What Does it Cost to Raise a Bearded Dragon?
It's baby season! Now is the time of baby beardies aplenty! You may have been researching for a while or just decided to take the plunge and purchase your first baby bearded dragon! Or maybe you've just always been curious as to why beardies cost what they cost. There are many factors that go into pricing bearded dragons and we will go over them here!
So what does it cost to raise a bearded dragon anyway? First off, people are constantly misinformed about what and how much to feed bearded dragons. Pet store personnel are rarely trained to give out the correct information and almost never do the research to learn the proper information. Sometimes the wholesalers at reptile shows will tell you anything to sell an animal so if it doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. Not to get off subject, but I'm going to say it right up front. Dragons need to be fed every day, as much as they can eat, as often as recommended for their age. Please do not believe anyone that tells you to feed them 12 crickets per week, or day for that matter. A growing dragon will have an unsatiable appetite and be able to eat 100 crickets per feeding.
Once bearded dragons are full grown adults, the cost to maintain housing and feeding them is relatively low. At different stages of growth, their eating habits gradually change to less often in frequency. That doesn't mean they are eating less, amount wise.
First take a look a buying a baby dragon that is only 6 weeks old. A breeder will have spent a minimum of $60 on food costs alone to feed it for its first 42 days of life. This doesn't even include the overhead costs of heating, lighting and providing a safe home. Most babies aren't even sold until they are two to three months old and at that point have cost the breeder approximately $80-120 to feed depending on the type of insects and quality of produce. So remember when you are shopping for a dragon, any price tag below $150 is fairly conservative. This is estimating crickets with an average cost of .013 each, which is way way less than most people pay. Keep in mind this is JUST the feeding costs of the baby bearded dragon you are purchasing from a reputable breeder. This is not including housing, electric, UVB bulbs, or the YEARS of working with different lineages. The amount of money and time that breeders invest in parent animals will reflect in the baby's pricing as well. A baby bearded dragon can easily cost from $200-1500 or more depending on all of these factors.
Now you need a place to keep your dragon, either a large tank or critter cage is commonly used or you buy or build your own with front sliding doors. Either way, you're going to spend from $200 to $300 easily. Then you add your lighting and fixtures, maybe a heat source and you spend another $75 to $150. Now you need cage furniture, substrate, misc supplies, supplements, bug keepers, what else? At least another $50 or so. It's really no so bad once you have everything because you only need to replace your uv lights every 6 months to a year and refill your supplements about that often too. So you spend between $325 and $500 getting everything, a few extras and some shipping costs. Not that bad.
So you're all set and now you just need to buy food on a regular basis. Greens are cheap and last a couple weeks but a baby doesn't eat much of them anyway. All they do is eat, bask and poop, 24 - 7 for the first 7 to 10 months and all you want is a happy, healthy dragon. Most people find themselves going to the local pet store and buying 50 to 100 crickets at a time, spending $10 to $20. This might feed a young baby for two or three days but once they become juvies it will only last a day or two. Some pet stores will sell boxes of crickets of 1000 for $30 to $35 or the best way to go is orderig them online and having them delivered to your door for about the same price. If you're lucky, a thousand crickets will last a month but it's highly unlikely. Figure you'll have to replenish every two to three weeks at a cost of $50 to $60 per month. Not bad if you average it out at $2 a day to feed your baby.
Most dragons will consume mass quantities at this rate for up to a year or more, some start to slow their eating habits at about 9 or 10 months of age or when the weather begins to cool down. Regardless, your still talking approximately $600 to feed your dragon the first year! So when it's all said and done, you can easily drop $1000 total cash money, just on the basics.
So next time you see a seemingly expensive price tag on an adult dragon, or wonder why babies cost so much, think of the investment involved in making that cute little bugger available.
Good News, the second year isn't nearly as bad!