There’s some common questions that seem to come up about Bearded Dragons – not the kind that require any kind of long winded answer such as Why My Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat, or Can I Feed My Bearded Dragon Fruit – but the type in this post like how big do bearded dragons get or how long do they live…
If you’re doing your research before deciding whether to buy a bearded dragon, or not sure where or how to begin, hopefully this post will help you.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to keeping Bearded Dragons as a pet, our eBook “Bearded Dragons: The Essential Guide” will give you all the answers you need and help give your dragon the best start in life, and give you great money saving tips and ideas and hopefully help you keep the vet bills away. It’s available as an instant download eBook or available on Google Play Book store, or as a paperback edition from Amazon.
So, without further ado, here’s the common questions and answers.
Where Do Bearded Dragons Come From?
The Bearded Dragon ( Pogona Vitticeps in Latin ) originates from the arid areas of Australia, either the desert areas or some forest areas. They can be found over much of Australia in a large variety of habitats ranging from the desert through to shrubland and Eucalyptus woodlands.
It is now illegal to capture and export Bearded Dragons from their native habitat in Australia (and has been since the 1960s) so all the species now in captivity will have been bred from captive parents. There’s some concern among breeders that this may cause longer term breeding issues as the genepool is relatively shallow as a result.
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live?
The answer to this varies and depends on whether you’re asking about how long they live in the wild versus how long they live in captivity.
Wild Bearded Dragon Life Span
In the wild a bearded dragon has many predators that tend to like to feast on them. Since they live in the desert areas of Australia, they can be faced with Dingos, many types of birds and of course other, larger lizards and snakes. Many bearded dragons probably won’t even reach maturity since they’re quite small when they first hatch and these predators will pick them off easily.
If the natural predators don’t get them, many others will fall sick to parasites, or other common bearded dragon diseases such as impaction – although many of the diseases that are found in captive dragons are less likely to be an issue in the wild since they’ve evolved these specific traits in order to better survive in the wild. Parasites in the wild however would be a big issue.
So, the Bearded Dragon in the wild can live anywhere from a few minutes up to around 4 to 5 years. Few live beyond that age in the wild, as the predators will generally always win.
Captive Bearded Dragon Life Span
In captivity the Central Bearded Dragon should live between 8 to 12 years, although some can live for as long as 14 or more years – though this is rare.
In captivity the Bearded Dragon is likely to live a lot longer, provided the keeper is aware of the issues that can shorten their lifespan such as ensuring they get enough Calcium and Vitamin D3 (from UV light) and don’t end up getting impacted, for example.
You can get more information on how to improve the lifespan of your bearded dragon by visiting the following articles;
- Bearded Dragon Lighting – how to properly set up their tank for optimal light and heat
- Substrates For Bearded Dragons – how to set up the flooring of their tank to help prevent health issues.
- Bearded Dragon Health Issues – the diseases they can get and how to avoid / treat them.
- Skin Shedding In Bearded Dragons – how to help them shed their skin properly
You can also get all the information you need from our eBook “Bearded Dragons: The Essential Guide” if you want all the answers in one easy to read format.
How Big Do Bearded Dragons Get?
Generally the Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona Vitticeps) will grow from anywhere between 12 – 24 inches from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tails. The size of their body will be roughly the same length as the adult human forearm, with tip of their nose resting against the elbow and the tail hanging down between your fingers.
Smaller breeds do exist, such as Rankins Dragon ( Pogona Henrylawsoni ) growing up to a maximum of around 12 inches including the tail and Pogona Microlepidota growing only around 4 to 6 inches in total. This latter breed seems to look rather like a baby Central Bearded Dragon.
Their size does depend on husbandry when they’re young and conditions and food etc. Bad husbandry can cause stunted growth.
The Central Bearded Dragon will weigh somewhere between 280 to 510 grams ( roughly 0.6 to 1.1 lbs ).
What Size Vivarium / Tank Does A Bearded Dragon Need?
In the UK the vivarium size that is generally recommended for Bearded Dragons is one that is 4 feet long, 2 feet deep and 2 feet high. US Dragon owners tend to size their tanks as they would aquariums ( ie, in gallons ) with the minimum recommended size being a 40 gallon tank for a standard sized Bearded Dragon.
I’m of the opinion (though it is only an opinion!) that a 40 gallon tank is too small for a fully grown bearded dragon, as the 40 gallon tanks tend to be 3 feet by 18 inches by 18 inches.
Bigger is better. Bearded Dragons need more room lengthwise versus height wise, although they do like to be able to climb, they’re not as big climbers as geckos for example. They do like a bit of a run now and then though, so the extra length is good. I prefer a 5 foot enclosure.
If you’re starting from scratch, you don’t necessarily need to get a brand new vivarium – you can go for a second hand one – see our post here for some tips to get the right one.
What Protection Against Predators Do Bearded Dragons Have?
Bearded Dragons mostly employ bluff and bluster techniques to put off predators. They can bite if they are pushed into it, but they generally prefer to puff up and blacken their beards – making them look bigger and scarier than they in fact are. Puffing the beard and the abdomen through the drawing in of breath also makes the spikes on their sides and neck look bigger and less easy to eat.
Bearded dragons will also hiss at their assailants if necessary, before attempting to run away.
Unlike many other lizards, the Bearded Dragon cannot drop and regrow its tail to fool a potential predator – so, although the bearded dragon can lose its tail and continue to live a good life, the tail will never grow back.
What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Bearded Dragons are omnivores, which means they eat meat and plants. Their diet in the wild probably varies quite a bit from what they’re fed in captivity, since their diet in the wild is likely to include things that their keepers aren’t all that willing to feed them – such as spiders!
Captive Bearded Dragons shouldn’t really be fed wild insects as the risk of parasites, pesticides and herbicides is too high, as well as environmental impurities such as exhaust fumes from cars etc. Having said that it’s quite likely that your bearded dragon will occasionally munch on something that happens to walk or fly into its range, don’t panic over the occasional wild insect though – they’ll be fine.
Waxworms, Mealworms, Morio worms, Calci worms (Soldier Fly larvae), Dubia Roaches, Crickets, Locusts, tend to form the basis of the captive live food for bearded dragons. Various green vegetables and occasional fruits and berries are good for Bearded Dragons. We’ve compiled a fairly comprehensive list of vegetables for bearded dragons here.
Further information on Bearded Dragon Diet can be found in our article What Do Bearded Dragons Eat?
Are Bearded Dragon Bites Poisonous?
Some recent research has shown that Bearded Dragons do have primitive venom glands although it’s unclear how they would inject that venom into a prey. It’s also unclear what effect this venom has on their prey.
But from the point of view of humans, a Bearded Dragon bite will likely be a little bit sore, perhaps bruise or break the skin and there is a possibility of local infection if the bearded dragon has any germs on their mouths when they bite. But the long term likelihood of complications from a Bearded Dragon bite is minimal.
Bearded dragons tend not to bite humans anyway – they’ll give plenty of warning prior to biting – from the big puffy beard, to making their beard go black and then hissing or running away from you. A bite is only likely if you persist in upsetting your dragon after those warning signs are given.
Do I Need a Permit / Licence To Own A Bearded Dragon?
The answer to this one is complex and will vary considerably depending on where you live. The information here is general only in nature and you must consult your own local laws before decided to take on any pet, but particularly exotic ones.
For example, Hawaii forbids Bearded Dragons as pets ( as well as hamsters, piranhas and many other animals ) – whereas some states will require you to have a permit before allowing you to keep them as pets.
The United Kingdom does not, currently, require any licence to keep Bearded Dragons
Canada does not require any licence either.
Most Australian states require a licence to keep reptiles, though my understanding is that South Australia does not require reptile keepers to have a licence but does require that the breeding paperwork be available to authorities if required. The keeper is restricted to only one Bearded Dragon ( a licence is required to keep more than one ) or if they wish to sell the bearded dragon then a licence is required.
If you’re in any doubt as to whether you’ll need a licence to keep a bearded dragon, it’s probably best to assume the answer to that is yes, you do – and then go and find out.
If you have any other questions about Bearded Dragons, please leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer! I’ll update this post as I think of more things to answer too.
Thanks for reading, please leave a comment or any feedback below in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you.