Bearded dragons are indeed lizards in the family Agamidae from Australia. Seven species of these reptiles exist. Also, a few are frequently seen in homes as pets. Central or inland bearded dragons (Pogona
Bearded dragons, in the wild and captivity, can have wildly different lifespans. As a pet, a bearded dragon will live for an average of about 10 years.
The following information will be addressing bearded dragons lifespan:
- how long bearded dragons live in captivity
- the case for keeping bearded dragons
- bearded dragons in the wild
- how to maximize your bearded dragons lifespan
- feed your bearded dragons the right food
How Long Bearded Dragons Live in Captivity
Most sources will tell you that: A bearded dragon you keep as a pet will live for an average of about 10 years. This is mostly true.
Generally speaking, bearded dragons you keep in healthy conditions, will live between 8 and 12 years. While rare, there have been verified cases of bearded dragons living for 15 years or longer.
To give your bearded dragon the best chance at living a longer life, you have to give them the best care possible.
The Case for Keeping Bearded Dragons
Physically, bearded dragons always impress reptile hobbyists. And pretty much everyone else. In general, bearded dragons have a distinctive triangle-shaped head that is covered in spikes. Therefore, these spikes extend to the underside of the animal’s jaw. Forming the namesake “beard.”
This beard can puff out to intimidate enemies and deter predators. Meanwhile, these remarkable reptiles are stocky and stout, with short muscular legs. Likewise, they usually come in earthy tones of
- brown, and
- sometimes green.
However, it’s not even all about looks with bearded dragons. They’re also popular because of their unique personality. Also, many lizards and other cold-blooded creatures don’t pay their human companions much attention.
However, bearded dragons tend to be very interested in what you’re up to. They may even track your movements as you walk across the room. Increasingly, humans know them for being remarkably personable. In particular, bearded dragons often form a special bond with their owner or keeper.
Bearded Dragons in the Wild
Bearded dragons are endemic to certain parts of Australia. Therefore, they inhabit deserts, savannas, and woodlands. Thus, as cold-blooded creatures, they naturally spend much of their day basking in the sun to absorb heat. Wild bearded dragons must scavenge for food in harsh environments.
Thus, this has given them the ability to eat a diverse diet. This is another fun thing about owning one. That is, getting to feed them an interesting array of foods, instead of the same old thing every time that quickens death.
How to Maximize Your Bearded Dragon’s Lifespan
The best way to ensure a bearded dragon grows to its full potential and lives as long as possible is to take excellent care of it.
Feed Your Bearded Dragon the Right Foods
Feeding your bearded dragon the right mix of foods is necessary for their good health.
Therefore, fruits and vegetables are a mainstay for bearded dragons. Meanwhile, here are some things that are healthy for them:
- sweet potato
- green beans, etc.
Just remember to chop or shred these foods as needed to accommodate the size of your bearded dragon.
Insects are a vital source of protein in your bearded dragon’s diet. Baby bearded dragons will eat more insects than produce. As they age, they’ll eat more fruits and veggies.
The following insects are safe to feed your bearded dragon.
- dubia Roaches
- super Worms
- king worms
Initially, you can opt for younger, smaller insects when your bearded dragon is a juvenile. Thereafter, you can graduate to bigger
- worms, and/or
- roaches, as your dragon grows.
Thus, for the sake of your dragon’s health, don’t feed it wild-caught insects. Doing so can result in your pet contracting a potentially fatal disease.
Feeder insects are gut-fed a special diet that is safe and nutritious for your bearded dragon.
Even if you provide a nutritious and diverse diet to your bearded dragon, you still have to supplement their diet with a bit of a vitamin boost.
However, deficiency in essential vitamins can lead to dire health consequences. Which we’ll talk more about later.
Most captive bearded dragons need to be given a calcium supplement. These usually come in powder form. Thus, you can just sprinkle some on top of their food.
Food to Avoid
Whatever you do, avoid feeding your bearded dragon the following foods. They could be dangerous, and even deadly.
