10 ‘Must Know’ Things if You’re Buying a Bearded Dragon

If you’re considering buying a bearded dragon, it’s important to do your research. You need to know how to feed them, how to handle them, and what their needs are.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 10 ‘need to know’ things before you bring your new bearded dragon home. 

1. They Have a Long Lifespan

Deciding to buy a bearded dragon is a long-term investment. They can live for up to 10 years, so you need to plan for the future.

Make sure you’re prepared to take on a pet for that amount of time 

You’ll also need to make sure you have the space for a bearded dragon for that amount of time. Are you planning to move house? Or have a baby?

If your circumstances are going to change, you’ll always need to consider what the consequences will be for your dragon. After all, they’re a member of your family. 

2. They are Solitary

Bearded dragons are solitary animals. This is because they’re territorial and need their own space.

With some animals, it’s normal for a group of females to live together. This is NOT the case for bearded dragons.

Even the females can take issue with being left together if they’re laying eggs.

If you’re buying a bearded dragon, it’s best to just buy one, or at least, keep them separate. The only exception to this rule would be if you’re planning on mating your bearded dragons.

Once mating has taken place, you’ll still need to remove the male straight away.

If they’re left together for too long, they may fight.

Fighting can cause injuries to eyes and tears to the skin, which can be harmful to your bearded dragon and are likely to cost you a lot in vet’s bills. 

3. They Eat Live Food

Be prepared to feed your bearded dragon live food. Some people do struggle to feed live food and don’t like the idea of keeping it in their home. You need to make sure that this is something you’re up for before you decide. 

A bearded dragons main diet consists of but not limited to the following:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Insects

It’s a good idea to set up a tank for the crickets or locusts themselves.

That way, you can save money breeding your own supply, and help them to last longer. Plus, it’s kinder for the locusts.

To do this, you’ll need a sealed tank with a mesh top to stop them from getting out and wandering around your house. You’ll need to provide some fruit for them to eat and a water source too.

It’s a good idea to soak a towel or some kitchen roll for them to use, rather than providing a bowl of water, as they might drown.

You can them transfer a couple of locusts to your bearded dragon’s terrarium every couple of days for them to snack on.

4. They Can Brumate

Bearded dragons can go into a state of brumation in the colder months. Brumation is a lizard’s version of hibernation. They will slow down, start to sit in the colder end of the terrarium and eat less.

Once they’re in full brumation, they’ll seem as if they’re asleep for long periods of time too. Domesticated bearded dragons don’t need to brumate if you don’t want them to.

In fact, it’s safer not to allow this, especially if you’re purchasing a baby.

Generally, at the time of brumation, you would start to turn down the UV lamp at night and for longer periods. This mimics the winter months.

If you wish to keep your bearded dragon awake, always keep the light on.

Stopping the brumation process doesn’t have any detrimental effects on your bearded dragon.

But you’ll need to decide if you’re going to allow this or not and be consistent over its lifetime. 

5. They Need to Take Baths

Bearded dragons don’t usually swim. In the wild, they live in the desert, so there’s not a lot of water about, but they do like a bath. When we talk about baths, we don’t mean luxurious bubble baths.

You’ll just need to fill your sink or bathtub with some warm water and let them paddle. Make sure the level of the water is low and they can touch the bottom whilst still having they’re head above water.

Make sure that it’s warm… not hot, as you’ll burn them and not cold as they won’t want to move.

Regular baths, maybe twice a month, can help your dragon get rid of any parasites on their skin and can help them to shed their skin more easily. 

6. They Thermo-Regulate

Thermo-regulation is the way that a bearded dragon manages their own temperature. As they have cold blood, they’ll spend most of their day basking under a UV light to heat their blood.

This gives them the energy to move around.  

But they can get a little too hot, just like us. Whilst we can just sit inside for an hour, they still need the light to give them energy and vitamins.

To get around this problem they ‘gape’. Gaping is when your dragon sits with its mouth open while it’s basking.

As lizards can’t sweat, this is their way of getting rid of any extra body heat, just like a dog when it pants.  

7. They Need Lots of Space

Bearded dragons do grow to be quite large. Although their sizes may vary depending on the type, it’s best to give them as much space as possible.

You could start off with a 40-gallon terrarium to begin with but bear in mind that you’ll probably need to scale up to a 100-120 gallon one once they’re fully grown. 

As well as making sure that they have enough room to grow, you need to provide enough space for different heat zones. Bearded dragons like to bask under the UV light for most of the day.

However, to regulate their temperature and make sure they don’t overheat, they need a cooler space too. Usually, you’ll need to have one hot end and one cold end of the terrarium.

Bearded Dragon temperature

These will need to be far enough apart to be able to have a definite temperature difference.

8. They’re Expensive

People seem to think that the costs for a bearded dragon will be similar to a rabbit or guinea pig.

People unconsciously based the cost on size (with dogs being much more expensive) and, as they’re small on the pet scale, most people think they’ll be cheap to keep.

Wrong! Bearded dragons come with a sizeable price tag, so make sure you’re prepared.

You’ll need to buy the terrarium, including UV lights, hideaways, plants etc. Then there’s the food to consider.

Fruit and vegetables can be purchased cheaply, but live food is another story. Purchasing live food every week will add up.

You’ll also need to have a few dollars stashed away in case you need to make a trip to the vet too.

9. Their Beards Change Color

Bearded dragons get their name because their ‘beards’ change color. Male’s scales under their chin turn black when they compete for territory.

The blacker the beard, the more dominant they are. Blackest beard wins.

Females, on the other hand, tend to display an orange beard. The scales on their chin will change color when they’re looking for a mate. It’s a dragon’s version of a dating website. 

If you notice their chins starting to change, don’t worry. They’ll go back to normal again once the mating season is over. 

10. They’re Picky Eaters

It’s easy to assume that a few greens will do. Just pick up whatever is cheapest at the store, right? Unfortunately, not.

Bearded dragons are super picky when it comes to food. It might take you a few weeks to talk them into eating something that’s good for them. 

Healthy Bearded Dragon Food

The best thing to do is use fruit juice. Bearded dragons will always choose fruit over vegetables because they’re sweeter.

When it comes to vegetables, if you take a little bit of apple or grape juice and rub it over the vegetables, you might see a little more enthusiasm. 

So, there you have it, the top 10 things you need to know before bringing your bearded dragon home. Get all these things right and I’m sure you’ll get on great. 

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  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
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