Bearded dragons don’t grow too unwieldy sizes as some reptile pets do, but they do grow. If you purchase a baby or juvenile dragon, he’ll go through a growth spurt that may surprise you. Once he reaches one year of age, the growth will slow down considerably. In fact, any length he puts on in this stage may be unnoticeable.
It’s important to be aware of how fast bearded dragons grow and your own dragon’s growth, especially if you get him as a young dragon. He’ll need a lot of protein and calcium to provide sufficient nutrition for bone and muscle growth, especially during his growth spurt. In addition, you should be prepared to provide him with a larger enclosure as he reaches adulthood.
The speed that your bearded dragon will grow can be affected by the breed, whether it’s a male or female and the environment you keep it in. In general, a bearded dragon will be around 16 to 22 inches in the first year and around 20 to 24 inches in the second year.
While you can just get a large enclosure to start with, it’s better to get a smaller size for a baby or young juvenile. He’ll feel more secure and won’t have any trouble catching his live food. Chasing every cricket around and around a large tank may give him exercise, but he may also get frustrated.
In addition, there’s a greater chance of insects just not being caught and eaten. This may mean that your dragon isn’t getting enough food, as any uneaten insects need to be removed from the enclosure after feeding time.
Bearded Dragon Size by Age
It’s important that the owner of a baby or young dragon be aware of his quick growth to ensure that he has all the food he needs to support that growth and the right kinds of foods. If you’ve never owned a young dragon or a dragon at all, you may be caught off guard by the rapid growth rate at certain stages of life.
Listed below is a guide to answer the question of how fast do bearded dragons grow:
Babies up to one month old get to 3 to 4 inches in length. At two months of age, they can already be 5 to 9 inches long. At three months, they are usually 8 to 11 inches long. Now you may see the growth rate start to slow down.
At four months of age, they get to 9 to 12 inches long. At five months, they are 11 to 16 inches long. At six months they are usually 11 to 18 inches in length. By the age of eight months, they add another two inches or so, and by the age of one year, they are usually about done with growing. They are usually 16 to 24 inches long by this time.
The reasons for the variations in average size at the different ages stem from the fact that males usually are larger and longer than females. Of course, there can be individual size differences between any two dragons of the same age, whether male or female.
Unless you specifically purchased a different dragon species than those normally carried in pet stores or offered by breeders, you most likely have a Central Bearded Dragon. The sizes and ages listed above relate to this kind of dragon. Other species come in different sizes.
The answer to the question of how fast do bearded dragons grow will be different for those, but they will all exhibit a growth spurt during the juvenile phase.
I’ve added a grow table below showing average length and weight by age.
|Age||Length (inches)||Weight (grams)|
|3 months (Juvenile)||8-12||22-119|
|8 months (Sub Adult)||14-20||252-327|
|12 months +||18-24||380-510|
When Do Bearded Dragons Stop Growing?
Bearded dragons are considered adults between 12 and 18 months of age. While they may grow a bit after they reach adulthood, they definitely stop growing by the time they reach the age of two years. In fact, you may not even notice any growth after your dragon has his first birthday, because any such growth will be slow.
Different Kinds of Bearded Dragon Species and Sizes
Different species of bearded dragons come in different sizes, and the variations may surprise you. The species commonly bred and sold for pets is the:
Central Bearded Dragon – Originating in drier woodlands and rocky deserts in the central part of Australia. As we have seen, they grow to a maximum length of 24 inches, with half of that length being the tail.
The Eastern Bearded Dragon – Which lives in wooded areas, also grows to about two feet long, with females being a bit smaller.
The North-West Bearded Dragon – Or Mitchell’s Bearded Dragon from the desert and semi-tropical woodlands. They top out at a length of 18 inches.
The Kimberley Bearded Dragon – Of Western Australia grows only to around 14 inches in length. The Dwarf Bearded Dragon also grows up to 14 to 15 inches long. Another species that gets to a similar length is the Nullarbor Bearded Dragon from the southern flat brushlands, with a length of 14 inches.
