This article from PETA, “Bearded Dragons for Sale? They—Like All Other Reptiles—Are Not ‘Pets.’” Is missing so much valuable information.
I do agree that bearded dragons are not starter pets, and they require a lot of research before committing. That is where my agreement ends, however. The tone of this article is incredibly negative and only offers you two choices. Either you don’t own a bearded dragon and you’re responsible or you do and you’re a cruel person.
They include a list of 6 bearded dragon facts. The very first one is, “Bearded dragons eat crickets. As the guardian of a bearded dragon, your life will include many trips to the pet store to buy these crickets, who will often escape into your home and chirp all night.”
For starters, obviously, if you don’t want to deal with bugs don’t get a bearded dragon. If your only issue is crickets, don’t worry. They aren’t your only option. Bearded dragons love Dubai roaches, which are higher in protein and live a lot longer than crickets. Horned worms are an excellent source of hydration and super worms are a great source of protein. Super worms can be bought in larger quantities and they’re easier to keep alive. However, if you have super worms in your bearded dragon’s diet be sure you’re keeping them hydrated because their skin can be difficult to digest.
The next bullet point on the list says that they’re illegal to own in Hawaii. That only applies to people in Hawaii and doesn’t add to the argument on either side. The next point is that bearded dragons can lay eggs. There are ways that you can deal with this and make your bearded dragon comfortable. Typically, you’ll want to provide your female with a dig box. After she lays her eggs make sure you have some yummy bugs for her and give her some space. Some females enjoy taking a warm bath after they lay their eggs.
Next, they bring up that there are foods that are toxic to bearded dragons. There are also foods that are toxic to dogs and cats. You need to do your research. There are plenty of foods that aren’t toxic. PETA mentions not feeding them avocado. That’s fine, you can feed them squash, zucchini, bell peppers, arugula, collard greens, swiss chard, radicchio, mustard greens, dandelion greens, wild dandelions, endives, romaine lettuce, and many other leafy greens and vegetables. There are even some fruits that bearded dragons enjoy, but fruit should be a treat for special occasions. Mine loves bananas and would probably eat them every day if I let him.
The rest of the list and the article discusses issues that you could easily fix by doing your research before buying a bearded dragon. That’s really what being a responsible owner comes down to, research. Not just research into bearded dragon care but also of the place you’re going to purchase them from. Places like PetSmart and Petco don’t have a great reputation when it comes to caring for bearded dragons, but they aren’t your only option. If you live in or around the Twin Cities, Twin Cities Reptiles in Saint Paul is amazing. They treat their animals with respect, and the employees are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.
My last warning is that owning a bearded dragon can be expensive so consider whether you can take on the financial responsibility. Bearded dragons themselves aren’t expensive, but you have to factor in the cost of the enclosure, proper lighting, food, and veterinary bills. There’s a lot to know and that may feel overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for bearded dragons to live good lives as pets.