How to CHOOSE a Bearded Dragon? (Beginner’s Guide)

Bearded dragons have claimed the most popular reptile pets for their low maintenance and docile nature. They rarely bite, love to interact, and look cute with their laid-back attitude. However, picking the right bearded dragon can be overwhelming for first-timers.

As such, it’s imperative that you do good research before buying one. In this post, we cover everything you need to know when buying a bearded dragon. This involves how to pick a healthy dragon from the breeder or pet shop and how to prepare for their arrival home.

Where to Buy a Bearded Dragon?

There are loads of places you could buy your bearded dragon. They include:

The Neighborhood Pet Store

One of the most popular places to buy a bearded dragon is definitely from a local pet store. The reason why many owners buy from a pet store is the convenience and the ability to choose from different unique bearded dragon types.

The disadvantage here is that most pet stores will not give you enough information on the pet’s genetics as well as the origin of the beardie.

You can’t really blame them because the bearded dragons at the store have been delivered by suppliers. It’s unlikely you’ll meet the actual breeder of the bearded dragon you choose.

Reputable Breeder

This is the most preferred source of bearded dragons because the breeder knows a lot about the bearded dragon.

First, you’ll know the exact date of birth, who the parents of the pet are, and what’s their food at the moment.

A good breeder will also guide you throughout the purchase, and you should be able to know how to care for the beardie.

However, there are some terrible breeders, so you need to check whether the animal looks healthy and happy.

Once you are at the breeder’s, you should ask about their breeding stock and their genetic lines and check out for any reviews about their previously sold pets.

Online Shops

Buying a beardie is easier right now than it was before, thanks to many online sellers. Many shipment companies offer to transport your lizard and guarantee a safe delivery to your doorstep.

When choosing the shop, look for one that provides the fastest shipping method to ensure the dragon does not suffer for a long time.

The last thing you want is for a bearded dragon to suffer extreme hunger and stress.

Reptile Expos

It’s also good to buy your bearded dragon from a reptile expo. The advantage with most expos is you meet the breeders and dealers, who can advise you on how to care for the beardie and offer other important information.

Expos also offer a variety because you also meet many pet lizards species. The only downside to this method is that you might need to organize travel if the expo location is quite far.

If you decide to go to an expo for a bearded dragon, ensure you carry the bearded dragon breeders phone number in case the pet gets sick.

Reptile Dealers

Dealers are simply people who represent breeders. They can be hobbyists or commercial breeders who have a website for advertising different bearded dragons for sale.

The good thing with these is you could be lucky to find unique beardies you can’t find elsewhere.

Rescue Centers

Another place to buy a bearded dragon is at a local rescue center that keeps beardies. If you’re a new keeper, though, you want to look for a healthy bearded dragon even if the previous keeper didn’t want to keep them anymore.

Re-homing a sick dragon could take a lot of work to rehabilitate, depending on what’s ailing them.

You need to be well prepared because the rescue center will have the dragon’s best interest at heart and won’t let you adopt it if they think you can’t cope.

Reputable rescue centers are likely to do a background check to ensure you know what you’re doing.

They should also offer solutions for the areas they think you should improve to ensure that bearded dragons live in the appropriate habitat. It might sound harsh, but it’s in the bearded dragon’s best interest.

bearded dragons

How to Choose a Bearded Dragon? (6 Things To Watch For)

The primary concern you will have to be on the lookout for when selecting a bearded dragon is its health due to the numerous complications.

Bearded dragons have a laid-back attitude that makes it hard to tell if they are just lazy or sick, making it hard to choose the right beardie.

Here are a few factors to look for in a bearded dragon:

1. Look For an Alert Beardie

A healthy bearded dragon should have bright eyes, and it will track you as soon as you come near its enclosure, indicating alertness.

You should also closely observe the eyes to check if they appear sunken in, a common symptom of illness and dehydration.

Avoid bearded dragons that appear unresponsive and slumped over in a corner as they might already have some form of health complication.

2. Get an Interactive Dragon

Bearded dragons are pretty fond of attention, and they will interact with you by dancing back and forth as soon as you come near the enclosure.

This is a sign of good health, and the need to draw attention is just a reflex from getting treats.

Interactive bearded dragons will frequently stand tall and show off their beard, typical for a healthy bearded dragon.

They are also more likely to explore and enjoy outside walks if they are particularly interactive. 

3. Inspect the Mouth

The mouth and tongue of a healthy bearded dragon will have a pinkish color that changes into a blackened discoloration when sick.

Bearded dragons raised in unhygienic conditions with low temperatures often develop mouth rot which discolors the insides of their oral cavity.  

4. Check for Other Symptoms

Closely inspect the breathing patterns for any gasping, cougars, and wheezes, which might indicate the presence of a respiratory infection. 

If the beardie is secreting a discharge from the nose, ears, or eyes, you should avoid it and thin bony ones as well.

Puffy or bulging eyes are often an indication of shedding disorders, with bumps and lesions indicating skin complications.

