Pet Bearded Dragon Guide: What You Need to Know

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: April 3, 2022

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Before Buying a Bearded Dragon

A bearded dragon, also known as a beardie, gets its name from the ring of fleshy spines around its neck. Its spines stand up when the reptile is stressed and lay flat when it’s relaxed. Bearded dragons are popular pets because they are docile, quiet, and easy-going. There are over 20 types of bearded dragons. The price to buy one ranges from $200 to $800.

Depending on the type you choose, your bearded dragon can be eight inches to two feet long. A 60-gallon aquarium is a good size for an adult bearded dragon. The price range for this aquarium is $170 to $200.

Like most reptile pets, bearded dragons need to live in a very warm environment. They require a certain amount of heat throughout the day and night to keep them healthy. They need heat lamps to make sure they are getting enough warmth throughout the day and night.

Bearded dragons are interesting to observe, and enjoy spending time with their owners. They’re higher maintenance than other pets like hamsters and gerbils but can be every bit as lovable!

This reptile usually lives from six to 10 years, but a well-cared-for pet can live 20 years.

pet bearded dragon
A pet bearded dragon makes a great family addition.

How Much Does a Bearded Dragon Cost?

A reptile breeder is the best choice if you want to purchase either a baby bearded dragon or an adult. Experienced breeders take good care of their reptiles and are happy to answer questions. They charge between $200 and $800 for bearded dragons. The coloration, sex, age, and type all factor into the price of this pet.

A bearded dragon can grow up to two feet long. Consequently, it needs a 60-gallon aquarium to accommodate its size. These aquariums are priced between $170 and $200 in a pet shop.

RELATED: The 4 Largest Bearded Dragons in the World

A lid for your aquarium is necessary to keep your bearded dragon secure. A wire mesh lid for a 60-gallon aquarium costs around $30. Wire mesh allows for plenty of airflow inside your bearded dragon’s habitat.

Proper heating is a must-have for keeping a bearded dragon. After all, wild bearded dragons live in a desert habitat. The two heat lamps you need to position over your pet’s aquarium include one for basking and one for nighttime.

The basking lamp provides a warm area with temperatures from 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Your bearded dragon is likely to spend hours on a rock or log just beneath its incandescent basking lamp.

This pet’s nighttime lamp establishes an environment with temperatures from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A basking lamp is $20 to $25 while a nighttime lamp is around $20.

With all of its heat requirements, a thermostat is necessary for a bearded dragon’s enclosure. Ideally, choose a thermostat that allows you to set the temperature and alerts you if it’s not being maintained. This type of thermostat costs between $40 and $50.

Bearded dragons need UVB lighting. This type of light lets your pet know it’s daytime so it can regulate its active and non-active hours. Also, it helps your pet to synthesize Vitamin D3 as well as absorb calcium. The UVB light should be on for 12 hours during the day. A UVB light costs between $40 and $50.

Bearded dragons need to live in an environment with about 40 percent humidity. Its full water bowl combined with the heat in the cage sets a humid environment. A hygrometer measures humidity and costs around $4.

Substrate is the bedding for your beardie’s aquarium. Reptile carpet is a smart choice and can be cleaned. However, its carpet should be replaced once a year. Reptile carpet costs from $15 to $20. Put strips of newspaper into the aquarium for additional bedding.

Your pet needs plants and other décor in its habitat. A flat rock for basking is a must-have along with three or four artificial plants. A hollow log made of non-toxic material is great for hiding! All of this aquarium décor costs between $40 and $60.

For water and food purchase two large, sturdy bowls made of weighty plastic. Don’t be surprised if you see your beardie sitting in its water bowl. These reptiles like to soak a while in shallow water to cool down. A pair of bowls for a bearded dragon cost between $20 to $30.

Bearded dragons eat gut-loaded insects and vegetables. Gut-loaded insects have been fed a highly nutritious diet, so they can pass those nutrients along to your beardie. Beardies eat small crickets, mealworms, and roaches.

When it comes to vegetables they eat mustard greens, celery, peeled cucumbers, parsley, and more.

Live insects are available online or from a pet shop. A supply of 500 live crickets is around $30. A supply of 300 live mealworms is around $15.

