Any potential bearded dragon owner will want to know if bearded dragons are good pets to own before they go and take the steps to bring one home.
There are lots of things to consider when choosing a pet and taking into account a number of factors will help you decide if a bearded dragon really is the pet for you.
In this post, we will take a close look at all the factors you need to consider and help you decide if a bearded dragon is a good pet to own.
So, are bearded dragons good pets to own? Courtesy of their docile temperament, hefty lifespan, ease of care, and reasonable affordability, bearded dragons make excellent pets. They do well with beginners, children, and adults. And they make fantastic classroom pets. With so many positives, they’re one of the best pet options out there.
Read On to Learn…
A Brief Overview Of Bearded Dragons
If you’re just starting on the road to reptile ownership, let’s begin with an introduction to the bearded dragon or Pogona vitticeps.
Out of the eight species of bearded dragon, this is the most popular in the group. It has the most friendly reputation and the lowest maintenance needs. And since breeders around the globe supply them, there’s no problem with tracking down your new beardie.
Beardies come from Australia. They’re considered semi-arboreal lizards. This means they spend part of their day hanging out in low-hanging tree branches.
At full-growth, they top out around 15-24 inches (38.1-61cm). Of course, a THIRD of that length comes from their tails, so it’s a bit deceiving.
Tiny spines run along their sides, giving them a prehistoric look (or Medieval look – depending on your perspective) that appeals to most people.
The “bearded” part of their name is from the flap under their chin. When threatened, they puff it out, and it gets darker in color.
They’re not nocturnal, like other popular reptiles, so they won’t keep you awake at night with their explorations. And since they ARE awake during the day, you get to interact with them.
That very interaction is one of the most popular reasons bearded dragons make good pets. But let’s take a look at ALL of the reasons beardies are so popular. Then you can judge for yourself.
Are Bearded Dragons Good Pets to Own? (More Info)
To better understand if a bearded dragon is the right pet for you, it’s wise to take into account many different factors such as:
- Life expectancy
- Level of care
- Compatibility with other pets
Let’s now take a look at each of these factors in more detail…
Bearded dragons are one of the most docile lizard species out there. They have a peaceful temperament that appeals to people.
And as they age, they get calmer and calmer. This contrasts with most reptiles which remain “on alert” at all times.
Beardies still have a startle reflex – courtesy of a “third eye” – but they’re not as wary of humans as other reptiles. As such, they enjoy interacting with their owners.
Here’s a guide that shares all you need to know about a bearded dragon’s third eye…
With additional training, many beardie owners find themselves taking their beardies for trips around the house or even on walks around the yard!
You’d be hard-pressed to find that ability with other reptiles. (Seriously, who takes their snake for a walk? No one) The calm temperament makes them a good pet, especially if you’re nervous about venturing into the reptile kingdom.
When you start considering exotic pets, one of the biggest downfalls is lifespan.
Many fish and pocket pets don’t last very long – even under the best circumstances.
Bearded dragons break that mold. The life expectancy of a beardie ranges between 8-15 years.
If you want to find out more about how long bearded dragons live then we have created a detailed post that shares interesting facts and care tips to help your beardie live longer.
Recommended Reading: How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live? The Definitive Answer)
That’s the kind of lifespan you expect from a cat or dog! It makes them a good pet, especially if you have children. (They last MUCH longer than the average goldfish in a bowl)
Of course, a bearded dragon’s life expectancy depends on proper care. And they’re not bullet-proof. They have a few critical ailments you’ll need to watch out for:
- Adenovirus: Starting from the beginning, Adenovirus causes problems for juvenile beardies (for the most part). The virus makes its way to the liver, and then beardies stop eating.
- Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): MBD is the MOST common problem in bearded dragons. If you slip up in your care, your beardie’s skeleton pays the price.
- Parasites: Pinworms are the biggest offenders in bearded dragons. Sometimes, they don’t cause any visible symptoms. If your beardie ingests a lot of its waste, though, the parasite burden goes up, leading to diarrhea and weight loss.
