For any bearded dragon owner, one of the most interesting questions to know the answer to is how long do bearded dragons live?
As much as it’s fascinating to know the answer to this question, it’s also highly important as you can then plan ahead and know what to expect moving forward.
In this post, we will take a deep look at how long-bearded dragons live by reviewing the research and opinions of veterinary experts.
We will cover the life expectancy of both wild and captive bearded dragons and see what factors can affect how long your bearded dragon can live.
So how long do bearded dragons live? With good care, bearded dragons can be expected to live between 8-12 years in captivity. In the wild, bearded dragons live on average between 3-8 years. Factors such as the potential threat from predators and the limited availability of food make the lifespan of wild bearded dragons shorter on average.
Read On to Learn…
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live In Captivity?
In captivity, a bearded dragon will generally live a long and prosperous life compared to its wild counterparts.
This is due to the fact that captive bearded dragons are usually subject to better living conditions to bearded dragons in the wild (more on this later)
Even though beardies life longer in captivity, the actual average age that a bearded dragon will live to is subject to much debate by experts.
For example, veterinary experts such as the RSPCA suggest that the average age that captive bearded dragons will live to is between 12-15 years.
Other authority outlets such as Pet-MD state that bearded dragons can live up to 10 years as long as they are kept well both physically and mentally.
We actually feel that VCA-Hospitals have the most accurate estimate as they say bearded dragons can live between 7-12 years on average in captivity if properly cared for.
So what do these differing opinion from well-known authorities in the veterinary space tell us?
Well, they tell us that bearded dragons can live both longer and shorter lives by some way and this probably depends on a number of factors, the main one being the level of care they receive in captivity.
With all views and opinions considered, we believe that the average age you can expect your bearded dragon to live in captivity is between 8-12 years.
Here’s a guide that shares how long you can expect your bearded dragon to live in captivity depending on the level of care they receive…
Level Of Care & Expected Age Of Bearded Dragons
|Level Of Care||Life Expectancy|
(Later in the post, we will list all the factors that can affect how long your bearded dragon can live.)
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live In The Wild?
Most animals in the wild will have a shorter life expectancy compared to that of the same animal in captivity.
There are numerous reasons for this and we will take a closer look at them shortly.
With all things considered, bearded dragons in the wild can be expected to live an average of between 3-8 years.
Let’s not take a look at why wild bearded dragons are far less likely to live as long as their captive relatives…
Why Don’t Bearded Dragons Live As Long In The Wild?
As we found out already, bearded dragons are far more likely to live longer in captivity than they are in the wild.
Later we will discuss all the ways that you can increase the chances of your captive bearded dragon living longer and potentially to the top end of their estimated life expectancy.
Right now, let’s take a deeper look at the 4 common reasons bearded dragons in the wild only live between 3-8 years on average…
Bearded dragons in the wild don’t consume the same level of nutrition on a consistent basis as a healthy and well cared for captive bearded dragon does.
Beardies in the wild obviously have to hunt their own food and this alone provides problems with the availability and consistent supply of insects.
There is also the problem of finding greens that are calcium-rich to fulfil their need for a high calcium diet.
Dietary needs are much easier to fulfil in captivity as opposed to in the wild, where bearded dragons are often described as opportunistic hunters that are forced to hunt prey seasonally.
Again, this is a far cry for captive beardies that are fed consistent diets of high-quality insects and greens with additional calcium supplements all year round.
The sheer difficulty in obtaining a high-quality diet all year round in the wild will make it hard for wild bearded dragons to live as long as captive bearded dragons.
Have you ever wondered how long your bearded dragon can go without food? Well, we have researched and given the answer here…
Another big reason why bearded dragons in the wild don’t live as long as those bred in captivity is due to the fact that wild beardies are under the constant threat of predators.
The native predators of bearded dragons include…
- Black Headed Pythons
With all these potential predators, it’s easy to understand why their lives could be cut short and even a healthy beardie could meet a sorry end.
This is just the way of the world and the hard reality of nature. There are obviously no predators in captivity and this alone vastly increases the life expectancy of a bearded dragon compared to those living in the wild.
3. Lighting & Basking
As a bearded dragon owner, you will understand the importance that good quality lighting and access to a consistent basking area plays in the health and well being of your beardie.
This is just as important for bearded dragons in the wild but it can be hard to maintain the same consistent level of lighting and temperature as weather conditions can vary slightly even though Australia is pretty consistent on the whole.
The UVB from the sun is generally considered to be of much higher quality to that of a UVB bulb used in a tank but other factors can prevent wild bearded dragons from basking as much as they do in captivity.
For example, beardies in the wild will spend much of their time hunting and will also need to spend their time escaping and hiding from predators.
These two activities alone will mean that beardies in the wild will have far less time to spend basking and absorbing the UVB.