Avocados aren’t a good choice for bearded dragon food. In particular, they contain a substance that can be toxic to them.
Be aware that rhubarb is poisonous to bearded dragons. Thus, never give them even a small amount.
Insects that light up (like firebugs) should never be used to feed a bearded dragon. These bugs are highly toxic and can be fatal.
Impaction in Bearded Dragons
Impaction happens when a bearded dragon swallows something that isn’t edible. Thus, if it can’t digest the foreign object, the lizard can become impacted or unable to pass the item through its digestive system.
Therefore, one of the most common ways this happens is when a bearded dragon accidentally eats a piece of loose substrate.
Symptoms of Impaction
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell if impaction has happened until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to pay attention. And take action right away if you notice any symptoms.
- Low or no appetite
- Obvious discomfort, particularly in the abdominal area
- Sudden weight loss
- Awkward movements, trouble walking
- Low energy, not moving
Therefore, if you suspect impaction. Take your bearded dragon to the vet immediately.
Metabolic Bone Disease in Bearded Dragons
Metabolic Bone Disease affects far too many captive reptiles. Thus, MBD results from a lack of calcium. It can be debilitating and even deadly.
Chronic calcium deficiency causes the reptile’s body to respond. By attempting to pull calcium from wherever it can. “Wherever” is usually the animal’s bones.
Whereas, this depletion can eventually cause a cascade of potentially fatal symptoms.
Symptoms of MBD
Here are some ways to tell that a bearded dragon may have a metabolic bone disease:
- Receding or swelling of the jaw area
- Low appetite
- Abnormal movements, jerking or shaking, etc.
Treating Metabolic Bone Disease
If you discover it early enough. MBD in bearded dragons can yield to treatment. This usually involves administering high-dose supplementation of calcium and medications. Especially, those that can help the calcium to be properly absorbed. Thus, these may be given orally or as an injection.
The number one thing you can do to minimize the risk of MBD in your bearded dragon is to provide the following:
- nutritious diet
- plenty of protein
- phosphorous, and
- calcium is necessary to sustain the optimal health of your lizard.
Second, ensure consistent, healthy light and dark cycles. Therefore, use your lighting system to simulate a natural day/night cycle.
Next, be sure your bearded dragon is getting sufficient UVA/UVB exposure every day. You can make sure this happens by installing a UV light in the enclosure.
Infections in Bearded Dragons
An unhealthy bearded dragon could be suffering from an infection. Hence, if you leave it without treatment, many infections can become deadly. These infections usually originate in unsanitary tank conditions.
Common Types of Bearded Dragon Infections
Sometimes called stargazing disease, or wasting disease. Thus, this awful affliction most commonly attacks the stomach, liver, and intestine. Mostly, it affects younger bearded dragons.
Likewise, adenovirus usually causes weakness, fatigue and loss of appetite. Therefore, if allowed to go untreated, this condition is almost certainly fatal.
Also called “mouth rot,”. Thus, infectious stomatitis is not as common as some of the other items on this list. However, it can afflict bearded dragons and is something to be aware of.
Telling signs of this condition include:
- discharge from the mouth area
- swelling of the jaw, and
- general lack of enthusiasm.
Mouth rot is treated internally and topically with antiseptic mouth rinse. As well as, injected antibiotics.
Parasites in Bearded Dragons
There are a few different types of parasites that your bearded dragon could be playing host to. Some are fairly harmless, others, not so much. Therefore, the most common parasite found in bearded dragons is probably pinworms.
These tiny worms take up residence in an animal’s intestinal tract. And siphon away nutrition for themselves.
An external parasite problem for bearded dragons comes in the form of tiny mites. These invasive bugs can cause your lizard lots of distress. Particularly, by burrowing into their scales, leading to irritation and pain.
To prevent parasites, follow all the aforementioned sanitation rules. Next, limit contact with other reptiles unless you’re sure they’re parasite free.