Bearded dragons make awesome pets for reptile lovers. They are adorable and fun while having their own distinct personalities. Something you should know before bringing one home: how long do bearded dragons live? They are not a short-term commitment! Bearded dragons can live over a decade in good care. Think about that for a moment: that's ten years of your life that you could have this exotic companion!
Learn more about bearded dragons’ lifespan and some factors that can impact that for better or worse.
Typical Bearded Dragon Lifespans
- Wild bearded dragons typically live 5 to 8 years.
- Pet bearded dragons often live 8 to 12 years.
In the wild, bearded dragons tend to have a shorter lifespan due to predators. As pets, bearded dragons can live longer, but that depends on their level of care.
Are they receiving a balanced diet? Are they housed alone or with other dragons? Are they exposed to proper temperatures and UVB rays? Do they eat live bugs dusted with calcium? All of these things have an impact on their health and life expectancy.
Factors That Can Affect Your Bearded Dragon’s Lifespan
There are some factors that impact a bearded dragon’s lifespan that you can’t control, such as size and gender (larger dragons tend to live longer than smaller ones; males tend to live longer than females, especially females who have given birth).
However, there is so much you can control to give your dragon the healthiest, happiest life possible.
Your dragon needs a steady supply of live insects, greens, and veggies—and the amount of each varies for babies, juveniles, and adult dragons. A balanced diet with adequate nutrients for your dragon’s age plays a huge role in her overall health.
- Choose a staple feeder insect wisely. Dubia roaches are a great option to consider—they have so many benefits for your dragon!
- Gut-load feeders for optimal nutrition.
- NEVER give your dragon poisonous or harmful foods such as avocados, mushrooms, or rhubarb.
- Give your dragon plenty of nutritious greens! Collard greens, mustard greens, prickly pear, and turnip greens are some of the best daily staples.
And please remember to dust feeder insects with calcium powder, like our 4-in-1 Reptile Greens and Calcium Powder! Bearded dragons need calcium and vitamin D3 for proper development and to help prevent metabolic bone disease.
A couple basic things you can do for your dragon’s health: take her to a vet regularly, and help her have a restful brumation when you recognize the signs.
Additionally, you should be familiar with the common illnesses and issues that pet bearded dragons can suffer from. Many of them are so easily preventable with proper care. These include:
- Metabolic bone disease
- Mouth rot
- Gut impaction
- Body temperature issues - overheating or too cold
- Respiratory illness
- Eye infection
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have proper tank setup! Bearded dragons are exotic creatures. They were made to live in the hot, arid desert. The responsibility of adopting an exotic pet means recreating their natural environment as closely as possible.
We discuss tank setup in depth and we highly recommend you checkout that blog post!
But in the meantime, here are some of the highlights:
- Proper substrate or flooring is vital. Some substrates can cause impaction, injury, or death, so this is not something to take lightly.
- Provide safe items for your dragon to crawl on or burrow under.
- Your dragon needs heat and UVB rays; a self ballasted mercury vapor UVB lamp emits both. For best quality, change the bulb every 6 months.
- Consistently check the temperature of the basking spot to make sure it’s not too cold or hot.
- Check the temperature of the tank frequently.
- Keep the terrarium totally dark at night to help your dragon have a restful sleep.
- Make sure your tank is the right size. A 40-gallon tank is standard, but if your dragon is 16+ inches long, you’ll need at least a 50-gallon tank.
- No cohabitation! This can cause illness, stress, starvation, death, and other issues.
A basic part of care, keeping your dragon healthy and clean goes hand-in-hand with giving them a happy life.
- Bathe your dragon one to three times a week.
- Regularly clean out your dragon’s tank. This includes cleaning after your dragon defecates.
- Wash your hands before and after handling your bearded dragon.
- Clean out any uneaten veggies and fruit after each meal or at least by the end of the day.
- Remove any feeders from the tank after feeding time.
Stress, Illness & Abnormal Behaviors
Similar to humans, your bearded dragon’s health and lifespan can be adversely affected by stress. Recognize signs of stress such as stress marks, glass surfing, and frenzied activity, and what you can do to calm your dragon down.
To state the obvious: Illness has an impact on how long your bearded dragon will live. And in many cases, illness is preventable with proper care, or fully treatable if it’s caught early.
An example of this would be metabolic bone disease, which becomes quite deadly when it progresses, but is preventable with care, and treatable when caught very early.
All this to say, even the healthiest and most well-cared-for dragons can get sick or undergo stress. The more observant you are, the better chance you have of catching these kinds of things quickly.
If your dragon behaves in a strange way, whether she's refusing food or acting frenetic, she is telling you something. It’s our job as Dragon Keepers to figure out what that might be.
Some behaviors that could signify illness or stress:
- Not eating / appetite changes
- Struggle to move / limping
- Eye bulging
Read our full blog post on deciphering bearded dragon behaviors.
Become familiar with your dragon’s regular behavior so you will notice immediately if something seems off.
Takeaway: Bearded dragons can live 8-12 years as pets, sometimes even longer. Their health and happiness depends on how well you care for them, especially regarding diet and environment.
If you have questions or would like to give feedback, please email us at [email protected]