This can have a negative impact on their health over the long term when compared to captive beardies that have their food brought to them and don’t have to worry about predators so they can spend much more time chilling and basking.
If you want to know more about why bearded dragons bask then head over to our new guide that shares all you need to know about bearded dragons basking as an owner…
4. Injury & Illness
Another huge reason why bearded dragons don’t live as long in the wild as they do in captivity is down to the fact that they don’t receive any medical care.
When you think about it, if a beardie in the wild gets either injured or ill then they aren’t able to hunt their food and they could even become a sitting duck for predators.
It only takes something like a broken leg and a bearded dragon wouldn’t be able to hunt food for weeks.
This, in turn, means they would probably starve to death or be eaten by predators if they weren’t hidden in a safe place.
Also, simple illnesses that can be tendered to in captivity can get out of control easily in the wild.
In captivity, beardies would be taken straight to a vet if either injured or ill and most of the time they can be nursed back to full health.
Having this option to take a captive bearded dragon to the vets can add many extra years onto the life of a bearded dragon when compared to that of a wild beardie.
What Is The Oldest Bearded Dragon Ever Recorded?
When it comes to stories of bearded dragons that have lived extraordinarily long lives it can be hard to know which stories are correct and which ones are inaccurate.
With this being said, we have managed to find an entry in the reputable ’Guinness World Records’ database that claims the oldest bearded dragon ever recorded was 18 years and 237 days old.
The bearded dragon was called Sebastian and was owned by Lee’ Anne Burgess of Middlesex UK.
Sebastian was born on 1st June 1997 and eventually passed away on January 24th 2016.
This is amazing and shows just how long bearded dragons can live in captivity with a combination of good genetics and great care.
Rest in peace Sebastian.
How Long Do Captive Bearded Dragons Live Compared to Other Lizards?
Ok, so we know that captive bearded dragons generally live somewhere between 8-12 years in captivity depending on a variety of factors.
Let’s now find out if captive bearded dragons have a long life expectancy when compared to other captive lizards.
For this example, we are going to use ‘10 years old’ as the average age a bearded dragon lives to.
It’s worth mentioning that most animals will live longer in captivity than in the wild as human intervention and the reasons we mention earlier will usually increase their life expectancy.
But interestingly enough, green iguanas have a life expectancy of 20 years in the wild, which is double their life expectancy in captivity due to the fact they are so difficult to look after.
Let’s now take a look at how long these lizards live in captivity compared to bearded dragons…
How Long Bearded Dragons Live Vs Other Lizards
|Lizard||Average Life Expectancy|
|Gidgee skink||15 Years|
|Leopard Gecko||15 Years|
|Bearded Dragon||10 Years|
|Green Basilisk||10 Years|
|Green Iguana||10 Years|
|Veiled Chameleon||7 Years|
Do All Captive Bearded Dragons Live Long Lives With Good Care?
As a responsible and caring owner, you obviously want the best for your bearded dragon and you want them to have the best and longest life possible.
The question is, even if you do everything in your power to help them live a long, happy and healthy life, is there still a chance they could pass away early?
Unfortunately, yes, even if you do everything correctly there is still a small chance that your bearded dragon could live a short life due to unforeseen circumstances.
If your beardie has poor genetics then this can result in them living a shorter life even if you offer them a high level of care.
Also if your beardie becomes seriously ill then this too can decrease their life expectancy.
These things are out of your control and as an owner. You should simply concentrate on providing your bearded dragon with the best level of care possible and if you can do that then they have every chance of living a happy and healthy life.
Now let’s take a look at the factors that can determine how long your bearded dragon lives in captivity…
What Factors Can Affect The Lifespan Of a Captive Bearded Dragon?
To really have the ability to care for your bearded dragon in the best way possible and give them the best chance of living a long and happy life, it’s important to know what factors can affect their lifespan in both positive and negative ways.
Let’s now take a deeper look at the common but sometimes overlooked factors that can determine the lifespan of a bearded dragon…
Bearded dragons require a diet consisting of insect protein and high levels of calcium from selected greens and additional calcium supplements.
The better you can provide your beardie with a balanced diet that fits their nutritional needs, the healthier and longer life they are likely to live.
Baby beardies require a diet that is around 70% insect protein and 30% plants based.
While adult beardies need to switch their diet to around 30% insect protein and 70% plant based.
Baby and juvenile bearded dragons need more protein compared to greens in order to support the speed that they are growing in the early period of their lives.
Variety is key to providing a well balanced and rounded diet for your bearded dragon.
Even though this is true, calcium always remains a priority and bearded dragons need calcium for muscle function and bone growth and maintenance.
As well as providing high-quality and calcium-rich greens and veggies, you should also add a calcium supplement to your beardies diet.
