Bearded Dragons, lovingly called “Beardies” by their owners, are a species of lizard originally native to Australia. Now, they’re the most popular lizard to be kept as a pet in North America and Europe. That begs the question, do bearded dragons make good pets? Here are some of the pros and cons you need to know before getting a Beardie of your own.
Do Bearded Dragons make good pets? – Pros and Cons of Beardie Ownership
There are of course pros and cons to owning any pet. When answering the question “do bearded dragons make good pets” it’s natural to research care and maintenance as well as the general pros and cons of ownership.
Let’s look at 11 reasons why you might want to become a Bearded Dragon owner, and then another 8 reasons why you might not want to.
11 pros to owning a bearded dragon
Bearded Dragons are some of the most interesting and rewarding lizards to have as a pet. They’re generally very social with humans and enjoy hanging out on shoulders and sometimes even the top of your head!
These lizards are also incredibly intelligent, which makes playing with them that much more rewarding. You can see in their eyes when they enjoy being around you, and make it clear if they’re feeling uncomfortable. It’s this interaction that really makes them unique, and uniquely loved.
1. Bearded Dragons adapt well to human caretakers
Beardies have a very good-natured disposition and a mild temperament. They’re easy-going and friendly, and even more so when bred in captivity. Many exotic animals will be skittish and humans stress them out, but Bearded Dragons do very well in captivity.
2. They enjoy our company!
It’s not uncommon for your Beardie to run up to the front of the tank to greet you when they see you coming. They’ll actively seek out being near humans for companionship and will even “wave” at you!
3. They like being handled
Bearded Dragons genuinely enjoy being held and pet by their human caretakers. If you’re doing an especially good job, they’ll close their eyes while you’re stroking their head to let you know you’re doing good. Just make sure to take it slow when you first get them as, like with anything, it takes some getting used to. Make sure you’re always lifting them up from the side or underneath, never from the top.
4. They live long lives
Beardies have a long life expectancy. An average Bearded Dragon in captivity is known to live up to 12 years if kept properly.
5. They’re beautiful animals and come in a variety of colors
Because most Bearded Dragons are bred in captivity (due to Australia not allowing exotic animal exports since the 1960s), there is a wide range of colors you can buy. They can be red, yellow, white, or even purple, plus there are many varieties called “morphs” which can be especially interesting.
There are certain breeds of Beardies where they’ve been bred to be completely colorless, have no scales, and come in many sizes. Your imagination is the limit for these amazing animals.
6. They’re easy to carry around and play with
An average Bearded Dragon weighs only 500 grams, making it easy to carry around, play with, and many people even bring their Beardies with them on picnics.
7. They’re a nice quiet pet
Bearded Dragons are very disciplined and quiet. They’re capable of making hissing noises and making noise in their terrarium, but they tend to prefer to just bask and chill. They won’t bother you for attention like a dog or a cat, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play with them!
8. They don’t smell
Unlike most reptiles, the Bearded Dragon doesn’t have an odor. As long as you keep their terrarium clean and give them regular baths (yes, bathing your lizard is a great activity for both of you) then they won’t stink up your house.
9. They’re relatively inexpensive
The average Bearded Dragon costs somewhere between 25 and 75 dollars, depending on the size and the age. This can get more expensive if you’re looking for a more rare morph, but otherwise, it’s an inexpensive pet to buy.
10. They can be hand-fed
This is an important part of bonding with your Beardie and it builds up trust. It’s such a meaningful experience to have this moment with your lizard and makes you feel really connected.
(Bonus) 11. They can be trained!
Like mentioned before, Beardies are incredibly intelligent. There are plenty of instances where a Bearded Dragon has been clicker trained to do certain obedience tasks, similar to a puppy. They can also be acclimated to leash walking, so you get to have the joy of showing off your unique and wonderful pet to the neighborhood.
8 cons to owning a bearded dragon
Now, just like with any pet, there are certain care requirements for owning a Bearded Dragon. You need to be prepared to create a good environment for them, meaning a proper enclosure, healthy food, and paying attention to their moods.
1. They need plenty of space
Bearded Dragons usually grow between 12 to 24 inches long, so they need a spacious tank with all the necessary cage supplies. It needs to include UVB lighting and a screened lid. The floor should be covered in a sandy substrate and include a variety of branches, rocks, and plants for climbing and hiding under.
2. They are sensitive to temperature
The tank temperature should be maintained between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit to keep your dragon feeling at home. Furthermore, there should be a separate area of the cage meant for basking. This basking area should be kept between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. They need a balanced diet of vegetables and insects
Bearded Dragons are omnivores, so they need both vegetation and protein. Their diet needs to consist of about 60 percent plant food and 40 percent insects. The insects should be no larger than the width of your dragons mouth to ensure optimal digestion.
4. Maintaining the tank requires time and effort
Their food and water bowls should be washed in warm and soapy water every day to keep it clean and sanitary. Furthermore, feces, leftover food, and any uneaten insects need to be removed from the tank to prevent bacterial infections. All the other cage items, including the sand, rocks, and other decoration, need to be changed and cleaned about once a month.
5. Be sure to wash your hands after handling
Like with any animal, Bearded Dragons can carry salmonella in their feces. It’s best to keep them away from the kitchen and anywhere else food is prepared and always dispose of their feces in the toilet or a trash can, never in a bathtub or sink.
6. They’re a little more fragile
Even though them being small is a pro for owning a Bearded Dragon, it can also be a drawback. They can be more susceptible to getting injured on accident, such as dropping them, and they’re also more likely to get certain bone diseases. The best way to protect them from that is to make sure they’re getting enough Vitamin D through either taking them outside or making sure the UV light in their terrarium is adequate.
7. They can be costly to maintain
Despite the relatively cheap cost of buying the lizard, they do need special attention and care. The required setup can cost anywhere from $250 – $300 plus upkeep and food.
8. You need to be comfortable with live insects
This may feel like common sense, but nonetheless takes many new owners by surprise. Especially as babies, Beardies eat a lot of live bugs – namely crickets. It’s important for them to stay active and healthy, and chasing down the live crickets is one way to do that.
Bearded Dragons can be a wonderful addition to any household, provided they have the proper care just like any other pet. They’re incredibly social and interesting to watch, and will soon become like family to you. They live for a long time, so you’ll have a constant companion who you know loves you and wants to be around you.
The biggest drawback is cost, so make sure that you have enough to give them a good life that you yourself would want. Overall, Bearded Dragons make great pets and can be a special part of your life should you choose to welcome them in.