- Respiratory Infections: Once again, if the level of care slips, bearded dragons pay the price. They’ll start sneezing, bubbling at the nose, or struggling to breathe.
In general, though, if you’re doing your part, bearded dragons hang around.
Level Of Care
So, how difficult is that level of care to manage? Actually, not that bad. In fact, if you compare caring for a bearded dragon with managing a fish tank or caring for a cat or dog, the beardie is the better pet to own.
You won’t have anywhere near as many tasks to juggle each day. And once you set up a routine, it’s even easier – on both of you.
Your bearded dragon asks for very little in terms of care:
- Provide food
- Provide water
- Clean the tank
Realistically, those are the biggest steps in terms of care. Now, there are a few other tweaks in terms of housing, but you don’t have to do much once you have them set. Daily care isn’t complex.
You don’t need to perform water quality testing. There’s no need to do brushing (though a weekly bath is appreciated).
And multiple walks every day? Nope – not a problem. You’re getting off easy when it comes to bearded dragons.
Bearded dragons are omnivores. This means they like a little bit of everything with their diet.
This may sound complicated, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of the reasons beardies make such good pets.
You don’t have to track down special diets! And they’re not picky about their menu.
As a matter of fact, a lot of their favorites may already be sitting in your refrigerator or counter!
Take a look at this sample bearded dragon menu:
Bearded Dragon General Diet Options
|Dubia Roaches||Dandelions||Star Fruit|
Now, odds are you’re not stocking the proteins, but they’re also not difficult to come by.
Your local pet store can provide them without a problem. Or you can set up your own colony. Gut-load them, dust them with calcium, vitamin D, and a multivitamin (once a week), and you have the perfect beardie salad!
Even better, adult bearded dragons only need feeding once a day. This makes your job easier. SOMETIMES, you can get away with feeding fish once a day, but cats and dogs?
You’ll never pull that off. This simple feeding routine makes beardies good pets to own, especially if you have a complicated work schedule.
Recommended Reading: How Often to Feed Bearded Dragons (All Ages)
For many pets, location is critical. You can’t set up a Great Pyrenees in an apartment. Never mind that they’re a giant dog breed; they need plenty of room to roam to fulfil their exercise needs.
Even fish have specific tank needs, some of which can stretch to HUNDREDS of gallons/liters, depending on the species. But bearded dragons? They fit anywhere. If you have room for a 75-120 gallon tank, you’re good to go.
To make things easier, check out this guide that covers what size tank we recommend depending on the age of your beardie…
Now, you need more than the enclosure itself, but their needs still won’t eclipse all of the supplies you’ll have to check off to bring a cat home.
That semi-arboreal habit means you’ll want to stock the tank with a basking rock, hollow logs, or sturdy branches.
You can easily find those at your pet store. You’ll also need a substrate to cover the bottom of the enclosure.
Alternatively, you can check out our list of recommended tank decor here…
Some people get away with paper towels (which you likely have in your pantry). You can also use reptile carpet or washed play sand (though skip the sand if you have baby beardies). Neither one is difficult to get a hold of or maintain.
Bearded dragons have specific temperature and humidity requirements. You’ll need to find a heat lamp, a UV light, and a way to measure the temperature and humidity.
Luckily, your beardie enjoys the same day-night pattern you do. So when you’re ready to call it a night, so is your lizard.
You won’t need to worry about keeping a “night light” on, which can interrupt your sleeping pattern.
This is a major argument for a lot of people on why bearded dragons make good pets. Other reptiles often keep their owners awake unless they live in another room.
When people think of reptiles, “play” doesn’t occur to them. A snake sits in its enclosure and stares at you (thrilling).
But bearded dragons make good pets BECAUSE they thrive on human interaction. And playing is one of their favorite activities.
You can offer them crumpled balls of wrapping paper, crinkle cat toys, or ping pong balls and watch them chase the offerings around their enclosures. They enjoy the stimulation, and YOU get to enjoy the entertainment.
And the play isn’t confined to their tank. When your beardie spends time outside with you, they’re happy to continue the games of chase.
Check out our list of the 17 best toys and activities for a happy bearded dragon…
Play keeps their natural hunting instincts sharp. But it’s also a way for them to alleviate boredom and stress.
Other reptiles may have no problem staring out the window all day, but beardies WANT activity.
Bearded dragons are also accomplished swimmers. You’ll want to offer them a bath 2-3 times a week anyway, but if you scale up to a larger plastic tub (or even a kiddie pool), you’ll get to see them exercise that natural swimming talent.
Ever wondered if bearded dragon need baths? Find out here…
Bearded dragons are intelligent. Oh, sure, the reptilian brain is considered “primitive,” but these little lizards recognize you and other people in the house.
This means they form attachments to anyone who spends time with them. That kind of bond isn’t possible with most reptiles. In fact, most people associate bonding with cats or dogs.
If you give your beardie a chance, they’ll form an attachment. Speak up when you enter the room. They’ll learn what your voice sounds like.
(Beardies have EXCELLENT hearing) And they’ll start associating you with the positive things that happen: food, games, handling, time out of the enclosure. You’ll start to see your bond grow.
If you are not sure how to handle your bearded dragon then you can head over to this post that covers all you need to know about handling…
Maybe it’s not the cuddling other people associate with owning a pet, but beardies DO snuggle. As you spend time with your beardie, they burrow close to you.
Now, yes, they want some of your body warmth, but it’s also a demonstration of affection. They’re letting you know they’ve formed an attachment. You won’t find that with too many other reptiles.
Good With Children
We’ll get into this topic a little more in-depth in a minute, but bearded dragons are good pets for kids – for a lot of reasons.
They’re not as large as some of the reptiles available for companionship, allowing your kids to handle them in relative safety.
And those easy-care demands mean it’s simple enough for younger children to participate in the daily chores. (Allowing your five-year-old to walk a Great Dane is NEVER a good idea).
But the best reasons a bearded dragon works with children are these:
- Hypoallergenic: Cats and dogs are often the top allergies kids struggle with. Beardies? They don’t have hair, nor do they produce dander. It solves this big problem.
- Undemanding: Mammals like to have your attention most of the day. Beardies DO enjoy attention, but they’ll also occupy themselves if you’re busy. When you have kids who may have other interests, this is important.
- Beginner-Friendly: How many things do you need to remember with a larger pet? That’s a lot to ask of a young child. With a bearded dragon, there’s not as much on the checklist.
Compatibility With Other Pets
Now, you need to exercise some common sense when it comes to compatibility with other pets.
However, bearded dragons have a pretty good tolerance for other animals. If you take a look around social media, you’ll find plenty of people with pictures of their beardie with their cat or dog. It’s a reason they make such good pets.
Of course, the compatibility issue falls on the OTHER pet in this equation. Cats enjoy stalking smaller lizards.
And while a beardie CAN bite to defend itself, its teeth aren’t the sharpest. You need to supervise all interactions carefully, so the relationship REMAINS peaceful.
As a rule, though, bearded dragons don’t have a problem with other animals in the household.
Whether you consider a bearded dragon affordable depends on your perspective. When you start from the beginning – setting up the enclosure, with the heater, lighting, thermometer, hygrometer, decor, and substrate – it feels like a blow to the wallet.
You can end up spending anywhere from $200-$600. That feels expensive.
However, once you have everything, you’re done.
You may have to replace a lightbulb here and there, but that’s it. And, if you think about it, it’s pretty comparable to getting the bed, leash, collar, bowls, and kennel for a new puppy.
The average cost of feeding a bearded dragon is reasonable. Unless you’re springing for gourmet crickets, you won’t spend more than $15-$40 a month. That’s MUCH less than the average food bill for a dog or cat.
Even a possible vet visit won’t break your bank. Cats and dogs cost twice (if not three times) what it’ll run to take a beardie in for a check-up.
You may need to hunt around for an Exotic Vet, but the medications and treatment costs are lower as they get based on size.
That said, it’s still a good idea to invest in pet insurance for your bearded dragon. (Yup, it’s a thing – and getting prepared for possible problems is never a bad thing)
Are Bearded Dragons Good Pets for Beginners?
