Hopefully, when you took your new bearded dragon home, the breeder or seller provided you with documentation that included important information such as your beardie’s date of birth or parentage.
But if you adopt a beardie from a friend or a shelter, you may not have access to this information. While a vet should be able to help you determine their age, you can also get an idea of your lizard’s age based on a few characteristics, especially size.
In this article, we’ll take you through what to look at to determine the potential age of your bearded dragon.
Of course, each little lizard is unique, so this will give you a ballpark figure rather than an exact age. We will also talk about what to expect from the different life stages of a beardie.
Bearded Dragon Life Expectancy
Bearded dragons in captivity, when cared for properly, have a healthy life expectancy of seven to 10 years.
This is quite a bit longer than they live in the wild, which is usually about five years, since they are not dealing with predators and have good access to food.
The oldest recorded bearded dragon in captivity lived to 18 years of age. But many beardies also die within the first one to two years of life in captivity. This is usually due to problems with their care.
The most common mistakes that novice bearded dragon pet parents make are keeping their habitats too hot and not turning off the heat overnight. This can lead to overheating and premature death.
The other issue is your beardie not getting enough calcium. Bearded dragons need lots of calcium, especially in their formative years, and sufficient vitamin D3 to make use of that calcium.
But many pet parents accidentally give their beardie foods that actually leach calcium from their system.
How To Estimate A Bearded Dragon’s Age
You may be able to estimate the age of your bearded dragon based on their physical condition. Young beardies grow quickly and so pass through different stages in the first 12 months of life. This makes it relatively easy to determine age up to about one year.
After one year, they don’t grow much bigger and you need to look for more subtle signs of how many revolutions around the sun your scaled buddy may have seen.
Essential to determining your beardie’s age is measuring their size. This should be done on a flat surface, from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.
This is best done when they are resting so they won’t move around too much and you can get an accurate measurement.
Compare your bearded dragon to the different life stages below to estimate their age.
Hatchlings: 0-1 Months
When hatchlings come out of their eggs, you can expect them to quickly unfold to a length of between three and four inches. This happens after they have spent between 55 and 75 days in an egg.
While they are quite independent from day one, expect them to be a bit agitated and wary of you.
Read our guide to what you will need when taking home a bearded dragon.
Post-Hatchling: 2-3 Months
In the second month outside the shell, you can expect your beardie to grow quickly, doubling in size to between five and nine inches.
In the third month, they will have another big growth spurt, reaching between eight and 11 inches. They have a big appetite at this time to support their rapid growth.
Juvenile: 4-6 Months
From the ages of four to six months, your juvenile beardie can measure anywhere from nine to 16 inches in length.
Because they are still growing quickly at this time, they need lots of insect protein on a daily basis. It’s not unusual for them to eat up to 50 crickets a day.
Older Juvenile: 7-8 Months
During the final stages of their juvenile growth, you can expect a bearded dragon to grow between 13 and 20 inches.
At this stage, there is not a big difference in size between males and females, but males do tend to be a bit larger than females. They also tend to have broader tails and necks.
Subadult: 8-12 Months
This is your bearded dragon’s final months of big growth. Beardies in captivity will grow to between 16 and 22 inches at this time, and they will not grow much more after that.
This is also when their sexual organs reach maturity and are detectable. Look at the base of the tail. You will see two lumps at the base for males and one lump in the middle for females, though this is less pronounced.
Young Adults: 12-24 Months
Young adults may still grow in size a little during this period of their lives. They will also become ready for mating.
Females will start laying their first clutches of eggs at this time, and males may display more posturing behavior, such as puffing up their beards.
Read what to expect from the bearded dragon shedding process.
Adults: 2-5 Years
These are probably the years when you can expect your bearded dragon to be in their prime.
They will be energetic, active, and should have a sleek and healthy look to their scales if they’re eating a good diet. They should be eating around 10 crickets a day for most of their lives.
Older Adults: 6+ Years
Once a bearded dragon reaches the age of six, they have already lived longer than many beardies in the wild. They will start to show signs of their age.
You may notice that they are less active and subsequently have a decreased appetite. Their scales may also appear duller than when they were younger. This is nothing to worry about, just a natural part of the aging process.
Bearded Dragon Age FAQs
How can you tell how old a bearded dragon is?
Size is the most reliable way to determine the age of a bearded dragon, but it is only accurate up until about 12 months. After this, you can look at the development of their sexual organs and changes in behavior, such as energy levels and appetite.
How big is a two-year-old beardie?
A bearded dragon is already fully grown at the age of two years. You can expect it to measure somewhere between 16 and 22 inches, but they can get much bigger, up to 34 inches. But you should not expect them to get any larger from this time.
Is 12 years old for a bearded dragon?
The average life expectancy of a bearded dragon in captivity is seven to 10 years, so 12 years is a very healthy age for a bearded dragon. They have a shorter lifespan in the wild, of about five years. The oldest known pet beardie lived to be 18 years old.
At what age should you take a bearded dragon home?
It’s best to wait until a bearded dragon is at least three months old before taking them home.
Some people choose to wait longer, until around the six-month mark, because this will minimize the possibility of adopting a sick or fragile bearded dragon that is unlikely to thrive.
Baby beardies that are healthy should have quite a plump look. They should also have alert eyes that follow you actively when you engage with them.
Aging Your Beardie
It’s important to have a good idea of how old your bearded dragon might be, as this will determine the type of care they need.
It is easier to determine a bearded dragon’s age with accuracy when they’re younger, but this is a good thing as this is when they need the most specialist care.
Hatchling beardies need to eat about five times a day, and this is reduced to just once a day by the time they are 12-18 months. So, having a good idea of age is important.
As adults, their care is more consistent. While knowing whether their activity level is consistent with their age will help you determine if bouts of lethargy or loss of appetite are to be expected or could be a sign of a problem, the type of care they need doesn’t change much, even when they enter their later years.
If you care for your beardie properly, you can expect them to be a loyal friend for between seven and 10 years. Knowing how old your bearded dragon is when they join you can help you predict how much time you will have together.