Bearded Dragon Or Leopard Gecko

Is a Bearded Dragon or Leopard Gecko better? In this post we look at the differences and similarities between these two popular pets

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Should You Get a Bearded Dragon or Leopard Gecko?

About 9 min reading time

Some people ask which is better, a bearded dragon or leopard gecko as a pet. It’s not a question that’s easy to answer because each has their own advantages and disadvantages – so it depends on what it is you’re looking for with a lizard pet.

Which Is Better, Bearded Dragon Or Leopard Gecko

Lifespan

Both bearded dragons and leopard geckos have a similar lifespan. With proper care and husbandry Leopard Gecko’s can live slightly longer than Bearded Dragons on average, but it does depend on the individual lizard’s genetics as well as environmental and husbandry factors.

Who wins: Tie

Size

There are various sizes of bearded dragons, from German Giants, down to Rankins Dragon. A Rankins Dragon would be a similar (though slightly bigger) size to a Leopard Gecko, but Rankins are quite hard to get hold of and the more common Central Bearded Dragon is therefore quite a lot bigger than a Leopard Gecko.

This of course means that Bearded Dragons need a somewhat larger environment in which to live, although that is partly down to needing a cool end and a hot end in their tank.

Bearded dragons can be more substantial to hold, which can make them easier to handle and perhaps less fragile.

Who wins: Bearded dragons are bigger. If that’s what you want then they win 🙂

Looks

Bearded dragons look rather dragon like. Certainly they can look like small dinosaurs. They’re spiky and scaly and they come in a variety of colours depending on their morph. Their heads are large and so are their tails. They look formidable – especially if you’re a Dubia Roach presumably.

Leopard Geckos on the other hand are cute and beautiful. We, of course, think bearded dragons are too – but many people would prefer the look of the Leopard Gecko. It’s those eyes isn’t it – big and shiny and lovable. And who’s not jealous of someone who can lick their own eyes….

Who wins: Tie

Activity Times

As with the other features of these two amazing little lizards, the decision on which is best can be a little bit up to the eye of the beholder. Bearded dragons are diurnal lizards, which means they are active during the day. This means you have more chance to interact with them during the day, which might work better for people who are home during the day or who have children who want to interact.

Leopard Geckos on the other hand are crepuscular lizards which means they start to become active around twilight and throughout the evening and night time. This can work better for people who aren’t home during the day and don’t necessarily want a lizard that is active while they’re away.

Who wins: Depends. If you’re home all day or have kids, Bearded Dragons. If you’re a night owl, Leopard Geckos might be better.

Diet

Bearded dragons eat insects and vegetables, leopard geckos on the other hand only eat insects. Bearded dragons diet varies depending on its age (which is detailed more in the link) and they’ll need to be fed every day (though mostly vegetables once they’re adult) whereas Leopard Geckos only need to be fed once every two days once they’re adults.

Who wins: Adult bearded dragons are likely cheaper to feed than Leopard Geckos since they eat mostly greens. Baby bearded dragons though will eat almost exclusively insects and more of them than a Gecko.

Brumation

We include brumation in this list of pros and cons of a bearded dragon vs. leopard gecko because brumation can be a worrying time for bearded dragon owners and many think their bearded dragon is sick when they’re just brumating. Plus, during brumation the lizard is largely inactive and therefore quite a boring pet.

Leopard geckos don’t tend to brumate provided the environment doesn’t change so they can be active all year round. Bearded dragons will often brumate over winter and become aloof and inaccessible as well as sleepy.

Who wins: Leopard geckos win this one. Brumation is a pain and renders your lizard more like an ornament than a pet.

Personality

Bearded dragons and leopard geckos both have their own personalities but bearded dragons tend, on average, to be more open to human interaction than leopard geckos. Obviously this depends on the individual lizard, but generally speaking, bearded dragons are more confident and less shy than leopard geckos. This may be partly down to leopard geckos being nocturnal, whereas bearded dragons are more active during the day.

Who wins: Bearded dragons win here, on average, but only just.

Handling

Bearded dragons are somewhat larger than leopard geckos and tend to be a little hardier. That’s not to say they should be handled badly – every lizard needs to be handled with care and gently. But bearded dragons won’t drop their tail if they get scared (they can’t regrow tails) whereas if a leopard gecko feels threatened they may well drop their tail. Whilst a leopard gecko can regrow its tail it will never look the same.

