A pet bearded dragon can be a long commitment, especially when properly cared for. This article will help you prepare to give your beardie a long and happy life.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What affects a bearded dragon’s lifespan?
- How can you prolong a bearded dragon’s lifespan?
What's In This Guide?
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live?
The average lifespan of a bearded dragon, in general, ranges from 5 to 15 years. In captivity, their average life expectancy is around 10 years, about 2 years longer than in the wild due to the absence of predators.
The life expectancy of your bearded dragon depends on many factors like genetics, living conditions, proper care, and diet.
How Long Do They Live In The Wild?
In the wild, the lifespan of a bearded dragon is between 5 and 8 years. In captivity, they are known to live up to 15 years, with some individuals even reaching up to 18 years!
The main reason for this difference is the presence of predators. In their natural habitat, bearded dragons are the perfect prey for bigger lizards such as goannas and other bigger animals such as birds, feral cats, foxes, and even dingos.
Besides the presence of predators, bearded dragons also face other problems in their natural habitat. Finding food, especially during periods of drought, can be a challenge in the arid areas of Australia where they are indigenous. The barrenness of the land and the presence of predators decreases the life expectancy of bearded dragons by 3 to 6 years in comparison to their lives in captivity.
In addition, habitat loss and degradation are also becoming major threats to the lives of bearded dragons in the wild.
What Factors Influence A Bearded Dragon’s Lifespan?
The lifespan of a bearded dragon in captivity depends on different factors. The environment, care, and health of your lizard, along with their genetic predisposition are the major influences on how long they’ll live.
Most of these factors, save for the genetic disposition of your pet, are actually within your control.
There are a lot of things you can do to ensure the long and healthy life of your pet. Here, we’ve divided them into three groups: habitat, diet, and disease prevention.
The vivarium of a bearded dragon should recreate its environmental conditions in the wild as much as possible. Bearded dragons originally come from semiarid areas of Central and West Australia.
In their natural habitat, these lizards are semi-arboreal and spend most of their time hunting and basking in the sun. The ideal tank for a bearded dragon must be at least 48″ x 24″ x 24″ in size, with a temperature between 70 and 85°F (24-29°C), and a humidity gradient between 20 and 40% RH. Basking temperatures should be about 90-110˚F. A UVB lamp should be provided to ensure that your reptile’s UV lighting needs are met.
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It is also crucial that your bearded dragon has an appropriate substrate in its tank. While there are differences in opinions regarding which substrate is best for your animal, it is agreed that sand should be avoided, as its small loose grains might lead to an impaction. Reptile carpets and shredded newspapers are safer options, as well as other alternatives such as ceramic tiles.
Bearded dragons spend most of their time on the ground, but they also like climbing low branches and rocks. The tank should also have hiding spaces for your beardie where it can feel safe and protected. A rock or branch placed under the heat lamp will also provide the perfect basking spot for your beardie. Make sure this basking spot is at the safe distance from the heat and UVB lamp according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
A key factor to your beardie’s health is also making sure that their enclosure is clean to prevent fungal or bacterial growth such as salmonella, which leads to a lot of infections. Spot clean and take out any feces or urates every day, wipe down surfaces once a week, and do a thorough cleaning about 1x a month. Pay closer attention to cleanliness when you have loose substrate as well since dirt can get buried and build up.
The diet and nutrition of your bearded dragon is a key factor to their wellbeing. Maintaining a varied and healthy diet for your beardie might seem challenging at first, but beardies are not always picky eaters so it won’t be difficult to find adequate food for them.
Bearded dragons have a diverse diet based on insects and small invertebrates, greens, and the occasional fruit and high-fat treat such as mealworms.
In the wild, bearded dragons are mainly hunters with 75% of their diet is composed of insects such as crickets, cockroaches, worms, and even small mammals like mice. Their diet in captivity should be similar to their eating habits in the wild, keeping in mind that as they grow older, you should gradually reduce their protein intake and replace it with vegetables to avoid obesity problems.
Bearded dragons can be fed insects such as cockroaches, crickets, and worms to meet their protein requirements especially during their growth phase. However, mealworms and superworms should only be fed occasionally as treats since they are high-fat and low protein. If it is your first time owning a bearded dragon, you should consider replacing mealworms with silkworms, which are a healthier alternative for your new pet.
Vegetables such as leafy greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, carrots, red bell pepper, peeled cucumbers, pumpkin, and zucchini can be part of your beardie’s diet. They love tomatoes as well, but as these have high acidity levels, they shouldn’t eat them too often.
Bearded dragons can also eat a variety of fruits such as apples, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe melon, and bananas. You should avoid feeding your beardie fruits with high acidity levels (lemon, orange, or pineapple) as well as fruits with a high-fat content like avocado or papaya. You can also give your beardie flowers such as dandelions to complete their diet.
Adult bearded dragons (older than 18 months) should be fed once a day, while younger beardies and pregnant females should eat multiple times a day. Baby and juvenile bearded dragons should have a diet composed mainly of protein for growth (70% protein, 30% vegetables). As they mature, their diet should have more vegetables and plant matter.
Your pet must have access to fresh water at all times. An occasional bath will also help keep your dragon hydrated.
Vitamins and supplements
Your beardie should also take vitamins and supplements such as calcium, multivitamins, and vitamin D3 to help strengthen its immune system and help ward off diseases such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
📚 Read More >> Calcium For Bearded Dragons
Monitoring the health of your lizard is key to disease prevention. Taking your beardie to the vet regularly will also help diagnose problems early, increasing the chances of a faster and easier recovery.
