Is there an empty place in your home where you dream of hosting a pet bearded dragon?
Are you comfortable with handling reptiles and small insects?
If so, it might be time for you to jump on the bearded dragon train!
However, before adopting, it’s essential to know what you’re getting into.
Of all domestic pets, reptiles are the most likely to die or be rehomed in the first year of adoption.
By researching and understanding the needs of your prospective pet, you’ll be able to avoid this.
You won’t be taken by surprise and will be well-prepared for your new friend’s homecoming.
So, first, let’s make sure owning a beardie is a good option for you!
How To Prepare To Adopt A Bearded Dragon
A beardie requires:
- Attention and care every day.
- Daily poop spot cleaning and weekly tank cleaning.
- Weekly water baths.
- Semiannual or annual checkups at an exotic veterinarian.
- A balanced diet of feeder insects and vegetation.
- A suitable vivarium habitat with adequate space, bedding, UV lighting, cage enrichments, heat, and environmental control.
They need a habitat which mimics their natural desert environment. If these basics listed above are provided to them, they will survive and thrive under your care.
Questions To Ask
Consider whether your lifestyle would fit in with these requirements.
- Am I home on a daily or nightly basis?
- Am I OK with cleaning up poop?
- Am I comfortable with insects like crickets and worms?
- Do I live in an area where I have access to an exotic veterinarian?
- Do I have enough space to accommodate an animal requiring up to a 120-gallon tank?
- Can I afford the time, energy, and money it costs to care for a new pet adequately?
- Does my apartment, dorm, condo, house, city, state, or province allow beardies?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you’re on the right track!
Read on to learn more about these beautiful and wondrous animals.
Where To Adopt Bearded Dragons
The most affordable and altruistic option is to adopt a beardie from a reptile rescue.
Not only will you spend less money than you would at a breeder, but you’ll be giving an abandoned or mistreated animal another chance.
Find a rescue close to you by performing a quick internet search.
Local animal shelters may also have good resources for you.
Purchasing a beardie from a pet store or breeder is also an option.
But, if you go this route, we highly recommend reputable breeders over pet stores.
Stores are typically not a great choice because their animals are at higher risk of injury and illness.
How Much Does It Cost To Own A Bearded Dragon?
You should expect to spend around $500 to $600 to purchase an initial habitat setup for your pet.
This includes a cage, proper lighting and heating sources, a hygrometer to measure temperature and humidity, substrate (bedding), and accessories like perches and hides.
Once your pet is established at home, expect to spend between $80 and $200 each month for ongoing expenses like food, mineral supplements, cleaning supplies, and utilities.
Vet visits will cost you around $100 at minimum.
Tests, lab work, and medication will add anywhere from $20 to $300 onto your vet bill, so you will probably average around $150 for each vet appointment.
Creating A Bearded Dragon Habitat
Below are the main environmental needs you will need to provide for your new pet.
The habitat should be prepared before you bring the animal home.
A glass or plexiglass vivarium tank is the best enclosure option.
Your pet will spend a huge majority of its life in its cage.
Set up its habitat so it has room to move and explore.
This table shows minimum tank size requirements.
|Animal Age||Animal Size||Tank Volume|
|Babies||4 to 16” inches (40 cm)||40 to 50 gallons|
|Juveniles||16 to 20” inches (51 cm)||50 to 75 gallons|
|Adults||20” inches or more (51 cm)||75 to 120 gallons|
Larger beardies need more room.
Expect your pet to grow significantly in its first few years of life.
You must provide 12 to 14 hours of full-spectrum, ultraviolet lighting every day.
Do not use coil or compact UV lights.
There must also be a variety of shading and direct lighting throughout the habitat.
You should provide a basking area with direct UV lighting.
Temperature And Humidity
Measure and maintain environmental conditions with a hygrometer, like this one on Amazon.
The following table shows appropriate heat and humidity levels based on age and day or night.
|Animal Age||Day Temp.||Night Temp.||Basking Area Temp.||Humidity|
|Babies||90 to 110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C)||70 to 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C)||95 to 110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C)||20% to 40%|
|Adults||80 to 93° degrees Fahrenheit (34° C)||70 to 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C)||95 to 110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C)||20% to 40%|
To mimic its natural environment and avoid accidental ingestion, your pet requires non-particle substrates such as:
- Reptile carpet.
- Ceramic tile.
- Recycled newspaper.
- Paper towels.
- Rubber shelf liners.
Your pet may or may not drink water.
It will stay hydrated largely by soaking and eating food with moisture.
Spray it daily with a water mister, and provide it with clean, shallow freshwater to soak if it so desires.
Use at least one perch in its basking area, such as this hammock, as well as a hiding place and various rocks and plants which are safe for the animal.
Bearded Dragon Feeding Requirements
Expect a young beardie to eat a meal of crickets daily and an adult to eat every few days.
This table shows a guideline of feeding schedules and food types for your new pet.
|Animal Age||Insects in Diet||Vegetation in Diet||Insect Feeding Schedule|
|0 to 5 months||80%||20%||Two or three times each day|
|5 to 17 months||50%||50%||One or two times each day|
|Over 17 months||20%||80%||Approximately every other day|
Provide fresh, dark, leafy greens every day.
Sprinkle food with calcium supplements for at least three days each week.
Run over and check out our post on how many crickets to feed bearded dragons in one day for great additional information on this topic.
Proper habitat, diet, and hygiene are all necessary elements to help your pet live healthy and happy.
There are many more details to learn, but this article is a comprehensive starting place to determine whether bearded dragon ownership is right for you.