Bearded dragons originate from Australia, where they naturally would be found living in semi-desert areas. They are most active during the day and spend most of their time on the ground, but do enjoy some climbing too.
Bearded dragons are no longer allowed to be exported from Australia for the pet trade, so any reptile purchased as a pet in the UK should be captive bred. It is important that you purchase your bearded dragon from a responsible breeder or reputable outlet, which is producing and supplying healthy reptiles.
Any animal that is kept as a pet relies on you, the owner, to provide for them. Pets are completely at the mercy of their owners to provide everything they need in order to remain healthy. Remember also that you have a duty of care to an animal for its entire life. In the case of a bearded dragon this can be up to 12 years and during this time your pets' needs are likely to change.
Can you provide enough space for a bearded dragon? They can grow quite big, sometimes reaching lengths of up to 60cm, and will need a large vivarium to live in when they are adults. Pam Mansfield, founder of the Exotic Pet Refuge in Market Deeping, Cambridgeshire, says: "Bearded dragons start out tiny, but they do grow quite big and continue to grow for their entire life. You'll need to be able to afford to upgrade the size of your vivarium as they grow. These are expensive and will take up a lot of space."
The RSPCA recommends that the vivarium for two adult bearded dragons should be at least 150cm long, 50cm wide and 50cm high. Will you have enough space to accommodate this size of vivarium?
Not all bearded dragons enjoy being handled — some will tolerate it and sometimes grow to enjoy it, but others just won't. If you are looking for a pet that will enjoy being handled, a bearded dragon may not be the best choice.
Can you provide a lifetime of care to a bearded dragon? They live on average for 8 to 10 years but can live for up to 12 years. As an owner you will have to be willing to commit to this amount of care.
Have you considered the costs involved in owning a bearded dragon? There is the expense of heating and lighting the vivarium, feeding and pet insurance premiums, plus veterinary fees in case of emergency. These will all need to be budgeted for in advance.
Who are you buying the bearded dragon for? They do not make good pets for younger children as they will require careful handling in order to avoid injury. A child that is initially keen may become bored quickly and responsibility for the animal's care will then be passed on to a parent. Remember that even the most keen child will need constant supervision to ensure that their pet is properly cared for.