So, we’ve looked at the different elements of owning a bearded dragon. And there’s no question they make good pets. But what if you’re brand-new to owning beardies or even reptiles. Are they still a good choice?
So, are bearded dragons good pets for beginners? Due to their ease of care, the flexibility in their feeding schedule, and the calm demeanor of bearded dragons, they make good pets for beginners. You can build up your confidence as you work with them, establishing a firm bond.
As with any pet, you should do your homework before you bring a bearded dragon home. Once you realize how easy they are to take care of, though, you’ll find yourself joining the ranks of beardie owners.
Getting the enclosure set up is the most challenging part of a bearded dragon’s care. You need to provide proper areas for basking, a “cooler” section to avoid the heat, and consistent relative humidity.
The basking temperature ranges from 95-100F (35-40.5C). You can achieve this with:
- Ceramic heaters
- Incandescent lighting
- Mercury vapor bulbs
A thermometer will help you “dial in” the perfect temperature. And at the opposite end of the tank, you’ll set up a gradient that allows your beardie to “beat the heat.” At that end, you want a temperature of 80-85F (26.6-29.4C).
You may need to try different heating options to get the gradient just right, but you CAN set everything up before you bring your beardie home.
Bearded dragons come from a desert region. As such, they only need a relative humidity of 35-40%.
It’s only difficult to hit that magic number if you live in an area with HIGH humidity.
And if you have a hygrometer, you’ll know exactly what the enclosure’s sitting at. Again, setting up the tank before you’re beardie comes home gives you a chance to make adjustments.
Once you have everything set, a few glances into the tank are all you need. Otherwise, you only need to offer healthy meals (which you can prepare at the time of day most convenient for you), supply clean, fresh water, and remove waste from the tank. It’s that easy! Even fish aren’t THAT easy to handle.
Bearded dragons enjoy human contact. You know that, or you probably wouldn’t have decided to bring one home.
You can spend more and more time with your beardie each day, increasing your confidence in your handling skills.
Before you know it, you’ll be walking around the house with your beardie on your shoulder. It’ll be a bond that will last for up to 15 years. Much longer than that goldfish from the carnival.
Are Bearded Dragons Good Pets for Young Kids?
Parents always worry about whether certain pets will work for kids, especially young kids. Which is understandable.
And since reptiles have the possibility of carrying Salmonella, bearded dragons are often questioned as suitable pets.
If your child is old enough to understand the importance of washing their hands – and keeping things OUT of their mouths – there’s no need to worry.
On the other hand, if your child is very young (5 or younger) then you will need to be vigilant at every handling session, if this isn’t possible then reptiles probably aren’t the best choice of pet until your child is older.
Yes, beardies can have pinworm eggs in their feces. And there IS that possibility of Salmonella. However, the bacteria also shows up in the feces.
And bearded dragons? They’re not sloppy. They tend to pick ONE spot in their enclosure for a restroom.
They don’t want feces in their food OR on them. And since you’re keeping up with those regular baths, odds are you have a clean lizard.
That said, the poop of ANY animal carries Salmonella (that goes for humans, too!).
So you need to teach young kids to wash their hands. If they wash their hands before touching the beardie AND after, everyone’s going to stay safe – child AND lizard.
Otherwise, you want to follow some essential rules when mixing young kids and bearded dragons:
- Always review your rules for interacting with the bearded dragon. Remind them not to squeeze.
- You should be the one to take the bearded dragon in and out of the tank.
- Young kids should sit on the floor during handling. Accidents happen, and you don’t want a long fall.
- For large beardies, lay a towel over your kid’s arms to protect against long nails.
- Keep small hands AWAY from the tail.
- Guide your kid’s hands under the beardie’s belly, so it’s fully supported.
- Limit handling time to ONE HOUR.
- Remember: no one bangs on the glass (exactly like fish).
Are Bearded Dragons Good Pets for 10-Year-Olds? (and Over)
As children get older, pets are one of the things they start to beg for. And they don’t always ask for cats or dogs; sometimes, they want reptiles. You know bearded dragons are good pets, but are they good for older kids?
