Buying a bearded dragon is exciting, especially if it is your first pet.
But how do you find one and where should you buy from?
It is easy to buy a Bearded dragon from a pet store for $30. But, these individuals can be housed in crowded tanks and often have health problems.
To avoid these issues, it is best to find a bearded dragon breeder. But, not all breeders are the same; some are professional and some are hobbyists.
If you are unsure about what makes a good breeder, then keep reading. We share tips on finding the best breeders, what to look for and what to ask before buying.
Table of Contents
What Makes A Good Breeder
Knowing what makes a reputable breeder is tricky.
Breeders of all levels want you to buy their bearded dragons. They will do their best to advertise healthy-looking dragons. However, good advertising does not make them a good breeder. It also does not mean you will get a healthy pet.
The health of a bearded dragon depends on the health of its parents, its genetics, and the husbandry it receives, especially during the first few months. Buying a dragon from a pet store is cheap and easy, but you are more likely to buy a healthy bearded dragon from a professional breeder.
No matter if it is an online business or a reptile expo show, there are many things you can look for when assessing breeder’s quality.
Good bearded dragon breeders will share many of the same characteristics.
Open To Questions
A responsible breeder will be easy to contact, open to questions, and respond quickly. This is especially true for online breeders.
When an email or phone call gets a same-day response, it is a good sign that the breeder is active. Quick response times will come in handy later on if there are any problems with caring for your bearded dragon.
The best breeders will make sure that you are suitable for caring for Beardies too.
Do not be surprised if they ask you about your experience. Some breeders will recommend other breeders that best fit you as an owner.
Live Arrival Guarantee
A good breeder cares about the health of their dragons. They will guarantee live arrival when shipping.
If the weather is too cold or too hot, many will wait to ship their reptiles until a later date. This helps to minimize discomfort and reduce stress during shipping.
Responsible breeders keep their bearded dragons in good conditions. They will have large tanks, correct tank setups, and feed a high-quality diet.
They should not have reservations about showing their bearded dragons’ living conditions.
Good breeders are also happy to provide an in-person or virtual tour of their breeding facility. This plays directly into another desirable breeder quality: transparency.
Irresponsible breeders may not show pictures or videos of their breeding setup.
Does Not Sell ‘pygmy’ or ‘fancy’ Species
Another way to tell a breeder’s level of experience is to look at the bearded dragons they are selling.
Reputable breeders know the exact genetics of each of their bearded dragons for sale.
They should list the specific morph and/or bloodline it came from. Tracking genetics, parents and generations will reduce the risk of genetic disorders or welfare issues from certain morphs.
A responsible breeder won’t use buzz words like ‘pygmy’ or ‘fancy’.
These terms do not describe a specific morph and are used as a catch-all for colorful beardies. The more specific the description of a morph and bloodline, the better.
Good bearded dragon breeders are also knowledgeable about husbandry, care and feeding. Many have online tutorials about tank setup, handling, and dragon care,
Suboptimal housing is a sure sign of a bad breeder.
Some breeders house bearded dragons in cramped, unsuitable conditions. These small tubs or enclosed rack systems do not allow much movement. They are used to save space and maximize profits.
Irresponsible breeders may keep baby beardies together in a small terrarium. This increases the likelihood of injuries and stress.
Good breeders will make sure each dragon is well fed, stress-free, and healthy.
Now that you know what to look for, the next step is finding a friendly and responsible breeder.
Finding A Bearded Dragon Breeder
The most common way to find a good breeder is online.
Browse specific Beardie forums or Facebook groups like Bearded Dragon Owners and other online communities. Breeders will often list bearded dragons for sale on these sites to reach potential customers.
Use these online spaces to contact breeders and other bearded dragon owners.
Experienced owners can also be found on reptile forums. They often have good advice about which breeders to choose, which to avoid, and which are best for beginners.
Searching forums before buying a barded dragon lets you ask a wide range of questions. It also lets you start to build a relationship with a breeder.
Reptile expos and trade shows are the opposite of searching online!
It is difficult to find a good bearded dragon breeder at reptile expos. These places are often crowded, busy, do not give you an idea of their setup and make building a relationship hard.
It is best to first find and research a breeder online before buying from an expo.
Some of the best breeders can be found in the list below.
Best Bearded Dragon Breeders: A-Z List
|Carolina Classic Dragons||Live Shipping Guarantee||North Carolina||14 Years||$500+||Carolina Classic Dragons is a specialty breeder of Dunner, rainbow, and leatherback morphs. To ensure tame babies, they handle their dragons regularly.|
|CB Reptile||7-day Guarantee||New Jersey||23 Years||$100 to $800||CB Reptile is a family-owned breeding facility. They only sell captive bred species that are shipped overnight with a heating or cooling packs. They also handle each dragon regularly to ensure tameness.|
|Dachiu Bearded Dragons||6-week Guarantee||Pennsylvania||20 Years||$75 to $200||Dachiu Dragons is another family run business. They are very transparent about their breeding and hatching operations and also provide a money-back guarantee if you are unhappy.|
|Fire and Ice Dragons||14-day guarantee||Pennsylvania||18 Years||$400 to $700||This breeder specializes in citrus morphs and was the first breeder to develop a 100% citrus bloodline.|
|LLL Reptiles||3-day guarantee||California and Nevada||25 Years||$100 to $150||LLL Reptiles has four retail stores and an online store. This breeder is one of the best for beginners as they also sell feeder insects and equipment.|
|Phantom Dragons||14-day Guarantee||California||20+ Years||$400||Phantom Dragons breed bearded dragons, crested geckos and chahoua geckos. They have been operating successfully for over 20 years.|
Questions To Ask
If you find a breeder, a phone call is the best way to get a first impression.
