and vitamins.

Let's have a civil conversation, please, without ordering me around.


Juvie Member
Do you already have a solidly established feeder colony? Or were you going to try that after you got the dragon?

I can assure you, and I'm sure others here can attest this this as well, everything doesn't go according to plan. When things don't go according to plan the costs go up, and if you can't afford them, the animal suffers for it.

So if you "plan" to use your own feeder colony, then you need start with establishing a solid feeder colony before you purchase a dragon. Get the feeder colony established for a couple of months before you get the pet to make sure that's going to work and that that itself is go got be affordable.

And you're basically acknowledging right from the start that you are only planning to provide substandard care. Why even do it? Bearded Dragons are a significant burden, especially in the first year. Adopting a dog or cat would be much cheaper than a dragon. Why even get one if you already know you'll barely be able to afford the minimum care?

If ANYTHING goes wrong, you already know you won't be able to handle it. He needs to go to the vet? That's not going to happen right? He grows faster than you planned and needs a bigger home? Nope, can't get that. His enclosure isn't warm enough and needs more heat? Can't afford more equipment, too bad. The feeder colony isn't taking off like you expected and you're running low on food? Can't afford to run to the local pet store to buy $10 worth of crickets, too bad.

Getting into something like this when you already know going into it that you can just barely afford the bare minimum care, and only if everything goes according to the best possible scenario, doesn't make any sense.

And if you are low on finances, why burden yourself with an additional cost like this anyway? The problem with pets, especially ones that live for 10+ years, is that once you take them on, you cannot decide to stop paying for them. If you get a Netflix subscription and then decide you can't afford it you can cancel that at any time. You can't cancel owning a pet (well you can, but it basically means your just going to kill the animal).


Original Poster
Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot here.

I'm not saying I want to give "substandard" care. If he absolutely needs a 4' by 2' by 2', then that's what I'll use. It was my impression that they could do really well in something smaller. Was that incorrect??

Cheap =/= inferior in many other areas of life. I don't want to slap down hundreds of dollars on a massive aquarium, or work hard to build something from scratch, then find out I could have done it better for cheaper. Trying to do it cheaper doesn't mean I value the health and life of my animals any less.

And yes, I have already started my feeder colony. I have some BSFL (reptiworms) growing like crazy, that I plan to allow to change into adults in my climate controlled shed, where they can fly around, breed, and lay more eggs in the bins.
If that doesn't multiply like I think it will, I'll get some crickets going too. May do that anyway, for variety.

I'm in no hurry. By the time I purchase my bearded dragon, it will have a set up house with prolific colonies of bugs to feed it. And not a day earlier.


BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Efficiency is good, sure. It really comes down to the more space you can provide, the better. If you can get a large enclosure going right off the bat, it's cheaper in the long run than buying a small tank and then upgrading later on which a lot of folks wind up doing for one reason or another. Same goes for lighting. A good bulb is more expensive but in addition to being better in terms of output, can last quite a bit longer on than the cheaper bulb and save money in the long run.

I think in this case I'm not quite understanding what kind of modifications can be made to the rabbit hutch or what the dimensions will be if it's opened up more instead of being set at two levels. I don't think you'll have enough space if it's split up. My basking logs run about 8'' tall and my UVB light is 12'' up from that and my basking lights sit at around 25'' from the floor of the tank with a temperature gradient from one side to the other. If you can provide an open area with places to climb and adequate distance to lighting then it should work. Speaking from experience of having an Exo Terra 36x18x18'' glass tank I can say it's decent but I could do better. It seemed HUGE at first after switching from a 20g tank. With an adult in the tank it gives him enough room to turn around, bask, hide, and go back and forth a little bit. I took the top off so I could set the lights higher up and provide more climbing/overhead space. The key to keeping that tank, aside from me being completely useless at building things, is that I have several basking areas set up around my house and let my dragon roam freely during the day. At the moment he's in his dog bed in the window sill looking outside. If he wants to warm up he can climb down and bask under one of his lights. If I couldn't provide that extra room for him, I wouldn't want to be stuck with a tank the size of the one I have. I'd rather have one that gives him more variety and room to roam around.

If I understand you correctly, you want to be as cost efficient as possible. If you can provide adequate space with what you have, go for it. My point is that I don't think you'll have regrets if you provide as much space in one way or another as your budget allows.


Original Poster
Ah, I see. Thanks, CooperDragon. Yes, perhaps it would be too short to provide proper basking areas.

I just misunderstood what was meant by minimum vs optimum size. I figure that the minimum is adequate... like saying that feeding your cat canned food is optimum, but he'll be healthy on dry food...That sounds not to be the case here, if many adjustments must be made to make said minimum work out alright...

The next reptile expo in my city is all the way in October, so that gives me a while to prepare. I've been doing some calculations, and it looks like a crossfire build will set me back precisely $220 if build out of 3/4" birch plywood. (light fixtures, bulbs, and even slate tiles for the floor are included in that amount)
Adding on to the current hutch would be nearly 3/4 of that, and also the trouble of figuring out how. It was only an idea...But it turned out to be a bad one when explored. Oh well.

I'm not sure where I went wrong on my calculations before, but it kept coming up much higher.
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