Washington, District Of Columbia
Not resolved

I went in on Friday, July 23, 2010 and purchased a baby bearded dragon, which I named Zeus, for just over $60. I also bought additional pet supplies such as food (meal-worms), a special kind of sand filled which has vitamins mixed in so that if they eat some by accident it is actually good for them, a heat light, as well as temperature and humidity gauges. Every thing I bought was approved by the guy who was helping me and telling me the supplies I needed.

Four days and three hours later, Zeus died. I had no idea what happened since I kept his cage conditions to what I was told in terms of temperature and humidity. I kept putting fresh worms in his cage and had a water bowl in addition to spraying the rocks lightly to simulate dew, which is how desert lizards drink in nature.

I went into the store roughly an hour and a half ago after talking to the manager on the phone unsure of whether or not they would give me a refund so I could get a new bearded dragon. They had me bring in the Zeus's body and after checking him over the manager said Zeus most likely died by ingesting a large grain of sand, the same sand which was recommended to me by an employee.Still, they offered to give me store credit, which I accepted, and despite having lost a pet, I was hopeful that my new one would would be with me for a long time.

This is where my shopping experience at Petco went from indifferent to down right pissed off. I was willing to get over the fact that an employee had recommended sand as bedding even though what he didn't know was that the sand was meant for slightly older bearded dragons and could be harmful or deadly to babies, which it was for Zeus.

I decided to buy an additional light and replace the sand with a mat which would run me about $50, but I was fine to pay for it. I was presented with a gift card by the manager after he "made a call to someone," and when I informed him I wanted another bearded dragon with this gift card, he informed me that I needed to buy a new terrarium so that he would be more comfortable.

I was keeping Zeus in a 5 gallon, plenty big for his size, and the display they kept 4-5 baby bearded dragons in could not have been bigger than 6 or 7 gallons. When I said maybe I would buy another a different lizard, the manager insisted I would still need to buy at least a 10 gallon tank ($44 + tax) so they would be sure he would be in a safe and loving environment, using this clearly rehearsed speech to hide behind while simultaneously trying to hit me up for more cash. In addition to the new light and mat, my total for the visit was now well over $100.

When it had become clear that in order to spend this $40 gift card I would have to spend over $100 of my own money in addition to all the stuff I had bought before, and considering the whole reason my buddy Zeus died is due to terrible and down right wrong advice from one of their own employees, I just simply walked out. It made me furious that after Petco essentially killed my pet, they refused to replace him without me spending a lot of money.

I am not saying all Petco stores are like this, but the one located at 1929 Old Gallows Road Vienna, VA, 22182 (Tyson's Corner) is certainly like this, since that is where all this happened. This could be even worse if you get a pet from them for your kid, they get attached to it, and it dies, especially if it is out of your control.

Product or Service Mentioned: Petco Manager.

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If you purchase a live animal, it is your responsibility to do your own research. I purchased a bearded dragon from Petco as well.

Although they have them on calci-sand, if you research you’ll find that it is very risky. Some bearded dragons do fine on sand, while others become impacted.Also, it is their responsibility to ensure that whenever a live animal is sold, the customer also purchased the right materials.

They have the right to refuse a sale if the health of the animal is of concern. As for them telling you it’s okay to put a baby bearded dragon in a 5 gallon tank, that is completely wrong of them and they should know better.I’m sorry for your loss, but once again, if you are purchasing a live animal it’s your responsibility to research and not rely on the information of a sales clerk.


I realize how old this article is, but I still think that the information is pertinent regardless. First of all, I'm sorry you lost your beardie.

It's tough losing a pet. That being said, you are putting entirely too much responsibility on the people at Petco. It has been a learning curve going from mammals to reptiles, but i went online and talked to people who owned reptiles and I have gotten a lot of really good advice. Attend a reptile show.

Consult the internet. Ask an exotic specialist vet. There are lots of people that are dying to give you good, sound advice about the care of your pets if you are willing to seek them out.As someone that has worked in retail for over a decade, there are pretty much no requirements when applying for an entry-level job at a chain store, and you can't expect the minimum wage employees to have expert advice. I don't agree with a lot of their business practices and I don't feel like employees should be forced to act like they know what they are talking about, but they will literally lose their job otherwise.

