When adopting a new pet, one of the first things you’ll need to know about them is what to expect as far as their lifespan.
Knowing roughly how long your pet is expected to live will help you estimate how much their care will cost and know what to expect at each stage of their life.
This is especially important when adopting a reptile such as a bearded dragon.
A bearded dragon lifespan is surprisingly long, roughly as long as a dog or a cat, and you’ll have to be able to care and provide for them throughout their entire life.
Some bearded dragons live even longer than what is generally expected, with the oldest known beardies reaching upwards of 15 years or more!
A bearded dragon lifespan depends heavily on their genetics, their diet, and the quality of care they receive. Wild bearded dragons only live for around 2 to 5 years due to predation and food scarcity. When receiving optimal care in captivity, however, they often live anywhere from 8 to 15 years.
Here, we’ll cover how long bearded dragons live both in the wild and in captivity, as well as some tips to extend your beardie’s life and ensure they are happy and healthy for many years to come.
How Long Does A Bearded Dragon Live In The Wild?
In the wild, bearded dragons typically only live for around two to five years.
Some beardies live longer, but the harsh desert environment they live in usually prevents them.
Here are the main reasons their lives are shorter.
In the wild, bearded dragons have to hunt for their food.
This expends a lot of their energy and is often fairly stressful for them, as they also have to evade predators at the same time.
They’re good at this too, but there are times they may not get as much as they need due to other wild beardies competing with them for food.
On top of this, they also won’t get the diet regularly, and a healthy diet means a healthy body.
Wild beardies are also more prone to contracting harmful parasites and diseases since they have to eat whatever they find in order to survive.
Bearded dragons are easy to care for, but their sensitivity to temperatures is their most challenging aspect of care.
Since they are cold-blooded, wild beardies rely on their environment to stay warm.
Although the Australian Outback tends to be very hot and dry, temperatures sometimes fluctuate wildly.
When the weather gets too cool drastically or if there is a period of cloudy weather for a long time, a bearded dragon may get hurt or stressed.
This results in a shortened life span.
Bearded dragons hunt and forage for food, but in the wild, some predators would eat them as well.
Being on the lookout for predators while hunting their food is very stressful for bearded dragons and consumes a lot of their energy.
As a result, the constant stress contributes to a shorter lifespan than if they were in captivity.
Thankfully, in your tank, this isn’t going to happen.
Diseases and other health problems occur in the wild as well as in captivity.
On top of being more prone to contracting parasites and other diseases, wild bearded dragons usually don’t get veterinary care, meaning the conditions only worsen over time.
In captivity, you’ll help take care of any diseases or illnesses quickly, meaning your bearded dragon will live much longer than if they lived in the wild.
In the wild, they’re on their own and pass away early.
Learn more about common bearded dragon diseases in our article here.
How Long Does A Bearded Dragon Live As A Pet?
As a pet, you should expect your bearded dragon to live a lot longer than they would in the wild.
With consistent, high-quality care, many captive beardies live anywhere from 10 years to as long as 15 years in some cases.
The main reason they live longer is because of consistent basic care needs (see the next section for more details).
These care needs include things like:
- Proper Humidity
- Protection From Predators
- A Healthy Diet
- A Proper Enclosure Setup
Basic needs are essential for living a long life.
This is why you need the right enclosure, diet, and health care.
Here’s a quick breakdown of a bearded dragon’s basic care needs:
Your bearded dragon will need a fairly large enclosure to house them.
Adult bearded dragons need at least 50 gallons of space, but 75-100 gallons is highly recommended for them to thrive and feel most comfortable.
Bearded dragon diets consist of part-veggie and part-insects.
Baby bearded dragons should eat roughly 70% insects and 30% greens. As they age, this ratio will slowly flip.
Babies need more protein to accommodate their rapidly growing bodies, while adults need more vitamins and nutrients from plant matter.
Adult dragons should be fed 70% greens to 30% insects, and they need to eat 5-6 days per week.
Always be watching for signs of illness or other health issues.
With proper and consistent veterinary care, you’ll be able to extend your beardie’s lifespan by several years.
