If you’re interested in adopting a central bearded dragon (pogona vitticeps), you must first know if you can take good care of it at home.
And one of the factors you must consider is its size.
Also affectionately called “beardies,” bearded dragons grow between 16 to 24 inches long and 300-500 grams heavy.
However, their sizes vary depending on various factors, which we will discuss in detail below.
Having clear expectations of how big your bearded dragon will get helps you provide it with the best possible environment and nutrients for growth.
Age of Bearded Dragons
If you’re adopting a bearded dragon at certain stages in its life, you must know each of its sizes.
Let’s see the average sizes and weight in the bearded dragon’s three life stages.
Baby Bearded Dragons
A newly born bearded dragon is normally three inches long and four grams heavy.
It can grow between eight and 11 inches within the next three months. A baby bearded dragon will also gain from ten to 50 grams a month.
Young Bearded Dragons
A young or juvenile bearded dragon ranges from four to 12 months.
For the next three months of this stage, it should grow between one to three inches in length and gain weight between 60 to 80 grams every month.
After the third month, its growth rate slows down to one to two inches and 50 to 70 grams a month.
By the end of this stage, it should be around eight to 24 inches long and 20 to 400 grams in weight.
Adult Bearded Dragons
We can divide this stage into two: sub-adult and fully grown.
A bearded dragon reaches sub-adulthood by months 12 to 17. It will undergo growth, although the changes will not be as noticeable as in previous stages.
Within these five months, it can grow up to an inch and gain 20 grams.
In its 18th month, the adult bearded dragon reaches full adulthood.
At this point, adult bearded dragons stop growing. But there are rare cases when its length extends to 26 inches.
The bearded dragon’s gender also dictates its size and growth. Below are things you must expect from your beardie, depending on their sex.
Size of Female Bearded dragons
The growth rate of a female beardie is slower, making them shorter and lighter when fully grown as a result. Their average length is 16 to 20 inches.
However, they mature much faster than their male counterpart. That means female bearded dragons are much longer and heavier than males in the juvenile stage.
Once they reach maturity in this stage, they grow at a much slower rate, if they continue growing at all.
Size of Male Bearded Dragons
Unlike a female bearded dragon, a male one is much longer and heavier than a fully grown beardie.
Its length range from 20 to 24 inches.
And because they reach maturity much slower than females, it’s normal for male dragons to be smaller than females as babies and juveniles.
They will eventually grow much bigger once they reach the adult stage.
Your beardie’s type also dictates how big it can grow. Below are the different bearded dragon species, a short description of each, and their different sizes.
This post won’t cover specifically bred bearded dragons to achieve a certain color.
Also known as the Coastal or Eastern bearded dragon, it is active during the daytime and is very territorial around others. It can grow up to 24 inches long.
Lawson’s or Rankin’s bearded dragons live in arid areas like the desert and enjoy climbing more than any other activity. Like coastal bearded dragons, they are active during the day.
They have a light beige color, a small beard, and dark stripes on the tail and chin. Lawson’s bearded dragons can grow up to 12 inches.
The Drysdale River bearded dragon is a rare species found in woodland areas, particularly in northwest Australia. It is the smallest among the bunch, growing four to six inches long and giving it the moniker small-scaled bearded dragon.
The Dwarf bearded dragon is another rare species that live in rocky areas. It can grow from 14 to 16 inches long.
Pogona Minor Minima
Another species found in dry woodlands, a Western bearded dragon can grow up to 12 inches long.
Pogona Minor Mitchelli
The Mitchell’s bearded dragon is another rare type commonly found in the desert and semi-tropical woodlands. It has large spikes on its head and can grow up to 18 inches long.
These rare lizards have white stripes on their back and spines on the side. They can grow up to 14 inches long.
The most popular among bearded dragons in the United States, they are awake during the day, enjoy climbing, and are very gentle. They can grow up to 24 inches in length.
Reasons why they might not grow properly
Given the ranges of a bearded dragon’s lengths and weights from the factors above, you can better monitor whether it is growing correctly under your care.