The rare Abrolhos Dwarf Bearded Dragon – Grows to a length of up to 14 inches, but 10 of those inches is the tail. Both these and the Dwarf Bearded Dragon come from the Wallabi Group of islands. The smallest beardie is called Rankin’s Bearded Dragon or Pygmy Bearded Dragon from the hot, dry, rocky areas of Queensland. They only grow to about a foot in length.
What Makes Bearded Dragons Grow Faster?
Basically, give him what he needs to grow. He needs the right size enclosure in order to be content and to grow without having one that’s far too big for him. He also needs the proper heat, especially in his basking spot, to enable him to digest his food properly and get the full benefit.
Giving him the proper foods will enable him to grow as quickly as he needs to while ensuring that this growth is healthy growth. If he doesn’t get enough of the proper nutrition while he’s growing, his bones especially may not develop as they should and will not be strong. Improper nutrition at this stage may even stunt his growth. Check out my complete feeding guide article What to Feed a Bearded Dragon [The Complete Guide].
What Foods Help Bearded Dragons Grow?
Bearded dragons need a lot of protein when they are young and growing. While they do need some plant-based foods, they only need about 20 to 25 percent of this food in their diets. The rest has to be protein, and this means live insects. As their growth slows during the juvenile phase, dragon diets need to be gradually adjusted to an eventual ratio of 50-50 between insects and plant foods.
This adjustment continues until the adult diet is actually the opposite ratio of a baby’s, 75-80 percent plant foods. Of course, many greens contain calcium, especially dark green vegetables, so they should be a good part of the plant food offered.
Another important ingredient for dragon growth is calcium for bone and muscle growth and health. This is provided by gut loading his insects or dusting them once a day with a special powder made for beardies containing calcium and vitamin D3. For more information on vitamins read my article Should I Be Giving My Bearded Dragon Vitamins?
Greens and vegetables can also be dusted with powder. Since there is much discussion on how many meals should be dusted per day, advice from your reptile or exotic pet veterinarian will be the best to follow.
Gut loading is the process of feeding the insects to be offered the next day with calcium-rich foods. They can be fed a special mix specifically designed for this purpose, or even with cat or dog food and foods such as dark greens and sweet potatoes.
The chosen ones should be fed to your dragon the next day, or the special nutrients will just pass through the insects’ systems, and they won’t be loaded with nutrients when they are fed to the beardie. You’ll also need to feed your bearded dragon consistently, read my article The Complete Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule for more information.
Does Enclosure Size Effect Rate of Growth?
There is some discussion about this. Some sources say that an enclosure that is too small won’t inhibit growth, but it does make for an unhappy and perhaps unhealthy dragon. Others put bearded dragons in the class of animals that doesn’t grow any larger than the size of their tank.
If you have any kind of problem with keeping a reptile that will grow to about two feet long, then a bearded dragon isn’t for you. If you want a smaller pet, it’s much better to get a smaller type of reptile than to keep a dragon (or any animal) in a small enclosure with the hope that he won’t grow larger than you want.
This would be terribly unfair to your dragon. He needs enough room to get exercise and keep him alert and interested in life. If he feels cramped and unhappy, it will end up adversely affecting his health, especially if he’s still in his growing phase. You may end up with a small, dead dragon.
Knowing how much and how fast bearded dragons grow is an important part of being an owner, especially if you aren’t purchasing one in full adulthood. It’s important to provide yours with the proper sized enclosure and the proper kinds of foods at each stage of life.
Since babies and juveniles need a large proportion of live insects in their diets, if you cringe at the thought of keeping so many live insects around you may be much better off buying an adult that needs far fewer insects.
Keeping any live pet is a responsibility. If you take yours seriously, you’ll enjoy many years of companionship with a friendly bearded dragon. After all, isn’t that why you want one?