Getting a bearded dragon as a pet (getting any pet for that matter) is never as simple or cheap as picking out your favorite critter and living happily ever after. You have to take a moment to consider that you are not only faced with the cost of buying a bearded dragon, but you are also facing the cost of owning a bearded dragon as well.
These expenses include a comfortable place for your dragon to live, food to eat, a trip to the vet, and all the accessories needed to give your beardie a happy life.
So between buying a dragon friend, feeding and housing it, and keeping it healthy, what is the actual cost of owning a bearded dragon? The initial one-off setup cost to get yourself going is between $200.00-$1.200.00 respectively. Without getting the fanciest of reptiles or furnishings, you can usually get going with reptiles and supplies somewhere around $600.00-$800.00.
How much does a Bearded Dragon cost?
The average price tag for a bearded dragon varies depending on a number of factors, but you can generally expect your price range to be between $30.00-$100.00 for the most commonly sold breed, Pogpna Vittice. You can find these guys in every pet store and mom-and-pop shop.
The price can fluctuate depending on age with a younger beardie being on the low end of the scale, and a mature adult bearding on the high end costing closer to that $100.00 mark.
If you are looking for something rarer like a unique color morph variation, as seen in the zero morphs or a rare breed such as a Rankins Dragon though, the price for just a reptile can quickly climb to $500.00-$1.200.00. So as you can see, the breed and characteristics of a bearded dragon can greatly affect the price.
Another factor that can affect the price is where you are going to purchase your beardie. Purchasing from a breeder rather than a pet store can generally shave 10-20% off your price and the beardies are more likely than not better cared for and healthier overall.
Another excellent option is a reptile show. The price tag is going to be about the same as with an individual private breeder, but with so many breeders coming together, it is a great opportunity to make connections as well as find a wider variety of options if you are looking for something rare or more exotic.
An often overlooked “budget option” available is to adopt a beardie. There are plenty of rescue and rehoming groups that usually charge little more than a small adoption fee to take home an abandoned beardie and give it a forever home.
What is the cost of the required supplies for your Bearded Dragon?
Purchasing all the essentials to home and feed your beardie is where the real cost of owning a bearded dragon shows. Thankfully, it is mostly a one-time big bang sort of expense rather than a lot of smaller but long-term reoccurring ones.
The cost of basic required supplies to get started owning a bearded dragon is going to be about $300.00-$600.00 on top of buying your reptile. This will include things like an enclosure and things to fill it as well as food and water bowls, bedding, lights, and a well-rounded diet.
Enclosure & Decorations
Building your beardie a new home and habitat start with an enclosure for him to live in. This can also vary in price depending on what you are looking for. You can pick up a simple tank for around $75.00-$150.00 and a screen lid for the top for an additional $30.00 give or take.
If you are the thrifty type you may be able to find deals on some supplies secondhand, just make sure you thoroughly wash and disinfect before introducing your bearded dragon or any of his items into a possibly contaminated tank. If you have a little more to spend, the best option is a high-quality vivarium style tank usually priced around $300.00.
You also have to make sure to have a bowl for food and another for water. Seems obvious, but it’s most often the little things that get overlooked. Your beardie is also going to need a few hide boxes to have some privacy and a few toys to keep him engaged and busy. It is also a good idea to make him a few places he can just chill and bask in his happy home.
A bearded dragon hammock is my number 1 choice, for obvious reasons (cuteness overload). But a branch or two to sit and climb on and an open-faced rock or something similar to serve as a basking area is also an excellent option.
Giving your beardie some variety in things to do and a comfortable well-furnished enclosure not only raises the overall quality of life but may also help your bearded dragon live longer overall.
For the furnishings and toys, you can go as big or small as you want. If you have a large enclosure and the budget to do so, you can fill your beardies enclosure with plants, toys, and decor with the sky being the limit. If that isn’t the case, to get the necessities and a few furnishings to get you started usually costs between $30.00-$80.00.
