If you’re considering adding a bearded dragon to your family, you may be looking to learn more about them.
One of the most important things to know about any pet is how big it will get – after all, you need to know how much room you will need to dedicate to keeping your beardie comfortable.
There are quite a few variables that can help determine how big your bearded dragon may get. Some of those variables include the animal’s health and nutrition, subspecies, and gender.
In this article, we cover all of those angles and can give you an idea of what to expect in each case, including a thorough discussion of the sizes of the most common subspecies of bearded dragons.
We also explain how to measure the size of your bearded dragon, the benefits of doing so, and when you can expect your dragon to be fully grown.
How Big Do Bearded Dragons Get?
Most bearded dragons average around 18″ to 21″ long and weigh approximiate 0.6 to 1.1 pounds at adulthood. Of course, this is a very general answer and can depend on a lot of variables!
In this article, we’ll be helping to clarify one of the essentials of bearded dragon ownership: exploring just how big bearded dragons grow, how quickly they grow, and how best to record this data to ensure your pet is fit and well.
How Fast does a Bearded Dragon Grow?
Bearded dragons are considered to be fully grown at around 18 months, though it is not uncommon for bearded dragons to reach their final length by the time they are a year old. As they start off at only 3-4 inches upon hatching, and can grow to be 24 inches long, they have a lot of growing to do in quite a short period of time!
This rapid growth is how a baby or ‘hatchling’ beardie is able to survive in the wild. While an adult bearded dragon is sizable enough to fend off or simply deter most of its natural predators, at just 3-inches, a freshly hatched juvenile is an easy meal. Therefore, this rapid growth helps increase the likelihood of a baby bearded dragon reaching maturity by minimising the amount of time the reptile is small and vulnerable.
Bearded dragons are classified into four different categories by age, which can be useful for owners to know in regards to monitoring growth rates:
- Hatchlings are beardies that are 0-2 months old
- When a beardie reaches 2 months, it is known as a juvenile until it is 7 months old
- Between 7 and 18 months, a bearded dragon is considered a sub-adult
- From 18 months and onwards, it has reached adulthood.
While freshly hatched bearded dragons will be around 3-4 inches in length, over the next 6 to 7 weeks, in optimal conditions, this length will double to approximately 6-8 inches.
At around three months, most well fed beardies will be approaching or exceeding a foot in length. By six months, roughly around the time when a bearded dragon reaches its sexual maturity, their length should increase to approximately 16 inches.
The last 8 inches will tend to appear gradually over the next year.
However, a captive bearded dragon’s growth rate is highly dependent on the level of care and the quality of nutrition they receive from their owners.
In the wild, a bearded dragon is able to source exactly what they need to grow, but in captivity, it is up to their owners to provide the best possible care.
Therefore, whilst it is possible to project the average growth rate of a bearded dragon, many owners may find the rate of growth for their beardie may take twice as long. Many captive beardies will not reach their full potential adult size.
How to Measure Your Bearded Dragon’s Size
A bearded dragons size is determined by measuring its length, which is a relatively easy process. To get an accurate measurement of your beardie’s size you should measure from the tip of their nose to the end of their tail.
It is important not to stop your measurement at the base of a beardie’s tail, as this will give you an inaccurate reading and could cause you undue worry in regards to the health of your dragon.
Once you have your dragons length measurement, you should check your numbers against the growth chart specific to your breed to make sure your beardie is reaching the correct growth markers.
How to Weigh Your Bearded Dragon
Weighing your dragon is also a great way to monitor its size, and also is good practice for helping to monitor the overall health of your beardie.
To do this, you should use a gram scale. While you could use a scale that can measure ounces, beardies rarely way over a pound.
Measuring your beardie in grams will give you a far more accurate measurement, and you can always convert this into imperial measurements after the fact, should you require.
Actually getting your beardie on to the scales, may require more effort. If your dragon is particularly docile, or basking, then they may pause on the scales long enough for you to record their weight.
However, for more energetic dragons, beardie owners have taken to using a variety of different methods to get an accurate reading.
Some opt to place their bearded dragon in a fabric bag, but this could cause your beardie undue stress. Others opt to place them in a container, and then place the container on to the scales. This is certainly a less stressful method, but you must be sure to account for the weight of the container when weighing your beardie, or you could accidentally record an inaccurate reading.
While plastic containers don’t weigh much, when you’re dealing with a creature that should be weighed in grams, it can actually make quite the difference!
Create a Growth Chart
You should record your measurements, and any other information you find pertinent, on a growth chart.
This can be as simple as a table noting the age, length and weight at various stages, but many professional bearded dragon owners will also note down the food they gave their beardie, and any supplements or vitamins given.
They also record the temperatures of the tank (ambient, basking, and nighttime), as well as the type of lighting used, and the hours on average that it was used.
This additional level of accuracy will help you to best keep track of your beardie’s development, and will help you to troubleshoot if their growth begins to plateau. You can then make adjustments, and document any improvements.
