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BEARDED DRAGONS

FLmom

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TO ANYONE THAT MAY HAVE ONE PLEASE PLEASE GIVE ME THE REAL INFO ON THESE GUYS. MY SON HAS WANTED ONE SINCE HE WAS 7 AND HE IS NOW 11 AND IM CONSIDERING IT BUT I AM GETTING SO MUCH MIXED INFORMATION. SOME SAY GREAT PET DOG LIKE AND FAIRLY LOW MAINTENANCE. AND OTHERS SAY THEY ARE AS HIGH MAINTENANCE AS A PARROT. MY SIN CANT HANDLE THAT KIND OF DAILY INTENSE MAINTENANCE. SO I WAS THINKING OF GETTING HIM A LEOPARD GECKO INSTEAD. BUT THE PERSONALITY OF THE BEARDED DRAGON IS WHAT CAUGHT HIS EYE IN THE FIRST PLACE. HE REALLY WANTS A BUDDY ALL HIS OWN. BUT I DONT WANT TO TAKE ON ANOTHER INTENSE MAINTENANCE PET.
 

FLmom

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Sorry that was all caps I didn't realize till the end and didn't want to restype it
 

Sophia101

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When my cousin was 9 she got a pet bearded dragon and has been successfully taking care of him by herself for ... 4 years now. She went to a reptile expo, held a bunch and picked a friendly male. He loves everyone and was full grown when they got him. They are extremely sweet and enjoy being held. They need about the same care as a leopard gecko but are larger and need a bigger cage and more food. They are fed live insects so being squeamish is not an option. They also need a heat lamp and sometimes a heat pad. I cannot have reptiles because of the area we live in and we have lots of power problems and outages so I don't have first hand experience however I have helped many other people with theirs and they are very good pets. Especially for young reptile owners. If you have any other more specific questions I would love to help out.
 
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FLmom

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oh thanks so much. I have tons of questions. He has always wanted a bearded dragon but I wanted to wait till he was older. So now that he is 11 and has his own room and lots of space I was thinking its a good time. The crickets concern me a bit but that goes with either leopard or bearded so we have a garage and can just keep them in there I suppose? Are they expensive to feed? How often will I be taking trips to the store for crickets? Are they expensive? I have heard that bearded dragons smell. is that true? We are super sensitive to funky odors and my husband is a bit of a clean freak so thats already a challenge with a parrot. What about the special lights the beardeds need? Is that going to be expensive on the electric bill? I feel like the bearded will be more hands on fun for him but thinking the leopard gecko will also be pretty cool in that reguard. For x mas we got him a starter set up and we will take our time decided which reptile to get. So I am not in a hurry. I want to make the right choice.
 
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MandaExotics

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Bearded dragons can make great pets. If he is responsible I see no reason why a bearded dragon wouldn't make a good pet so long as there's still supervision from an adult.

Bearded dragons DO need a light unlike leopard geckos. You can keep leopard geckos in a smaller cage with an under tank heater. Beardies also cannot drop their tails, and should not be picked up by their tails (I'm sure you know this though).

Bearded dragons require a UV and basking light. The cage minimum for one is 40 gallons. I prefer keeping these guys by themselves. The electricity bill will be higher with a beardie, just FYI.

While a lot of beginners use sand I don't like how it increases their chances of impaction. This is true for Leopard geckos and beardies. Newspaper, butcher paper, or paper towels are what I prefer.

When they're small I feed daily and as adult I feed every other day. Wax worms, crickets, roaches, and other insects should be provided. You should be able to get away with going to the store once a week for insects, the same goes for leopard geckos. Simply have an insect container, put in some cardboard so they can hide and a piece of carrot or if you decide to gut load your choice of produce.

Beardies are omnivores. You will need to provide various veggies, and occasionally fruits.

The smell is not that bad if you clean the cage regularly like you're supposed to. They like to get in their water bowls usually so they do tend to require frequent water changes. Any animal needs their water changed daily anyway so this shouldn't be a big issue.

There are vitamins that should be sprinkled on their food appropriately. A calcium and a multivitamin supplement together should be used.

I think I covered most of it, but I can probably answer any more questions you have or if there's something I was unclear about. I'm not fond of most reptile starter kits, simply because they're usually overpriced for what they offer.