This is basically what is going to line to the bottom of your beardies enclosure, so he will be in contact with this rather than the glass bottom of the enclosure. Bearded dragon enthusiasts and owners alike can not seem to come to an agreement on exactly what material is best for this, using everything from newspaper to expensive premium slate tiles.
A reptile carpet is more than a suitable choice that your beardie and your wallet can be happy with. Available at most pet stores, this choice only costs about $10.00 and provides all the comfort your beardie needs from your choice of substrate.
Producing the correct climate for your Bearded Dragon
Now that we have covered what it takes to make your beardie a furnished and fun new living space, we have to look at what it takes to make that living space hospitable for your cold-blooded reptile pet. Beardies are tropical creatures and do not like the cold.
They actually require a few different lights, which all need fixtures. And if you live somewhere that gets colder than 65 degrees fahrenheit during the nighttime hours, you need extra light and fixtures to keep your dragon warm and toasty throughout the night as well.
Fixtures and Lights for your Bearded Dragon
To create a suitable atmosphere for your bearded dragon, to be comfortable, and thrive in your going, you need to get some lights. Your dragon is going to require at least a basking lamp and a UV lamp with a bulb that gives off both UVA and UVB rays.
The warmth given from the basking light is important but the UV rays (both A & B) are absolutely imperative for your beardie. Without it, he would not be able to synthesize calcium and would get sick, and eventually die.
The fixtures for both require lamps are going to run around $10.00 apiece, maybe more if it has a nice clamp or security mechanism. And your bulb for the basking light is anywhere between $15.00-$30.00, with your UV bulbs costing you between $20.00-$50.00.
Your beardie relies on the heat from the basking lamp and incandescent lightbulbs just don’t do the trick, so this is an aspect best to not skimp on. Same with the UV, this part of your beardie setup can mean life or death. So take from the beardie toy fund or skip the beardie hammock if you have to make sure your dragon has the proper lights.
As an added bonus, if you live anywhere that doesn’t stay above around 65 degrees fahrenheit throughout the night, your beardie is going to require something to generate heat for him at night.
The basking lamp cannot be used during the day and night because the constant light will throw off your bearded dragon’s natural day/night cycle. If your beardie needs heat through the night you will have to get him either ceramic heating elements or nighttime bulbs.
Either way, the cost is somewhere between $5.00-$15.00, but with the cost of another $10.00 light fixture to hold your nighttime bulb factored in ceramic heating elements not only work better but are also the slightly cheaper option.
Thermometer & Hygrometer
These are the gauges that will help you ensure your maintaining prime living conditions for your bearded dragon at all times. Climate control is important for your pet to stay as healthy and happy as possible.
Keeping tabs on the temperature and humidity in his enclosure is the only way to be sure you are maintaining a constant level and not fluctuating. It is best to have a thermometer on both the hot basking side and the cool lounging side of your beardies cage.
This is to be sure the temperature difference isn’t too radical moving from one to the other, as well as be sure that the hot is not baking and the cold is not ice cube status. They both run $5.00-$15.00, so all said and done your overall price range for all three comes to $15.00-$45.00.
This is obviously both a startup cost as well as an ongoing cost. Your beardie wants a full belly to enjoy the awesome habitat you just built for him. Bearded dragons eat a wide variety of foods, but the main part of their diet should be insects (mostly crickets or Dubia roaches) and a leafy greens assortment.
Your greens can be sourced by many different means, so $30.00-$40.00 a month is a high estimate for this honestly, but we’ll leave it for cushion. For 500 crickets the cost is about $20.00. The roaches cost slightly more but also have a higher protein content, meaning, they “go further” and keep your beardie feeling fuller than crickets alone.
It’s worthwhile to mix the two because a bearded dragon can eat over 800 crickets a month. So that, extra protein supplementation will help keep your dragon sustained. Overall upon startup, and monthly thereafter, the cost of feeding your bearded dragon insects can range from $30.00-$80.00.