Now, I do agree that Petco needs to educate their employees. You can't expect to give informed advice when you're not informed. The managers are in the same boat: they are appointed for their managerial abilities, not their extensive knowledge of their merchandise. Both chain art and hobby stores where I have worked had managers that freely admitted they didn't know the first thing about any of their products and eventually referred about 80% of the customers to me if I happened to be working that day.Never buy sand substrate, even the "healthy" kind, for baby or juvenile beardies.

There is too high a risk they will eat it and become impacted, as mentioned above, and it will kill them. By the way, they usually show pretty obvious signs before they pass away and i have a hard time believing that you simply missed them. Your dragon would have been lethargic, refuse to eat, have a dark belly to show distress, and have a distended abdomen. I would never dream of putting Norbert in anything smaller than a 20 gallon, though he has a 50 all to himself even as a juvenile.

It costs you more in the long run as you have to size up your tank with your dragon as they grow (and they grow quickly) and honestly when they are smaller they are more active so I think having that extra room to run and climb and just generally be a silly baby is good for them. They keep their babies in smaller tanks because they are temporary. Beardies sell pretty quickly as they are a popular pet, but as they get bigger, responsible pet stores move them to larger enclosures.TL;DR: Do your research before accepting the responsibility of a pet. You are caring for a life and you have an obligation to that animal to know at least a little bit about what you are doing.

Please don't take pet ownership lightly. It is rewarding and wonderful, but you need to make an adult decision about whether or not you are capable of handling the responsibility.


I have a bearded dragon and he is in a 50 gallon tank. I can't imagine putting him in anything smaller.


Well, bearded dragons need a tank that is at least 40 gallons so yeah a 5 gallon would've been a horrible idea...


I used to be the GM of that store, I helped build and open it. I've seen reviewed for from unanimous 5 stars calling our names of employees to commend them, to 1 star calling out names of employees to condem them.

It's very sad to see all the hard work I did to make it to GM and open that store, all go down the toilet because I developed MS and became a full blown paraplegic from all the damage from my initial flare. I know it's not the people I hired and put int management positions doing this, it's the DM for San Diego that absolutely hates disabled people and forced me out and terminated me. Fortunately he has since quit the company, so I have faith that the managers I left in power William Riley Wood, Francesca Palmer, Amy Johovich...there were a few others, but my brain has severely shrank and atrophied from my MS. I really miss the pet trade.

I've done it since I was 18, and had to essentially retire at 32 from becoming a blind paraplegic from my MS. It's sad to see all these loyal customers being offended and taken advantage of. That's not what Petco os about, not was I or my staff. It was the, now former, DM for San Diego that thought witht his brain below his belt, not in his head.

The original managers I put in place are the ones you want to help you, because they will bend vet backwards and turn them selves into a pretzel to help customers. I was from the original mentality of "the customer is always right!" If another company had the product, and we didn't carry it, I'd do a paid out and go buy it just so the customer could get it from us. It's sad to see what the DM for the San Diego market did to my store, just because he doesn't like disabled people. I'm truly sorry that loyal customers are having to deal with this complete 180 the store has gone through.

I wish I was still able to work, a store isn't a store without customers.

And my store has been in a downward spiral since my MS forced me out. Hopefully with the DM that was in charge at that time, bent gone now, things should turn around posthaste.


I also used to be an RVT that exclusively worked with exotics prior to being promoted to GM. A lot of the policies fr the animal care, I was partially responsible for writing.

My stor was used as the example for the entire company to follow. Just really wish I could still be there to ensure all the customers and pets are well taken care of.


Anyone looking to get any pet should do research. Don't ever expect the store to give you proper instructions on how to care for any pet.

If you don't know how to care for it, don't get it until you do.




I was told the same thing when I purchased a bearded dragon baby from Petco. They told me to get the sand and to feed it spring mix, which is lettuce.

Thank goodness I did some research quick enough to save my bearded dragon. The employees should become educated about what they sell.