Inspect the bearded dragon’s cage for any signs of diarrhea, constipation, and spotted droppings, which are symptoms of a broader underlying condition.

5. Check for Broken Limbs

Start by checking the beardie’s skin for any wounds and irritated bumps before inspecting the tail, limbs, and bearded dragon’s toes for broken bones.

These are often a symptom of metabolic bone disease and are often accompanied by twitching or trembling.

Observe how the bearded dragon walks around the cage and if they use all of the limbs properly. 

6. Consider Getting a Social, Grown-Up Bearded Dragon

If you are a first-time owner or intend to have the bearded dragon around children, you should consider getting a friendly beardie.

Avoid any bearded dragons that show aggression by puffing their throat and opening their mouth, ready to attack.

Young baby bearded dragons are fragile and more likely to fall sick, so you should go for a beardie at least ten weeks old and at least 10 inches in length. 

Other Things to Keep In Mind before Buying a Bearded Dragon

bearded dragon habitat is in the semi-woodland region of Australia. To thrive in captivity, you need to replicate the conditions in your home. Some of the things to consider before bringing your beardie home include:

1. Bearded Dragon Needs a Special Enclosure

These are not cats and dogs that will settle in your home the way they find it. They need housing of at least 2 feet by 2 feet by 4 feet. This is larger than what a tortoise needs, despite the smaller size.

2. They’ll Be Part of Your Everyday Schedule

When you bring your beardie home, you’ll need to review your routine carefully. First, make sure you have some time to hang out with your buddy and do other routines like cleaning their habitat, bathing, and visiting the vet. It should not be time-consuming.

3. You Need to Educate Yourself about Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are relatively new pets, and a lot is still being studied about their psychology and environment. Before rushing to take this cutie home, take some time to learn how to take care of them.

Check out more guides like this and even documentaries when you have time. Some crucial aspects of learning include the common health issues, proper socialization, offering a balanced diet, and how to keep their enclosure clean.

4. You Will Require More Cleaning Time

This is probably the most challenging aspect of owning a beardie, but it’s easy with planning. You should clean their waste as soon as you spot it to prevent illness.

Also, clean their bowls, bath section, and prey carrier. It’s crucial to wash your hands well before and after handling the dragon because they can carry salmonella.

5. Live Prey Is a Must

Bearded dragons should eat small insects like crickets, roaches, and spiders. Although adults should mostly eat greens, live prey is more enjoyable. Roaches are the best but if they make your hair stand on end, consider crickets.

6. They Hate Noise

Yes, if you are a merry person who loves loud music and parties, beardies may be unsuitable unless the beardie will be living in a different room at a distance. Anything below 90 dB is acceptable for beardies.

7. Owning a Beardie Has Significant Expenses

Taking a bearded dragon home comes with a host of expenses, including purchasing the enclosure, food, and potential vet visits. Sometimes you may have to make some changes to your home and social life.

Should You Buy a Male or Female Bearded Dragon?

Ultimately, whether you buy a male or female beardie is dependent on your preference. They are primarily similar in appearance and behavior, although male bearded dragons have more personality.

In looks, most male bearded dragons have thicker tails from the base to the tip, while female bearded dragons body are slender and thin. Males also have solid and more giant heads than the pointed and narrower ones in females.

Besides the difference in size, other differences between the genders can be seen in temperament and behavior. Boys are more social and outgoing, but they can turn aggressive during mating season.

On the other hand, girls are more reserved and submissive during mating. Keep in mind that the female will lay eggs whether the male is there or not.

How to Bring Your Bearded Dragon Home?

After buying your bearded dragon from the pet store, you will have to bring it home safely, making it crucial to prepare beforehand. Make sure that you set up the enclosure or get a vivarium before bringing your beardie home. Your beardie will also be nervous and appear timid as they face a new environment during the journey and in their new home. Here are a few pointers on the best way to carry your bearded dragon home for the first time:

Get a Suitable Carrier

Bearded dragon experts recommend getting a fitting plastic reptile carrier to bring your bearded dragon home. Ensure that the container has a handle, as the bearded dragon might be heavy if it’s fully grown. 

The carrier should have proper air ventilation, and the inner lining should not be soft as the bearded dragon might scratch it out of fear. 

While taking the bearded dragon in and out of the carrier, you should handle them carefully and support their fragile body from underneath while lifting them and avoiding squeezing them.

Bring a Small Bowl of Water

If the journey home is quite long and the temperature is on the higher end, you should provide your beardie with drinking water. Simply use a collapsible bowl and attach it to the carrier so that your beardie can remain hydrated during the journey home. You may also feed them a few feeder insects during the journey as a snack.

bearded dragons

Wrap Up

Bearded dragons are some of the most gentle reptile pets you can get. They are great pets for children and first-time owners, and buying one should not be a hassle after going through this guide. Remember to get a healthy bearded dragon to avoid unfortunate circumstances down the road. 

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