A Measured Bonus
Aside from monitoring the growth of your beardie, measuring your pet will also help determine your bearded dragon’s age if you didn’t raise it from a hatchling, and will also help you ascertain your beardie’s gender.
Bearded dragons, like humans, are dimorphic. This means that the males are typically larger than the females, and size can usually be a good initial indication of your beardie’s gender.
So long as your dragon isn’t too skittish, measuring them also provides you a good opportunity to give them a quick look over for any injuries, skin conditions, or any other factors which may be of concern.
Finally, measuring your dragon gives you a great opportunity to practice your handling skills, as well as allow your beardie to start to become familiar with you, and being held by you.
Species and their Sizes
The main factor that will impact how big your beardie will grow is its species or subspecies.
It is a common misconception that ‘standard’ bearded dragons (Pogona Vitticeps) are the sole form a beardie can take.
This is largely believed due to the fact that this is the most common species of domesticated bearded dragon. However, there are actually a large variety of subspecies: some wild, others perfect as pets.
Below are some of the most common types of beardie you might come to own, and how large you can expect them to grow.
Bear in mind, these are averages and every beardie is different. These averages also reflect the projected size for a bearded dragon in the wild, and it is not uncommon for dragons in captivity to be around 10% smaller than their wild counterparts due to the difference in nutrients when growing.
Like with most species, the males are slightly larger than the females, and usually have noticeably larger heads.
The Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona Vitticeps)
As mentioned, this is the most common bearded dragon you’re likely to come across and is the species that most people envision when picturing a beardie in their minds. For this type of beardie, you should expect a final length (from nose to tail-tip) of around 18 to 22 inches. A general weight range for the Central Bearded Dragon is anywhere between 0.6 to 1.1 pounds.
Rankins Dragon (Henrylawsoni)
This is another common bearded dragon subspecies, though they are notably smaller than the Central Bearded Dragon. In fact, to the untrained eye, they could possibly be mistaken for a gecko, or another type of small lizard. These dragons are popular for those who want to own a bearded dragon, but do not have the room for a larger Central Bearded Dragon. Rankins Dragons grow to approximately 8 to 10 inches and should usually weigh anywhere between 0.1 to 0.2 pounds.
Eastern/Coastal Bearded Dragon (Pogona Barbata)
This beardie, though less common than the central version, is very similar in size. This subspecies is usually around 18 to 24 inches in length. This beardie is darker in color than its central counterpart, and tends to weigh around 0.6 to 1.1 pounds.
Dwarf Bearded Dragon (Pogona Minor Minima)
This is the adorable pocket-sized version of the central bearded dragon, and can have similar markings, or those of a more orange or rust-toned hue. In terms of length, adult dwarf bearded dragons tend to reach between 14 to 18 inches in length, and should weigh around 0.1 to 0.2 pounds, similar to the Rankins Dragon.
Mitchell’s Bearded Dragon (Pogona Minor Mitchelli)
These bearded dragons sit in the middle of the size spectrum at around 18 inches in length, and tend to have a rusted orange hue that is distinct, but not as vibrant as the the dwarf bearded dragon’s. As this is a beardie which is not as common as a pet, accurate weight expectations seem hard to find. However, if we assume an average length to weight ratio, then it is fair to suggest that a Mitchell’s bearded dragons weight should sit between that of the central bearded dragon, and that of the Rankins dragon.
Western Bearded Dragon (Pogona minor minima)
This is a rare beardie that you are unlikely to ever have as a pet. Native to Western Australia and the the Houtman Albrohos islands, these dragons have skinny bodies and streamlined ‘flat’ heads, and are usually around 12 inches in length.
Drysdale River Bearded Dragon (Pogona microlepidota)
This sub-species of bearded dragon is very rare. It is only being found in Kimberly West Australia and is not commonly domesticated. One of the smallest beardie subspecies, the Drysdale River Bearded Dragon has attractive markings, and only reaches around 4-6 inches when fully grown.
Nullarbor Bearded Dragon (Pogona nullarbor)
Another dragon not commonly domesticated, the Nullarbor bearded dragon is native to South Australia, and is covered in spiky scales. As an adult, it is usually around 14 inches in length, putting it in the middle in terms of the size of bearded dragon subspecies.
While bearded dragons are highly rewarding pets to own, they also require a lot of specialised care, and require a knowledgeable hand to properly grow and flourish.
They can be highly reactive to their environment and diet, both of which can either positively or negatively impact their weight and well being.
Therefore, purchasing a bearded dragon should never be a spontaneous decision, and you should do a great deal of research before making a decision.
However, should you find yourself in possession of a beardie short notice, there are a wealth of care sheets and bearded dragon forums online that will help you get up to speed quickly, as well as answer any of your burning questions.
If you become overly concerned with the growth, weight, or development of your beardie, do not hesitate to take your pet to a vet or reptile specialist.
It truly is better to be safe than sorry, and while your concerns may pan out to be nothing serious, your vet will be able to give you sound advice to best ensure your bearded dragons health.