Some of the most common health issues affecting bearded dragons include:
- Metabolic bone disease
- Internal and external parasites
Contact your vet if you’re unsure about their health.
By putting your bearded dragon in an enclosure, you’re also offering protection, both from their natural predators and from other pets in your home.
You need to watch for other larger pets harassing them, and you need to make sure the top of the tank closes securely as bearded dragons are excellent escape artists.
5 Ways To Help Your Bearded Dragon Live Longer
In this section, we’ll go into a little more detail on 5 ways to help your beardy live a long, happy, and healthy life through better bearded dragon care.
#1 Correct Temperature
Beardies are picky when it comes to temperature.
They need specific hot temperatures to match their native desert habitat.
Use these temps as guidelines:
- Basking Spot = 100 to 105° degrees Fahrenheit (41° C)
- Overall = 90 to 95° degrees Fahrenheit (35° C)
- Hide Spot = 80 to 85° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C)
- Nighttime = 65 to 70° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C)
By ensuring your beardie’s enclosure has the proper temperature gradient, they’ll feel more comfortable and be able to digest their food properly.
#2 Correct Humidity
Bearded dragons come from the desert, and they need to have it dry in captivity, too.
Most of the time, you won’t need to worry about it, as the hot temperatures alone will keep humidity fairly low.
However, if you live in a humid area, you may want a hygrometer to track the enclosure’s humidity levels.
35% – 40% relative humidity throughout the entire enclosure is the goal.
Check out our picks for the best dehumidifiers for bearded dragons.
#3 Consistent Diet
The biggest thing to do for your adult bearded dragon is to provide them with a consistent, healthy, and diverse diet.
Do this by offering a variety of greens and insects at regular times.
Remember, babies and juveniles need more insect protein, while adult dragons should eat mostly greens, other vegetables, and a small amount of fruit.
Use this handy chart to give you a good idea of where to begin.
|<2-3 months||70% Insects|
|30-80 insects total per day||3-5 feeding times per day|
|3-8 months||70% Insects|
|30-80 insects total per day||2 feeding times per day|
|8-12 months||70% Insects|
|30-80 insects total per day||1 feeding time per day|
|1 year +||30% Insects|
|50 insects total per week||One day salad, One day insect, One day nothing and repeat|
You also need to use calcium supplements, which usually are designed to be added directly to your beardie’s food.
There are both liquid and powdered calcium supplements on the market, though calcium supplements are much more popular and easier to administer.
It helps to gut-load the insects you feed to your beardie by feeding the bugs calcium-rich foods 24 hours before your bearded dragon’s next mealtime or sprinkle calcium powder directly on the live food just before feeding them to your dragon.
#4 Yearly Checkups
Just as humans need yearly checkups, your bearded dragon needs the same thing.
At the very least, you need to have a chosen vet who ideally specializes in reptiles and other exotic animals to call in cases of concern or emergency.
But yearly checkups are ideal because it gives the vet a baseline for your pet.
Plus, the vet may notice things wrong with the animal you wouldn’t ordinarily see.
Building a relationship with your vet will make you more likely to call when something goes wrong as well.
Make sure you pick your vet soon after purchasing your bearded dragon, and set up their first check-up within the first six months of their life.
If you don’t, you could be putting your pet in danger.
#5 Watchful Owners
Pet owners such as yourself have an essential duty to be watchful, regardless of the type of pet you’ve brought into your home.
Keep an eye out for signs of illness or unusual behavior.
Bearded dragons should be observed for signs of calcium deficiency, such as brittle bones.
Calcium deficiencies often lead to metabolic bone disease, which is one of the most common illnesses in reptiles and is the beardy’s biggest concern.
Powders can help battle this!
Visit the link for our reviews on the best calcium supplements for bearded dragons.
Also, be on the lookout for these other signs of potential illness:
- Difficulty breathing
- Wrinkled skin
- Abnormal droppings
- Lumps or swelling
- Swelling or discharge
- Lack of appetite
- Broken bones
It is also helpful to weigh and measure your bearded dragon both as they grow and after they’ve reached adulthood.
