Should I Buy a Pet Bearded Dragon?

Do beardies make good pets?

Bearded dragons are, without a doubt, one of the reptiles gaining a lot of popularity among exotic pet owners worldwide. Why is that so?

1. They are cute and great looking

Their varied colors, behaviors, and unique personalities make them quite appealing or endearing to may people. Furthermore, each of them responds differently to their environment and their owners.

Buying a bearded dragon
Buying a bearded dragon

2. They good with kids and first-timers

They are some of the best reptile pets for kids and first-timers. These lizards are hardy, easy to care for, and don’t require much attention and care. If provided with all the supplies they need including UV light, heat lamps, food, décor or furniture, and so on, they can spend their time alone without getting bored.

3. They are diurnal

Being diurnal, they wake up when we are awake and sleep when we sleep. Therefore, you will have plenty of time for interaction. Furthermore, if you maintain the right nighttime terrarium temperature, these lizards don’t need any attention at night.

4. They have an excellent temperament and personality

There are among the most relaxed, laidback, and friendly exotic reptiles with mellow and even-tempered character. Furthermore, being docile, you can easily interact and handle them.

While most adults are hardly skittish or aggressive, a few and some baby and juvenile bearded dragons may be capricious. Always look at their temperament and personality while buying one.

Finally, once a social bond has grown, they may seek attention or respond to voice or sound from their owners.

5. They are friendly

Beardies are very friendly, something that goes hand in hand with their docile and layback nature, especially once they get used to you. While they don’t get bored being alone, there are many fun things you can do with your bearded dragon such as park walks, watching TV, handling them, and so on.

However, when handling them, do it only if they are willing and ensure you know how to scoop them from the ground correctly.

6. Easy to maintain and care for

Compared to other reptiles like snakes, turtles, chameleons, alligators, tortoise, and geckos, they are hardy and easy to care for and maintain. They require a small area, are easy to feed, and hardly get sick unless there is poor husbandry.

Moreover, people with small houses and apartment dwellers can still have these pets, just like you would have a fish aquarium in your home.

However, you need to ensure you have the right size of a tank since they love exploring, and a small enclosure will not be ideal. Besides size, ensure you include climbing branches, basking platforms, hiding places, among other décor and furniture.

7. They don’t bite

Ordinarily, they are not known to bite or attack humans. If this happens, it will be under extreme hostility or stress.

8. They are fun to have

You will enjoy watching them hunting bugs, interacting with each other, arm-waving, head bobbing, puffing their beard, amongst other typical behaviors.

9. However, they require commitment

They have a long lifespan of 10–15 years. Therefore, you must be ready to cater to them for a long time. Small cages, malnutrition, poor health, and husbandry, including poor housing and living conditions, may tremendously reduce their lifespan.

How much do they cost?

Like most of the other pets, you don’t expect their prices to be uniform. A bearded dragon can go for little as $25 or as high as $5000. Factors that will influence their cost include the following:

1. Traits and features

Selective breeding by expert breeders and hobbyists has led to the emergence of various bearded dragon morphs ranging from standard ones to those that cute, fancy, and rare.

These morphs come in various colors such as white, red, yellow, citrus, tangerine, golden, purple, blue, orange, brown, just but to list. Each of these colors goes for different prices.

Also, there are the standard (regular or normal) translucent (trans), leatherbacks, silkbacks, zeros, hypomelanistic (hypos), German giants, witblits, Wero, Dunner, Tigers, paradox, genetically stripped, and so on.

Finally, it is possible to find morphs that may have several of the above traits, such as hypo citrus, hypo trans, and so on.

All these traits affect their prices with those that are fancy-looking or rare going at higher rates as opposed to standard ones that may fetch anything from $100-$250.

2. Pedigreed or proven

For similar features, the pedigreed and proven ones (have had offspring with certain traits) cost more than unproven or those not pedigreed.

3. Where you buy them

Various places have different selling prices, and this cost may be higher if there are shipping costs included.

Bearded dragon on sale

With an idea of what it costs to buy one, the next step is to hunt or look for ones for sale. Besides asking your herps vet, friends, and family, popular places you can buy these reptiles include:

1. Online morph markets

Morph markets are the most popular place where you may find almost any type of beardie morph. There are many online places which include the following:

a). The MorphMarket USA

The Morph Market USA is an online market place with a vast inventory of these lizards and is one place you are likely to get even the fanciest or rarest bearded dragons. Many vendors and breeders list their beardies in this market place.

