Buying a bearded dragon is a serious decision because they are not the easiest or cheapest pets to own.
Most people own cats, dogs, or other types of mammals, but there are not so many reptile owners. While they are not necessarily more difficult to keep than other animals, they do have their own particular challenges. Not surprisingly, owners of bearded dragons are some of the most dedicated pet parents we have come across.
If you are contemplating joining the rank of dragon keeper, we would like to help you prepare for the journey. Here’s what you need to know before making the decision to buy a bearded dragon as a pet.
Bearded dragons originally come from Australia, and they love hot, dry conditions.
A beardy’s natural habitat is in the semi-desertous regions of Australia, and they are diurnal (most active during the day). However, they spend the hottest part of the day underground and have adapted to cold desert nights. They are also semi-arboreal, spending plenty of time in trees.
These are the types of conditions you need to be able to replicate in your home when getting a beardy. Here are seven things you should consider before buying a bearded dragon.
1. Bearded Dragon Enclosure
Bearded dragons need a special enclosure.
They are not like cats or dogs who will settle into a new home basically as they find it. And, a bearded dragon’s house is not tiny like a goldfish bowl or a small aquarium. They require at least 2′ X 2′ X 4′ for an enclosure, and bigger is definitely better.
It needs to be larger than even a tortoise enclosure, although they are a smaller creature.
And there is more. Bearded dragons are ectotherms or cold-blooded, and they love and need to sunbathe. Since they cannot maintain warm body temperatures like mammals, they spend plenty of time basking in the sun.
So, as you consider space to place the enclosure, think about locations close to the windows. Alternatively, you can use special bearded dragon lighting to keep it lit and warm. It’s an excellent substitute.
When you adopt a bearded dragon, you will have to review your daily schedule. Make time to hang out with your newfound buddy, and to do other routines like bathing, cleaning his habitat, and vet visits.
It does not take a big chunk out of your time. They are not as life-dominating as some dogs can be, for example. But, as with all pets, there are those care and maintenance things that do take time. So, look at your schedule and think about how a new bearded dragon will affect your days.
3. You Need To Learn About Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons have not been kept as pets for long. We are still discovering a lot about them in a home environment. Before you take the leap and bring home a bearded dragon, take some time to learn about the creature.
Watch some animal documentaries and keep reading guides like you’re doing now. Learn as much as possible about bearded dragon size and age, sex, and other characteristics. You can pick up this popular manual on Amazon, but there is just as much (if not more) good info online on blogs, YouTube, and dedicated groups on Facebook.
4. You Will Spend More Time Cleaning
One of the activities that will take a substantial amount of time will be cleaning up. You should clean up the habitat, replace the substrate and wipe the walls with a disinfectant.
This is not a short or quick process and does get old quickly. You should also thoroughly clean all the stuff the dragon climbs on or places he hides.
Also, clean the food and water bowls, their bath section, and the prey carrier. Bearded dragons, and their prey, can carry salmonella. So it is crucial to be thorough and wash your own hands well before and after interacting with the beardy and their home.
5. You Will Need Live Prey
Bearded dragons are carnivorous. Their diet consists of small insects and spiders. Although adults can eat vegetables (like this Omnivore Mix), they enjoy insects much more.
Roaches are a favorite for dragons. If you plan to adopt one, start thinking about where you can get a good supply of roaches to keep their belly full. Stocking a few live ones could be the solution. Just as live food is something of a game for turtles, so too is catching live food for beardys.
If roaches make the hair on your back stand on end, consider other critters like crickets.
6. Loud Noises Don’t Go Well With Beardys
If you are the kind of person who loves parties with loud music, you may have to consider relocating the party or your dragon while people are over. Bearded dragons hate loud noises.
There are many other hobbies or things that can go on in a household that might also be too loud for a bearded dragon. For example, while an acoustic guitar would probably be alright, a loud electric guitar probably won’t be. You can find out how loud a guitar is in decibels here. Anything above 90 decibels for a prolonged period of time is considered bad for a bearded dragon.
They have huge depressions on either side of their heads which open up to their ear canals. They are hypersensitive to sound. It is one of their first adaptations for hunting. So, plan to keep the house quiet, or make plans to mitigate noise to protect your pet from stress.
A friend of mine who is a jazz drummer decided to also get a bearded dragon as a pet. In a sense, these two things were his passions. He established the beardy enclosure at the opposite end of the house from his music studio. He also went the extra mile and totally soundproofed the music room (something that his wife appreciated as well). Now he can practice on his collection of the best jazz drum sets without upsetting his pet (or wife).
7. There Are Significant Expenses
Taking a bearded dragon home means that you have to make changes to your home, schedule, and social life.
It all boils down to whether your heart is in it. If it is, the chances are high that you are ready to spend what you need to care for your new beast properly. Initially, you will purchase a suitable enclosure such as this one on Amazon pictured above. You’ll need to set it up and buy equipment to keep it lit and warm. The costs may run into thousands of dollars.
Then, there are running costs like utilities due to the special lighting, hygrometers, healthcare costs, and substrate replacements.
Owning A Bearded Dragon
Getting a bearded dragon is a big move. But, if you’ve learned everything you can online and are still keen, you’re probably the right person for one! Now all that’s left to do is to choose a great name for your Bearded Dragon!
Buying and maintaining a bearded dragon is not easy. But if your heart’s in it, it is worth all the effort, cost, and sacrifice – as with all pets great and small. Check out these low-maintenance pets if you want something that might be a little easier to care for!