Bearded dragons are some of the most popular lizards in the pet trade. They’re also one of the longest-lived, with some living 10 – 15 years or more. This is due to their hardy nature, which allows them to thrive in captivity and resist many diseases and parasites that plague other species of lizards.
One of the most common questions asked is “how long do bearded dragons live?” The answer is…it depends on several factors, such as their diet, their habitat (temperature & humidity), and their overall health (illnesses, conditions, etc).
In This Article
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live?
Bearded dragons usually live between five and fifteen years. The right care can extend their lives beyond 15 years in some cases. One of the oldest bearded dragons on record lived to be 18 years old. The single biggest factor in determining how long they will live is how well they are cared for.
Lifespan for Bearded Dragons as Pets
A bearded dragon’s lifespan in captivity can vary greatly depending on its health and the conditions in which it is kept. If you’re lucky, you can keep them well into their teens, and many bearded dragon owners have reported that their pets lived well past their expected lifespan. However, poor nutrition, stress, or improper care can shorten their lifespan.
Lifespan for Bearded Dragons in the Wild
Bearded dragons in captivity live longer than those in the wild because they have more access to food and water, which helps them grow larger and stronger. They are also protected from predators, unlike those in the wild. Their lifespan is closer to 5 – 8 years, with males outliving the females.
The Lifecycle of Bearded Dragons
A bearded dragon’s lifecycle is similar to that of other reptiles. “Bearded” dragons get their name from the spiky growth under their chins that resembles a beard. A male dragon has a larger head and a larger body than a female dragon. Since they are larger and stronger, they also tend to live longer than females.
Female bearded dragons lay their eggs in the spring in clutches. The eggs are embryos that will hatch somewhere between 55 and 80 days. Once the eggs hatch, the offspring, called hatchlings, range from 2 to 4 inches in length. They consume more food because they are in their growing phase, which lasts 3 or 4 months.
Once they reach 8 inches in length, they are considered juveniles or subadults. At this stage of life, they begin taking on the traits of adult bearded dragons such as “head bobbing, beard puffing, and waving.”
They have reached maturity when they reach 12 inches in length. During this stage, they are sexually mature and capable of mating and laying eggs. As a result of no longer being in a growing phase, their appetite usually slows down.
A bearded dragon that is 18 to 20 inches long is a full-grown adult. After reaching maturity, activity levels slow down, they will breed less and shed less often than younger beardies. This phase lasts from about 4 to 7 years.
If a bearded dragon lives past 12 years this is considered “old age” for reptiles. They do not grow anymore and won’t usually breed. Since everything slows down later in life, they will shed once or twice per year and may live another 5 to 10 years, with the right care and living conditions.
Factors That Increase the Lifespan of Bearded Dragons
There are many factors that affect the lifespan of bearded dragons. The most important thing to remember is that each bearded dragon is an individual, and will have a different lifespan than others.
Some of these factors include:
Bearded dragons are omnivorous reptiles, meaning they eat both plants and animals. A balanced diet of insects, greens (e.g., kale, collard greens), fruits (e.g., strawberries), calcium-rich leafy greens like spinach and dandelion greens, and vitamin supplements will provide your pet with all the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Light & Heat
A UVB light is a must-have for any bearded dragon enclosure as it helps them absorb calcium from their diet so that their bones stay strong. Without this light source, many adult specimens will develop metabolic bone disease (MBD) which can lead to serious health problems later in life or even death if not treated early on.
A Safe Haven
Bearded dragons in captivity live longer than those in the wild because they are safe from predators. There should be plenty of space for them to roam around in their habitat. Having enough room for them to bask under their heat lamp and move around freely without feeling cramped is important.
If you want your bearded dragon to have a long and happy life, take them for a checkup once per year, and be sure to report any issues to your vet as soon as possible. The overall health of your pet also affects its lifespan. Keeping it free from illness and disease will increase the possibility of it living more years than expected.
Factors That Decrease the Lifespan of Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons are omnivores who eat both insects (crickets) and plants (foliage). If they don’t receive enough protein from their meals, they may develop calcium deficiencies that could cause organ failure or other serious health issues later in life.
The environment you provide for your bearded dragon will affect its health and lifespan significantly. Inadequate space can result in stress-related illnesses, such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
Bearded dragons require adequate lighting (UV light) in order to stay healthy and active. Without proper lighting, your beardie will become lethargic and possibly develop health problems over time. This can lead to premature death if left untreated.
The temperature of your bearded dragon’s habitat will have a direct effect on its lifespan. If you keep your dragon at an ideal temperature, it may live up to 15 years; if the temperature is too hot or cold for its comfort, however, this can decrease its life expectancy significantly.
Infections may occur when your bearded dragon has poor hygiene or eats contaminated food items. These infections often lead to pneumonia or other respiratory issues that can be fatal if not treated quickly.
How to Tell the Age of Your Bearded Dragon
When you get a new bearded dragon, one of the first questions you may want to know is how old it is. The answer can be tricky because bearded dragons look very different as juveniles than they do as adults.
Asking the person you purchased it from is the quickest way to find out. The pet store where you bought it can tell you how old it is. You can also take it to your vet if you bought it from another source ( a friend or someone giving one away).
Another method for determining its age is to measure it. Remember that the lifecycle is determined by size, so if it is 2 – 4 inches long it’s about a month old. At 8 inches long it’s about 3 months old. If it is 12 – 16 inches long it’s about 5 -6 months old. And at 20 – 22 inches it is a full-grown adult.
Bearded dragons make excellent pets and can live for many years if properly cared for. Knowing your dragon’s age and providing it with the appropriate care is as simple as observing and knowing the right information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Additional Sources & Resources
We also have a series of resources about bearded dragons, including:
- Our look at The Best 75 Gallon Tanks for Beardies
- Our answer to the question “can bearded dragons eat cucumbers?“
- Our answer to the question “can bearded dragons eat cilantro?“
- Our answer to the question “can bearded dragons eat parsley?“
- Our answer to the question “can bearded dragons eat spinach?“
- Our answer to the question “can bearded dragons eat green beans?“
- Our Beardie owner’s guide to Bearded Dragon Poop
- Our answer to “Do bearded dragons bite?“
- Our answer to “how long do bearded dragons live?“
- Our guide to bearded dragon shedding
- Our guide to finding the best bearded dragon leash
- Our guide to finding the best heating lamp for bearded dragons
As well as this series of books & academic resources on the subject of bearded dragon lifespans:
- “Biology and Medicine of Bearded Dragons” by Susan Donoghue and Roger J. Klingenberg
- “Bearded Dragon Care: From Egg to Adult” by Philippe de Vosjoli
- “The Bearded Dragon Manual” by Philippe de Vosjoli
- “Bearded Dragons: Comprehensive Care and Breeding” by Karen Russo
- “Bearded Dragons: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Caring For, and Breeding Bearded Dragons” by David Alderton