Initial costs:

  • Bearded dragon-$200
  • Aquarium-$170
  • Aquarium lid-$30
  • Basking lamp-$20
  • Nighttime lamp-$20
  • Thermostat-$40
  • UVB light-$40
  • Hygrometer-$4
  • Substrate-$15
  • Plants and aquarium décor-$40
  • Pair of bowls-$20
  • 500 Crickets-$30
  • 300 Mealworms-$15

Total initial cost: $644

Ongoing Costs:

  • Crickets-$30 (every two months)
  • Mealworms-$15 (every three months)
  • Yearly vet checkup-$80
  • Reptile carpet (once yearly)-$15

Total cost of yearly ownership: $335

Total cost over a 10-year lifetime: $3,994

Keep in mind that bearded dragons can live for ten years or longer.

New Owner Shopping List: What to Buy

As you see, a pet bearded dragon needs quite a few supplies. The best course of action is to gather all of these items for your new beardie a day or two before you bring it home.

Setup your beardie’s aquarium to test the heating and lighting equipment. That way, you know everything is operational in your reptile’s habitat.

  • Aquarium-A 60-gallon aquarium is an appropriate size for a bearded dragon. They’re easy to clean and you can enjoy watching your pet through the glass.
  • Aquarium lid-A wire mesh lid for a 60-gallon aquarium is necessary for proper airflow and to keep your pet safe.
  • Basking lamp-This should be setup above a rock where your beardie can bask in temperatures ranging from 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Nighttime lamp-A nighttime lamp has a special bulb that keeps the sleeping area in your pet’s cage at 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Thermostat-A programmable thermostat is excellent for ensuring the proper temperature in your beardie’s habitat. This device is usually digital and easy to read.
  • UVB light-A UVB light supplies your pet with Vitamin D3 and aids in the absorption of calcium.
  • Hygrometer-This tool measures the level of humidity in your reptile’s aquarium. It should maintain a humidity level of 40 percent.
  • Substrate-Reptile carpet is a good choice because it’s comfortable and your beardie can’t ingest it. Furthermore, it can be cleaned and reused.
  • Pair of bowls-A water bowl and a food bowl are essential for a beardie. Sturdy bowls made of weighted plastic are an ideal choice. Get a water bowl big enough for your reptile to soak in.
  • Artificial plants and décor-A large rock for basking, three or four plants, and a hollow log made of non-toxic material are all good additions to this pet’s habitat.
  • 500 crickets-Live crickets serve as daily food for your pet. They eat about ten small crickets per day along with a vegetable.
  • 300 mealworms-Live mealworms can be used to give your beardie a break from eating crickets a couple days each week.

Ongoing Needs: What You Need to Care for Your Bearded Dragon

As with any pet, your bearded dragon has its own list of ongoing needs. With a lifespan of ten years or more, all of these things should be factored into an owner’s budget.

  • Crickets-A supply of 500 crickets usually lasts for two months. The number of months can vary depending on the unique eating habits of your beardie.
  • Mealworms-Live mealworms can be used as substitutions for crickets. This helps vary your pet’s diet. Plan on buying a supply of mealworms every three months or so. Once again, the number of times you need to purchase mealworms varies depending on the needs of your particular pet.
  • Yearly vet checkup-Your bearded dragon needs a yearly checkup from a reptile veterinarian. This is to ensure it’s getting the proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, having a connection with a reptile vet means you can take your beardie to someone you know if an illness or injury occurs.
  • Reptile Carpet-Reptile carpet can be cleaned and put back into your pet’s aquarium. It’s made of durable material. However, it does get worn out over time. So, plan on replacing it once a year.

Exercise and Ongoing Care

Exercise Options

Bearded dragons need about an hour of exercise each day. They are fast movers and like to stretch their legs!

If you have an enclosed area outdoors like a small garden or a patio, allow your bearded dragon to move around outside. The temperature outdoors should be a minimum of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be sure to put dogs, cats, and other pets in another area while your bearded dragon exercises. Also, it’s necessary to stay with your pet while its outdoors to ensure its safety.

Another option is to let your reptile explore a room in your home. Once again, all other pets should be kept away while your reptile is exercising.

