A common miscalculation made by those buying a bearded dragon for the first time, is not realizing how much cash the upkeep for the lizard will cost in the long run. This is especially common for younger owners, who may have to save up money in order to purchase their pet and a cage. Once their new pet is home, they realize they need to buy the proper food, supplements, and possibly more equipment for the habitat. Unfortunately, many owners find that they can’t afford to provide for the lizard properly, so they either give them to a shelter, release them into the wild, or continue to let them live in substandard conditions.
The first mistake of many pet owners, is the lack of research prior to making a purchase. Many rely on the pet store clerks to tell them everything they need to know, which can lead to incorrect, incomplete, or misunderstood advice. A customer will usually be sold the bare necessities such as a cage, the animal itself, packaged food items and a cheap light. It is only after a few weeks that they realize their pet isn’t eating properly or is acting strange, that they realize the need to buy the correct equipment and nutritional products.
In truth, a set up for a beardie, with the lizard included, will run you around $ 200-$ 300. Below is a list of the bare necessities one will need to create an adequate habitat for their pet. Keep in mind that these prices are estimates, as prices will obviously vary.
What You Will Need:
Cage – $ 90
Mesh Top – $ 20
Substrate – $ 15 (newspaper is free)
Lizard – $ 50
Basking Bulb – $ 3
Secondary Bulb(for heat) – $ 3
Light Fixture x2 – $ 10
UVB Bulb – $ 20
UV Light Fixture – $ 15
Digital Thermometer/Hygrometer – $ 12
Calcium Supplement – $ 5
Multi-Vitamin Supplement – $ 7
Total Start-Up Cost: $ 250
I did not include rocks, logs, food dishes, or a hide because these items can be found or created for free. However, if you do need to purchase these items, they can easily add another $ 50 onto the total price. You may also need to use higher-end heating bulbs to reach adequate temperatures for your specific situation. Again, adding to the total.
Even those who purchase all the essential pieces needed to create a magnificent enclosure may fail to realize the recurring costs that are associated with upkeep. Baby and juvenile dragons can eat up to 50 crickets a day along with a daily dose of vegetables which can become fairly costly if you don’t buy your insects in bulk. A rough estimate of insects and veggies would be around $ 20 a week. Let’s not forget the costs of replacing UV bulbs at least once a year, vet check-ups, restocking vitamins, replacing blown heat bulbs and so on.
As you can see, buying a bearded dragon can quickly become an expensive endeavor. Although, when put into perspective, $ 300 to get everything you need is fairly cheap when compared to reptiles that cost over $ 500 for the animal alone. Once you get past the initial start-up cost, and the first year of your beardie’s enormous appetite, the expenses tend to decline quite a bit. You will be spending far less to feed an adult, and will only have the normal bulb and vitamin replacements along with vet check up to worry about. Bringing your monthly fees down to roughly $ 45. About the same as it would cost to feed a good size dog.