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  • Writer's pictureIan Bromham

Knowledge is POWER.

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

One of the hatchling bearded dragons that we bred at Cookies Critters
Hatchling Bearded Dragon

Tips when buying a reptile.

Do your research.

There are endless resources when it comes to researching how to set up and care for your new reptile. Unfortunately, there is a lot of miss information online that can lead you in the wrong direction. The trick is to watch enough videos and read enough articles to get a general understanding, this will give you a good baseline to ask enough questions.

Be observant.

Take note of the cleanliness of the enclosures and the general health of the all their animals. Look for any obvious deformities in the parents, some animals have poor genetics, and this can be passed onto their offspring.

Things to look out for are jaw alignment or stunted skull structure, so check if their mouth closes properly. Pay attention to how the parents move around, while some conditions aren’t hereditary, they can lead to the way that the baby starts its life.

It is important to thoroughly inspect the animal that you intend on buying.

MBD Dragon vs Healthy Dragon, Metabolic Bone Disease is cause through a lack of calcium and the correct UVB lighting
MBD Dragon vs Healthy Dragon

Check that they have all their toes and is their tail intact. If the reptile is currently shedding or has recently shed its skin, check to ensure that there is no retained shed skin.

Skin that is left stuck on the toes and tips of the tails can dry and cause amputations if left untreated.

If your beardie for instance is missing a toe or the tip of the tail, ask the breeder how they are currently being treated for this injury and what you can do at home to keep them healthy. Often, the breeder will offer a discount due to a cosmetic imperfection.

A good tip will be to take a picture of your baby either while you’re with the breeder of just after you leave. This will give you a good visual comparison if anything goes wrong.

Choosing the right fit.

When it comes to picking the right animal, I always choose health and size over visual appearance.

Yeah but what does that mean?

If I am looking for a new animal, I ask them to seperate by the following criteria.

- Desired genetic trait, and

- Gender if this is a factor for breeding purposes?

Finally, I pick the largest animal and the most active animal. These two traits will ensure that your animal is a dominant feeder before they leave the breeder and have a better chance adapting to their new surroundings quicker.

Just remember that in the first few days the animal will potentially be stressed by its new surroundings and can have a reduced appetite.

Choosing the biggest animal gives you a bigger buffer in their weight.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Take the time and ask your breeder as many questions as you need to be confident to raise your new scale baby. A reputable breeder should be willing and able to answer all your questions.

Things to take home.

I have compiled a list of things that you should ask your breeder/pet store.

- Do they have care sheets to take home?

- Do they offer after sales care advice?

(we offer advice through our FB page and our YouTube channel

- What are they currently eating? (for baby bearded dragons it’s important to know if they are eating their salads and what type)

- What their policy is about returns or refunds due to health issues?

Real scenario.

I recently had someone reach out to me, as they were concerned about their baby beardies tail. When they bought him through the breeder, they didn’t realise that he had a white tip at the end of his tail. They even had taken a photo and didn’t pick up on it.

A week or so later, the bearded dragon started to develop tail rot and that tail started to die off.

They contacted the breeder and while he offered them the correct treatment advice, he was reluctant to have the animal returned and refunded.

In this situation there was no discussion about this scenario and the customer has been left worrying about the health of her son’s baby beardie.

Juvenile Bearded Dragon with Tail Injury and potential Tail Rot
Juvenile Bearded Dragon with Tail Injury

Image above not the real dragon to protect both parties identities.

Sometimes things get missed by both the breeder and the buyer, it is important to have trust with the person you are dealing with. This can be built by asking a thorough list of questions.

Here at Cookie’s Critters we would have handled that situation better with the right solution for the animal and the customer.

Final thoughts.

Buying a reptile shouldn’t be an impulse purchase. Not having the enclosure accurately set up and dietary requirements missed will lead to the deteriorating health of your animal.

Knowledge is power and will be your friend.

Leave us a comment of your experience with breeders or pet stores. (NO naming and shaming please).


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