How long do bearded dragons live? — is a great question with an answer of, ‘well, it depends’. The lifespan of a bearded dragon will depend on many physical, mental, and environmental factors that will be discussed in this article. This article will also compare wild and pet bearded dragon lifespans and also walk you through how to estimate a bearded dragon’s age.
Dr. Jess explains beardie lifespans below:
Bearded Dragon Basics:
Bearded dragons are reptiles that are categorized into the desert lizard category.
They fall into the genus Pogona with eight different species falling under this grouping.
The eight species of bearded dragons, are distinguished from one another and named for the differences in their spines on their chins and necks.
Bearded dragons get their name from their armor of spiny scales, which include a “beard” of spikes under its chin and neck that puffs up depending on their mood, most commonly seen when puffed out upset for them to seem larger to whatever is upsetting them.
This may be paired with a erry ‘hiss’ when really upset.
They can reach up to 24 inches long and weigh up to 18 ounces once full grown. They range in colors from brown, to orange, to yellow, to cream.
Bearded dragons are often referred to as “beardies”, are one of the more popular reptilian pets because of their cool, interesting exterior and their popularity being of low maintenance pets.
Factors Affecting Bearded Dragon Lifespans:
Here is a list of some of the most common factors affecting general bearded dragon lifespans:
- Diet: A well balanced diet will promote health and increase lifespan and reduce risk of disease. A dragon’s food needs change as they age. While they are young, they need more protein, and as they age, they need more greens and veggies. Knowing exactly what foods bearded dragons can eat and how long it’s been since your bearded dragon has eaten last, are important to know and note – foreseeing any health issues (even foreseeing issues with your bearded dragon’s poop can help spot signs of diet troubles!)
- Environment: Incorrect substrate, lighting, watering, and heating will decrease their lifespan.
- Kept in captivity: Depending on the conditions but there are no predators and minimal health risks in their captive habitat as a pet dragon.
- No breeding: Breeding and egg laying can drastically reduce the females lifespan
- Sex: Males will generally live longer than their female counterparts. This is because the females develop the eggs (even infertile) which is taxing on their bodies and can lead to medical problems.
- Size and species: Generally the larger species will live for longer than the smaller, likely due to being more durable or able to ward off more potential predators.
- Space: More space, means more room to move around for exercise and less stress on the dragon.
- Isolation: No territorial fights that risk injury or death, especially between juvenile dragons and males in particular.
How Long Do Bearded Dragons live in the Wild?
Bearded dragons are naturally from Australia. In Australia, they live in an dry, desert-like climate.
They spend their days hunting insects, eating plants, lounging in the sun, and avoiding natural predators.
In the wild, bearded dragons are hunted by several natural predators, such as birds from above and ground predators hunting on foot.
The average lifespan of a bearded dragons in the wild is between 4 and 8 years old because of the large number of potential predators that hunt bearded dragons naturally for food.
A dragon that lives beyond 8 in the wild is considered quite old (and lucky!).
Any prey animal that lives in the wild, including bearded dragons, will see a shorter life span (versus a pet dragon) since nature is a highly competitive environment with plenty of natural predators.
How Long Do Pet Bearded Dragons Live in Captivity?
Pet bearded dragons tend to live between 7 and 12 years in captivity. This is quite a bit longer than how long that they live in the wild.
How long your your bearded dragon lives will depend on many different factors based on their health conditions and your pet care management strategies.
While bearded dragons are relatively easy to care for, they do have needs that must be met in order to stay happy and healthy.
Bearded dragons who do not get the things they need to prosper (see the list of things that impact bearded dragon lifespan above), often will have a shorter life span.
Unfortunately there are many poorly cared for pets and bearded dragons are no exception.
As with all living things, there will be outliers. There will be beardies who pass away quite young, and there will also be dragons that live more than 13-15+ years old.
While this isn’t the norm, it does occur from time to time depending on the circumstance.
It’s most likely a mix of genetics, level of care, and environmental factors.
How to Tell How Old A Bearded Dragon Is
Sometimes you may get a bearded dragon and not know how old they truly are. There are a few tricks you can use to get a general sense of how old your bearded dragon is.
Measuring a Bearded Dragon’s Length:
For younger dragons, measuring the bearded dragon from head to tail can help approximate their age. Generally, the length of the dragon will represent their age up to a certain point.
Here’s is a size guide to give you a rough estimate of their age for young bearded dragons:
- 0-3 months = 3-11 inches
- 4-12 months = 9-22 inches
- over 12 months = 12-24 inches
Remember that this is a range with outliers possible. This range will vary depending on many factors including species of bearded dragon.
Determining Age by Sexual Maturity:
Most bearded dragons will become sexually mature by 8-12 months of age.
One can differentiate the difference between males and females around this time of sexual maturity.
Once able to distinguish a bearded dragon’s gender, you can go ahead and assume that they are around 8-12 months of age.
Again, this tactic is also just an approximation, just like measuring their length is.
Pet Bearded Dragon Lifespan Summary:
Bearded dragons are normally very healthy and hardy pets. That being said, their lifespan depends on many factors listed here in this article.
The typical lifespan of different bearded dragons can be summed up as:
- 5-8 years old in the wild
- 7-12 years in captivity for the average dragon that is well cared for.
- 13-15 years in captivity for the extremely healthy, excellently-cared for outliers.