Bearded Dragons make some of the best reptile pets. They reach a manageable size of about 18-22 inches. However, getting a Bearded Dragon is a serious commitment. They can live from 5-12 years in captivity.

There are several reasons why you should choose a Bearded Dragon as your pet:

• They are very gentle and loyal
• They are docile, hardy and tame. They are one of the few reptiles that enjoy attention
• Bearded Dragons are easy to handle
• They are manageable, due to their small size
• It’s a very suitable pet if you have kids (under supervision)

A beginner owner should look at buying a juvenile and not a hatchling.

8 Things to consider before buying a Bearded Dragon

Before deciding on buying a Bearded Dragon, you should consider a few things:

1. Are you sure you want the dragon?

Never buy on impulse. You are in a store and see a lovely dragon and immediately decide to get it. Most of the dragons sold this way, will die within one year.

• You are walking through a pet store and come across a terrarium with bearded dragons. You notice the awful conditions and feel bad for the animals. So, you decide to buy on the instant. This way you will save the poor animal from the horrible cage. Think twice before you do this! Actually, these stores use the tactic of a pity purchase such as rescuing a bearded dragon in hope to sell more dragons. If you buy the animal you will help them survive and sell another and another animal. In the same conditions.

2. Do you know how to deal with them?

• Always get care information before you buy your reptile and bring him home. Learn everything you find about housing, feeding, caring and the diseases beardies get. Get more information sources – books, magazines and personal experiences of experts and owners.

3. Do you exactly know what you have to do?

• Organize before you get the dragon. Create a list and go get the equipment you need. Set up the cage properly and let it run for at least a week to make sure the temps are correct and everything else is working. Find a trusty source for the crickets. Check grocery stores which sell the right vegetables.

4. Do you have access to fast professional medical help?

Is there a qualified Herp Vet in your area? Newly acquired Bearded Dragons should always have a fecal sample tested for parasites and a general health checkup. It is also a good idea to have them retested for parasites at least once a year.

5. Will you have the time to feed, upkeep the cage and clean up after a bearded dragon, daily, during his or her life?

• You will need a certain amount of time to care for the beardie and they need to have out of cage time every day. They need to be fed every day and it takes time to make a salad in the morning.
• You won’t be able to travel somewhere for long periods of time and leave the dragon at home. It is also difficult to find a person willing to handle crickets or worms to feed your dragons while you are away.

6. Do you have the money to care for a bearded dragon?

• Dragons may come cheap but their proper care will cost you. They eat plenty and needs to be fed daily, you need money for greens, vegetables, fruits, crickets, roaches, supplements etc. They also need a UVB light that are very expensive and needs to be replaced every 6 months. On top of that you need money for vet trips and all of this become costly over time.

7. Are you willing to keep roaches, mealworms etc. in your fridge, what about live insects in the house?

• This one can be a real difficult problem. Everybody in the household must be ok with it.

Buying your Bearded Dragon

The beardies should watch you with interest as you walk up to the enclosure and should also have bright and alert eyes. Dont buy the beardie if he seems lethargic.

Dont buy a beardie that is less than 6 inches in length. Baby Beardies are very fragile and become ill or overly stressed very easily.

Your beardies new home must be completely set up before bringing him home. Additionally, make sure your new family member is allowed enough time to adjust to its new home. Wait three or four days before attempting to handle him and always supervise children when they interact with pets. You can cover 3 sides of the cage so that your dragon will feel more safe. You can remove the covering when he is settled in.

When buying a dragon, look for these good signs:

1. A tail curled up towards the head
2. Active and basking
3. The eyes are clear and open. There should be no mucus or crust.
4. Overall alertness. When you pick it up, it should show some movement and alertness.
5. Fat tail base
6. Head is up and dragon is perky
7. Perched under basking light with head up and body raised
8. No bones showing
9. Rounded body contours

Also, check for these bad signs:

1. Lethargy
2. Any form of excretions around the eyes
3. Missing toes, tail nip
4. No movement
5. Depressions in back of head
6. Head and body not raised
7. Eyes closed or half closed
8. Hip bones showing, spine prominent
9. Fecal smearing around vent
10. Open wounds, scabbing
11. External parasites
12. The conditions of the place where the dragon live, is it a dirty place, improper lighting and/or heating, feces left in cage, too many dragons crowded in small cage?

If the dragon and the place where it lives are in a poor condition then there is a good chance you'll get an animal with a poor health.

MOST IMPORTANTLY NEVER BUY TWO! No matter how cute they look together - THEY DO NOT WANT TO BE TOGETHER! Dragons are lone animals and do not require a friend, see them like a leopard. If you put two males together you will have extremely stressed dragons. As they grow they WILL fight with the intention to kill! If you put a male and female together then they will breed constantly and this will deprive your female from a long and happy life - she WILL die early. Male and females can also fight. Two females WILL NEVER choose to live together and will always be stressed and may even fight.