The Cost Of Owning A Bearded Dragon
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Though they may look a little intimidating with their spiked bodies, bearded dragons are actually very gentle pets. These desert reptiles can be very friendly, and they are a unique pet to keep.
The challenge with keeping a pet bearded dragon is their habitat requirements. These reptiles come from a hot desert climate, so their cage needs to be kept within a certain temperature range. They also follow a primarily insectivorous diet.
If you’re thinking about a bearded dragon for a pet, you won’t be disappointed! Before you bring one home, however, it’s important to consider the cost of purchasing and keeping one.
Here’s what you need to know about how much it costs to keep a pet bearded dragon.
Bringing Home A New Bearded Dragon – One-Time Costs
Before you bring home a new pet, you need to prepare for it. This means setting up the ideal bearded dragon enclosure with all the necessary equipment.
Creating a habitat for your bearded dragon won’t be cheap but it’s important to do it right. Your bearded dragon will spend the majority of its life in this enclosure, so it should be large and properly equipped to meet his needs.
In addition to the cost to set up your bearded dragon’s tank, you should consider other initial costs like substrate, food, and your initial vet visit.
Here’s what you need to know about one-time costs for pet bearded dragons:
Buying A Bearded Dragon
If you walk into your nearest pet store, you’ll probably find juvenile bearded dragons for sale between $40 and $60. What you’ll notice, however, is that they are all probably the same type – the classic or standard morph known for its sandy color.
There are several different morphs for bearded dragons and some fetch hefty prices.
Here are some of the most popular pet bearded dragon morphs:
If you’re looking for a specific bearded dragon morph, your best bet is to contact a breeder. You may also be able to find a variety of options at a local reptile show.
When it comes to the standard morph, pet store prices are likely to be higher than a breeder price. For less common morphs, however, you could pay several hundreds of dollars for a bearded dragon. Rare colorations have been known to sell for over $1,000.
Another option for purchasing a bearded dragon is to check your local shelter or reptile rescue.
Adoption fees vary but generally range from $50 to $100. The benefit of adopting a bearded dragon is that it may already be conditioned to handling and might come with the cage it was surrendered in.
Bearded Dragon Cost by Morph
|Species||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
Supplies And Setup
The most significant cost associated with pet bearded dragons is the cost to set up the tank.
Juvenile bearded dragons can be kept in tanks as small as 10 to 15 gallons, but adults need at least a 60-gallon aquarium. The best enclosure for a bearded dragon may be a terrarium because it is designed to retain heat and humidity but has doors for easy access.
Depending what type and size tank you choose, you can spend $50 to $300.
In addition to the tank itself, you’ll need certain equipment to maintain the ideal temperature and humidity level. You’ll also need lighting for both day and night.
Bearded dragons are desert animals, so you’ll need to recreate the desert environment in your tank. Under-tank heating pads help preserve ambient temperature while heat lamps can be used to create specific heat zones in the tank. Keep in mind as well that bearded dragons require UVA and UVB light.
Choosing the right substrate for your bearded dragon tank is important as well.
The substrate should have a fine texture and retain heat well. Avoid substrate that hold onto moisture and don’t use anything that might be toxic for your bearded dragon.
Aside from these startup costs, you should also plan to take your bearded dragon to the vet within a few weeks of getting him for his first checkup. Expect to pay $45 to $75 for a routine exam.
If you choose to spay or neuter your bearded dragon, you’re looking at a cost of at least $100 but it could be up to $1,000 or more. This surgery may be unnecessary unless you plan to keep a male and female bearded dragon together.
Bearded Dragon Supplies and Setup
|Cost Type||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
|Initial Food and Bedding||$30||$50|
|Initial Vet Visit/Vaccinations||$45||$75|
|Total = $405 to $675 (without spay/neuter surgery)|
Cost Of Bearded Dragon Ownership – Annual Expense Breakdown
The cost to purchase and set up a tank for your bearded dragon is significant but the average monthly cost is much more reasonable. You’ll have to factor in the cost to feed your pet as well as additional costs like replacement bedding, light bulbs, and utilities.
Another cost to consider is veterinary expenses.
Bearded dragons require an annual vet exam just like any other pet, but they don’t need vaccines. Just remember that if your pet ends up needing emergency vet services, the cost can be quite high.
Here’s what you need to know about annual costs for pet bearded dragons:
Annual Medical Expenses
When properly cared for, a bearded dragon can live up to 10 years in captivity. Monitoring your pet’s health is important, so you should take the time to research common health problems, so you know what to look for.