By measuring their weight and length every week or two, you’ll be able to quickly address any sudden weight loss or gain due to potential health issues.
What Factors Will Shorten A Bearded Dragon’s Lifespan?
The main three factors which tend to diminish a bearded dragon lifespan in captivity or in the wild are stress, poor diet, and illness.
Stress is often caused by a variety of factors, such as a poorly-sized or dirty enclosure, putting multiple dragons in the same enclosure, or various illnesses.
Improper handling, like squeezing your lizard too tightly or dropping them will also upset them and stress them out.
A nutritionally poor diet will also shorten a bearded dragon’s lifespan significantly, as they need a variety of vitamins and nutrients from their food to keep their bodies healthy.
Be sure to provide your beardie with plenty of leafy greens, safe vegetables, insects, and a small amount of fruit as an occasional treat to ensure they get all the nutrition they need to thrive.
Finally, illness will dramatically shorten a bearded dragon’s lifespan as well, since many illnesses beardies are prone to are very serious and often deadly if left untreated.
The main two illnesses to look out for are metabolic bone disease and impaction.
Metabolic bone disease, also known simply as MBD, is caused by a significant calcium deficiency.
Without enough calcium in their diet, a bearded dragon’s bones will become very weak, rubbery, and brittle.
This illness progresses fairly quickly and is incurable, painful, and often deadly, though many dragons with MBD are able to live decently long lives if they receive medical attention soon enough.
Impaction, on the other hand, is caused by a blockage of the digestive tract, usually in the beardie’s intestines.
Intestinal blockages are often the result of the dragon ingesting their loose substrate accidentally or eating pieces of food too large for them to pass in their stool.
Over time, the blockage worsens, leading to a bloated, stressed, and severely constipated dragon who is unable to have regular bowel movements.
Both conditions require immediate veterinary treatment.
If left untreated, these conditions will drastically shorten your scaly friend’s lifespan.
We hope you enjoyed learning about how long a bearded dragon lives.
10-15 years is what you’re investing in with proper care, and trust me, these oddly cute pets are worth every bit of it!
Commonly Asked Questions
Where do bearded dragons live in the wild?
A wild Central bearded dragon is native to the harsh, dry deserts of the Australian Outback.
In the mid-1990s, they were exported to different countries such as America, Canada, and the UK to be kept as pets due to their docile nature, small size, and fairly simple care requirements.
Nowadays, they are kept as pets all over the world and have been selectively bred to produce a wide range of different colors and scale patterns, similar to how selective breeding has affected dog and cat breeds.
Is caring for a bearded dragon expensive?
Caring for any reptile, in general, tends to be a bit pricey, at least at first.
The initial investment for a pet bearded dragon tends to run new reptile owners anywhere from $300 to $1,000 or more depending on their enclosure size and setup, the particular type or morph of bearded dragon purchased, and the breeder they’ve been purchased from.
Aside from the initial investment, though, there are lots of other costs associated with owning a bearded dragon in the long term.
Ideally, you should take your bearded dragon to a reptile vet for a checkup at least once per year, which will cost a few hundred dollars per year (or more if they have health issues).
Remember, bearded dragons are capable of living for up to 15 years or even longer in rare cases.
They eat a lot of food, much of which becomes somewhat expensive over time, such as fresh vegetables, greens, fruits, and live feeder insects.
Heating and lighting equipment such as basking bulbs and UVB bulbs are also fairly expensive and will need to be regularly replaced every few months or so.
Caring for a bearded dragon isn’t too much more expensive than caring for a cat or a dog, but you should have a “beardie fund” saved up in case they need serious veterinary treatment.
Expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars per year on your scaly pet’s care.
Can bearded dragons live past 20 years?
There are no known bearded dragons who have lived for longer than 20 years.
However, Guinness World Records recently recorded a bearded dragon in the UK known as Sebastian who lived for a whopping 18 years and 237 days!
He was born in 1997 and died in January, 2016.
It is fairly common for captive bearded dragons to live well past 10 years with good genetics and optimal care, and some even exceed 15 years.
As bearded dragon husbandry continues to increase in quality, these animals’ lifespans will also hopefully continue to increase.