They have Hypos, citrus, genetic stripes, standard, paradox, red, tiger, white, yellow/citrus, Dunner, purple, orange, translucent, among others.

b). Dachiu bearded dragons

These family team of breeders (wife and husband) who have red, orange, and yellow-colored morphs as well as the leatherbacks, Witblits, Dunner, genetic stripes, paradox, translucent, hypo translucent, hypomelanistic based in Pennsylvania.

To make inquiries, kindly call them on 570.462.2196 or 570.900.4277 for more details.

c). Rainbow

Based in the southwestern parts of Missouri, the Rainbow bearded dragons have witblits, hypos, paradox, reds, oranges, and hets.

d). Gumtree

If you live in the UK, Gumtree has a large inventory of beardies on sale. Just browse and pick on the one that you like.

e). Others places to get them online

The list of where to buy bearded dragon is endless. All you need to do is to look for locations that are near. This will depend on whether you are in the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, or Asia.

Common places include:

  • Atomic Lizard Ranch
  • Fire and Ice Dragons
  • Reptile City
  • Backwater Reptiles
  • A-1 Reptiles
  • Delta Dragons
  • Gemstone Dragons
  • Dragon Morphs

2. Pet stores and shops near you

There are many pet stores and shops that sell these pets, including Petco and PetSmart, who only sell them inhouse and not online. However, stores like Pet at Home, Chewy, Etsy, don’t sell them

In pet stores, you will find a wide variety, and their price will start at about as little as $25 juvenile or baby beardie and adults $100-$250 for ordinary ones with rare or fancy ones will go for a lot more.

Finally, unless in a reputed place like Petco and PetSmart, pet stores are not the ideal place to buy them. While some store owners breed and care for them well, others may not. Also, they are prone to health problems and other conditions.

3. Bearded dragon breeders

Buying from breeders is a smarter choice if you go to reputed ones as they have healthier beardies. Their prices will be slightly lower in most cases. On average, expect to spend 10-15% less the pet store price.

To get breeders, search for them in areas near, including online. Some advertise themselves online or have websites where you can get more information.

4. Pet shows in your area

At pet shows, you will find a variety. However, their prices will be a little higher than those of pet stores. Many shows occur all-over the country. All you need to know is when your area will hold one.

Being a show, you will get almost all varieties and expect the rare morphs to cost you a lot more than any other place.

5. Check on classified ads like Craigslist

It is possible to find them advertised on classified ads like Craigslist, on Facebook groups, sites like News Now in the UK, Pets4Home, among other places. Prices will significantly vary with some cheaper than those on pet stores, while others will be more expensive.

However, you need to be very careful as some people may be disposing of their beardies due to health or behavioral issues. Buying such may later attract high vet bills.

6. Rescue centers

Check at rescue centers to see if you can find any. Many owners take them there when they don’t need them or can’t keep them anymore, including the neglected ones.

Most rescue centers have vets who will check them to see if they are in perfect health, and their health shouldn’t be an issue.

In most instances, they are free, or you may pay a small adoption fee followed by a no flipping agreement, i.e., you are not buying them to resale on profit. Always return it if you are unable to care for them well.

Caution on cheap or bearded dragons for free

If you don’t want to spend money on these pets, you can get free ones at the rescue centers, from your family members and friends. Also, some genuine vendors are willing to sell their bearded dragons much cheaper and may even offer free shipping. Such will be fine.

However, avoid cheap or free ones from people you don’t know together with those on classified ads. Such may have medical issues, especially if they live under poor husbandry.

Finally, if you are willing to incur the cost of keeping a beardie, you shouldn’t go for free ones unless you know they are in good condition. Otherwise, you may end up spending so much money trying to treat them as opposed to buying them from a reputed vendor or breeder.

Choosing the right one

When selecting the right beardie, there are some considerations to make, which revolve around gender, personal preference, price, health, etcetera.

1. Know gender – male or female

If you intend to breed them, knowing their gender is essential. These reptiles are not so dimorphic, making it challenging to distinguish a male or female specifically while still young.

Therefore, if you need a male or female for whatever reason you have, go for one that has sexually matured. To tell if they are males or females, males are larger, have a darker beard, more conspicuous femoral pores, a broader tail base due to a larger cloacal opening, and hemipenes bumps.