Wow.. I started out my baby beardie at a 40g tank, My other full grown also has a 40g tank.

NEVER put sand in a babies tank, it can cause impaction, causing them to die. Even if it's calci-sand. Also, 5g is way too small for any type of light source you My juvenile has sand in her tank now, but not once have I ever seen her even test it out. She ignores it completely.

have had on it. It will heat the whole enclosure and they need a side to cool off on (Which is where I keep mine's food and water basking/bowl area). You should do a lot of research before getting one. Like everyone is saying here, babies need at least a 20g tank, you can buy the whole starter kit for like $100.

Don't blame the people at petco, they can give you recommendations, but despite the fact that they work there, they don't have to be knowledgeable. That is 110% your responsibility if you're going to own a pet.


trueee asf! i bought one from petco died after 1 month! AND PERFECT 100% CARE!


5 gallons? Seriously?

No. I bought my baby Gary a 20 gallon to start. He's going to grow out of the 20 gallon one probably in 6 months, and then I'll have to get a 40. Don't waste your money buying 5 different sizes of tanks, just get a couple as they get older.

Bigger is always better because he or she will feel more comfortable and not so trapped. Also, 5 gallons isn't long enough to create a temperature difference on each side of the terrarium. Sounds like petco doesn't know what it's talking about, and neither do you.

Do some research before you invest in a poor little beardie.


This is why you do your own research before you buy an animal. It's not petco's fault you don't know how to take care of a bearded dragon. They need a much bigger tank than 5g and it's common sense that they could choke and die on sand when they are babies.


Man, the people at petco are so incompetent! Why cant petco find minimum wage employees that are cat, dog, reptile, fish, coral, bird, rat, chinchilla, gerbil, hamster, and guinea pig experts?!

I mean, it's just outrageous!

I, as a consumer cant google "bearded dragon care" and look for five seconds on how to take care of an animal, I just want to walk into a store and impulsively buy one that an 18 expert tells me how to take care of for life in 5 minutes. Seriously Petco, that's all i want?


Man everyone here is a lizard expert! Here's the thing op, 5g is too small long term like these ppl say HOWEVER after reading the WHOLE post I understand.

First thing I'll say is sand is bad, and your buddy Zues died because of improper care instructions. I get why you followed their advice because they are "experts." So all these ppl bemoaning the as mall tank fail to see the ultimate problem which is the inadequate training of the people who give advice. Seriously guys/gals how does this go over your heads?

So yes 5g is too small long term, however so is 10g eventually. My wife and I have raised over a dozen beardies (plus other lizards) and we actually will start for the first 7-10 days in a 5g tank.

We quickly move into a 10g so yes you'd have needed one but 5g was not what killed your buddy. Assuming you were planning on upping the size to 10g (and eventually more) you did fine!

Everyone on the Internet has a PhD in everything. Don't let them berate you into thinking what you did directly resulted in his death.

Just do a bit more research and above all don't assume pet store employees know enough. They get paid just enough to show up im guessing.


Why do u jews need a 5 gallon. Like 10 isn't small enough. I have just got a baby beard and is in a breeder tank like 60g


The same thing happened with my fish


man, i cant imagine your frustration there! When i went to my local petco, i was specifically told to not buy sand as bedding for a baby OR an Adult, and was thus recommended a type of green carpet.

Sometimes they have people who are actually competent about reptiles, and sometimes not. I hope you have better experiences in the future.


I'm glad that guy wouldn't sell you a baby without knowing your had at least 10 gallons . And they outgrow that in a month.

No less than 20 gal for a baby IMHO.

Thank goodness petco is not going to sell reptiles anymore!!! Dumb customers and dumber kid employees.


To be honest you are just plain out disgraceful towards him. You have absolutely no respect for him just because petco gave him bad advice for taking care of his lizard.

At least some people in this chat know it isn't his fault and that it is pets marts fault.

I've had a similar experience with this by how they told me to keep my redfoot tortoise in a 60% to 80%. I did research and it was different.

It was my mistake for listening to petco about how to take care of my tortoise when I researched the tortoise's care. In my opinion petco just isn't a very trustworthy pet store.