If you’re a reptile lover and considering buying or adopting one to bring home, you should be considering a bearded dragon.
As well as being relatively easy reptiles to care for, they’re affectionate and will often bond with their people. They have a tendency to snuggle and treat you as a climbing post.
But how much can you expect to pay when adopting a bearded dragon? In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to assess the potential cost of a beardie.
We’ll cover the cost of buying the reptile itself, which depends on a variety of factors including the subspecies, age, gender, and color, plus where you buy.
We’ll also look at how much it costs to get a habitat set up for your new scaled friend, and what you can expect to pay in terms of ongoing care for the duration of your bearded dragon’s life.
How Much Does A Bearded Dragon Cost To Buy?
Looking at just the cost of purchasing the reptile, your new bearded dragon companion could cost you anywhere from $40 to $1,000.
Why such a big price range? It depends on who you buy from, the subspecies of beardie, their gender, age, morph, color, and more.
Bearded dragons aren’t that hard to find. They are originally from Australia but were exported extensively in the mid-2000s, so much so that their export has now been highly restricted.
But there are still plenty of beardies around since they lay up to 25 eggs at a time and can lay three to four clutches a year.
Characteristics That Impact Price
Of the eight known species of bearded dragon, only four are domesticated and therefore considered suitable pets. The most common species is the Vitticeps, which is also the most affordable, starting from just $50.
The rarest species of beardie is the Pogona henrylawsoni, also sometimes called Rankin’s dragon, which start from around $400.
Another factor in price is gender. While female bearded dragons are great if you want to breed, they can have medical issues due to the egg laying process, so males are often more attractive as pets and therefore more expensive.
Babies are considered between six and 10 weeks old and should be six to 10 inches long. They’re popular as it increases the likelihood of a strong bond between you and your beardie.
Babies are also cheaper as there is a risk that they won’t survive their early months. If you are looking at a tank of babies, choose the largest ones.
This shows they have a genetic advantage and are successfully competing with their siblings for resources, so they’re more likely to grow up healthy.
If you want to avoid the risk associated with baby beardies, you can get an adult bearded dragon, which reaches full size at around 12 months of age. They cost more, but you are less likely to have to deal with health issues associated with early growth.
Another key factor when it comes to cost is the color of your beardie. Most people prefer more exotic lizards, so plain brown bearded dragons tend to be quite cheap, while something exceptional, like a snow-white morph, might cost you $1,000.
Where You Buy Your Bearded Dragon
Where you buy also makes a difference to your cost. If you buy from a pet store with a good source of bearded dragons or from a dedicated breeder, you can probably expect to pay a mid-range price.
But you have the benefit that you can visit the beardie and assess their health before you agree to buy.
You can find cheaper beardies if you look online, but this is a risk as there is no guarantee that the reptile you’re seeing in photos and videos is the bearded dragon that you will get.
But you usually need to commit to purchasing “sight unseen.” The best thing you can do in this situation is insist on a number of live video calls with the beardie.
If the seller is willing to do this and shows you the beardie in a number of different light conditions, this is a strong indication that they’re legitimate.
The most expensive bearded dragons you will find will be specialist imports. But if you’re looking for a specific subspecies or color, this can be the only way to find what you are looking for.
You may get lucky and find a bearded dragon up for adoption. This usually happens when someone moves and will be unable to take their pet with them. Look at local listings and rescues to see if there are any beardies in need of a home near you.
So, to summarize, you can get a bearded dragon for as little as $50 if you are happy to adopt a baby and aren’t looking for anything exotic.
If you buy from a pet store, that cost might increase to $80. But if you are looking for a special bearded dragon, including an exotic species of special color, you might pay up to $1,000.
Note! If you decide you want to get a pair of beardies to keep one another company, make sure you get two females.
They will get along quite well, but they can bind their infertile eggs which can cause sickness. Never put two males in a tank together as they are highly territorial.
Bearded Dragon Setup Cost
More expensive than purchasing your new friend will be purchasing all the equipment that you’ll need to set up their new home.
The habitats that domestic bearded dragons live in are called terrarium or vivarium, and they can cost between $100 and $1,000 to set up depending on the options you choose.
These look like aquariums, as they are usually made from glass, plastic, or some other clear material that lets you keep an eye on your beardie and gives them a good view of the outside world.