Who wins: Bearded Dragons, they’re more confident and won’t drop their tail

Tank Size For Bearded Dragon Vs. Leopard Gecko

Bearded dragons require a larger tank than leopard geckos, this is partly because leopard geckos are smaller, but also because bearded dragons require a much hotter environment at one end of the tank. Bearded dragons require a basking spot under a heat lamp, which sees the ambient temperature at the basking end of around 38-40 Celsius. But bearded dragons need to be able to escape that heat when they get too hot, and as such they need a cool end. That requires a longer tank so there can be a cool end and a hot end. Leopard geckos however require a warm temperature area, of around 28-32 Celsius, with the rest of the tank being around room temperature.

Who wins: Leopard Geckos win this one. Their heating and lighting setup and tank size is smaller and simpler.

Bearded Dragon Vs. Leopard Gecko Costs

The initial setup costs for a bearded dragon are likely to be slightly more than for a leopard gecko. This is because bearded dragons require specific basking lamps and UVB lamps that leopard geckos don’t need. The cost of the basking lamp is offset by the need for some sort of underfloor heatmat for a leopard gecko though. Nevertheless, the potentially smaller tank, lower powered thermostat, no need for expensive light mounts and UVB tubes, makes the initial cost of a leopard gecko less.

Ongoing costs are likely to be similar between bearded dragons and leopard geckos. The tank being cooler and no UVB light will reduce electricity costs, but leopard geckos requiring insects every second day as adults will mean their food bill may be higher than a bearded dragon. Beardies only need insects (once they’re adult) twice a week – the rest of the time they can eat salad/veggies.

Who wins: Leopard Gecko is probably cheaper.

Are Bearded Dragons Smarter Than Leopard Geckos

This is like asking whether you should judge the smartness of animals by determining which of them can climb a tree. Clearly a goldfish cannot climb a tree. But then nor can dogs. One is not necessarily smarter than the other, since dogs can’t live under water…

In a poll on this subject on Reddit, almost nobody could agree on which was the most intelligent species of lizard, although some did claim their bearded dragons were smarter than the leopard geckos based on a number of arbitrary factors such as not jumping from heights. In our experience bearded dragons will jump from dangerous heights just as much as leopard geckos will.

Either way it’s unlikely you’ll be able to train your bearded dragon or your leopard gecko to do much except recognise you (yes, they can recognise different people) and to get you to offer them food rather than them have to hunt it. You certainly won’t be able to get them to fetch a ball you’ve thrown across the room like a dog would. Though that does lead to the possibility that perhaps the lizards are in fact more intelligent than the dog who wastes energy on such pursuits!

Can You House A Bearded Dragon And A Leopard Gecko Together?

Without exception you should NOT house a bearded dragon and a leopard gecko together in the same tank. In fact, bearded dragons should live on their own and so should leopard geckos (i.e., you should not house multiple bearded dragons together, nor multiple leopard geckos).

Bearded dragons will eat leopard geckos if given the chance. Bearded dragons motto is “If it is smaller than me and moves, it is food”.

Summary Of Bearded Dragon or Leopard Gecko

Bearded DragonLeopard Gecko
Avg. Length16-24 in.8-11 in.
Adult Avg. weight8 – 24 oz.2.5 – 3 oz.
Lifespan8 – 14 years10 – 20 years
ActivityDaytimeEvening / Night
Tank Size75 gallon30 gallon
Tank TempsHot End: 37 – 41 Celsius
Cool End: 26 – 30 Celsius
Hot Spot: 28 – 32 Celsius
Cool Area: Room Temperature
Humidity< 30%30 – 40%
Lighting RequirementsBasking Lamp + Desert UVBNo Specifics, though 5% UVB Lamp can be used.
Family FriendlyYesYes
Child FriendlyYes, with careYes, but not active during daytime and perhaps more delicate than a Beardie
DietInsects And VegetablesInsects Only
BrumationMay DoUsually Doesn’t
Suitable for Novice KeepersYes (but note heating and lighting specifics)Yes
Bearded DragonLeopard Gecko
Bearded Dragon Vs. Leopard Gecko Summary Table

As you can see from the table above, the pros and cons of a bearded dragon versus leopard gecko are pretty similar. There’s a few differences that might make you choose whether a bearded dragon or a leopard gecko is better – but it’s really going to come down to personal choice at the end of the day. Neither bearded dragon or leopard gecko is inherently ‘better’ than the other.

If you have any opinions or information we might have missed on this subject please drop us a comment below. Thanks for reading!

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