As bearded dragons become more and more common as household pets, it's important to realize that they are not an inexpensive pet to keep. Dragons are commonly looked at as a cheaper, easier alternative to a dog or a cat. In reality, the cost of keeping a bearded dragon throughout its life is surprisingly high. As with all pets, we owe our dragons the very best life that we can give them. They deserve it!
The first expense of owning a bearded dragon is buying the dragon itself! The price of the bearded dragon greatly depends on a number of factors. Not only does it depend where you get the dragon but it also depends on the size, age and morph of the dragon. The price of beardies between pet stores, breeders and rescues can range from $50 to $1000 or even more! We highly recommend searching for a reputable breeder or a reptile rescue to get your bearded dragon from. It may be tempting to get a “cheaper” dragon from the pet store but these pets come with a list of their own issues both physically and ethically. These dragons are typically not well bred or well cared for and could come with lots of potential health issues. Exotic vet bills add up and you can save yourself some stress by purchasing a beardie from a trusted supplier.
That brings us to our next expense which is veterinary care for your little friend. It is always recommended to take any pet for their initial checkup with their new vet within 2 days of owning them. This is the best way to ensure that your new pet is kept safe from any illnesses or parasites that may be lingering. This will also protect any existing pets that may be in the home. This initial visit can cost anywhere between $75 and $150. At this appointment, your vet should look over your dragon’s overall health. They may also want to take a stool sample to test for internal parasites. Internal parasites are something that may be common in bearded dragons. Internal parasites sometimes require medical intervention and that should be considered when thinking about the total cost of owning a dragon. The medication to treat the parasites can cost up to $100 alone. You should also have yearly evaluations done to ensure that your beardie stays in tip top shape for the duration of their life.
In order to keep a healthy dragon, you have to have their enclosure on point! You should have the proper set up ready for your bearded dragon before bringing your them home. The standard size enclosure for adult bearded dragons is a 40 gallon breeder tank. Although this is standard, some dragons are larger than others and will require a larger enclosure. You can always start with a smaller enclosure if you get a baby bearded dragon but you should be fully aware and prepared to upgrade them to their adult enclosure very soon. The cost of the enclosure can vary greatly depending on what kind of enclosure you choose. The cost for the enclosure alone can range from $50 to several hundred dollars. One of the most important parts of your dragon's enclosure is their lighting. Bearded dragons need a heat lamp as well as a UVB bulb. These items should not be skimped out on as they are vital to your dragon’s health. The bulbs can cost you $30 to $50 and the fixtures will be an additional $30 to $40. UVB bulbs need to be replaced every six months, even if they aren’t burnt out, as they become less effective after this time. Additional decorations and items for your tank can include thermometers, hides, hammocks and bowls which can run you another $100 to $200 depending on how much you want to deck out the enclosure!
The most obvious responsibility with any pet is feeding them. Your dragon will need to be fed bugs and veggies daily. The ratio of bugs to greens will depend on the age of your dragon as younger dragons will eat more insects than older ones. You can expect to spend between $30 and $80 per month on feeder insects alone. If you give a good variety of veggies, you will likely spend $30 to $40 a month on greens and vegetables for your little friend. Additionally, your beardie will need supplements including calcium, vitamin D and a multivitamin. You won’t need to buy these as often as other things but you should set aside $20 to $30 to stock up on these every six months or so.
As you can see, bearded dragons aren’t the inexpensive, easy pet that they are sometimes made out to be. Just like all pets, they have a long list of requirements that cost money and add up. Although some of these purchases will only need to be made one time in your dragon’s life, others are recurring expenses that you need to be able to keep up on to take proper care of your pet. There are ways to keep costs down such as building DIY enclosures, buying used supplies, breeding insects and adopting you dragon. Even though owning bearded dragons can get pricey when done right, we think they are worth it!