When you have a baby bearded dragon, you might be tempted to get them a small tank, between 50-60 gallons, since they are much more affordable.
This is fine for a beardie in the first six months of their life, but once they are a year old and more or less full size, they really do need a tank with a minimum of 120 gallons. Anything smaller and they can develop stress.
When it comes to the dimensions of the tank, for example long vs tall since beardies love to climb, and glass or plastic, this comes down to personal preference and budget. But some features such as a sliding lid for easy access will make a difference.
You can see Amazon’s collection of reptile tanks and terrariums here. As you will see, adult size tanks start from around $100, and premium tanks can cost $400-$500.
The tank also needs some equipment, specifically UVB light lamps and UVA heat lamps. Light lamps help regulate your bearded dragon’s circadian rhythm and also give you better visibility.
While you will want to light the tank fairly evenly to mimic daylight, make sure you create pockets of shade as well.
UVA lamps make sure that the terrarium maintains the ideal temperature for your bearded dragon. You will also want a thermometer and a humidity gauge to monitor this element of the environment.
You can buy two separate light systems or bulbs that combine both light and heat. They usually need to be replaced about twice a year. Don’t forget that running these lights for 10-12 hours a day will also show up on your electricity bill.
You can see the UVA and UVB lights available on Amazon here. Basic lamps suitable for this purpose cost around $20 each, while more comprehensive lamps can cost closer to $100.
In addition, you will need to invest in a substrate to line the bottom of the tank. This provides protection for your beardie’s feet and joints, and can also help absorb the smell of the droppings if you don’t get to it right away.
Your new companion will need a food bowl and a water bowl, plus plenty of things to climb on and hide under. These are items you can buy from pet stores or find around the home and garden.
Whatever you put in the tank, make sure you sterilize it first. You can do this by washing the items and then, if microwave-safe, popping them in the microwave for around 60 seconds at 1000W to sterilize.
You can read our complete guide to what you need when getting a bearded dragon here.
Ongoing Costs Of A Bearded Dragon
Remember that bearded dragons, when cared for properly, can live for up to 18 years, so there will be costs associated for caring for your beardie for this amount of time.
The main expense is food. Beardies need a diet with lots of protein, which usually means dried worms and insects plus vegetables and some fruit.
They also benefit from live insects as this speaks to their natural hunting instincts. Unless you’re breeding specifically to feed your beardie, you will probably have to buy your insects as the ones you catch at home can also be contaminated.
The main regular expenses associated with your bearded dragon are then replacing your substrate when cleaning the tank, replacing lamps as they burn out, and just general upkeep of their tank.
While bearded dragons shouldn’t need to go to the veterinarian as regularly as your cat or dog, it can cost $100 per visit to take your beardie to the vet. Females tend to require visits more often as the egg-laying process can sometimes have complications.
And don’t forget the premium that you will be paying on your electricity bills for having those lamps burning all day.
All in all, you probably need a monthly budget of $50 to $100 to cover the ongoing cost of caring for your bearded dragon.
Find out more with our complete bearded dragon care sheet.
Bearded Dragon Cost FAQs
Should I get one or two bearded dragons?
While it is understandable that you’ll want your beardie to have companionship, it can be challenging to keep more than one. You will need a considerably larger tank to accommodate their different needs.
If you do decide to get two, then females get along better than males, but there is a chance that one or both can become sick if they bind their unfertilized eggs.
Never have more than one male beardie in a tank as they are very territorial.
Are bearded dragons for beginners?
Bearded dragons make great pets for beginner reptile owners as they are relatively easy to care for and mainly bred in captivity. They are also among the most affectionate reptiles and enjoy regular handling.
Can bearded dragons get lonely?
If you leave your bearded dragon for a month while you are on vacation, they may have a feeling comparable to “missing you.” But beardies are solitary creatures and actually prefer to have their tank to themselves.
It is not necessarily beneficial to have more than one bearded dragon in a tank.
Ready To Bring Your Beardie Home?
When you look at all the figures in black and white, it can seem expensive to become a pet parent to a bearded dragon.
But in the great scheme of things, beardies are among the most affordable pets on the market, and they will repay you for your investment with companionship and affection.
But having a good idea of how much it really costs to buy and care for a beardie will help you be prepared, so you aren’t surprised down the road.
Interested in adopting a bearded dragon? Read our guide to the Joys of Raising a Bearded Dragon.