Last week my new neighbor asked me if I knew how much does a bearded dragon cost.
She had heard about a local reptile expo a few miles from home but could not make it to the event.
And since she had seen me playing with Ellie, my beardie, she knew I could have some insights.
However, we decided to do some more research with our local reptile experts, and this is what we learned.
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How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Bearded Dragon?
The price of a beardie depends on various factors. For example, a baby beardie will cost less than an adult because of the costs of raising one and additional requirements.
Another factor determining the price of beardies is the morph variation which typically refers to its pattern, scalation, size, and color. Here is a table highlighting the bearded dragon price tags.
|Beardie Type||Average cost ($)||Description (Color)||Availability|
|Zero Morph||300-900||Snow-white||Very rare|
|Common Beardie||40-75||Dark brown or tan||Common|
|Red Beardie||50-300||Various shades of red||Common|
|Yellow Beardie||100-300||A ranging shade of yellow||Common|
|Translucent||200-450||Lighter color profile, clear spikes||Uncommon|
|Orange morph||100-200||Various yellow shades||Uncommon|
And, if you’re wondering where to buy a bearded dragon, the best place is to locate reptile expos, private breeders, reptile rescue organizations, and pet stores.
These outlets each have different varieties, so if in search of rare and uncommon morphs, visit a private breeder.
How Much is a White-Bearded Dragon?
A white bearded dragon is a result of breeding the witblit beardie and a snowy or white lizard. These dragons are extremely rare and can cost upwards of $400.
Albino bearded dragons are often mistaken for white dragons, but the two are different. Typically, albino dragons do not live long due to their inability to process Calcium and UVB rays.
How Much Does a Red-Bearded Dragon Cost?
A red-bearded dragon is a rare pet species that is part of the Pogona vitticeps. Typically, this beardie is sold as a fancy dragon and comes in a range of red-color shades ranging from dark ruby to red, and sandfire red.
The price tag averages $50 to $300, and the higher color concentration the higher the price. You are unlikely to find this species in the local pet store, as they are rare, so look for a specialized red morph private breeder.
Check out this video of red bearded dragons.
How Much is a Baby Bearded Dragon?
A baby beardie sets you back $45 to $65 in a pet store. However, the price is bound to rise depending on the type of morph chosen.
Note that baby bearded dragons found in pet stores can have a stressful past due to transportation and display conditions. This is why private breeders are the choice of many, and their prices range from $50 to $70.
How Much is a Bearded Dragon At Petco?
Petco is a private breeder specializing in various morphs. You can get 1-3-month-old hatchlings for about $80.
Moreover, you are guaranteed to get special morphs from this private breeder. Therefore, it can be worth your time and money checking for morphs here.
If unsure about dragons and what they entail, this breeder should be your top choice. You can also check for a few facts about bearded dragons.
Factors That Influence Bearded Dragon Purchase Cost
There are several factors in play when looking to buy a bearded dragon. And they include;
An old bearded dragon will typically cost more than a baby bearded one. This is because older beardies have gone through the necessary care.
On the other hand, baby beardies need more care translating to higher maintenance costs, efforts, and time. Older beardies have also received basic training to help them be friendly animals compared to younger dragons.
Typically, the price difference between male and female dragons is negligible. However, finding female morphs to buy is challenging because they are necessary for breeding.
Most breeders avoid selling female morphs to prevent out-house breeding. In rare morphs, a female can sell for upwards of $1000.
Where you get your beardie plays a significant role in the price. For example, a local pet store is your best bet if you are after a common reptile.
With a rare morph, you have to dish out extra money at a private breeder. Moreover, breeders have special morphs uncommon in pet stores and even have client-waiting lists.
There are various types of morphs available. While some are common and easy to find, others are not.
The price of rare morphs can go up to $900 compared to typical dragons costing $90. Moreover, find a breeder specializing in the morph type you need for quality husbandry advice.