Here are some of the common health problems known to affect bearded dragons:
- Metabolic bone disease
- Infectious stomatitis
- Respiratory infection
- Retained shed
- Adenovirus infection
Your bearded dragon doesn’t require any vaccinations, but he should see a vet once a year. You can expect an exotics vet to charge $45 to $75 per visit.
Aside from an annual exam, your bearded dragon shouldn’t require any veterinary care on a recurring basis. Laboratory tests and treatments can cost upwards of $100 and emergency veterinary services are very expensive. Proper care and a healthy diet can help you avoid these costs.
Something else to consider is giving your bearded dragon a calcium and vitamin D supplement several times a week. These supplements will cost less than $10 a month and can save your pet from painful (and expensive) conditions like metabolic bone disease.
To help offset veterinary costs, you may be considering buying pet insurance.
Unfortunately, many pet insurance policies don’t cover exotic pets like bearded dragons. Even if they do, you have to ask yourself whether the cost of a monthly premium is worth it. You may do better to put what you’d pay in premiums each month into savings in case of emergency.
Estimated Medical Costs for Bearded Dragons
|Cost Type||Frequency||Average Cost|
|Veterinary Checkup||Annual||$45 to $75|
|Emergency Expenses||Occasional||$100 and up|
Food And Supplies
When it comes to keeping your bearded dragon healthy, a balanced diet goes a long way.
Baby bearded dragons require a diet of 80% insects and 20% greens while adult bearded dragons require the opposite. This means the cost to feed your bearded dragon may change over time.
The best way to save money on bearded dragon food is to buy insects in bulk or to raise them yourself.
Worms like mealworms are a staple in a bearded dragon’s diet but so are crickets. Other insects you’ll want to try include waxworms, butterworms, and Dubai roaches. It’s important to include a variety because different insects have a different nutritional makeup.
You should also make sure you have a good commercial bearded dragon food on hand.
Commercial pellets shouldn’t make up the majority of your pet’s diet, but they can help provide essential nutrients. You should also make sure to gut-load all of your feeder insects with healthy foods, so the nutrients are passed on to your pet.
Aside from food, the only other monthly expenses you really need to worry about are for bedding and the occasional replacement for heat lamps, light bulbs, and other tank accessories. Budget about $10 per month for substrate and another $5 for additional supplies, just to be safe.
Food and Supply Costs for Bearded Dragons
|Cost Type||Frequency||Average Cost|
|Food and Treats||Monthly||$20 to $60|
|Total = $35 to $75|
Total Annual Cost Of Owning A Bearded Dragon
With proper care and nutrition, you can expect your bearded dragon to live up to 10 years. Because bearded dragons can live for up to a decade, you should be prepared to cover the costs of feeding and housing your pet for at least that long. If you can’t, consider another pet.
Here’s a quick summary of the estimated annual cost for keeping a bearded dragon:
- Purchasing/Adopting = $40 to $500
- Cage and Setup = $405 to $675 (without spay/neuter surgery)
- Annual Veterinary Costs = $145 to $175
- Monthly Food and Supplies = $35 to $75
The cost to keep your bearded dragon will vary depending on a variety of factors. Aside from the cost to buy your bearded dragon, initial costs are roughly the same but monthly costs for food may vary as your bearded dragon grows.
How much does a bearded dragon cost?
Juvenile bearded dragons sell for as little as $40 to $60 in pet stores, though you may be able to get one from a breeder for less. This primarily applies to the classic morph, however – rarer morphs range from $100 to over $500 or more.
How much does it cost to neuter/spay a bearded dragon?
It is less common to spay and neuter reptiles than traditional pets like dogs and cats – even small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs. Due to their anatomy, surgery on a bearded dragon can be tricky but it is a little more routine than spaying or neutering a snake or turtle. Reproductive issues are not uncommon in bearded dragons (especially females) so you may want to consider it. You can expect to pay at least $100 but probably closer to $300 to $1,000.
How much does a bearded dragon vet checkup cost?
A regular veterinary exam for a bearded dragon costs somewhere between $45 and $75. Keep in mind that you may need to find an exotics vet who has experience with this type of pet.
How much does it cost to microchip a bearded dragon?
The cost to microchip a pet is usually a one-time fee of $35. This procedure is not recommended for bearded dragons, however, because the microchip is typically embedded under the skin on furry pets.
How much does bearded dragon food cost?
Bearded dragons require a blended diet of commercial foods and live or dried insects. They also do well with the occasional pinky mouse and should be offered fresh vegetables as well. The average monthly cost to feed a bearded dragon is about $20 to $60.
How much does a bearded dragon cage cost?
Bearded dragons can grow fairly large, so a big cage is recommended. You can expect to pay at least $50 but up to $300 for the tank itself, plus the necessary equipment.