Having raised, bred, and supplied zoos with bearded dragons for over ten years, I’ve learned a thing or two about responsible reptile husbandry. This week, I’m sharing my top tips for vetting a reputable reptile breeder and revealing three red flags to watch out for that should send you running the other way.

If you’re considering welcoming a new dragon, gecko, or snake into your home – or if you’re looking to get into reptile breeding – this blog is a can’t-miss! In it, I’ll reveal:

  • Why it’s essential to buy from a reputable reptile breeder
  • Red flags to watch out for when vetting a breeder
  • Three signs you’re dealing with a top-notch breeder
  • And more…

Let’s get started!

Why is Buying From a Reputable Breeder Vital?  

When you decide to welcome a new pet into your home – unless you’re getting a rescue – vetting the breeder is a crucial first step in the process. As with common household pets like cats, dogs, and rabbits – where your animal comes from matters.

Three reasons why working with a reptile breeder is essential:

  1. Good genetics. Responsible breeders ensure healthy bloodlines and track genetic lineage.
  2. Healthy animals. Careful reptile breeders provide the healthiest pets possible because they know exactly what the species needs to thrive.
  3. Social proof. Whether name recognition or glowing online reviews, reputable breeders will gladly share anecdotes and stories from satisfied customers.

Top 3 Reptile Breeder Red Flags

Are you wondering if you’re dealing with a breeder or a reptile flipper? Watch out for these top 3 warning signs:

  1. No positive reviews. If you can’t find an online presence or positive reviews of a particular breeder – it may be time to move on to another option. Yes, some old-timers prefer to avoid social media altogether, but any reptile breeder worth their weight in salt will be more than willing to provide you with references.
  2. No records. Careful breeders will keep lineage records for all their beardies, geckos, or snakes for your reference. Additionally, you have the right to ask for feeding schedule records and any veterinary records if they exist.
  3. Lack of knowledge about the species and evasive when asked questions. If a breeder seems uncertain when talking about the species you are considering, and especially if they don’t know the scientific name of the species they are selling, that is a major red flag that they may be in it for the money and not the love of reptiles.

AVOID these places when buying a reptile:

  • Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. These platforms are riddled with haphazard breeders who may not be properly caring for or breeding their pets.
  • Side of the road. If you ever find someone on the side of the road or in a parking lot selling reptiles, this is a warning sign. If you wouldn’t buy a dog or cat this way, don’t buy your reptile this way either. Frequently these roadside operations are not only illegal, but their reptiles are commonly malnourished and ill.
  • Chain pet stores. When you buy from nationwide retailers, you won’t know anything about the lineage of your reptile. They can say anything they want, and unexpected traits and defects can pop up that you don’t expect.

Good places to source healthy pets include reptile rescues, reptile shows, through established online breeders, and by asking an exotic veterinarian in your area.

Top 3 Breeder Green Flags

If you see any of these attributes in your breeder, it’s full steam ahead:

  1. Photos and videos. Thoughtful reptile breeders will often provide pictures (and videos) of their operation for potential clients to review when asked. Heck, some will do so without even being asked because they’re so proud of what they do. If a potential reptile breeder won’t give you a look behind the curtains – there could be something they are hiding.
  2. Friendly and approachable. A breeder should be supportive in helping you understand how to care for your pet from A to Z. If they are unfriendly, cold, or unhelpful – they most likely aren’t the right person to buy from.
  3. Referrals. If a trusted friend or relative recommends a particular breeder, that’s a great sign to move forward with the transaction.

Ultimately, you will need to trust your gut as there’s no sure-fire way to guarantee you are working with a responsible breeder. If something seems off – ask yourself why you feel this way and gently delve deeper with probing questions that will help you get to the bottom of the issue.


My wife and I started The Bug Shed to help support and lift up reputable reptile breeders all over the United States. We invite you to reach out if you breed geckos, bearded dragons, snakes, or any dubia loving critter! We’ll be teaming up with a hand-selected group of breeders to promote what they do in the new year, and we’d love to feature YOU!

REPTILE BREEDERS: Get Featured on The Bug Shed Blog!