For beginner reptile keepers, bearded dragons—also known as “beardies”—are often a popular choice thanks to their friendly nature and relaxed approach to life. As hatchlings, bearded dragons fit nicely into your palm, which is great for early socialization and getting them used to handling. Beware, though—these adorable hatchlings grow rapidly in the first 3 months at a rate of around 2 inches per month.
In this post, we’ll explain how big bearded dragons should be at different ages and reveal just how large these lizards can get. Brace yourself!
How Fast Do Bearded Dragons Grow?
As hatchlings, bearded dragons are vulnerable to predators due to their small size, so, to compensate, they grow at a pretty rapid rate. Their growth rate is accelerated in the hatchling (0–2 months) phase, in which they grow at around 2 inches per month and reach 8–11 inches. At the 3-month mark when they head into the juvenile phase (3–11 months), they start to grow more slowly.
As juveniles, bearded dragons typically grow around 1–1.5 inches per month, and, at this time, they start to put on more weight. As hatchlings, they gain around 10–15 grams per month, and, as juveniles, this ups to around 50 grams per month.
Bearded dragons continue growing until they’re between 18 and 24 months old, by which point they should have reached their maximum size. Check out this growth chart to get a better idea.
|Hatchling (0 – 2 months)||3 – 9 inches|
|Juvenile (3 – 11 months)||8 – 11 inches (3-month mark) up to 16 – 22 inches approx. (11-month mark)|
|Sub-Adult (12 – 18 months)||16 – 24 inches|
How Large Do Bearded Dragons Get?
This depends on a number of factors which we’ll get into further down, but bearded dragons can grow up to between 16 and 24 inches long. Fully grown, the bearded dragon can weigh more than 500 grams.
What Influences Growth?
As hatchlings, it’s difficult to guess exactly how big your bearded dragon will get because certain factors influence the growth rate. One of the major factors is bloodlines.
If you’re able to get a look at your bearded dragon’s parents, this will give you a good idea of how large they’ll become. Another factor is sex. Male bearded dragons tend to be larger than females with thicker tails and bigger heads.
The environment you keep your bearded dragon and how well they’re cared for are other major factors in determining growth rate and size. If a bearded dragon is kept in a tank too small for them or is fed a poor diet, they won’t be able to reach their full growth potential. A well-cared-for bearded dragon can grow properly and enjoy a lifespan of around 10–15 years.
What Size Tank Does a Bearded Dragon Need?
Bearded dragons outside the hatchling phrase need a tank between 55 and 120 gallons to be happy, healthy, and grow appropriately. Whether your tank is closer to 55 gallons or 120 gallons depends on the life stage your bearded dragon is at and their size.
For example, a juvenile bearded dragon might do just fine in a 55-gallon tank, but 55 gallons is simply too small for fully-grown bearded dragons. Adult bearded dragons need to live in a tank closer to the 120-gallon mark.
Please note that the below chart is just a guide—if you’re having difficulty choosing the correct tank size for your bearded dragon, please consult your vet or an experienced reptile keeper.
|Life Stage and Bearded Dragon Size||Tank Size|
|Hatchling up to 10 inches||20 – 40 gallons|
|Juvenile up to 18 inches||55 – 75 gallons|
|Fully-grown adult over 18 inches||75 – 120 gallons|
Other Tank Requirements
Our 4 Bearded Dragon Care Tips
Appropriate heating is critically important for bearded dragons as we want to replicate their natural environment. The daytime tank temperature should be maintained between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The nighttime temperature should be between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The basking spot should be between 88 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bearded dragons need UV lighting for 12–14 hours per day in spring and summer and 8 hours in fall and winter. You’ll need both a UVA and UVB light for your beardie’s tank. It’s best to keep the tank away from windows because UVB doesn’t pass through glass. The tank should be kept dark at night to ensure your bearded dragon can sleep.
As omnivores, bearded dragons eat a variety of invertebrates and plant material. Suitable vegetables include broccoli, Swiss chard, bok choy, watercress, bell peppers, green beans, and chicory. Examples of suitable meat proteins include grasshoppers, mealworms, crickets, and locusts. These lists are far from exhaustive—there are plenty of tasty vegetables and critters your beardie can enjoy!
Younger bearded dragons need to eat more live invertebrates than fully-grown adults do. They typically eat around 65% live invertebrates and 35% greens, whereas adults need approximately 60% greens and 40% live invertebrates. You’ll also need to get hold of some vitamin and mineral powder—a supplement used to dust live food before it is fed to bearded dragons.
The tank’s humidity level should fall between 20% and 40%. You can check humidity levels with a hygrometer.
Bearded dragons make wonderful pets for beginners and experienced reptile-keepers alike. However, they grow at a rapid rate, so if you’re considering acquiring one of these lovely lizards, you’ll need to make sure you have a tank appropriate for their size and life stage equipped with all the essentials needed to grow healthy, happy beardies.
If you have any questions or concerns about bearded dragons, please have a chat with your vet to learn more about the best way to care for them.
Featured Image Credit: Joyce Mar, Shutterstock