Beardies are typically known as docile and calm creatures. However, their training takes time and effort, translating to an increase in price.
Generally, you can expect to spend more on a pet lizard that is used to being handled. Luckily, even if a lizard has had a rough past, they will become calm when you keep them in the proper habitat and attend to their needs.
How Much Does It Cost to Own a Bearded Dragon?
As a new beardie parent, the question, “are bearded dragons expensive?” carries much significance. You want to know the total ongoing costs involved in owning and caring for your new pet.
While it is tempting to go for the special and rare morphs, this action is not advisable for new dragon owners. This is because these subspecies are challenging to care for and need special attention.
Here is a table highlighting the overall costs you can expect when buying and taking care of your dragon.
|Requirement||Approximate cost ($)|
|Bearded dragon vivarium kit||500-1000|
|Insurance & food||25-100 monthly|
Bearded Dragon Setup Costs
When considering owning a dragon, the tank setup process is where you will spend some of the most time and money.
The size of the tank should be enough and offer plenty of space to promote growth and guarantee a healthy beardie.
Here is a table showing a sneak peek into the setup costs you can expect to face.
|Item(s)||Average Cost ($)|
|Furniture||40-80 for the rocks 15-20 for the fake branches|
|UVB lighting fixtures||25-40|
|Misc (timer, power strip)||Unlimited|
The substrate typically refers to the lining laid on the bearded dragon habitat’s bottom. There is a big argument amongst beardie owners on the right choice of substrate to use in an enclosure.
While some beginners find sand to be the best choice of bearded dragon substrate, it is not recommended. Your bearded dragon can eat the sand during feeding, which leads to digestive tract problems and blockages.
However, you can rest easy by keeping your beardie healthy with a reptile carpet. It is easy to clean and disinfect. However, replace it when it shows signs of wear to prevent your bearded dragon’s claws from getting caught up.
A beardie habitat is not complete without the proper pieces of furniture. The furniture in question implies branches, rocks, hammocks, plants, and hiding places.
The branches serve as a perfect beardie perch. However, ensure to get approved and reptile-friendly branches. You can buy driftwood pieces from a local pet store or online. Ensure you place the branches strategically to enhance stability.
An alternative to branches is hammocks. These accessories provide ample grip and are safer for climbing.
Apart from climbing, rocks serve as an excellent perching and basking place for beardies. Remember that sourcing the right rocks is advisable, and place them well to enhance your dragons’ safety.
Plants help keep the terrarium looking like a bearded dragon’s natural habitat. However, note that you cannot keep any type of plant you find, so look out for reptile-friendly plants from a pet store.
Your reptile will also fancy a hiding place to relax and get some alone time. You can buy special hiding places like caves from a pet store or online vendors.
Bearded dragons are typically cold-blooded and need artificial lighting to recreate their wild habitat. Also, note that the enclosure needs to have varying heat levels.
You need to have heating lamps specially made for reptiles to achieve this. Moreover, they come in various designs and wattages and are easy to install.
The size of the terrarium you get for your beardie determines its health and happiness. A smaller tank leaves your beardie stressed, but on the other hand, larger enclosures give your dragon ample exploration space.
As a rule of thumb, it is better to get the right enclosure size on the first buy to avoid the need to buy another down the road. Moreover, beardies can grow up to 24” in captivity and will overgrow a small vivarium within no time.
The right enclosure typically measures 48 by 24 by 24 inches in length, width, and height, respectively. Also, get a screened lid to enhance air circulation within the enclosure.
Apart from light accessories that keep your beardie warm, they need UVB lighting as well. These UV rays help your dragon get Vitamin D3 which processes dietary calcium, preventing metabolic bone disease (MBD). (2)
While common lighting accessories like the incandescent bulb give off UVB rays, they are not enough. So it is better to get a decent UVB bulb to ensure your dragon gets the right UVB ray concentration.
