Bearded Dragon Lifespan (How Long, Wild, Captivity)

Bearded Dragon Lifespan

According to a study by the University of Sydney, the average lifespan of bearded dragons in captivity is about 10-15 years.

Another study revealed that the lifespan of bearded dragons in the wild is much shorter than in captivity, which is 5-10 years. This is because they face many threats and challenges, such as predators, diseases, parasites, competition, and harsh weather conditions.

The longest recorded lifespan of a bearded dragon in captivity is 18 years. This was achieved by a bearded dragon named Sebastian, who lived in the UK and died in 2016. Sebastian was a central bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps), which is the most common species of bearded dragon kept as a pet.

Bearded dragons have become incredibly popular pets in recent years. Their calm, friendly nature combined with their unique appearances make them very appealing reptiles to keep. However, before getting a bearded dragon, it’s important to understand how long they typically live. 

A bearded dragon’s life span can vary based on several factors, and their proper care and housing impacts their longevity significantly. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the typical bearded dragon life expectancy and what goes into maximizing your pet’s life.

Bearded Dragon Lifespan in Captivity

Bearded Dragon Lifespan in Captivity
Bearded Dragon Lifespan in Captivity

When kept as pets, bearded dragons have the potential to live significantly longer lifespans compared to their lives in the wild. With proper captive care, these lizards can exceed 10 years and even reach ages of 15-18.

In the wilds of Australia where bearded dragons originate, they average 5-6 years due to the many threats and challenges they face. Their harsh natural environment provides limited food and water resources. They are also preyed upon frequently by snakes, birds of prey, dingos, and other larger reptiles. Parasites and illness often cut their lives short as well. But when brought into captivity and cared for appropriately, bearded dragons are able to live free from these survival pressures.

The average lifespan for a pet bearded dragon is approximately 10-12 years. Some may unfortunately die earlier due to improper husbandry, while others with premium care and a bit of luck have been known to push 15-17 years and occasionally reach 18-20. The record for longest living bearded dragon was an 18 year old lizard named Sebastian. With the proper habitat setup, nutrition, and veterinary care, most bearded dragons in captivity can achieve lifespans on the longer end of the natural bell curve.

Several key factors enable bearded dragons to reach their maximum longevity potential as pets. This includes housing them in roomy terrariums or enclosures that allow ample heating and UV light for healthy development. Caregivers must provide a balanced diet including greens, vegetables, some fruits, and appropriately gut loaded insects. Annual vet check ups plus prompt medical attention for any issues prevents minor problems from becoming life threatening. Keeping their environment clean and stimulating also reduces illness risks.

Given attention to their habitat parameters, dietary needs, regular health checks, and general wellbeing, many bearded dragons thrive past 10 years of age. The protection from predators, regulated climate, medical oversight by a veterinarian, and lack of parasites supports their extended lifespans. With proper care, 10-15 years can be expected on average, with some but fewer exceeding 15 years.

In the wild, pygmy bearded dragons live an average of 5-6 years. This is a few years shorter than the larger inland bearded dragon species.

As pets, pygmy bearded dragons generally live 8-12 years with proper captive care. Their lifespan in captivity can exceed their wild average.

Fancy bearded dragons are hardy lizards capable of living over 10 years when housed correctly. Their genetics don’t drastically shorten their lifespan compared to normal color dragons.

On the other hand, Red Bearded Dragons average lifespan is also 12-14 years with proper care, same as most color morphs.

Bearded Dragon Lifespan in Wild

Bearded Dragon Lifespan in Wild
Bearded Dragon Lifespan in Wild

In their native Australian habitat, bearded dragons can live 5-8 years on average. Some may even reach 10-12 years old. This is considerably shorter than the 15-18 year lifespan they can achieve with proper care as pets. The wild poses many more threats to a bearded dragon’s survival.

The arid woodlands and deserts of Australia where bearded dragons originate offer extreme temperatures. Winter nights can dip below freezing while summer days commonly exceed 100°F. Bearded dragons regulate their body temperature by basking in the sun early morning and seeking shade when it gets too hot. However, cold snaps or heat waves can prove fatal if the lizard can’t find shelter.

