Acquiring your first bearded dragon can be a very big decision to make, and it should be. Adopting one of these beautiful reptiles shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s not very difficult to keep a bearded dragon as a pet, and they are considered a great reptile for beginners. There are a lot of things to know before adopting a bearded dragon.
If you have never owned a bearded dragon, but are interested in adding one to your household there are a few important things to consider. Let’s touch on those things now to help you decide whether bearded dragon ownership is right for you.
Bearded dragons are really very simple to take care of – just supply an appropriate habitat, feed them the right foods, keep them and their home clean, and interact with them as much as possible. That’s really it in a nutshell!
But there are some costs to keeping them healthy and happy. First, you will need a habitat. These can range anywhere from free to several hundred dollars, depending on how elaborate a setup you want (and your budget, of course).
The typical commercially-purchased habitat sized for an adult will run around $100 – $200. You also have the option to build an enclosure yourself, check out craiglist, or your local newspaper for used enclosures.
Heating and lighting elements and everything needed to house them will generally cost around $50 – $100. Again, it depends on what elements you choose to use. Substrate and decor items can cost around $30 – $40. You can use items from outdoors, but make sure you sanitize them thoroughly before using (we discuss sanitation in the Housing Requirements section earlier).
The good thing is these larger expenses are usually one-time costs. You only need to buy them once if you purchased the appropriate items from the beginning. You will need to replace lighting elements yearly at a minimum.
The costs of buying and preparing food items is an on-going expense. You will need to constantly supply food and water for your bearded dragon. The good news is that insect prey and the staple fruits and vegetables are relatively inexpensive. You may spend about $10 – $20 per week on food at the most.
Overall, bearded dragons are not too expensive to keep. The most expensive being the initial set-up costs and any veterinarian fees. After that it only takes a few dollars per week.
Time is truly the biggest consideration to take in when deciding to acquiring your first bearded dragon. If you live a very hectic, fast-paced job, then maybe a bearded dragon isn’t a good idea. If you travel a lot for work then a bearded dragon might not be a good idea.
You can leave them for several hours, or even a day (at most) they do need attention at minimum a couple times per day. They do not require constant monitoring, and can be left alone during a normal work shift day, but leaving them for more than a day is asking for disaster.
You need to be able to devote at least, bare minimum, an hour or two each day to properly maintain them. It doesn’t need to be an hour block of time, but an hour out of the day total. Taking 15 minutes in the morning, maybe 15 minutes in the afternoon, and 30 minutes in the evening is usually plenty enough time to suffice.
You will need more time on certain days when their habitat needs cleaning, or when giving them a bath.
Just realize these pets are not “get them and forget them” types of pets and do need some attention each day. Have it set in your heart to have these pets. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to invest the time and effort it takes to love these beautiful animals?”. If the answer is not a resounding “YES!”, then please do not go any further. If the answer is a resounding “YES!”, then welcome to the world of bearded dragons!
Although bearded dragons do not get very large, they do require some space in order to thrive. They need an enclosure that will comfortably house them, and these can take up quite a bit of room in your house. You need an area that is about six feet long and approximately three feet wide in order to house the enclosure and stand (if used). Of course, the space needed will greatly depend on the size of the enclosure.
Just keep in mind the size enclosure you plan on using, and plan on where you will place it. Have all this worked out before you bring your bearded dragon home.
Taking The Next Step
Once you have thought about everything just mentioned, you are ready for your bearded dragon…. well, not just yet. You need to have everything needed to properly take care of it before ever setting foot into the pet store.
You want to have the enclosure all set up with heating elements, basking lights, UVB lights, substrate, decor, food and water bowls, etc. You need to have the habitat completely running and functional first. Make sure everything is operating as it should before introducing your pet.
Make sure the basking area and cooler zones are at the correct temperatures and the bulb placements are good. Make sure the basking perch is adequate and stable. Have the substrate added and any decor items are in place.
You want to have the entire habitat operating and completely functional at least a week before introducing the bearded dragon. This is done so you can spot any potential problems, or inadequacies well before the bearded dragon comes so you have time to correct them.
When you bring your new bearded dragon home for the first time it will be very stressed out due to the movement and uncertainty. Imagine being yanked out of your home and being place in a strange location. Imagine how frightening that is! Now, imagine how the bearded dragon feels.
That’s why it is important to have everything functional before bringing your new family member home. This helps him feel more secure and reduces overall stress, and decreases the time it takes for him to settle in. You do not want to introduce the bearded dragon to its new home, them have to keep moving and shuffling things to adjust.
Set up the environment and do the adjusting before bringing him home.
You also want to have food and fresh, dechlorinated water available when the bearded dragon comes home. Already have the crickets, roaches, horn worms, veggie mixes, and whatever else you will provide for food all ready to go.
Now let’s finish things up with the conclusion of the Bearded Dragon Care Sheet!