These UVB lamps also come with an easy-to-fix fixture, and you can get a bulb giving out warmth and UVB rays. The price depends on the design and fixtures included, so the nicer the fixture, the higher the price.
The presence of thermometers helps you to keep an eye on the enclosure’s temperature. Typically, you should place these accessories in strategic places like the warm basking and cool, relaxing tank areas.
Another aspect to measure is the humidity levels of the enclosure; hence, you can get a hygrometer. Luckily, there are thermometers in the market that can show warmth and humidity levels in one device.
There is no shortage of miscellaneous items you can buy to keep your beardie happy. Moreover, most of these misc items make your beardie-handling endeavors easy.
Miscellaneous items you can get for your beardie’s habitat include and are not limited to;
#1 A timer ensures your dragon has an even day and night cycle since it is easy to forget to regulate the lighting cycle.
#2 A webcam to keep an eye on your beardie even when away from them. And since beardies can recognize their owner’s voice, some webcam fixtures have voice support so you can speak to your beardie.
#3 Image stick-on for the terrarium sides to ensure your beardie does not see its reflection. This action helps reduce anxiety in your bearded dragon.
#4 Several bins for food storage, bath time, and feeding.
#5 Power strip to help keep the various lighting fixtures working effectively.
Bearded Dragon Monthly Cost
Apart from the setup costs incurred, there is a need to look into the monthly maintenance costs. These are the recurring costs you have to account for to ensure your budget levels are suitable.
The recurring costs include;
A bearded dragon’s diet usually comprises vegetables and insects. It is essential to note that baby bearded dragon diets consist of 80% insects and 20% greens.
However, with adult bearded dragons this ratio changes to 80% greens and 20% insects. This explanation translates to higher feeding costs for a juvenile beardie than an adult one.
Luckily, You can buy insects in bulk for low prices at breeders and breed them whereby you can gut load them. (3) Moreover, vegetables, fruits, and greens are readily available to ensure your beardie has a fresh supply each time.
You can expect to spend upwards of $40 to $120 on monthly feeding costs. This ranging figure depends on your beardie’s age and source, and if unsure, check out a bearded dragon diet guide.
After feeding, the next crucial aspect to consider is power usage. The terrarium’s lighting, timer, and warmth accessories will increase your monthly usage and utility bills.
Moreover, these lighting accessories are prone to breakdowns and need replacements. Typically you have to replace the bulbs twice a year, and they cost an average of $20 to $40.
With a 100W heat lamp, you can spend about $1 to $2 a day. This translates to a $30 monthly cost on average plus extra costs for the other lighting accessories you have.
Once in a while, you need to offer your beardie Vitamin D, calcium, and multivitamin supplements. Fortunately, with a $5 to $10 bottle of supplement, you can go for a couple of months without buying another bottle.
These supplements keep your beardie healthy and are easily incorporated into their diet. You can also dust roaches and other live food with these supplements to add dietary value.
How Much Is a Vet Visit for a Bearded Dragon?
Typically, it is advisable to take your new pet to a herp vet within 48 hours of possession. The vet carries out tests to ensure your beardie is healthy and free from parasites and salmonella contamination. (4)
The initial vet visit can cost you $75 to $150. This initial cost comes from the filing and other necessary capturing of your pet’s details.
After the initial visit, the subsequent visits can vary in cost depending on your dragon’s health. You can expect to have vet costs ranging from $60 to $100.
And since treatments can get pricey, regular health checkups are convenient. These examinations can help diagnose health problems early before they turn catastrophic and expensive to treat.
How Much Does a Bearded Dragon Insurance Cost
Similar to humans, beardies are prone to diseases warranting immediate medical attention. (5) As a dragon owner, you have to be ready for emergency medical situations, thus the need for bearded dragon insurance cover.
Moreover, various insurance companies offer reptile insurance packages. Good examples include PetAssure, Canstar, and PetCover.
You can get your beardie insured from as low as $15 per month with these companies. Moreover, various packages are offered, so pick one that fits your beardie’s needs.
