Bearded dragons are popular pets known to live between 8 and 15 years in captivity. A full-sized beardie should measure between 16 – 24 inches. It can be challenging to tell the age of a bearded dragon before they achieve adulthood, just like with most reptiles.
Are you trying to figure out how old your bearded dragon is? This guide will show you the three significant ways to determine the age of a bearded dragon – or at least have an estimate. We will also discuss other things, such as factors that determine the size of a bearded dragon. Read on.
How to Tell the Age of a Bearded Dragon?
Follow the steps below to know your bearded dragon’s age:
- Contact the breeder.
- Ask who you are buying from.
- Measure their length.
- Check whether they’ve reached sexual maturity.
- Consult a vet.
Here’s a detailed look at how to tell the age of a bearded dragon;
1. Contact the Breeder
Contacting the breeder is one of the surest ways to tell their age. If there’s a way to contact the pet store or the breeder, they’ll provide the exact date of birth as well as other information.
This is not easy, though, as not all pet stores provide the contact information of who the breeder is, which makes it harder to know. Sometimes even if you know who the breeder is, they may not be sure which exact beardie you purchased.
You may be lucky enough to find the details of the bearded dragon if the breeder can track back. That way, you will learn more about their medical information and who the beardie’s parents were.
2. Ask from Who You’re Buying From
If you’re buying from the store, there’s a likelihood that they’ll also provide other details of the pet, including age information.
Some do keep the records from the breeder, including the date they received them, which can assist you in doing the math based on their age then.
This may not always be the case as some won’t have such information. Make sure to ask for the breeder’s contact if possible.
3. Measure Your Bearded Dragon
One thing is true with beardies – they all grow at about the same rate. As such, you can tell their age by measuring their size, especially if they are under 1 year of age. Once they reach a year, the growth is less, making this method less helpful.
To do this, use a tape to measure the length of the beardie. Avoid forcing the dragon as this could cause stress.
Instead, do this when they are concentrating on something such as food. Keep in mind that male bearded dragon grows slightly bigger than females when they reach six months.
The chart below will show the lengths of young bearded dragons with age (in months). All length measurements are indicated in inches.
|0 to 1 month
|3 – 4
|5 – 9
|8 – 11
|9 – 12
|5 to 6 months
|11 – 18
|7 to 8 months
|13 – 20
|16 – 22
It’s evident that some of the measurements overlap with dragons of different ages, so it’s not too accurate, but it can give you an estimate.
The difference may be caused by the species, so ensure you know your beardie’s breed. Some of the members of bearded dragon species grow to about 18 inches, while others grow to two feet.
There are small breeds of bearded dragons that grow to only about a foot. Others are dwarfs that measure only 4 – 6 inches.
4. Determine Sexual Maturity
Bearded dragons achieve sexual maturity between 8 to 12 months. Otherwise, they are likely to be younger than this. A sure way to determine if a bearded dragon has achieved sexual maturity is to check the tail for bulges. Bearded dragons that are yet to reach sexual maturity will have no bulges at all.
You can also determine their gender by checking the bulges. If there are two bulges, it’s likely your pet bearded dragon is male, and if there is just one, it’s a female.
However, this method has a downside because if they’ve reached sexual maturity, you may never know when they reached it.
Also, if the lumps are not there, you may need to wait until they appear. Once you notice them, your beardie is anywhere between 8 months to a year old.
5. Consult the Vet
If you are not getting any concrete results from other methods, you can contact the vet and request for an assessment.
While the vet cannot technically tell the exact age, they can conduct a close examination and provide a close estimate. Make sure it’s a vet who has actual experience with bearded dragons and not just any other reptile.
How Big Do Bearded Dragons Get?
Bearded dragons can grow as big as 1.1 pounds in weight and measure up to 24 inches in length. After reaching sexual maturity around the time they are one and half years old, they will attain their full size.
In the wild, beardies take longer to fill out their bellies and gain a thick tail base due to a shortage of regular meals.
However, the German Giant morph is uniquely bred to have a big body, and they can at times grow up to 32 inches in length and weigh up to 1000 grams.
Size of a Baby Bearded Dragon
Upon hatching, baby bearded dragons weigh as little as 4 grams and measure around 3 inches in length.
During their first months, they experience a fast growth rate, and they can gain approximately 3 to 11 inches in length within the first three months, which is around 4 to 6 inches per month.
To gain massive weight in such a short period, the beardie requires high protein meals consisting primarily of feeder insects and UVA/UVB rays to maintain this growth.
Size of a Juvenile Bearded Dragon
Juvenile bearded dragons aged 2 to 7 months can weigh around 280 grams and measure about 14 inches in length.
Their bodies are still growing during this stage, although at a slower rate of approximately 1 to 3 inches per month. They also gain around 10 to 50 grams in weight each month during their juvenile age.
