Top 5 Considerations When Buying A Bearded Dragon (Or Other Reptile) For A Child

We are often asked if bearded dragons make good pets.  Pet MD would say yes, but we feel every situation is different. So, instead of an answer, we encourage people to think about the following:  

  • Is Your Child Ready: bearded dragons are cool (though, the cooler, the more expensive). However, the initial excitement only lasts so long, then it becomes a responsibility.  Is your child ready for the daily responsibility of feeding, checking the heating/lighting, cleaning, etc. as well as the responsibility of taming (and washing hands after handling)?  Reptiles aren’t necessarily lower or higher maintenance than other pets, but their care does require attention.
  • Do You Have Space: bearded dragons (like most reptiles) grow quickly, so the enclosure needed for a baby is smaller than that needed for a 6 month old and far smaller than what will be needed in a year.  While this is important for the reptile, this understanding is also important to your are likely going to need a ~70 gallon enclosure, do you know where you are going to put that (it won’t fit on your kid’s desk…).  
  • Can You Handle The Gross Factor: to keep them healthy, you have to be honest with yourself and determine if you can handle to feeding time “gross factor.” Not everyone is up for keeping live insects in the house nor handling them for feeding.  Fortunately, you don’t have to deal with the noise of crickets or smell of roaches as black soldier fly larvae are a less hassle, less gross yet more nutritious option (...maybe we are biased, but check out [link to comparison blog] for more details).  
  • Are You Willing To Step In: kids interest can die down over just a few months, then what?  Are you willing to step in to care for the bearded dragon when their willingness fades?  What about when they move out, will you care for it if their apartment or dorm won’t let them have it?  Or, are you willing and able to make your child find a new home for the pet. No easy answers, just tough questions to think about now, rather than later.  
  • Is a vet accessible: vets, in theory, should be able to handle reptiles, but the reality is not all vets have enough reptile medicine experience so you may want to work through what you would do in the event your bearded dragon needs medical attention and it’s not close by.