Beardie Ownership Money-Saving Tips
While the initial bearded dragon cost is guaranteed to damage your wallet for the proper equipment, you can save money. With significant savings, you can get more items than expected alongside a new setup.
#1 Breed Your Feeder Insects
Since your beardie’s diet comprises insects, the best way to save money is to breed them in-house. Some of the feeder insects, for example, feeder crickets and Dubia roaches are easy to keep and breed fast.
If unsure of how to start, you can check out YouTube tutorials like this one from Tatiana’s Tiny Zoo.
#2 Source From a Bearded Dragon Rescue Organization
A beardie rescue organization offers an excellent way to get a new pet, even for free. Moreover, you will rest assured you are adopting a friendly pet and giving them the best life they can get.
#3 Buy a Used Terrarium
While this is not the best path to take when considering your lizard’s health, it brings guaranteed savings. You can get a larger tank from sites such as Craigslist, reptile forums, or even around the neighborhood.
However, spend enough time cleaning and disinfecting the enclosure to prevent the spreading of diseases. This keeps your family and dragon healthy in the long run.
#4 Buy Lighting Fixtures From the Local Hardware Store
While the ideal place to source the setup equipment is a pet store, these outlets can prove expensive. However, you can check out lighting fixtures from your local hardware store since these won’t be branded as reptile appropriate, translating to lower costs.
Items you can buy from hardware outlets include UVB bulbs, timers, power strips, UVB ballast, and a ceramic heating element among others. However, go for quality items to avoid frequent and avoidable replacements.
#5 Build Your Tank
The enclosure takes up much of the initial setup budget, but you can cut the costs involved. If you are a DIY person, build your beardie’s enclosure from scratch as this is more satisfying.
Moreover, if unsure of how to go about the DIY project, YouTube is no short of DIY tutorials. You can check out this guide from SerpaDesign.
Are bearded dragons worth the cost?
Yes, bearded dragons are friendly and docile pets you can keep at home. If looking for an easy-to-keep and companion pet, they are worth the cost and effort.
Is keeping a bearded dragon expensive?
In general, keeping beardies in your household can be expensive compared to other pets. These creatures need special attention, natural-like habitats, and proper lighting to ensure good health.
How much should I expect to pay for a dragon?
Bearded dragons buying costs start at an average of $40 and can go up to $1000. The price is typically dependent on the bearded dragon morph, color, and age, among other factors.
What is the expected lifespan of a bearded dragon?
Bearded dragon lifespans can average 10-15 years and even longer with the proper attention. Hence, it is up to the bearded dragon owners to ensure their beardies are well kept for a long and happy life.
Which is the best dragon age to buy as a beginner?
The best age a beginner beardie parent can go for is six months and above. Baby bearded dragons are challenging to keep and are not yet used to human touch.
Conducting your research into bearded dragon cost is essential when starting the ownership journey. You want to start a healthy pet ownership journey with your beardie, so you need to have facts.
The above guide highlights all you need to know about becoming a beardie parent, costs, and what you can do to save money initially. It is now up to you to give your new pet lizard a healthy and happy life.
- 1. The Must Knows of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) – Madison Area Herpetological Society [Internet]. www.madisonherps.org. Available from: https://www.madisonherps.org/kickstart/en/wisconsin-reptile-resources/education-articles/112-the-must-knows-of-metabolic-bone-disease-mbd
- 2. Gut Loading – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics [Internet]. www.sciencedirect.com. [cited 2022 Jun 13]. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/veterinary-science-and-veterinary-medicine/gut-loading
- 3. Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Pet Bearded Dragons | CDC [Internet]. www.cdc.gov. 2020. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/muenster-10-20/index.html
- 4. Bearded Dragons – Diseases [Internet]. vca_corporate. Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/bearded-dragons-diseases#:~:text=Common%20health%20conditions%20of%20pet
Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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