2. Age and appearance

You can buy a baby, juvenile, or an adult bearded dragon. If you are not sure which one to buy, go for the one that will first catch your eye.

3. Good health

An excellent choice should show various signs of good health, including but not limited to, the following:

  • At least 4 inches if you are buying a bearded baby dragon.
  • Be alert and responsive
  • Have all body parts intact with no scars or injuries
  • Have no swellings on its body or limbs
  • Have a full round belly
  • Have clear, bright eyes

While checking out, avoid bearded dragon with the following issues

  • Cloudy or sunken eyes
  • Discharges from any of their openings, including nose, mouth, ears, eyes, or cloacal vent.
  • Dull or loose skin unless they are about to shed.
  • Jerky or trembling movements
  • Mean or struggling to go away.
  • Any other signs of an ill or sick bearded dragon
  • Those with congenital deformations

If you know how to handle it, you can try to pick it out. A good one should not resist or try to struggle, particularly if an adult. Additionally, it should allow you to feed it.

Avoid those that show aggressiveness, nervousness, and other unwanted behavioral issues.  However, younger ones can be a little skittish. Such behaviors are reasonable, and it doesn’t mean they have behavioral problems. They will be more mellow as they grow.

Cost of keeping a bearded dragon

Besides the initial buying and shipping cost, there are other costs you will incur. If we have to guess wildly, the estimates will be as follows.

1. Initial vet visit will cost $20 – $100

After buying them, your herb vet should confirm that they don’t have any existing health conditions or parasites. For this vet check, expect to incur anything from $20 to over $100 depending on their general health condition.

2. Supplies and setup costs $300 – $600

You need a tank or enclosure with a screen cover, UV light bulbs, heat lamps (for day and night), substrate, thermometers, hygrometers, thermostats, light fixtures, ceramic heat emitter for nighttime, insect keeper, reptile timers, feeding and drinking bowls, décor and furniture and other things.

We have a checklist of various supplies that are needed. The price you incur will depend on their brand, size, quality, among other factors. Therefore, the costs will vary greatly depending on the brands you buy. Typically, the various supplies will cost about $300 to $600 or more.

3. Monthly operation costs $25-$38

The maintenance costs you will incur will include electricity bills as well as money for buying food and supplements (calcium, vitamin D3, and multivitamins). Feeding them will cost you $20-$30, whereas electricity bills of $5 – $8 monthly.

4. Biannual or annual costs $90 – $180

Besides expenses above, you will also incur light replacement costs of about $40-80 every six months or a year depending on the bulb types you are using. Some like mercury vapor lamps have a longer lifespan.

Also, you will incur an annual herp vet visit cost of $50-$100 or higher you don’t care for your beardie well.

5. Saving on the cost these agamid lizards

To make a saving, compare prices to get where prices are favorable, raise your feeder insects such as crickets, roaches, silkworms, grasshoppers, mealworms, and so forth if possible.

Also, you can cut your expenses down by not buying reptile timers, gun thermometers, among other supplies that are not mandatory. However, this may make it hard to care for them properly.

Finally, go for homemade stuff, the likes of the substrate you use, décor, and furniture instead of buying them. You can make hides, climbing branches and logs, basking platforms, and all that.

Bringing your beardie home

Before bringing these reptiles home, set up their vivarium, let it run for at least a week to give you time to adjust temperature and humidity to desired levels.  Also, ensure their UVB lighting system works efficiently.

When collecting them, get a suitable reptile carrier and drive straight home without any stopovers since they need to be in their cages as soon as possible. Keep their carriers warm, but don’t let them overheat.

For hatchlings, line a well-ventilated plastic box or their carrier with tissue or paper towels to minimize chances of injury as you transport them.

Since they are still new, avoid much interaction (don’t interact with them) since the new environment and transportation will have caused them enough stress. Additionally, don’t handle these lizards within the first week. Wait for at least a week and do it gradually until they are comfortable (not skittish).

Feeding them

You need to know how to feed your bearded dragons dependent on their age. Some of their best foods are live feeder insects, veggies and greens, fruits, commercial diets, safe herbs as well as safe plants and flowers.

To feed them, you need good shallow water bowls and feeding bowls or feeders. Don’t forget to condition their water with ReptiSafe.

See also

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