Signs of disease in bearded dragons can be specific to a certain disease, but warning signs usually include a lack of energy or appetite. At this point, your dragon should be assessed by a veterinarian.
Some of the most common diseases for bearded dragons are stomatitis, metabolic bone disease, respiratory tract infections, gut impactions, and obesity.
The best way to prevent diseases is to provide the proper care for your bearded dragon. This includes a good diet, the proper habitat setup (with UVB lighting, heat lamp, and the correct humidity levels), and vitamins.
How Can You Tell How Old A Bearded Dragon Is?
Although there is no exact method to determine a bearded dragons’ age, the most accepted way is to measure it!
When they hatch, bearded dragons measure around 4 inches from head to the tip of the tail. By the time they get to 6 weeks old, their body length is approximately 6 inches. From the 6th week on, bearded dragons grow almost an inch per week. A dragon measuring about 11-18 inches is probably around 6 months or older.
When beardies reach 6 months of age, the sexual differences between bearded dragons become obvious, as they reach sexual maturity. Males develop enlarged femoral pores, bigger heads, wider tails, and darker beard coloration. Females remain smaller with a single protuberance above the vent instead of two. They also have slender heads and narrower tails.
How To Increase Your Bearded Dragon’s Lifespan
1. Use safe products.
Protecting your bearded dragon against unwanted situations caused by unsafe products should be a priority. One of the most common mishaps is due to loose substrate such as sand and small gravel which often leads to impaction. Make sure that your thermometer and hygrometer are of good quality so that you can monitor the parameters of your tank accurately.
In terms of food, make sure you source your live feed (insects, crickets, etc.) from responsible breeders so you’re sure they do not have parasites or diseases. Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly to eliminate the risk of pesticides ingestion.
2. Give them supplements.
Bearded dragons in captivity need a little help to balance their diet and nutrition. Giving them multivitamins, along with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements will help them complete their nutritional needs.
These supplements can be gut-loaded or dusted onto your insect feeders. These are especially important for females during pregnancy, as they need a greater calcium intake than usual.
3. Clean their tank regularly.
Maintaining your beardies’ home clean will reduce the risk of infections, as well as provide a more comfortable living space for your animal. Make sure you remove uneaten food regularly, spot clean for droppings, and clean the entire tank at least once a month.
An often overlooked aspect of bearded dragon care is hydration. Aside from providing your beardie fresh, clean water at all times, a nice, warm bath for about 20 minutes can also keep them well hydrated. This also helps loosen their skin during shedding to minimize the risk of constriction that can lead to tail rot.
5. Keep your beardie stress free
One of the best ways to increase a bearded dragon’s lifespan is to keep it stress-free. Aside from giving it the proper care listed above, you should also make sure it does not have any stressors around it. Usually, other animals and excessive noise in the room can lead to chronic stress in bearded dragons. Glass terrariums can also cause a reflection that your dragon may mistake for another dragon causing them to become agitated. Prevent this by putting cloth or background on one side of your glass enclosure.
📚 Read More >> Bearded Dragon Stress Marks
Bearded dragons live longer in captivity due to unlimited food supply and the absence of predators. Many factors affect a bearded dragon’s life expectancy but proper care is usually the key to make sure they live a longer life.
Do bearded dragons get attached to their owners?
Yes. Although bearded dragons, like other reptiles, don’t have emotional responses as mammals, they do bond with their human companions because they are recognized as the source of food. If they are attached to you, bearded dragons will show calm and friendly behavior around you. In the wild, bearded dragons usually live solitary lives but in captivity, they have been shown to express attachment to their owners.
Recognizing you and keeping calm while being handled by you is their way of showing affection. Bearded dragons can also try to attract your attention when they want to spend time with you by scratching the tank, arm-waving, or following you around if they are spending time outside of their cage.
Do male or female bearded dragons live longer?
Bearded dragons normally live around 10 years. Males are thought to be more resilient than females and live longer, yet this fact is greatly explained by the physical effort that breeding conveys for a female.
Breeding implies the enlargement of the abdomen and a significant loss of muscular mass in the limbs and pelvis, damaging the physical condition of females.
Female bearded dragons can lay up to clutches of 15-25 eggs during their lifetime. Each pregnancy will lead to a deterioration of their health due to the stress reproduction does to their body.
Male bearded dragons are also bigger than females and their lives are around 2 years longer than their female counterparts.
Are bearded dragons happy in captivity?
If your bearded dragon is getting enough exercise with living conditions that provide him a safe and healthy space, then it is most likely “happy.” The best indicator of a happy beardie is a healthy beardie.
If you notice changes in the behavior of your bearded dragons, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or aggressive traits, your bearded dragon is probably stressed out or ill. You should visit a veterinarian to diagnose its illness.
What was the oldest bearded dragon?
According to the Guinness world record, the oldest bearded dragon was Sebastian, who lived 18 years and 237 days. Sebastian, owned by Lee-Anne Burgess lived in Middlesex UK, from January 1997 to June 2016.
What is the average lifespan of a bearded dragon?
Bearded dragons live around 10 years in captivity. In the wild, their lifespan is shorter due to the presence of predators and the scarcity of food and water during periods of drought.
Overview on Bearded Dragons:
A great, informative article that explains bearded dragon care
Myths and facts about bearded dragon care:
Threads on enclosure setups:
A list of common diseases affecting bearded dragons:
An article tackling some feeding myths found online: