How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live?
Learn how long bearded dragons live in captivity and how you can help make sure your bearded dragon will reach a ripe old age.
In Captivity Bearded Dragons Can Live Up To 15 Years
How long do bearded dragons live? With the right care and environment, captive bearded dragons can live from 8 to 15 years on average. Wild bearded dragons will live a lot shorter lives, usually as a result of predation. Wild bearded dragons will usually only live for about 5 to 8 years maximum, with many of them only reaching a few months old.
Factors Affecting Captive Bearded Dragon Lifespan
As we saw above, bearded dragons in captivity can live between 8 to 15 years, with the average bearded dragon lifespan being around the 10 year mark.
But what causes the variation in lifespan for bearded dragons?
Heating And Lighting
One of the most important factors for a long life in captivity for a bearded dragon is the correct setup of the environment with respect to heating and lighting. Bearded dragons must be provided the correct amount of Ultraviolet B to thrive. Without the correct level of UV-B a bearded dragon will develop Metabolic Bone Disease and will eventually die.
The correct (and somewhat high) temperature is also just as important as a bearded dragon cannot generate their own heat and require the energy from heat to properly digest food and move their muscles.
If the correct heating and lighting is not given the lifespan of the bearded dragon in captivity will be significantly reduced and the bearded dragon will become ill and potentially die within a few weeks to a few years.
Correct, and Varied Diet
Another extremely important factor in the longevity of a captive bearded dragon is the correct diet. We’ve listed this item second, although it’s jointly as important as heating and lighting. But giving the correct diet is probably much more obvious. So we needed to highlight the lighting.
But, without the correct diet, bearded dragons will become sick and die much earlier than they should. For example, a diet that doesn’t have enough calcium will cause Metabolic Bone Disease, whereas a diet that has too much protein for an adult will lead to obesity and gout. Insufficient protein as a baby will cause stunted growth and failure to thrive.
It can be a delicate balance. But the details of which live foods to feed bearded dragons, and which vegetables should bearded dragons eat can be found under the bearded dragon diet category for more in depth analysis and guidance.
Flooring ( Substrate )
It may surprise you to learn that the flooring in the bearded dragon’s tank can cause a shortened lifespan. This one is controversial and for seasoned keepers is not going to be an issue at all. But you’re probably not a seasoned keeper if you’re reading this.
Bearded dragons sense their environment through their tongue by tasting it. You will sometimes see them lick their surroundings to determine where they are. If your flooring (also known as substrate) is a loose, particle based substrate, then some of that can get stuck on their tongue and they have no choice but to swallow it.
Too much particle substrate in their intestines will lead to a condition known as impaction. Impaction can be fatal – and thus shorten the lifespan of the captive bearded dragon. Solid flooring such as tiles can help reduce this risk and improve the likely lifespan accordingly.
Regular veterinary checks with a qualified herpetologist veterinarian can help improve the expected lifespan of a bearded dragon. Regular vet checks can spot potential problems such as parasite infection, or cancerous lumps, or even just issues with your diet or heating and lighting early.
Early detection of any issues can help prevent them shortening your bearded dragon’s life expectancy by treating and hopefully curing them before any permanent damage is done.
Of course, everything else being equal, sometimes the genetics of an animal (or human) ultimately determines whether your bearded dragon will live to a ripe old age, or whether they will die early from some form of disease.
For this reason it is far better to buy your bearded dragon from a reputable breeder instead of a pet shop. Pet shops are only in it for the profit and usually have horrible and very inaccurate husbandry advice. If they can’t get that bit right, they can’t be expected to know whether their bearded dragons have good genetics before they sell them either.
In this post we learned that the average bearded dragon life expectancy is between 8 to 15 years with most being around 10 years of age. We’ve looked at ways to help improve the life expectancy of your bearded dragon through correct husbandry techniques and made some suggestion as to what could go wrong if your husbandry isn’t good.
Please feel to browse our site for more advice on how to properly look after your bearded dragon and do feel free to leave us a comment if you have any questions at all.