Edit: Keep in mind their lifespan though. The leopard gecko or bearded dragon might get willed to you if he moves away to a college/place that doesn't allow animals.
 
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FLmom

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I guess my biggest question is how much more daily care is involved with a bearded dragon compared to a leopard gecko. If they are basically the same besides lights and cage size? From what I'm hearing I can compare the bearded dragon care to a parrot and the leopard gecko to a cat. They each require care but the parrot as we all know requires much more daily hands on care where as the cat can be left alone for days with just food and water. Does that make sense? But I wonder if my son will be disappointed if the leopard gecko isn't fond of handling and lacks the personality of the bearded dragon. Some have told me their leopard geckos have great personalities and like to be held so I dunno.
 

MandaExotics

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Leopard geckos are easier to care for, and like beardies most have more docile personalities. Both are pretty good lizards. Don't get me wrong, I've been around a couple aggressive leopard geckos and beardies before. I wouldn't consider it the norm though usually.

Neither are rocket science difficult, but if you want a comparison I'll estimate a beardie takes an extra half hour to maybe an hr a wk to care for. The main difference is size, lighting, and adding/preparing veggies and fruit to the diet.

I wouldn't consider reptiles as the significant hands-on care required in cats or birds. They're fairly low maintenance but do require the daily care all animals need.
 

GCChris

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I had one for 10 years! He was adult when I got him. His name was Rexy, IMO they are the best pet lizards. Yes, they need the right lighting, diet and their feces do smell especially if they poop under the heat lamp and it "bakes" lol. In that way, they are a bit high maintenance, as if you don't get to the poo, they can walk through it and spread it all over the enclosure which makes a lot more clean up. They are also like parrots in that sometimes you spend a lot of time preparing fresh food for them, only to have them refuse it or just poop in it :\. I didn't attempt to pet/cuddle him because I don't like the claws. They may be docile to handle for the most part, but if you have sensitive skin the claws may bother you. But I did let him out to wander around the apartment for short periods. They need lots of exercise and are prone to obesity which unfortunately I believe is what claimed Rex he got pretty blobby in his later years :(
 

Kiwibird08

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I have had both. First let me begin by saying these reptiles live quite a long time- my beardie lived to about 14, my leopard gecko is pushing 20 and still alive:wideyed:. The pet stores LIE about life expectancies on reptiles (especially smaller ones like geckos) because most receive such horrendous care they can only cling to life so long. Bearded dragons have an actual lifespan of around 15 years. Leopard geckos can live upward to 25 years:eek:. I got my beardie when I was a teenager and she was already an adult, so I only had her a few years before she passed (after developing a tumor). Leo, the gecko, my parents let me get when I was 7 as my "first pet". If they had known I would be almost 27 and still have him, I'm not sure they would have necessarily let me take on that kind of long-term responsibility. I do *adore* my sweet little Leo, though he could pass any day now he's so old, decrepit and totally blind. For the past few years, I have even had to squish his insects for him and hold them right in front of his nose with the tongs because he can't see them nor move fast enough to catch one anymore. Poor old guy:(.

Care-wise, I wouldn't really say either is as 'difficult' as a parrot and both of mine had/have good temperaments (could be handled). Adult bearded dragons need a FAR bigger enclosure than adult leopard geckos, so a child may not have room in their room for a 50-100 gallon type aquarium for an adult setup. Adult leopard geckos can do just fine in a 20-30 gallon setup. Yes, you can cram either in smaller enclosures, but they won't have much room to move, can become obese or develop behavioral issues where they just circle their tiny enclosure. Ideally, they both need an adequate sized enclosure with varied surfaces (rocks, wood, faux plants), a water dish, a hideaway and for beardies, a food dish as well for fruit and veg (geckos do not need fruit/veg). Both need poop and old food removed from their enclosure and fresh water daily. Leopard geckos need their enclosure to be LIGHTLY spritzed daily, especially when molting, to boost the humidity.

Leopard geckos are insectivores, meaning their diet consists entirely of various forms of insects. They also should only be fed about twice a week and may eat less in the winter. It's a hard concept to adjust to when it would be cruel to not feed most pets daily, but these guys will get obese and not live as long. Bearded dragons are omnivores, and eat insects a few times a week, baby mice 1-2 times a month (essential to their diet) along with fresh fruit and veg chop sprinkled with calcium powder daily. Insects from the store/raised at home must be gut loaded and wild caught insects (which both mine got all summer long since they are very nutritious to insect eating reptiles) MUST be caught in areas where no pesticides are sprayed (some people adamantly oppose feeding wild insects). For a child, it may be difficult to have to feed a beardie a baby mouse once or twice a month, but they are very nutritious for them and a part of their diet you shouldn't skip.

