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How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live? (Life Expectancy Facts)

Last week, I thought about Bobby and wondered, “how long do bearded dragons live?”

Recently we have developed a special bond, and my bearded dragon has become fond of the human touch.

I know I may not be the only bearded dragon owner thinking about bearded dragon growth stages, so I sought a reptile vet.

Here are my findings, and I hope you find this blog post helpful.

What is the Average Lifespan of Bearded Dragons?

James Walker Bearded Dragon
Credit: James Walker

Your BEARDED DRAGON’S average lifespan depends on various factors, including age, health, and lifestyle.

Also, note that different kinds of bearded dragons have unique lifespans. In correlation to habitat, here is a comparison between the wild and captivity.

How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live in the Wild?

Wild beardies typically have a shorter life expectancy because of natural predators and food scarcity. The average lifespan a wild dragon lives in this habitat is 3-8 years. 

Moreover, beardies spend most of their time hunting and avoiding becoming prey, so they have less time basking. And if wondering, “how long can bearded dragons go without heat?” 

Well, an excess of 24 hours without heat creates health issues. So if the wild beardies sense danger and remain hidden for long, they are likely to lack heat and, worse, die.

How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live as Pets?

Bearded dragons in captivity have a much better lifestyle than their wild counterparts. On average, these pet lizards can live a maximum lifespan of 15 years.

carrying a bearded dragon

The typical known lifespan is 8-15 years. However, for the reptile to have a long and happy life, you must strive to take good care of it.

For instance, have the proper UVB lighting, external heat sources, and a balanced diet as recommended by reptile veterinarians.

Regular visits to the vet are also crucial to detect any parasitic infections or diseases before they wreak havoc on your adult or baby bearded dragon.

6 Things That Influence Bearded Dragon Lifespan

While you want to live with your dragon for longer, the truth is that key factors influence its lifespan. Also, note that some are controllable and others are not, so which factors influence beardie lives?

1- Stress Levels

In humans, increased levels of stress can negatively affect one’s health. And it’s no shock to hear of someone succumbing or getting hospitalized.

Likewise, pet reptiles are prone to chronic stress and cannot talk about it. As the beardie owner, it is up to you to read the cues and observe the animal.

Here are some of the signs that show an anxious dragon:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Glass surfing
  • lethargy/sluggishness
  • Panting
  • Abnormal behaviors
  • Loss of appetite

2- Bearded Dragon’s Diet

A pet cannot survive without food, and in the case of bearded dragons, they are not picky eaters. You have an array of food items you can feed your pet without worry.

However, note that there are vegetables and insects you should never feed your scaly friend. A baby beardies’ balanced diet includes 80% insects and 20% greens. 

On the other hand, an adult dragon’s diet must have 80% leafy greens and 20% insects. This diet difference and change is because baby dragons need more protein to enhance their bone health and development.

Check out this video to learn more!

3- General Health Of The Beardie

As a beardie owner, it is up to you to give your pet a quality life and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Regarding your pet’s health, it is always better to act fast.

You should know the various illnesses your beardie is prone to and avoid the preventable ones through proper care. Some health issues your human companion can suffer include:

  • Infectious stomatitis.
  • Metabolic bone disease.
  • Respiratory infections.
  • Bacterial infections.
  • Internal parasites.
  • External parasites.
  • Lack of appetite.

Moreover, these illnesses need proper veterinary care. So ideally, schedule a monthly or annual vet check-up for your scaly pet. (1) (2)

4- Habitat

The Pogona Vitticeps subspecies are exotic creatures dominant in the arid regions, and you need to recreate these environmental conditions.

Jaimi Maureen Bowles Bearded Dragon
Credit: Jaimi Maureen Bowles

That said, the ideal setup must include a 40-gallon tank or, better yet, a bigger one for larger lizards.

You also want to avoid harmful elements such as loose substrate the beardie can ingest accidentally. So get a solid substrate like a reptile carpet or ceramic tiles to avoid such an occurrence.

Another factor affecting your adult beardies’ life is choosing to house two or more pets in one enclosure.