A bearded dragon that initially doesn’t grow to reach the ranges below or even goes over is no cause for concern.
But if your dragon continues to stop growing or loses weight for months, you should know why this is the case before things get worse.
Below are reasons why your beardie is having trouble keeping up with its growth:
Feeding your beardie is your top priority if you want it to mature properly.
However, the type of food you’re giving them is just as important, if not more so.
Some foods could cause more harm than to your bearded dragon, and below are some of them:
Wild insects – may contain parasites that could risk your bearded dragon’s health.
Citrus fruits, i.e., lemon and orange – could upset their stomach.
Avocados – contain chemicals that are harmful to reptiles and could kill them.
Beet tops and spinach – possess chemicals causing calcium deficiency among bearded dragons. Regular consumption of these could cause metabolic bone disease.
Rhubarb – contains oxalic acid that could be poisonous to bearded dragons.
Iceberg lettuce – has little nutritional value. Not as bad as other foods on this list, but you’re better off feeding your beardie with better and more nutrient-rich food.
If you’re feeding your bearded dragon any of these foods above, you need to stop as it’s stunting your bearded dragon growth.
By avoiding all of the food above, you’re already in the right direction of helping your beardie grow properly.
Bearded Dragon Feeding Tips
At this point, you must start feeding them with the right food from the very start.
During its first six months after its birth, a bearded dragon requires a protein-rich diet to grow properly. So, feed them 75-80% of insects like worms, crickets, and other insects bought from your pet store.
The 20-25% of your beardie’s diet could consist of vegetables like parsley, kale, and other leafy greens.
You can feed it with fruits such as apples, berries, mango, figs, and others. However, keep their fruit intake to a minimum as their sugar content can lead to obesity if fed too much.
Volume of food also counts. Below is the number of meals bearded dragons must eat at different stages in their lives:
Baby bearded dragons must be fed 3-5 times daily.
At the juvenile stage, feed them twice a day.
Sub-adults should be fed once a day.
A full-grown bearded dragon must be fed in rotation. On the first day, feed them vegetables; the next, insect; and the following day, nothing. Then repeat starting with vegetables again.
From baby to sub-adult, bearded dragons must consume more protein than vegetables, following the 75%-25% diet above (3:1 ratio). Depending on their appetite and size, they can consume between 30-80 insects per meal.
Their eating habits change once they reach full adulthood. Aside from decreasing food intake, their diet becomes more plant-based, which should consist of 75% of the meals they eat. The remaining 25% is for insects.
Also, always serve fresh water with the food you feed your beardie. Changing the water every time you serve them their meal is best.
Where you keep your bearded dragon also matters when it comes to achieving optimal growth.
Below are factors to consider when taking care of your beardie at home:
Most domesticated beardies live in a tank with the right size and equipment. That means you can’t just put a bearded dragon in any tank and expect it to grow correctly.
A tank too small for beardies restricts their movement and makes exploring impossible for them, resulting in inactivity and obesity.
From here, you’d think big and spacious tanks are the solution. Unfortunately, the massive size of the tank could stress out most bearded dragons, causing them to lose their appetite.
Below is the right tank size for each stage in a bearded dragon’s life:
Babies under 10 inches long must live in a 20-25 gallon tank.
Move juveniles between 10 and 16 inches long to a 40-gallon tank
Sub-adults between 16 and 20 inches must transfer to a 50-75 gallon tank.
Adults 20 inches longer or more could stay in a 75-gallon tank or be moved to a 120-gallon tank.
Your beardie’s size determines how big its tank should be. For instance, Drysdale bearded dragons that grow between 4-6 inches can live in a 25-gallon tank in their lifetime.
Aside from tank size, consider using proper UV lighting, especially for young beardies.
The light increases their metabolism and encourages physical activity. Both factors help bearded dragons from becoming overweight.
The UV rays also help beardies generate more vitamin D3 and aid in calcium absorption, leading to healthy bone growth.