So, to keep your bearded dragon fed costs anywhere between $40.00-$120.00 per month. This area has some wiggle room budget-wise and will also depend on your particular dragon and his eating habits.
Speaking of supplements though, your bearded dragon is also going to need a supplement for calcium and vitamin D3 along with a multivitamin, to ensure he is getting enough of everything to stay healthy. These come in a powder form that makes it super easy to just sprinkle over his bugs before dinnertime.
Also, this is not a monthly expense as a $30.00-$60.00 supply will generally last about 6 months. That comes to between $60.00-$120.00 (remember this one is per YEAR) added to the cost of owning a bearded dragon.
Keeping your bearded dragon healthy is the number 1 priority, so annual vet visits are a must. Initially, you will want to have your new beardie checked out by the vet within 48 hours of purchase just to confirm he is in good health and make sure he doesn’t have any parasites you need to worry about. That first checkup usually costs somewhere between $75.00-$150.00.
The ongoing cost of owning a bearded dragon, in this aspect of care, is unpredictable at best. It really depends on how healthy your beardie is overall and how often he gets sick. If you have a strong healthy bearded dragon who only needs his annual checkups, you are looking at $60.00- $100.00 once a year.
If your beardie is sickly to begin with or has an unexpected illness, the costs can end up being quite high, just as when a human gets sick.
It is important to keep up with your annual vet visits even if you think your dragon is the picture of health. Because preventive care, as well as early detection, can make the difference between catching something in development and nipping it in the bud or having your beardie get full-blown ill.
The diagnostic tests alone can be very expensive as well as pricy treatments that will likely follow.
How often do bearded dragons need to go to the vet?
It’s recommended that you take your bearded dragon to the vet once a year. This is to allow your bearded dragon to get an annual check-up from a vet to ensure that they’re healthy. However, this depends on each bearded dragon’s health.
If your bearded dragon is healthy, you can bring them to the vet less often. However, if your bearded dragon gets sick, you should bring them to the vet right away, and take them constantly afterward to make sure they heal properly.
Does your electric bill suffer from your Beardie’s lamps?
The cost of owning a bearded dragon is not often considered. It stays out of sight, out of mind for the most part, but it deserves to be factored into our costs because you are now using these lamps basically 24 hours a day.
The changes in electricity bills have been reported from just a few dollars more to a spike of around $25.00. To get this one down to the dime you would need to know your electric companies current price per kW hour and do some fancy math with it against the wattage of the lamp and the hours of the day used.
Just be assured that even if your bill does make a slight jump, the amount isn’t going to be a deal-breaker.
Is the cost worth it in the end?
Once you have bought your reptile and gotten him home put together, your major expenses are basically over (assuming there are no unforeseen medical issues). The ongoing cost of owning a bearded dragon is really quite quaint and modest compared to larger pets such as dogs, and the daily effort needed to care for them is also much less.
The small monetary and personal responsibilities owning a bearded dragon put on you are literally nothing next joy these little creatures bring their owners. In my humble opinion, if we sat and balanced the books on that, we may actually end up owing them in the end for the overpayment of happiness.
With an ongoing cost of only $50.00-$100.00 per month, the cost of owning a bearded dragon is not too much of a burden at all. Turns out they are one of the cheapest pets to maintain. Once you have a reptile bought and a habitat put together for it, keeping him fed, happy, and healthy will take more of your time than your money.
Feel free to leave us a comment if you have any questions. We would love to help you and your bearded dragon friend. Also, if we missed a common cost of having a bearded dragon, let us know what you have noticed in the comments.
All in all, it seems as though the cost of owning a bearded dragon is incurred mostly during that initial setup phase and not felt nearly as much once you have the necessities taken care of. Making a bearded dragon a fiscally responsible and flipping adorbs choice of pets.