While you may see them living together well, note they will fight for resources and food, and one will be affected, leading to a shorter lifespan.

Here are some common mistakes that you should avoid.

5- The Lizard’s Genetics

There are over 20 Pogona Vitticeps morphs available at pet trades and reputable breeders. While the breeding phase for many animals is inevitable, breeding bearded dragons is somewhat complicated.

To produce a viable offspring, the parents must have the necessary genes to allow the baby beardie a survival chance.

At most, if you want a special morph, you will have to get it from the breeders since they have the proper breeding knowledge.

With such information, it will be easier to predict your new pet lizard’s average lifespan. You will also have an idea of whether the animal is susceptible to diseases or not.

6- The Pet’s Gender

Typically, male bearded dragons have a longer lifespan than their female counterparts. While the main reason for this is breeding and bringing forth the next lizard generation, females have more health issues.

Also, note that a female bearded dragon still lays eggs without mating, as Dr. Jess explains. However, do not get excited yet since the eggs are infertile: I admit I had thought there was no need for a male. (3)

All these egg-laying and breeding activities wear down your female adult dragon healthwise and physically, shortening her lifespan. A common illness with female beardies is the egg binding disease/Dystocia. (4)

Here is a YouTube video from Cold Blood Creations explaining Dystocia.

How to Maximize the Lifespan of a Bearded Dragon?

With the above factors influencing a beardie’s lifespan, knowing what to do to extend its life is crucial. This knowledge can help you spend quality time and bond for longer.

And with that, here are some tips to help extend your pet’s life expectancy.

Provide the Proper Heating

Heat is crucial in a beardie’s survival since, without heat, the animal can have potential health issues like digestion problems. Moreover, they will not have the right conditions to absorb nutrients leading to calcium deficiency.

Here is a table showing the ideal temperature to rear your pet lizard.

Dedicated Area/TimeTemperature (° F)
Enclosure 90-95
Relaxation spot80-85
Basking spot100-105
During the night65-70

As always, buy a digital thermometer to measure these temperatures accurately. Moreover, you can pick a dedicated reptile thermometer in a pet shop near you.

Check out this video for more beardie heating tips.

1- Watch the Pet’s Diet

While there is a vast list of foods you can feed your bearded dragon, it does not mean everything goes well with the animal. For instance, it is easy to keep your dragon on an improper diet of home-caught insects if not mindful. 

However, it is recommendable to go for foods your dragon can eat without worries. Also, remember to follow the 80-20 rule when feeding the lizard, depending on its age.

That said, here is a table showing the vegetables and insects to feed your scaly friend.

Vegetable Insect 
Bell peppers (red, yellow, or green)Dubia Roaches
Collard greensCrickets 
Okra Hornworms 
Dandelion greens Waxworms 
Carrots Butterworms 
Blueberries and strawberries  
Kiwi  

In contrast, never feed your bearded dragon these foods.

  • Glowing insects, for instance, fireflies.
  • Home-caught insects, for instance, kitchen roaches.
  • Rhubarb
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Lettuce
  • Stinging insects, for instance, wasps or bees.

2- Keep a Close Eye on the Dragon

As you look forward or carry on with your pet ownership journey, know that the bearded dragon depends on you. Therefore, you must always keep an eye on the animal to ensure it gets all the necessities for its survival and longer lifespan.

Always check for any physical and health issues. Ideally, checking for bone formation is crucial, and one part you are sure to see is the jaw bone.

Other areas to observe include:

  • Signs of metabolic bone disease (MBD), whereby the pet might have deformed and broken bones.
  • Constant scratches can indicate the presence of parasites.
  • Food regurgitation can show digestive problems.
  • Forced breathing can be a sign of respiratory tract diseases.
  • Abnormal bearded dragon poop can show signs of impaction.  

While some of these bearded dragon diseases are unforeseen and unavoidable, you can prevent others. For instance, feed the pet foods sprinkled with calcium supplements containing Vitamin D3  to prevent MBD. (5)

Moreover, with frequent trips to the local herp for medical care checkups, you can be sure to prolong your dragon’s lifespan. This is since any underlying problems will be detected and treated early.

