The bearded dragon's scientific name is Pogona Vitticeps and they are medium-sized lizards which are generally 12-24 inches in length from their head to tip of their tail. There are many different bearded dragon colors which sometimes can help tell you what environment they came from.
Heads - The bearded dragon's head is triangular shaped and contains rows of spikes that resemble thorns. Beneath their head the bearded dragon will have rows of spiked scales which, when puffed up, resemble a beard. These scales can also change colors, turning darker when breeding or provoked.
Body - The bearded dragon is supported by four stout legs and have well-muscled flat bodies with rows of spikes that run down each side of their abdomen. Their tail is generally half the length of their body and, unlike other lizards, will not fall off and regenerate when threatened.
Where are Bearded Dragons From
Bearded dragons are only naturally found in Australia's desert regions. Generally they are found in the southeastern area of Northern Territory and the eastern half of South Australia. Their habitats include woodlands, savannas, and deserts. It is not uncommon to find them basking on branches, stumps, or rocks during the mornings.
Bearded dragons were not introduced to the United States until the 1990's. Since then they have dramatically increased in popularity and can be found in just about every major pet store.
How Big Do Bearded Dragons Get
The size and length of a bearded dragon depends on a couple of factors including:
Their diet and health
Bearded Dragon Species Size
The most common bearded dragon species is the Pogona Vitticeps, so the chances are if you have a bearded dragon, is is this species. The chart below shows the max size based on the type of bearded dragon, but keep in mind that most dragons will not grow to be as big as their max size.
SpeciesLengthPogona Vitticeps24 InchesPogona Barbata24 InchesPogona Minor Mitchelli18 InchesPogona Minor Minor14 to 18 InchesPogona Nullabor14 InchesPogona Henrylawsoni12 InchesPogona Minor Minima12 InchesPogona Microlepidota4 to 6 Inches
Bearded Dragon Size Based on Environment
Bearded dragons will only grow to the max size that their environment allows. This means if you put a young bearded dragon (that's not finished growing) in a cage/tank that is too small, then they will not be able to grow to their full size.
Most bearded dragons will become sexually mature by 8-12 months of age. This is the point where you can differentiate the difference between males and females. So once you are able to distinguish a bearded dragon's gender, you can assume that he/she is 8-12 months old.
Please keep in mind that there is no way you can accurately determine a bearded dragon's age without contacting the breeder. Bearded dragons are like people, some develop faster/slower and are larger than others at different times of their life.
Bearded Dragon Lifespan
Bearded dragons are normally very healthy and hardy lizards. However, their lifespan depends on many factors. The chart below highlights different age ranges you can expect from your bearded dragon:
5 to 8 Years
This is the max age bearded dragons get in the wild and is generally how long a dragon will live if their owner just does the basics and doesn't pay any attention to their bearded dragon's diet or health.
8 to 12 Years
This is the likely lifespan of a bearded dragon that is kept healthy and is watched closely by their owner.
12 to 14 Years
Generally the max lifespan of bearded dragons that are kept in captivity.
It is very rare for bearded dragons to surpass 14 years in age, however there have been rumors of dragons living to be as old as 19 years...but it has never been officially proven.
Bearded Dragons As Pets
Bearded dragons were first introduced to the United States in the 1990's and since then they have rapidly increased in popularity as pets. So why are bearded dragons loved as pets?
Bearded dragons are usually gentle by nature and you rarely hear of an aggressive bearded dragon, especially towards humans. In fact, bearded dragons do not attack when threatened. Instead they freeze, puff their throat, and may change colors.
Beardies are easy to maintain as well. They don't require walks and following a basic routine can be more than enough care for a bearded dragon to live into it's teens. On top of this, they enjoy being handled and stroked by people. They may squirm the first few times they are held, but will eventually recognize their owner and will sit, relax, and perch on a person's body.
Determining the Gender of Your Bearded Dragon
Figuring out if your bearded dragon is a male or female is somewhat important. After all, you do have to choose some cool bearded dragon names and it helps if you know their gender.
There are a lot of shortcuts that people try to take when determining if their bearded dragon is male or female. However, most of these quick 'tricks' are not always accurate.
Methods NOT to Use:
Size - While males are generally larger, it isn't always the case. Some females will be larger than males.
Behavior - Some people suggest that males will only have certain behavioral traits such as turning their beards black and that females are usually the dragons which wave their arms…however this isn't always the case either.
More Accurate Ways to Determine a Bearded Dragon's Gender
There are some more accurate ways to quickly determine your dragon's sex without having to take him/her to a vet.
Male bearded dragons generally have larger wider heads than female bearded dragons. However, if you only have one bearded dragon, it will be hard to determine what the "Average" head size should be. Therefore you can really only use this technique if you know the age of your bearded dragon and you can compare it to another male/female bearded dragon of the same age.
Male bearded dragon's tails are usually thicker at the base and a female's tail will be thinner and more slender. However, you would need to have another bearded dragon to compare the tail to. Also, the tail tends to get a bit thicker with age, so an older female bearded dragon's tail could be close to the same size as a younger male bearded dragon's tail.
The most accurate way to determine your bearded dragon's sex (without going to a vet or doing anything too invasive) is by looking at their underside to see if you can recognize any gender specific body parts.
You can do this by lifting their tail and looking beneath it (look just above the vent/slit). Keep in mind that when you lift their tail you should be very gentle and never lift it above 90 degrees. Your bearded dragon will need to be old enough that you can accurately determine their sex. All young bearded dragons appear to be female, so you will need to wait until your beardie is more developed (usually when they are 7-9 inches in length).
Male bearded dragons will have two bumps with a dimple between them above the vent. These bumps will become more prevalent the older your bearded dragon is. Below is a picture of what a male bearded dragon looks like:
Female bearded dragons, on the other hand, will have a raised bump in the middle of their tail right above the vent. As mentioned earlier, nearly all bearded dragons appear to be female until they are matured, so if your bearded dragon is still fairly young, don't be too certain that she's a she just yet.
Interesting Bearded Dragon Facts
Below are some fun and interesting facts about the bearded dragon.
Why are they called bearded dragons?
Bearded dragons are called "bearded" because of the spikes and scales they have around their head resembles a beard. They use this as a defense mechanism and will expand/puff their throat whenever they feel threatened.
Is my bearded dragon Australian?
No, Australia made it illegal to export any wildlife in the 1960's. It is believed that all the bearded dragons found outside of Australia were smuggled out of the country from the 1970's to the early 1990's. The general population of bearded dragons in the United States is so large now that it is unnecessary to import any more, since they can easily be bred.
Bearded dragons produce venom
In 2005 the bearded dragon community was surprised to learn that researchers at Australia's Melbourne University discovered that bearded dragons produce a mild venom. Since the venom is harmless to humans (and a majority of other animals), many researchers believe it was once a trait used by the lizard's ancestors in the past when hunting.
Bearded dragons don't regenerate body parts
Unlike some lizards, bearded dragons will not re-grow tails, legs, or anything else. So if your bearded dragon has lost his or her tail, it will not regrow.