Bearded dragons are one of the best exotic reptiles you can keep as pets. They wouldn’t munch on your shoes or scratch on your sofa, and they occupy little space compared to our regular domestic pets. However, several factors come into play when you decide on getting a beardie; there’s the cost which is either the first-hand cost of the pet itself or the cost of ownership you’d need to adhere to – both of these need to be heavily considered before you embark on this journey. We’ll discuss all that in a jiffy.
Ordinary bearded dragons cost anything from $40 – $1500 at present. Yup, a whopping thousand and five hundred bucks! Factors like the age of the dragon, the morph, sex, where you live, and the store you purchase from all determine how much the beardie will cost.
Nothing ruins the groove like shortsighted planning. It’s important to know all the ins and outs of owning bearded dragons so that you don’t fall into distressing situations along the way. Let’s go!
How Much Does A Beardie Really Cost? The 5 Determining Factors
As we’ve established, bearded dragons cost anything from $40 to $1500. This includes the knickknacks of morphology, age, and of course, where you’re purchasing from. Here’s a deeper dive into the factors that determine the cost of bearded dragons:
1. The Age Of The Dragon
Baby beardies and old bearded dragons are sold cheaper because they either don’t have much time and cost value on them (for the babies), or the breeders are simply ready to let them go (for the elders). This range is the cheapest and will usually cost from $40 – $65. Before you jump on the bait, ensure that you are fully prepared to take on the journey of nursing the baby dragon to adulthood or catering to the older beardie.
2. The Sex Of The Bearded Dragon
Pet stores and especially breeders guard female beardies like gold mines and for good reasons, too. Female beardies are the business; they produce babies and keep the trade running. So, they naturally cost higher than male beardies. In fact, some breeders may refuse to sell out their female bearded dragons if the beardie is exquisitely unique so that it can produce more unique babies for the sake of competition. For the adult females, you’d be costing from $100 – $1500 depending on the morph and age.
3. The Morph Of The Bearded Dragon
Morphs are simply special-looking bearded dragons. They have been specially and genetically improved to look a certain way with a distinct color and representation of patterns that look aesthetically pleasing. Of course, morphs cost an arm and leg! Depending on the rarity, seller, sex, age, and morph of the dragon, you could be costing anything from $150 – $1500.
Here’s a quick view of the morphs and their prices.
|Standard bearded dragons
|$40 – $150
|$200 – $400
|$150 – $300
|$200 – $500
|$300 – $600
|$300 – $800
|$400 – $1000
|$500 – $1500
|$253 – $660
4. The Bearded Dragon Seller
All sellers and their prices vary depending on factors like the size of the company, the skill of the seller, or plainly other reasons unbeknownst to us. It is a general rule for breeders to sell bearded dragons for less than other reptile professional stores would. So, you’d be expecting about $10 – $30 less of the amount if the seller is a breeder and $10 – $30 more of the amount if you go to pet stores.
5. Where You Reside
Bearded dragons are dominantly native to Australia. If you reside in Australia, you may get them a lot cheaper than you would in other continents. The same thing will apply if you live in Europe or the USA; these continents have been the major patronizers of bearded dragons until there was a ban on shipping beardies from Australia. Now they just stick to breeding the dragons they already have.
If you live in a different continent, you’d experience a major price leap especially since you may need to ship the pet in due to the rarity of bearded dragons on other continents. You’d spend about $200 – $400 for a central bearded dragon with no specialties.
The Entire Expense Breakdown Of Owning A Bearded Dragon – Housing & The Sorts
If you’re going for the central bearded dragon (that means if you’re not purchasing a morph or adult female), the cost of the dragon itself could be lesser than putting up their environment. Just the terrarium could cost 4 times the price of a regular beardie, and then you’d need to look at other equipment your dragon requires to survive in its terrarium.
|$50 – $600
|$15 – $100
|Thermometer & Hygrometer
|$5 – $30
|$1 – $30
|$25 – $85
|$40 – $50/ month
|$136 – $895
Purchasing The Terrarium
Setting up a bearded dragon terrarium itself is on average the most expensive purchase. These tanks cost anything from $50 – $600 depending on the size and type. I would urge you not to accept the “start small, start somewhere” advice from pet stores offering 25-gallon tanks for beginners. Your dragon will outgrow this tank in 2 – 3 months and you’d need to buy a bigger tank to move it (view on Amazon).
If affordable to you, you can consider a 100-gallon tank. This is the best advice you can take. It can house an adult beardie at the go and if you’re starting with a hatchling dragon, you wouldn’t go through the stress of purchasing a new tank.
A Cost-Cutting Tip: Facebook and Craigslist offer second-hand reptile vivariums for less than $100. You can also seek an aquarium from aquarists and use it as a terrarium for your bearded dragon; the pro is they’re sturdier as they’re meant to contain gallons of water over time. Just ensure you select a reasonably qualified tank. If it’s suspiciously cheap, it’s probably damaged or you’re about to get scammed!
Also, you need to sanitize the tank as much as you can before you put your beardie in it– you have no idea where it’s coming from!
The importance of good lighting cannot be overemphasized. Beardies can fall terribly sick and die from improper lighting, and this is why you need to invest properly in doing it right from scratch. Bearded dragons need light rays to maintain the proper temperature and metabolize their vitamins and minerals. The UVB rays do to bearded dragons what glucose does to you as a human. They simply need it to survive.
Your dragon needs two types of lighting; UVB bulbs and heat-emitting bulbs. Before we get into it, I just want to confirm that the bulbs that come in beardie starter packs are literal scams! They don’t offer the required value for your dragon to stay healthy over long periods.