Size of an Adult Bearded Dragon
The size of an adult bearded dragon will vary depending on the morph typically grows up to 22 inches in length and weighs around 550 grams.
After achieving sexual maturity, their growth will taper off, and they are likely to maintain the same length and weight for the rest of their lifetime.
However, they may get overweight if they are fed an improper diet with fat build-up along the belly, legs, and tail base.
5 Factors That Influence the Size of a Bearded Dragon
When you first purchase your tiny baby bearded dragon, you can’t help but start guessing how big it will grow.
Expect their growth to be extreme because the juveniles grow extremely quickly during their first few months. Here are some of the factors that influence how fast they grow.
Like with all creatures, genetics play a massive role in determining the size of a bearded dragon. To be sure about the size of your dragon, you may ask the breeder who the parents are, as these determinants are inherited from parentages.
As noted earlier, gender influences size. Females are typically smaller than adults, both in length and bearded dragon’s head size.
Their differences are visible in their femoral pores, bumps in the base area of the tail, and physical size.
Beardies that feed on a suitable diet can grow much bigger than those with deficiencies. Avoid low-nutrient foods like iceberg lettuce as these are likely to stunt their growth.
Also, keep off high-fat insects like grubs as they may cause obesity in beardies while leaving nutrient deficiencies.
Remember that juveniles should not eat the same diet as adults. Juveniles should eat more protein than adults, preferably 75% insect and 25% plant foods and fruits. On the other hand, adults require 75% greens and 25% insects.
The environment is also a determinant when it comes to the size of bearded dragons. You need to make sure they have enough space in their enclosure. A small tank size can stunt their growth as they lack a space to exercise and thrive.
Juveniles can live in a 40-gallon tank, but adult bearded dragons need not less than a 120-gallon enclosure. Besides, they need to have the correct lighting in the tank, a UVB light, and supplements.
Without enough and correct lighting and bulbs, the dragon will suffer stunted growth and won’t be able to absorb the nutrients needed to synthesize vitamin D. Without UVA/B rays, the beardie can suffer metabolic bone disease.
Beardie owners need to exercise general care if their beardie is to reach the right size and weight. Illnesses like impaction, parasites, and more will prevent the beardie from absorbing enough nutrients.
The issues will take a toll on your pet’s psychological function, leading to slower growth. Also, if you notice unusual signs like sluggish behavior, bloating, weight loss, and appetite loss, you should consult a vet immediately.
4 Causes for Slow Growth Rate in Bearded Dragons
There are a few factors that stunt the growth of bearded dragons. Some of them include;
1. Improper UVB lighting
To stay healthy, your bearded dragon needs a consistent supply of UVA and UVB lighting. Be careful that the kind of bulb you buy offers the right amount of UVB for the size of your bearded dragon.
A lack of enough UVB light can lead to serious health issues like brittle and weak bones due to being unable to absorb calcium in their diet properly.
2. Insufficient Diet
During the first three months (the baby phase), bearded dragons should eat plenty of protein. They should also eat more frequently, up to three times a day.
You can either grow your insects or buy from a reputable breeder or supply retailer to avoid exposing your pet to insecticides. Gradually decrease the number of insects to more veggies as your beardie grows.
3. Early Brumation
During brumation, bearded dragons eat less, sleep more and slow down. It’s their way to cope during the cold months. While this is a normal process even in captivity, it can be problematic if it occurs early.
If it occurs during the first year when the growth is high, it might slow down growth. If this happens for you, consult a vet for a plan.
If your beardie gets seriously sick, it’s going to affect how big they end up. This can happen in various ways. For example, decreased appetite will lead to insufficient food consumption.
Besides, it could be a parasite causing disease and stealing vital nutrients required for growth. To prevent illnesses, avoid insects from the wild, keep the enclosure clean, offer proper lighting, keep their water clean, and maintain healthy humidity levels.
Doing these can minimize the chances of sickness significantly and support growth.
How Fast Do Bearded Dragons Grow?
Many owners want to know the growth of a new pet to plan accordingly. You want to be sure about the time and resources to care for your beardie from childhood to adulthood properly.
Although some beardies will continue to grow in the second year, the peak is usually the first 12 months. The bearded dragon is likely to reach the maximum length of 15 – 18 inches.
Don’t be surprised if the beardie doesn’t grow to such lengths. It’s likely they’ll add an inch or two in the second year.
It should be noted that around 1 year is when the dragon starts to put on some weight.
Knowing the age of your bearded dragon is important, even if it’s just a rough idea and not the exact date. As your beardie ages, they will require specialized diets and supplements, so it’s crucial that you have an idea of how old they are and the sort of care they need.
We have covered some practical methods to determine the age of your beardie that you can try out.