Predators are another constant threat. Snakes like king browns and black whipsnakes frequently prey on bearded dragons, able to climb trees in pursuit. Monitor lizards will raid dragons’ burrows. Raptors such as hawks and owls swoop down from above. Even the introduced feral cats and foxes pose a substantial predatory threat to the smaller bearded dragon.

Bearded dragons must also compete for resources like food and shelter. They are omnivorous, feasting on plants, fruits, insects, small mammals and anything edible they can find while foraging widely. But food sources can be sparse depending on the climate. Good burrows for nesting and refuge are also limited, often resulting in conflict over prime real estate. The competition is fierce among other desert-dwelling reptiles.

Mating and reproduction happens on a seasonal basis when conditions are right, typically in spring and summer. Females lay clutches of 11-30 eggs within a burrow, then abandon them. The eggs incubate for 60-80 days before hatching. Baby dragons are independent and receive no maternal care. They mature to adulthood at 8-18 months old. Many perish before reaching this age due to the hazards of desert life.

In captivity, bearded dragons are spared from the harsh wild environment and predators. With proper housing, temperature, hydration and nutrition they commonly exceed their average wild lifespan by double or more. But understanding how they live in the wild can help provide an environment and care plan better suited to their natural behaviors and needs. 

For example, providing a hot basking area alongside shady cooler hides allows them to thermoregulate as in nature. A balanced omnivorous diet supports optimal health. Allowing periods of brumation in winter imitates their natural dormancy. A proper setup and care focused on their wild origins is key to a bearded dragon thriving.

Baby Bearded Dragon Lifespan

Baby Bearded Dragon Lifespan
Baby Bearded Dragon Lifespan

Baby bearded dragons emerge from eggs about 2-3 inches long. At hatching they are independent and receive no parental care. The tiny hatchlings are vulnerable with underdeveloped survival skills. Only a small percentage survive to adulthood in the wild. Their tiny size makes them easy prey and they lack adult abilities to thermoregulate and find sufficient food.

With diligent captive care, most baby dragons survive past the delicate hatchling phase. They grow rapidly for the first 10-12 months of life. Providing proper housing, heat, hydration and nutrient-rich feedings allows robust growth. Monitoring their voracious appetites and shedding cycles ensures they stay healthy.

During the first 3-4 months, baby bearded dragons grow to about 8-10 inches long. Their coloration also changes dramatically. Unlike the tan or olive hatchlings, juveniles develop brighter colorations with distinct patterns. By 4-6 months they reach 12-16 inches long. Adult size of 16-22 inches is achieved by 10-12 months old.

Alongside physical growth, baby dragons rapidly develop mentally and behaviorally. Young hatchlings often appear skittish. But within a few weeks they become quite bold and interactive. Taming occurs quickly with regular gentle handling. Coordination and strength improves allowing juvenile dragons to readily climb branches and pursue live prey.

By 4-6 months old, juvenile dragons start displaying prominent adult behaviors. Dominance displays like arm waving and beard expansion begin. Basking and burrowing needs become more regulated. Nesting and brumation instincts start, signaling sexual maturity between 8-18 months.

While baby bearded dragon lifespan in captivity averages 15-18 years, they remain in the juvenile stage for just the first year. Once past the delicate baby phase where mortality is high, their health is generally quite robust into adulthood. Providing proper husbandry matching their instincts and growth needs results in low mortality rates.

Maximizing lifespan well over 10 years requires attentive care specifically tailored to each phase. During the hatchling and juvenile stages up to 12 months old, focus is on supporting healthy rapid growth and socialization. Adult needs shift to optimizing habitat for reproductive behaviors, brumation and geriatric health. With attentive care adjusted to meet their changing needs, beloved pet bearded dragons can live happily into elderly age.

Typical Bearded Dragon Lifespan

Typical Bearded Dragon Lifespan
Typical Bearded Dragon Lifespan

The average bearded dragon lives 6-10 years when kept as a pet. With optimal care and conditions, it’s not uncommon for them to exceed 10 years and live into their early teen years. The oldest known bearded dragon lived to be 18!

For the first few years of a bearded dragon’s life, they are rapidly growing and developing. Most of their full adult size is reached within the first 12-18 months. Once mature, their growth slows down dramatically and they maintain a pretty stable size and weight throughout adulthood assuming proper care.