When choosing a UV lamp for your bearded dragon’s tank, choose one that replicates natural sunlight with a UVI gradient of 0 (which is the index the furthest from the lamp) and 4.0-6.0 (the basking area, or the spot nearest from the lamp).
The distance of the bulb from your tank is also crucial.
Putting it far away from the tank prevents your beardie from receiving proper exposure. You don’t want the light source to be too near the tank either, as catching sight of the bulb could constantly strain your bearded dragon’s eyes.
In this case, use a UV index measuring tool to ensure that the UV index doesn’t go over or below the recommended ranges above. You can then reposition the light where it can give off optimal UV levels and not blind your beardie.
When using a lamp, ensure that no plastic or glass is blocking the UV rays from the lamp to your bearded dragon. These prevent your beardie from receiving UV radiation to promote its growth. Choose a screen cover instead of glass if you insist on using a cover.
Finally, Use the UV light to replicate the day and night cycles.
When the days are longer in the summertime, turn on the UV day lamp for 14-16 hours straight. During winter, expose your beardie to 10-12 hours of UV light.
The remaining hours are dedicated to turning on your night light to keep your bearded dragon warm, especially during the cold seasons. Use a thermostat to monitor the temperature in the tank and ensure
Regarding temperature, the daylight should be 88-100°F (31-38°C) in the basking spot, while nighttime is in the 70-75°F (21-24°C) range.
Aside from the tank or terrarium’s size, you must worry about the materials composing it that could impact your bearded dragon’s size growing up.
The most common tank for your beardie is made from glass.
These are sturdy compared to other types and are widely available in exotic pet stores. The screen lid allows UV light to pass through it and into the tank, helping regulate its humidity.
You can open most glass tanks from the front, which makes cleaning and taking your beardie in or out much easier.
On the downside, glass is a poor insulator, so you have constantly monitor the tank’s temperature and ensure that your bearded dragon is comfortable and not stressed out.
Let’s say you want to worry less about your terrarium’s humidity or live in a cold area.
In this case, a tank made from wood and glass may be a much better choice for you.
One side of the tank is made of glass, while the rest is wood, allowing you to pack the heat necessary for growing your bearded dragon.
Finally, tanks made from PVC plastic are perfect if you plan to adopt more than one bearded dragon at home. You can stack the terrarium to save space without breaking them.
The only downside of this tank type is it enforces you to constantly watch over its humidity level due to its poor airflow.
Where you place your tank or terrarium is another variable to consider to optimize bearded dragon growth.
As with most factors, you can’t just place your beardie anywhere in your home and expect it to grow to its fullest.
Below are tips to ensure that you put your bearded dragon in the correct area in your home:
Know how much room you need beforehand – We’ve listed down the different bearded dragon species and how big each of them can be. You should also know how large the tank you need to buy for them to live in. From here, you must find the place in your home that will accommodate their growth. You’ll need a small tank for your baby beardie, but the place should support a bigger terrarium when you move it there later.
Keep it out of reach from children – You won’t have this issue if you don’t live with children. If you do, make sure that they won’t be able to mess up your setup as it could affect your beardie’s living conditions, stunting its growth.
Keep your beardie away from direct sunlight – This may sound strange since using UV lights is to simulate sunlight rays indoors. However, a bearded dragon tank isn’t designed to be placed under the sun. The heat of the sunlight could stay trapped inside the tank, which could lead to life-threatening effects on your beardie.
Underlying Health Issue
If you’ve been observing the practices above and your beardie is still over or underweight, you need professional medical advice.
The stunted growth could be due to health issues that weren’t diagnosed beforehand and just manifested now.
In this case, bringing your bearded dragon to a trusted veterinarian specializing in reptile care should provide you with a cure to the problem.
The bearded dragon’s size depends on various factors like age, type, and gender. But to ensure that your beardie reaches its peak growth, you also need to take good care of it.
Providing a proper and nurturing environment for your bearded dragon will keep it growing to its fullest and happy.
Hopefully, this post details everything you need to know about how big bearded dragons grow and what you can do to keep them growing under your care.