Cleaning the Aquarium

Cleaning it once a week can keep your bearded dragon’s habitat in good condition. Wear gloves and goggles when you clean to prevent exposing yourself to bacteria.

First, put your pet in a plastic bin or other secure container where it can move around a bit and have plenty of airflow. Next, take everything out of your pet’s aquarium including the reptile carpet. Clean all of your artificial plants with mild soap and warm water, then dry them thoroughly. Thoroughly rinse debris from the hollow log, rocks, and any similar decor. Put them outside to dry in the sun. Your pet’s food and water bowls should be washed with mild soap and hot water.

Wipe the reptile carpet with paper towels to remove waste. It should also be scrubbed with a mild detergent and hot water. Be sure to rinse it completely and squeeze out as much water as you can. Then, place it outside to dry in the sunlight.

The aquarium should be washed with mild soap and hot water. It’s best to let the tank dry in the sun as well.

Feeding Your Bearded Dragon

An adult bearded dragon eats once a day. These reptiles can eat from ten to twenty small crickets in one feeding period. It’s important to observe the eating habits of your beardie. If it eats eight crickets and refuses to take more, you know it’s probably full.

Don’t leave live crickets in your pet’s cage for more than 15 minutes. Crickets have a tendency to eat waste in an aquarium. If your beardie happens to capture a cricket that’s eaten waste, it can effect your reptile’s health.

Put some vegetables into your pet’s food bowl. This could be peeled cucumbers, celery, or mustard greens. Once again, it’s a good idea to try different things to see what your pet enjoys.

As a note, if you start to handfeed your bearded dragon, it may not want to be fed any other way! So, if you want it to eat out of its food bowl, don’t handfeed your pet.

How Long Will Your Bearded Dragon Live?

The lifespan of bearded dragons is six to ten years, but they can live longer. It’s best to expect this pet to live ten years so you can plan for its upkeep.

Taking your beardie to the vet each year allows you to be informed about its overall health. As it grows older, your pet’s dietary and exercise needs will change.

Common Health Issues for Bearded Dragons

Internal parasites are a common issue with bearded dragons. Oftentimes, they pick them up from the insects they eat.

Some signs that a bearded dragon has parasites include diarrhea, listlessness, and lack of appetite. A vet can diagnose this condition and provide medications to treat it.

Where to Buy Your Bearded Dragon

The best place to get a bearded dragon is from a reptile breeder. A responsible breeder has a variety of bearded dragons to choose from and is very likely to have both juveniles and adults.

A reptile breeder takes pride in raising healthy bearded dragons and makes a point of socializing them, so they are accustomed to being around people.

A breeder is going to provide you with a secure container for transporting your reptile home.

Special Considerations with Bearded Dragons

The Reptile Rescue Option

If you want to adopt a bearded dragon, check your area for reptile rescue organizations. Volunteers at these organizations really get to know the rescued bearded dragons they care for. So, you’re likely to end up with a pet you love.

Does Your Beardie Need a Cage Mate?

No, this is a solitary animal. If you put two bearded dragons, especially two males, in an aquarium together they aren’t going to get along. You can own more than one bearded dragon, but you must have separate aquariums for them.

About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Pet Bearded Dragon Guide: What You Need to Know FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do I go about buying a bearded dragon?

Look for reptile breeders in your area who sell bearded dragons. Though you can purchase this pet online, it’s best if you can visit a breeder’s store or facility. You can see how clean it is and observe the overall health of the reptiles.

What is a good price to buy a bearded dragon?

The most reasonable price for a bearded dragon is $200.

What is the safest way to buy a bearded dragon?

The safest way is to research a local breeder and pay them a visit before making a decision to buy.

Do bearded dragons like to be held?

Yes, as long as they feel secure in your hands or on your shoulder. A fall for a bearded dragon can result in great injury or worse.

Do bearded dragons need a lot of care?

Compared to other pets like mice and guinea pigs, bearded dragons need a lot of care. This is mostly due to their temperature requirements.

Is a bearded dragon a good pet?

Yes. They are affectionate, sweet pets for people who are ready to give them the special habitat they need to remain healthy.