Factors like genetics, nutrition, housing, and health care all impact an individual bearded dragon’s life expectancy. Below we’ll explore these influences in more detail.

Why Such Variation in Lifespan?

Why Such Variation in Lifespan
Why Such Variation in Lifespan

There are a few key reasons why some bearded dragons unfortunately pass away much earlier than others. Understanding the influences on their longevity can help you make the best choices for your pet’s care.


Like all animals, bearded dragons have natural genetic variation between individuals. Some may be predisposed to live shorter or longer lives based on their genes. Selective breeding focuses on enhancing desired traits, but minimizing inbreeding maintains genetic diversity and health. When acquiring a baby bearded dragon, choose one from a reputable breeder.

Early Life Care

The first few months of a bearded dragon’s life are critical. If the young lizard struggles with health issues, malnutrition, or poor housing during this developmental phase, it can significantly impact their lifespan. Choosing a healthy hatchling and properly caring for them right away gets them off to a good start.

Ongoing Husbandry

The quality of care a bearded dragon receives throughout its life is hugely important. Things like an incorrect diet, insufficient UV lighting, inadequate heating, lack of hygiene, and stress from housing issues can all reduce a bearded dragon’s lifespan. Maintaining optimal husbandry standards maximizes longevity.


Bearded dragons are quite hardy reptiles when cared for properly, but they can develop certain health conditions. Metabolic bone disease from poor nutrition, parasites from live feeders, and respiratory infections from cool temperatures are examples. Left untreated, these diseases weaken the body and immune system. Regular vet checkups and prompt medical care helps prevent disease.

As you can see, a lot of different factors influence an individual bearded dragon’s life expectancy. Focusing on the controllable elements through proper housing, nutrition, and health care gives them their best shot at living a long, healthy life.

How to Maximizing Your Bearded Dragon’s Lifespan

How to Maximizing Your Bearded Dragon's Lifespan
How to Maximizing Your Bearded Dragon’s Lifespan

If you want your bearded dragon to enjoy those full 10+ years of life, what steps should you take? Here are some best practices:

Start with a Healthy Reptile

When choosing a young bearded dragon, pick one from a breeder with a good reputation. Avoid pet stores that house animals in poor conditions. Select a dragon that is active, alert, and feeding well without signs of illness. The initial investment in a vigorous hatchling pays off long-term.

Provide Proper Housing

Bearded dragons thrive in roomy terrariums or enclosures with proper lighting, heating, and furnishing. The habitat should include full spectrum reptile lamps for UVB exposure, a basking area between 95-110°F, a cooler area around 80°F, and a nighttime temperature drop to 75°F. Include hiding places, branches, and rocks for behavioral enrichment. Keep the habitat very clean.

Follow a Healthy Diet

Nutrition is vital for bearded dragons, especially when young and growing. Offer a variety of healthy feeder insects like crickets, worms, and roaches that are gut-loaded with nutrient-rich foods. Dust insects with calcium and vitamin supplements too. Add in chopped greens, vegetables, and some fruits. Having a balanced, varied diet supports long-term health.

Give Proper Veterinary Care

Annual vet exams allow early detection of any health issues. A reptile vet can also advise on proper husbandry. Have your dragon tested and treated for parasites 1-2 times per year. Seek prompt veterinary care for any concerning symptoms or injuries to prevent worsening. Preventative care saves lives!

Enrich Their Environment

In addition to meeting all their basic needs, also give your bearded dragon mental stimulation. Provide branches and rocks for climbing, dig boxes for burrowing, and space to roam outside their enclosure. Interact with your pet daily and vary their diet. An enriched life brings joy!

Following these best practices gives your bearded dragon the very best shot at living a long, robust life. With a decade or more together, you’ll enjoy forming a close bond with your scaly companion!

Types of Bearded Dragons

Types of Bearded Dragons
Types of Bearded Dragons

Inland Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)

  • The most common bearded dragon kept as pets. Native to Australia.
  • Tan, gray, or yellowish body color with darker bands and markings.
  • Adults reach 18-24 inches long. Live 10-15 years with proper care.

Coastal/Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata)

  • Native to eastern Australia.
  • Often more colorful than inland dragons, with bright yellows and reds.
  • Slightly smaller at 14-20 inches long. Lifespan 8-12 years.

