Buying A Lizard: Pet Store Or Breeder?

Over the last few years, I have noticed the trend of purchasing pets from pet stores has gradually shifted to purchasing pets from breeders. More and more pet stores have moved away from selling larger pets, namely dogs and cats and have focused on small mammals, reptiles and fish.

I personally have always purchased small animals from pet stores. It never crossed my mind to look elsewhere for any small pet and I seemed inclined to suffer through the short life spans of several caged animals.

When my son asked for a bearded dragon, my first reaction was a trip to the local pet store to look at their bearded dragon stock. The happy little lizards, all about 2 inches in length, lined up at the front of the glass and appeared to be the epitome of a healthy pet. The newest creature that replaced the “puppy in the window” and I eagerly went up to the staff and asked how much.

The price was pretty steep but nothing that I wasn’t prepared for and I went home with a full price list of everything that I needed and a book on how to properly care for a Bearded Dragon. I had promised to be back soon to purchase a Bearded Dragon of my own the next time that I came into the store but that promise was quickly left to the wayside when I started researching the animal itself.

This research led me to realize that maybe purchasing a Bearded Dragon from a pet store wasn’t the best decision on my part and these are the reasons why.

Reasons to purchase from a breeder instead of a pet store:

· The Knowledge: This is by far the main reason why I would suggest purchasing from a breeder. They know what they are talking about and although they ultimately want to make the sale, they will share as much information with potential buyers as they can. My experience with the Pet Store differed between staff members and it was evident that they had no idea about the care of Bearded Dragons. The breeder on the other hand, offered me advice on building a vivarium, the best deals on equipment, ways to offset the costs of equipment, basic care and also what to look for in a healthy Bearded Dragon.

· The Stock: Although this isn’t a blanket that covers all breeders, most of them will only sell healthy stock and they will often give discounts if there are bits of tail or fingers missing, if they even sell them (something that is very common in Bearded Dragons). Breeders also have the more uncommon strains such as Orange Hypo Pastel or Snow (white) Bearded Dragons. Generally, you cannot find these in pet stores and when you do, they are higher priced.

· The Price: This is another big point that usually sways buyers. Sometimes, breeders will charge a bit more than a pet store but many times they don’t. My Bearded Dragon, Rayquaza is his name by the way, was $60 from a breeder. The pet store was selling Bearded Dragons for $119 and their stock was lacking compared to the breeders.

· The Service: You would actually think that you get better service from a pet store but in fact, many breeders offer more. For one thing, they understand the animal and its needs. Rayquaza’s breeder delivered him to us, carefully wrapped in towels and placed in a secure carrier. Young Bearded Dragons can quickly go into shock during transport and can die from that shock very easily. Having a knowledgeable breeder bring the Bearded Dragon to me helped alleviate some of the stress of transport, simply because he knew how to move them. Breeders who do not deliver will usually explain exactly how you should transport your new lizard to ensure his best health.

And those are the reasons why I feel that breeders are the way to go when you are purchasing a lizard. Sure pet stores do have some benefits such as available stock, sometimes you do have to wait until a breeder has stock, and many of the stores offer limited guarantees, where only a few breeders offer guarantees. Lastly, pet stores are your one stop shop and you can go in, purchase everything you need, along with the lizard and have your lizard happily basking under his own sun lamp within minutes.

In the end, however; the choice to purchase from a breeder or a pet store is up to the individual. I, personally, have never regretted purchasing Rayquaza from a breeder, even two years after purchasing him and if I ever add another lizard to my home, it will be with a breeder again.

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  1. Daniel
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    Very true, breeders and shows are the best way to get reptiles.

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