Although not quite the same as the dragons we hear of in fairy tales, bearded dragons are fantastic animals that add a lot of unexpected spice to your life. No matter how seasoned someone is, some owners still find themselves with a new beardie and asking, “How old is my bearded dragon?” Here are a few ways to help you figure it out!
Bearded Dragon Average Lifespan
Bearded dragons, also lovingly named beardies, are one of the most popular reptiles to keep as a pet.
Despite its fearsome appearance, bearded dragons are both gentle creatures and walking bundles of energy. These spiked lizards communicate through their beards and are fascinating to observe and interact with.
When kept in captivity, bearded dragons that have received proper care can live as long as 8 to 12 years on average. In some cases, beardies that have received excellent care can live longer, with some rare-but-not-unheard-of cases lasting 15 years under their care.
On the other hand, being in the wild shortens their lifespan to 5 to 8 years old because of the stress and difficult conditions they face while fending for themselves.
Their lifespan depends entirely on your care. One huge factor that dictates how they should be cared for is their age. This helps pinpoint their exact needs to help them stay strong and healthy. If your bearded dragon has been rescued, it’s also important to learn how long they were under someone’s improper care to help address its needs better.
Learning Your Bearded Dragon’s Age
As stated, knowing the age of your bearded dragon is an incredible tool in helping them live longer, whether it hatched in your care, you bought it from somewhere, or you rescued it.
There are three main ways someone can learn their bearded dragon’s age, with the best method depending on a case to case basis. At best, these methods will only give you an estimated age for your beardie, which should be more than enough to give you an idea of how they should be treated.
It’s important to learn their age as soon as you get them to be able to attend to their needs right away and avoid improper care.
1. Ask The Breeder
Asking your bearded dragon’s breeder or seller is the most accurate way of learning their age. This is going back to the source (or as close to the source as possible) to have the best estimate of your beardie’s age.
If your bearded dragon is on the older side, your breeder might still be unable to give you a timeframe for your beardie’s age, especially if it wasn’t documented properly by the breeder or by the shop you got it from.
Regardless of this possibility, these people are still your best shot at getting an exact date or month to base their age off of. At the very least, they should be able to give you an idea of when your bearded dragon hatched.
Pet stores are much more likely to have complete documentation on your beardie. Details such as when they got it, what size it was, and when it was sold are usually properly documented with legitimate pet stores. This is another great way to have a more accurate sense of how old your bearded dragon is, even if they don’t know what date your bearded dragon hatched.
If all else fails and you’re still looking for someone to consult, your veterinarian is more than qualified to give you an idea of your beardie’s age. However, they’re likely to use either of the two other methods in this list to evaluate their age. Save yourself a trip and try out the next two methods first!
2. Size Them Up
Size is an amazing age indicator, so long as the bearded dragon is less than a year old!
As the rule of life, you grow larger as you grow older. With bearded dragons, they usually grow at a steady rate each month up until their the first year. Fortunately, their growth rate is more or less constant, and measuring them is a reliable way to have a feel for their age. After 12 months, their growth rate slows and stops before they reach their second year.
To measure your bearded dragon, you’ll need a tape measure or any similar measuring tool that can bend with the contours of its body. You’ll need to make sure that your bearded dragon is as still and unmoving as possible before measuring from nose tip to the tip of its tail.
Since each beardie is unique and since a variety of things can affect their growth, the estimates become less exact as they grow older. However, it can still give you a pretty good idea of how young your beardie is.
Below is a table showing the different lengths a beardie can be, together with the estimated ages.
|Age (in months)||Length (in inches)|
|0 – 1 month||3 – 4 in|
|2 months||5 – 9 in|
|3 months||8 – 11 in|
|4 months||9 – 12 in|
|5 months||11 – 16 in|
|6 months||11 – 18 in|
|7 – 8 months||13 – 20 in|
|9 – 12 months||16 – 22 in|
You will notice that, by the sixth month, there’s a wider margin of possible lengths per age, with more overlaps. This is because the female bearded dragons tend to slow in growth around the six-month mark.
Although they continue to grow up to 18 months, it progresses at a much slower rate and become a less reliable age indicator. At the 18-month mark, your bearded dragon will stop growing and become an adult. Adult beardies will measure around 16 to 24 inches at this stage.
It’s very important for you to measure your bearded dragon as soon as you get it. The younger they are when you measure them, the more accurate its estimated age will be and the better prepared you’ll be to answer their needs
3. Check Sexual Maturity
Bearded dragons will only develop sex-identifying traits as they turn a year old, specifically around the 8 – 12-month mark.
If you’ve acquired them when their length applies to two or more possible ages, watching out for when these sexual traits develop will help you know when they’ve turned 8 – 12 months old.
This also works if they’re already sexually mature by the time you get them since you’ll be sure that they’re at least 8 to 12 months old. If they continue growing, you’ll be able to further narrow down their age from between 8 to 18 months old. Although this is a large range, it still gives a good idea of their age and subsequent needs.
What Sex-Identifying Traits Should You Look Out For?
Females and males can be identified by the bulges on the underside of their tail, right at the base. Males will have two bumps on either side of the tail, while females will have one bump above the vent.
You can also check for femoral pores, which are large dots going along one hind leg to another. These dots are easily seen with sexually mature males and are much less noticeable with sexually mature females.
If none of the three methods are applicable in your case, this means that your bearded dragon is at least 18 months old. This makes it an adult beardie and helps you determine the proper care it needs.
There are several ways to estimate the age of your bearded dragon. These methods will be more accurate the sooner you do them.
Acting quick lessens chances of losing the documentation from the source, increases the accuracy of size-based age estimates, and makes it easier to watch out for signs of developing sexual traits.
While owners would always love to have exact knowledge of their pets, simply making sure to support them any way you can still go a long way in caring for them well.
No matter how old your bearded dragon turns out to be, they’re never too old for a chance at receiving the safety and love that they deserve.
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