So, are bearded dragons good pets for 10-year-olds? Children 10-years-old (or older) benefit from caring for bearded dragons. Because bearded dragons aren’t demanding to care for, the kids can easily stick to their daily chores. They also provide responsibility and companionship for older children.
What happens a week after that “new puppy smell” wears off? Your child decides they’re tired of walking the dog five times a day.
Or they no longer want to scoop the litter box for the kitten. And refilling the food bowls twice a day (or more)? That’s too much to ask.
This is why bearded dragons make good pet choices – they require fewer time commitments for your older child.
Bearded dragons adapt to and require a set schedule. If you deviate, they get fussy.
So by bringing a beardie home, you still teach responsibility. However, instead of demanding huge chunks out of your kid’s day, those chores condense into ONE easy part.
This makes it more likely that your older child will stick to being the primary caregiver instead of dumping the responsibility on YOU.
On average, cleaning the tank, changing the water, and offering food only requires about 10 minutes. That’s not much to ask out of an older child. And if you lay down the law that nothing “fun” happens until the bearded dragon’s taken care of, odds are you’ll find the chore getting completed.
You’re asking for less than you would with a cat or dog. Add in the baths (another 15 minutes twice a week), and you still haven’t taken much from their week.
As children age, they WANT to keep their pet close to them. This can get troubling with pets that stay awake during the evening hours. You need your child to sleep, but scrabbling in substrate or digging in the corner of a box wakes them up.
Then you have a grumpy kid that continues to insist the pet stay in their room. Bearded dragons follow the same hours as humans, going to sleep when the lights go down. It’s a nice compromise.
So when your older child starts begging for a pet, you could do worse than consider a bearded dragon.
Are Bearded Dragons Good Classroom Pets?
Many classrooms have turned to adopting classroom pets. These range from small pocket pets to fish tanks and even as far as small reptiles.
We know bearded dragons and children work well as pets, but what about including a beardie in the classroom? Is that a good idea?
So, are bearded dragons good classroom pets? Bearded dragons make excellent classroom pets. They’re easy to care for, allowing you to set up a rotation among the students. This teaches responsibility. Having a desert species will enable you to teach about Australia’s habitat or even introduce a unit on reptiles.
Classroom pets require students open to the possibility of taking on responsibility. And some classroom pets are easier to manage than others.
Cleaning fish tanks involves a lot of work, and teachers often have to follow behind younger students.
Pocket pets have short lifespans, which can spell trouble among the lower grades. But bearded dragons? They’re easy to care for, they live between 8-15 years, and they capture the imagination.
Many teachers find students eagerly raising their hands – all for the chance to CLEAN the beardie’s tank in their class. It’s exciting to them.
They understand the responsibility involved, and they take the chore seriously. Kids will even give up recess to get that one-on-one time with their class beardie!
It frees up their teacher to other tasks. And, if they’re lucky, they get to bring the class beardie home on extended vacations.
Unusual in appearance, having a bearded dragon in the classroom gives teachers a chance to introduce material relevant to the curriculum.
Beardies come from a desert region. For areas that don’t see deserts, it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce the topic. Or they can use beardies as an opening unit in Australia.
And, of course, what works better to start a discussion on reptiles than a bearded dragon?
Many people, especially young children, are afraid of reptiles. Even if they’ve never seen one. Having a bearded dragon in the classroom allows the children to experience a reptile in a safe, controlled environment.
As they learn more about the beardie, seeing the personality first-hand, they have a chance to break down that fear. It’s one of the best ways to eliminate this common fear at an early stage.
And, of course, plenty of children don’t have an opportunity to own pets. A classroom pet is the only chance they’ll get.
And since bearded dragons make such good pets, they make an ideal choice.
The kids gain all of the psychological benefits, still have an opportunity to learn responsibility without troubling their parents about rules or regulations.
Bearded dragons are one of the most popular exotic pets found across the globe. They check boxes off in every category.
Whether you’re a beginner, have children, or you’re looking for a new classroom pet, beardies make good pets. (And they work for the pro, too!)
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