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Bearded dragons have become popular pets because of their willingness to breed while captive, making it easy for bearded dragon breeders to maintain inventory. Because of the many bearded dragons available through breeders, it may be tempting to purchase from the first one you find. All bearded dragon breeders are not created equal. It is important to use due diligence when searching for a breeder from which to get your next pet.
Choices of breeder types include locally operated breeders, online breeders, and mail order breeders. Using a local bearded dragon breeder allows you to visit the breeder's home and determine what type of care is taken of the animals. Barring accessibility or desirability of a local breeder, online bearded dragon breeders are the next best choice. They can provide photographs, typically have a Web site you can study, and usually include an e-mail address and phone number for further communication. Mail order bearded dragon breeders communicate by phone and postal mail.
Online and mail order breeders typically charge more than local breeders because the animal must be shipped to the customer. If you cannot find the color, gender, and size of dragon you desire at local bearded dragon breeders, checking with an online breeder is the next step. Only consider breeders who have Web sites, as there will be more information about their inventory. In addition, taking time to maintain a Web site typically indicates a more serious breeder. Contact the breeder by phone or e-mail to ask if the type of bearded dragon you desire is available.
Make a list of questions before contacting any breeders. Ask the same questions of each breeder to get a feel of how knowledgeable he or she is about specific topics. Inquire about the breeding facility, feeding practices, and whether a health or other type of guarantee is available. Test each breeder's knowledge on health issues common to bearded dragons, such as periodontal disease, mites, and respiratory illnesses. A qualified breeder will know about such diseases and how to treat them.
Ask the breeder to send you current photos of the bearded dragons he or she has for sale. If possible, request a video as well to indicate the reptile you buy can lift its head and is not lethargic or sickly. Close-up photographs of your intended pet should show clear eyes, no pus, and a healthy, solid mouth. A separated mouth may indicate possible issues with bone structure.
Request photos of the potential new pet in the breeder's habitats. Check the photos for proper fluorescent lighting fixtures and environments. Avoid bearded dragon breeders who admit to feeding lettuce to their for-sale inventory. Lettuce has very little nutritional value to a bearded dragon, and a quality breeder should know that and avoid lettuce as a food. Breeders who claim they feed spinach to the dragons should be avoided as well, because calcium cannot be digested by the reptiles.
Write down the answers to your questions from each breeder. Once all potential breeders have been interviewed, compare answers. Choose the breeder who is most knowledgeable about care and breeding of bearded dragons. If the dragon must be shipped to you, ask about health and injury guarantees. Once you choose the breeder, pick a good-looking bearded dragon and welcome it to your home.