MyBeardedDragons website contains information for the new owner on how to keep a bearded dragon properly so that it is happy and healthy. An active forum dedicated to bearded dragons gives advice and support to new and experienced owners.
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Buying a Bearded Dragon
What is the best age to buy a bearded dragon?
Most people like the look of small cute bearded dragons - and many pet shops like to sell them young. Let's face it - the sooner a breeder can let the babies go the less they'll have to pay out for their food! But what is best for you, the buyer, and your new pet?
Bearded dragons take a while to settle into their new home, and it is not unusual for them not to eat for a few days due to the stress of the move.
It can take up to 2 weeks for them to start eating properly. A very young baby will become seriously weakened, whilst a slightly older one will have built up more reserves and will be able to cope with the move. The youngest you should consider taking a baby on is at 6 weeks of age, but which time they should be 6 to 8 inches in length. Baby beardies can be born with problems, and it will take a few weeks for any weaknesses to show. If you are offered a baby younger than six weeks, you may well be buying one which could develop health problems.
In fact, the older the better. For a first time owner it is advisable to get a beardie of around six months old - this will be more forgiving if you have problems getting the temps right in the vivarium for example.
These beardies are very young and too small to be sold
This hatchling is about six weeks old.
Rehoming or adopting a bearded dragon
So many people buy a bearded dragon and then find they cannot look after them. Bearded dragons can live for 10 years or more, and in that time many things might change. People may have to move house and don't have room for the vivarium, they get divorced, they lose their job or the teenager who cared for it has grown up and moved away! Apart from this there are so many babies born people give them away to animal sanctuaries as they cannot afford to look after them.
So why not consider adopting a bearded dragon? You'll find you will get him for free, and will have the benefit of knowing you are really giving a bearded dragon who really needs it a good home.
How to pick a healthy beardie
You will often find beardies for sale which have nipped toes or tails. This is normally as a result of overcrowding when they are small - or simply bad luck. A tail disappearing behind a rock can easily look like a cricket to another bearded dragon. Such an injury, if healed, will not affect your beardie, and often can seem to give character.
Many people go for beardies with nipped tails or toes as they like looking after the 'underdog' - but that should be as far you let your emotions rule you! Do not go for the beardie that looks quieter than the rest, and don't go for the smallest one. There could be a reason why it is not eating. If all the babies look thin and are inactive, go somewhere else.
A healthy baby should be nicely rounded, have bright eyes and should be either active or basking under the spotlight. Don't worry if it's mouth is gaping open as it basks - this is the way they cool down, much like a dog pants.
All the babies will look lovely - and you will find yourself wanting to take them all home! But remember each baby will grow into an adult, and they cost a lot to feed whilst they are growing! Before you go to buy your beardie read our page about how many dragons you should have - and then try to resist the temptation. Remember - the pet shops won't discourage you, it's all profit to them!
A 14 week old baby bearded dragon
Sex of your Bearded Dragon
You can have a preference for a male or female, but you will have to accept that bearded dragons are very difficult to sex. If a baby looks male, then it will be a male. But many males don't develop their sexual characteristics until they are almost adult, and what looks like a female can turn out to be a male! Experts can tell some males early on, but many people are surprised when Fred lays eggs! As pets there is not much difference between a male and female - males grow slightly bigger, and can be more dominant, but females make just as good a pet.
Bearded Dragon Quarantine
If you already have a bearded dragon and want to buy another, then you must put the new beardie into quarantine, and this should be for three months, with no contact between the beardies at all. This time will allow any illness to show in your new beardie - ignore quarantine and you risk infecting and maybe killing your original lizard. Make sure you wash your hands between handling each.
A word of warning about getting advice from Pet Shops
Pet shops, even those with quite large reptile sections, often give out very poor advice on how to look after bearded dragons, and also the equipment you need. This is not necessarily their fault - all types of rabbit, for example, have similar housing and feeding needs. This is not true for all lizards, and it is hard for the local shop to be experts in all types of lizard.
Sometimes the advice given will encourage you to buy expensive accessories which you don't need, or worse that can harm your beardie. A heat mat being a case in point.
When you have decided to buy a bearded dragon, do your research first. Either by reading from books, or from the internet. Joining a forum such as the one on this site can give you lots of information - from people who own happy and healthy beardies - which can steer you in the right direction of both the equipment you need, how to set it up properly, together with good feeding advice.
How much should a baby bearded dragon cost?
Cost of a baby bearded dragon can vary greatly. For 'normal' beardies (which can come in a range of lovely colours) you can expect to pay from £20 or so from a private breeder up to £50 in a pet shop. Nowadays there are lots of people breeding bearded dragons so there are lots on the market which reduces the price. This isn't actually good for beardies as being cheap they can be an impulse buy and the new owners haven't researched what they are taking on, or how to look after their new pet!
If you want a coloured bearded dragon - a 'morph', then you can pay up to several hundred pounds.
Beardies take some time to develop their adult colours - if you look on the home page of this site you will see a picture of Shrek (who's now a brilliant yellow colour) at six weeks old when he was just a drab grey!
Advice on bringing home a new beardie
Remember, a baby will be coming from a vivarium where he has had to compete for food with all his brothers and sisters. Suddenly he will be in a new vivarium, all on his own, and with all the food provided for him!
In the wild bearded dragons are solitary animals, and he is at the right age to start out on his own, but it will be a new experience for him. Although he may eat well at the first feedtime (and may well eat too well without having to compete for the food), it is quite normal for baby beardies to go off their food for a couple of days after you get them to their new home. This is quite normal, and not something to be worried about unless it goes on too lone.
For information about how to look after your bearded dragon once you get it home, see my caresheet.
Even an older dragon will need time to settle into a new home - so just leave him alone, give him food, but let him get used to his new surroundings for a couple of weeks before handling.