You can see the exact calcium supplement we recommend and the best place to get it from over at our bearded dragon food and supplement guide here…
2. Size Of The Tank
The size of the tank you provide for your bearded dragon can also affect both the quality of their life as well as how long they will potentially live too.
Beardies should really be housed in a tank that is as large as you can provide.
Many experts recommend that you should house an adult beardie in a tank that’s no less than 55 gallons.
We actually think that this is a bare minimum and you should be looking to house an adult in a tank anywhere from 75-120 gallons.
Housing your dragon in a large tank provides many benefits such as allowing your beardie a larger space to roam, providing more mental stimulation, allowing them to grow larger and ultimately making them happier over the course of their life.
Baby and juvenile bearded dragons shouldn’t be housed in large tanks right from the off though and should be housed in smaller tanks until they reach adulthood.
Here’s a guide that shares the size of the tank we recommend for bearded dragons depending on how old they are…
Bearded Dragon Tank Size Chart
|Baby Bearded Dragon||Juvenile Bearded Dragon||Adult Bearded Dragon|
We have also taken time to research and handpick the 3 best tanks that we recommend you house your bearded dragon in.
The guide shares our top tanks for baby, juvenile and adult bearded dragons and you can access it right here…
3. Conditions Inside The tank
The conditions inside the tank are extremely important and can certainly impact how long your bearded dragon will live.
This can be anything from using the wrong substrate, poor UVB lighting and incorrect basking temperatures and even not providing adequate hides.
It’s important to remember that your beardie will spend much of their life in their tank so all of these factors must be on point in order for them to live the most healthy and longest life possible.
If you are unsure about how to set up your bearded dragons tank correctly then head over to this guide that explains how to set up a beardies tank and the equipment to use…
The number of times a female breeds in her lifetime can impact how long she lives.
Breeding can put a tremendous physical strain on the body of a female bearded dragon.
This is due to the constant laying of eggs and also the stress involved too. Breeding can also be a huge strain on a female bearded dragon nutritionally and it can leave them depleted of vital nutrients such as calcium.
The more that a female bearded dragon has to go through the breeding process in their life, the more it can affect how long they can potentially live so it’s important to bear this in mind if you are considering breeding your female.
5. Sex (Male Or Female)
In addition to breeding, it’s also important to point out that male bearded dragons usually live longer than females.
Even if you don’t breed your female, they will still develop and lay eggs and this is both taxing on them nutritionally and physically.
Over the course of their life, this is likely to have an impact and it will cause the female to live a slightly shorter life than a male on average.
Something that is totally out of your control when it comes to how long your bearded dragon will live is the genetics of your beardie.
Just like in humans, or any other animals, bearded dragons will get passed down genetics from their parents.
Although these genetics may be subtle, they can have a small impact on how long they live.
While it’s virtually impossible to tell how long a bearded dragon will potentially live, if you know that both the parents lived long and healthy lives then there is a good chance that your beardie will do the same with the proper care.
7. Level Of Care (Owners)
One of the biggest factors that can determine how long a captive bearded dragon life is the owner themselves.
As an owner, you are basically in control of everything and you have the ability to provide your beardie with the very best care possible.
Most owners are great and deserve a huge pat on the back for caring for these amazing reptiles and allowing them to live long and happy lives.
Sometimes it’s the little things done on a consistent basis that makes all the difference over the course of a lifetime.
8. Veterinary Care
Veterinary care is another huge benefit that captive bearded dragons have and one that can significantly improve the quality and length of their life.
Having good quality veterinary care for your beardie is highly recommended as it can save your bearded dragons life as well as improve the quality of their life too.
A Bearded dragon that has regular check-ups and visits the vets when you suspect potential health issues is far more likely to live longer than one that doesn’t.
How Can I Tell How Old My Bearded Dragon Is?
While there is no accurate way to tell how old a bearded dragon is without official papers, confirmation from the breeder or breeding the beardie yourself, there are a couple of ways that can help you to approximate their age.
The first way to do this is to measure your bearded dragon. It’s important to remember that this method will only give you a rough idea and the factors we have previously mentioned in this post can affect the size of the beardie.
If you have just brought home a baby or juvenile bearded dragon and you aren’t sure how old it is then this method can give you a good idea.
Always measure your bearded dragon from head to the tip of the tail.
Here’s a guide that shares how big a central bearded dragon will generally be at different stages of their life…
Bearded Dragon | Age & Average Growth Chart
|24/months (Adult)||18-24 Inches|
Another way to see how old a bearded dragon is can be to check when they become sexually mature.
Beardies usually become sexually mature around 8-12 months old.
While this method is less accurate than measuring your beardie, it can help to support and back up what the measurements are suggesting.
For example, if your beardie is measuring around 8 months old and they also become sexually mature around this time then you won’t be far off with this estimate.
Again, it’s important to remember that these methods give a rough estimate for younger bearded dragons.
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