3- Get a Suitable Terrarium Setup

Since a bearded dragon’s wild habitat is open and free to roam around, imitate this environment as closely as possible. Also, note that beardies can grow up to 45 cm in size, so a terrarium offering plenty of space is essential.

Moreover, a small enclosure will only stress your bearded dragon since it will be cramped. This can happen if you start with baby beardies since a smaller tank can seem ideal.

But, keep in mind the pet is growing, and it will outgrow the tank. Instead of changing the environment, which can also cause stress, start with the proper tank size. Ideally, get a tank measuring 47” ✕ 24” ✕ 24”. 

You must also not forget to invest in the proper tank accessories like non-particle substrates to keep your beardie healthy. Also, invest in the best heat lamp available.

Here is a list of the best tank for bearded dragons.

4- Get the Terrarium Humidity Right

While the Pogona Vitticeps is native to the Australian arid regions, ensuring the enclosure has the proper humidity levels is essential. This action will ensure the reptile is not susceptible to respiratory tract infections that warrant sudden vet visits.

It should be a necessity to get a hygrometer if you live in a humid area. The ideal relative humidity you want your bearded dragon to live in should average 35% to 40%.

Moreover, you can get a dehumidifier. And also, note digital thermometers allow you to measure humidity levels too and can be an excellent investment. (TO NOEMY, LINK TO THE THERMOMETER POST)

How to Know a Bearded Dragon’s Age?

The ideal way to know your beardie’s age is to measure its size. Here is a table showing the average length a beardie can measure against age.

Average Size (Inches)Age (Months) 
3-4
5-9 2
8-113
9-124
11-165
11-186
13-208
16-2212
18-2424

Note that 1-5 months indicate a baby beardie, 6-8 months indicate a juvenile dragon, and 12-24 months of age indicate a mature bearded dragon.

Apart from length measurement, you can try to identify the sex of your dragon. If you can sex your dragon without straining, the dragon is either at its juvenile stage or mature.

However, this method is not accurate in the precise age question. And if possible, ask the breeder before bringing the pet home.

FAQs

Do Bearded Dragons Get Attached to Their Owners?

bearded dragon on lady's lap

Yes, bearded dragons are social and intelligent creatures. Not only will they get attached to their owners, but they can also recognize the owner’s voice and scent.

Are Bearded Dragons Happy in Captivity?

It depends on how well the bearded dragon is taken care of. While some bearded owners invest in the proper equipment and time, others do not, resulting in a negative quality of life.

Are 11 Months too Old for a Bearded Dragon? 

No, at 11 months old, the reptile is at its juvenile stage and yet to reach adulthood. For an accurate age estimate, measure the beardie’s length.

Conclusion

There you have it, fellow beardie parents: a comprehensive guide on the question – how long do bearded dragons live. You can now rest assured dragons in captivity have a longer lifespan than their wild peers.

However, to ensure your beardie has a maximum lifespan, keep the above guidance in mind and promote healthy dragon practices. It is now up to you to spread the word to fellow bearded dragon owners.

hand holding a baby beardie

References:

  • 1. Mouth Rot in Reptiles [Internet]. www.dakotahillsveterinary.com. 2013. Available from: https://www.dakotahillsveterinary.com/mouth-rot-in-reptiles
  • 2. Understanding metabolic bone disease in reptiles – WCVM Today – Western College of Veterinary Medicine [Internet]. WCVM Today. Available from: https://wcvmtoday.usask.ca/articles/2019/09/Understanding-metabolic-bone-disease-in-reptiles.php
  • 3. Jess AD. Bearded Dragons Eggs: What Do You Need To Know? [Internet]. Vet Explains Pets. 2020. Available from: https://vetexplainspets.com/bearded-dragons-eggs/
  • 4. Egg Binding in Reptiles [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/reptile/conditions/reproductive/c_rp_dystocia
  • 5. Bearded Dragons – Diseases [Internet]. vca_corporate. Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/bearded-dragons-diseases#:~:text=Common%20health%20conditions%20of%20pet
Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
Follow her on:
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Read her latest articles HERE
Learn more about her HERE.

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