It is also much more personal and direct than an email. If the breeder is within driving distance, you can also arrange a time to meet with them and tour their breeding facility.
Once you have found a breeder there are a few questions that you should always ask.
Ask these seven questions to make sure you get a healthy bearded dragon:
- How Long Have You Been Breeding? Experience is key. Look for a breeder with at least 10 years of experience. Breeders who have raised multiple generations will know more about bloodlines and morphs. They are also more likely to produce higher-quality babies.
- Do You Offer A Live Arrival Guarantee? Choose an online breeder who guarantees live delivery. This may mean you need to pay more for faster shipping, but, it is the only way to ship a healthy reptile.
- Can I See The Parents? Most breeders keep their breeding stock. Healthy parents create healthy offspring. Also, the appearance of a bearded dragon’s parents can be an indicator of how its colors and patterns will turn out as it ages.
- Can I Contact You After Buying? A good breeder will be willing to answer more questions over their 12-year lifespan. Most breeders care for their dragons beyond the breeding. If they say ‘no’ it is more than likely they are not a good breeder.
- What Diet Do You Feed? This question lets you make sure the breeder is feeding a nutritious diet. It will also help you when feeding your bearded dragon. To reduce stress, start feeding the same diet and schedule as the breeder.
- How Well Do They Eat? Not eating can be an indicator of a serious health problem. A healthy young beardie will have a voracious appetite. Ask to see them eat so you can judge its feeding response.
- What Is Your Current Setup? Expect a temperature gradient between 75 and 100°F and tank sizes of at least 48”x24”x24”. This question should give you a better idea of how the breeder cares for their Beardies.
Visiting The Breeder
You can visit a breeder in person either at a reptile expo or at their breeding facility.
This is by far the best way to get a good feel for their experience and professionalism.
Many breeders allow customers to schedule a visit at their breeding facility during certain times or days of the week. If you are serious about buying a bearded dragon, this is an important step.
Unfortunately, buying online does not give you the opportunity to look at the exact dragon. That is why it is important to pick a good, trustworthy breeder and visit them beforehand!
Alternatively, you can visit a breeder at a reptile show.
They give you the chance to see the bearded dragon you are going to buy. But, we would recommend against reptile show or expo visits. These places are often busy and do not give you the opportunity to see their breeding setup. It is also difficult to speak with the breeders beyond a few short questions as they are busy.
When visiting a breeder’s facility there are four key things to look for:
- Enclosure Size. Each enclosure should have enough room for a bearded dragon to fully stretch out and move around for exercise and enrichment. A tank with a single dragon should be no smaller than 48”x24”x24”.
- Cleanliness. The tanks should be clean, neat, and without strong odors.
- Temperature. Each enclosure should be well heated, ventilated and lit. The dragon should have access to a basking spot and a shaded area.
- Tank Setup. Most breeders go for minimal tank décor for ease of cleaning, their bearded dragons should have a constant source of water, a place to hide, and ideally something to climb on.
A good breeder will usually include a health guarantee or contract for each reptile they sell.
This guarantee will state a few important things.
The first is that the bearded dragon for sale is in excellent health at the time of shipping. Some breeders provide a health guarantee for several weeks after delivery. If it becomes sick you can return it for a refund. The second is that the bearded dragon is captive bred and not wild caught.
Just as important as the breeder’s setup is the health of their reptiles for sale.
Picking A Bearded Dragon
When buying a bearded dragon inspect it carefully for any signs of illness or injury.
A healthy bearded dragon should be free from bites, nicks, or open wounds. They should have all their claws and be a healthy weight for their age. They should also have a bright and alert personality and have a strong feeding response.
If it is possible then visit the breeder during feeding. Ask to see them eat so you can judge the feeding response.
They should have clear eyes and no discharge around the mouth or nose. It is normal for healthy juveniles to be skittish. A sluggish or unresponsive juvenile, though easy to hold, is likely sick.
If you see tail spasms, a black beard or the dragon is refusing to eat, then do not buy it.
Choosing a good breeder is the first and most important step towards owning a healthy bearded dragon. This process can be time consuming, but the effort is worth it.
Good bearded dragon breeders take excellent care of their reptiles. They also document their breeding bloodlines and genetics and are up front about their husbandry. They will also only sell captive bred species with health guarantees.
Healthy bearded dragons should be active, alert, and uninjured.
Have you bought from one of the breeders on our list, or do you have another you recommend? Let us know in the comments.