So, you need a fluorescent UVB bulb (view on Amazon) that will perforate the entire tank with UVB rays so that your beardie can get Vitamin D wherever it rests in the tank, not from one spot alone. Then you need a 150-watt heat lamp (view on Amazon) for your beardie to bask under, on only one end of the tank.
You can purchase a vapor bulb which is a light bulb that emits heat, UVB, and UVA rays all in one. However, your dragon still requires a UVB fluorescent lamp to light up the rest of the tank when it leaves the basking spot.
So it’s either you get a vapor bulb and a UVB lamp, or get the lamps separately– whichever you prefer. The vapor bulb is best for big tanks like the 100-gallon tank I advised, and the regular heat bulb is best for beginner tanks lower than 50 gallons because of the space-to-heat ratio.
You’d be budgeting about 50$ – 80$ for the entirety of the lighting for your bearded dragon. Remember, heat bulbs need to be changed every 6 months, so you need to include that expense too.
Flooring the terrarium is another aspect that requires money. You simply can’t put your pet on bare glass, it would be unfair and detrimental to its health. There are different types of flooring – both good and bad – and will differ based on this variety.
The safest flooring types for bearded dragons are paper flooring, slates, carpets, and tiles. These would cost anything from 5$ – 35$ on average.
Avoid using loose substrates like sand and wood shavings; these are highly dangerous for bearded dragons especially if you’re not an expert. It could lead to impaction and several other infections.
The Temperature And Humidity Measurements
It’s crucial to have a thermometer and hygrometer (view on Amazon) on standby at all times! You simply cannot do without them. Sometimes, the heat on the basking spot can get too hot for the beardie to lie under, and the worst thing about this is that beardies are slow to recognize heat differences around their bellies. They could easily get burned or shy away from the heat which is bad for them.
Also, with the change of weather in the environment, the humidity could rise and drop anytime. This could affect your dragon’s respiratory health negatively, so you need to watch that aspect closely, too.
Your dragon’s terrarium requires two types of thermometers; the digital wall-sticking thermometer (to pick on the general temperature of the enclosure), and the hand infrared thermometer for precise measurement of the basking spots.
Of course, who wants to live in a void and lifeless environment? Certainly not your bearded dragon. Beardies need an interactive environment. It would be preferable to mimic their natural habitat as much as possible. Items like logs, plants, wallpapers to cover the sides of the terrarium, basking and shading rocks (view on Amazon), and hammocks (view on Amazon) are all necessary items. Each of these items would cost about $5- $15. Collectively, bearded dragon furniture brings it up to $85 at most.
Feeding – Grubs, Greens, & Supplements
Baby and juvenile beardies eat a lot more than adults do, and they rely on protein the most. This, of course, costs more money. Their balanced diet includes insects, vegetables, and fruits. According to the particular diet for each age, the cost will vary.
The table below will give you the required diet ratio for each beardie stage.
|Fraction in Percent (Bugs & Veggies)
|Number of Insects
|0 to 2 (Baby dragon)
|25 – 50/day
|3 to 5 (Juvenile)
|25 – 50/day
|6 to 9 (Pre-Adult)
|10 to 18+ (Adult)
Monthly, you’d be budgeting at most $50 for both grubs and veggies. Remember that bearded dragons need their grubs to be alive. Yes, frozen or dead bugs hold the same value, but they need the stimulation of chasing their prey to be mentally aware and appreciative of their environment. Else, your dragon will be stressed and start manifesting stress-related behaviors.
You must also include calcium supplements in your dragon’s daily meals. It’s important to dust their vegetables with calcium supplements to reduce the chances of metabolic bone disease.
The Smartest Way To Choose And Purchase A Bearded Dragon
The breeders and pet stores will either have several bearded dragons you can choose from or limited choices. Still, you need expert skills to choose a healthy bearded dragon so that you don’t suffer the heartbreak or expenses of catering to a sick one.
Ensure The Breeder Or Pet Store Is Reputable
It’s important to buy from trustworthy bearded dragon sellers so that you don’t purchase an extra workload. If you’re a beginner, you should buy a healthy dragon since you’re limited in experience. However, if you notice any form of misconduct from pet stores or breeders, don’t hesitate to report this to the authorities! No animal should be subjected to neglect, and you will be helping out immensely by keeping an eye on what goes on at exotic pet businesses.
Check For Any Illnesses
If you notice hanging jaws and upper bodies, sluggishness, or unresponsiveness, perhaps the dragon is ill. I would advise you not to purchase this particular one unless you’re seeking to save it. Report this immediately to the staff in charge and ask as many questions as possible to inquire more about the conditions of the pets.
Consider The Temperament Of The Dragon
Beardies have different personalities. Some are due to how they are managed or plainly their traits. Majorly, bearded dragons are docile creatures. It would be safer to stay away from the dragon that is constantly hissing, flattening its body, puffing and darkening its beard, and essentially scurrying away. Unless, again, you desire to rescue the pet and bring it to a much more loving environment. If you’re a beginner, this will be too stressful for you to handle, so it’s best to go for a much more docile bearded dragon.
Will A Bearded Dragon Make A Good Pet For Me? Should I Get One?
It depends; Are you a beginner or do you have an average knowledge of keeping exotic pets? Bearded dragons are not exactly beginner-range pets. The cost of ownership and workload is a little on the high side for beginners. Thus, I do not recommend getting a bearded dragon as a beginner. However, if you’re willing to take the adventure and go to great lengths of sacrificing funds and time, learning, and practicing patience, you’ll have a great time with your dragon.
If you have had experience with any exotic pet, you’d do great with bearded dragons! All you need to do is ensure that the terrarium is properly set and you and your pet beardie will enjoy the highs and lows of time together.