Pygmy Bearded Dragon (Pogona henrylawsoni)

  • The smallest bearded dragon species, maxing out around 12 inches.
  • Native to arid regions and scrublands of Australia.
  • Lifespan 5-10 years. Require extra small enclosures.

Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps centralis)

  • A subspecies of the inland dragon found in Australia’s interior.
  • Distinguished by dark bands around a light colored throat.
  • Care and lifespan similar to standard inland bearded dragons.

Additionally, there are many color morphs and hybrids of these species produced by breeders. But the inland, coastal, pygmy and central dragons represent the primary natural types found in Australia. Each has slightly different care needs.

Common Questions About Bearded Dragon Lifespan

Common Questions About Bearded Dragon Lifespan
Common Questions About Bearded Dragon Lifespan

There are a few frequently asked questions when it comes to how long bearded dragons live. Here are some key points:

How long do pet store dragons live?

Pet store bearded dragons often have uncertain backgrounds and genetics. Living in subpar conditions at the store also stresses them. These factors may result in a shortened life of just 2-5 years. Reputable breeders are a better source.

Do bigger bearded dragons live longer?

Size alone does not necessarily correlate with longevity. What matters most is overall health status. With proper care, even relatively small or large dragons can live full life spans. Focus on providing ideal habitat conditions.

Do female dragons live longer than males?

There is no major difference in life expectancy between sexes. With appropriate husbandry, most male and female bearded dragons live comparable life spans averaging 6-10+ years. Gender alone is not a big determining factor.

How long can dragons live in captivity?

In their native Australia, bearded dragons live around 5-6 years on average. But when kept as pets with attentive care, 10+ years is common. The protection from predators, controlled environment, and medical care extends their lives considerably.

Do dragons live longer alone or in pairs?

Bearded dragons are solitary lizards that actually prefer living alone. They become stressed when housed together and may fight. Solitary housing with proper enrichment allows them to thrive and leads to longest life spans.

Is 12 years old for a bearded dragon?

A life span of 12+ years is perfectly normal and attainable for a bearded dragon. With excellent care and a bit of luck, they can exceed a decade by several years. The oldest known dragon lived to 18 years old, so 12 is not unusually high.

As you can see from the frequently asked questions, proper housing, nutrition, and health care enables bearded dragons to far surpass the 5-6 years they reach in the wild. With your attentive care, a full lifespan of 10-12+ years is reasonable to expect.

How long do bearded dragons live as a pet?

The average lifespan of a pet bearded dragon is 6-10 years when kept indoors and given proper care and housing. With optimal conditions, bearded dragons can exceed 10 years and live into their early teens. The oldest known bearded dragon lived to 18 years old.

Are bearded dragons easy to keep alive?

Yes, bearded dragons are relatively easy to care for compared to other exotic pets, as long as their habitat and nutritional requirements are met. Providing the proper heated tank, full spectrum UVB lighting, varied diet, and regular veterinary care will help ensure a long, healthy life. Their calm nature also reduces stress.

How long do indoor bearded dragons live?

Indoor bearded dragons generally live longer than their wild counterparts, who average 5-6 years. With attentive indoor care, lighting, controlled temperatures, and a stimulating habitat, pet bearded dragons typically reach ages of 6-10 years or more. Their life expectancy is extended considerably.

Can a bearded dragon live 20 years?

It is highly unlikely for a bearded dragon to exceed 20 years. The current record for longest living bearded dragon is 18 years. Average life expectancy even with exceptional care is 10-14 years. While a handful may make it to 15-17 with luck, living over 20 years is extremely rare and not considered realistic.

Closing Thoughts

When considering adding a bearded dragon to your family, it’s important to understand their potential life expectancy. With their average lifespan reaching 6-10 years, they require a long-term commitment to responsible pet care. However, by providing your bearded dragon with an ideal habitat, balanced diet, enrichment, and veterinary care, you can maximize their chances of living a very long and healthy life! With well over a decade together, you’ll get to know your friendly dragon very well. A long life span is absolutely attainable with proper husbandry and disease prevention. Do your research and make an informed choice before taking on these wonderful yet demanding pets. With the right approach, you’ll be rewarded with a calm, docile companion for many years to come!

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