Bearded dragons MUST have a UV bulb, and while many say leopard geckos don't need one, mine has always had one and in fact comes out during the day to bask sometimes. And despite the claims, leopard geckos are not sand dwellers and SHOULD NOT be put on sand (even the calcium based repti sand)! Leo almost died as a result of a sand impaction (every time he ate a bug, he got a mouthful of sand too, effectively cementing his insides together), and has been on reptile carpet since. It was a $400 vet bill (back in the 90's, so I'm certain it would be more costly today!) since my parents couldn't let my first pet die on me less than a year after I got him! It took 6 weeks of my dad having to give him nightly baths in warm water and syringe feeding him mineral oil and some kind of liquid nutrition to keep him alive and try to get the impaction out since I was too young and my mom was kind of scared to touch him. The exotics vet who treated him said it's not uncommon for leopard geckos to die of sand impactions. Beardies are sand dwellers though and are designed by nature to live on sand.

Other factors to consider: Leopard geckos are mostly nocturnal, meaning they are often sleeping when we are awake making for a slightly boring pet to a child, and no those little hideaways where you can see them through the glass aren't ok for the reptile just so a child can see them sleeping. Leopard geckos like a nice, safe, dark hideaway to sleep the day away in in their enclosure. Bearded dragons are definitely sun lovers and are active during the day. Both shed their ENTIRE skin regularly and cannot be bothered at all when shedding. It is always fascinating to watch them turn white then tear off and eat their old skin! Both are receptive to being hand tame if worked with properly, though both have teeth and can bite (though I doubt either could break skin). Leo likes being held because hands are warm, Tiffany's favorite place to be in the whole world was curled up around the back of my neck. As soon as I'd open her enclosure, she would bolt up my shirt and assume her rightful place! Both can also be 'trained' to tolerate a repti-harness so they can go outside:) A lot of people assume reptiles are 'boring', but they are absolutely fascinating IMO and can be quite friendly, learn to recognize their owner and enjoy mental stimulation. Let us know if you get your son one!
 
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FLmom

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I really appreciate the detailed input from everyone. Thanks so much! My son has decided to go with a leopard gecko and we will be going to several places the next few weeks to hold a few and see if he's better with a baby or an older one. Any suggestions on how to choose a nice calm gecko? Do their personalities show that way or do they developed over time? Are some larger than others or do they all get to be about the same size at maturity? Are males and females different or act pretty similar?
 

FLmom

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Checkout this gorgeous chameleon!

image.jpeg
 

martins99

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In addition to the information already shared. If you decide to buy or adopt one, You're looking for a nice size, lively slightly pushy guy with bright eyes and generally pleasing appearance. Have a look at the parents if you can and if possible see them feeding - the guy who's at the front of the feeding frenzy is the one you're after.
 

tka

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This thread is nearly five years old and many of the participants are no longer active. I think the original poster has decided one way or another.
 

CrzyCavLdy

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I had a beardy for 8 years and another 10 years before him. Please be aware they are not low maintenance, they need a specific diet, lighting, handling and the lot. They will get wild if you do not handle them! My boy wasn't handled for a time when I was in and out of the hospital and he took time to let me touch him again! I am looking at getting another but I would highly recomend this site Beautiful Dragons for feeding and health. My boy was sickly (I pulled himout of the trash bin at a large pet store) and he died at a young 8 Years Old! If your son may be the type to loose interest before he is 21 you may just want to wait... I am an avid reptilian and pet lover in general... I work in a pet store and I have a turtle, a ferret (once 2), hundreds of fish and now another beardy from children loosing interest... I am so glad you are taking this seriously, but please be aware that you will need an at least 55 gallon aquarium, be ready to special order thousands of crickets over the first year (You let them eat their fill every feeding! Do NOT -please- let the pet store tell you 20 crickets a week for a baby) and after 1 year their diet changes from 75% crickets and 25% veggies to 75% veggies and 25% crickets/insects...
 
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