If you are looking into adopting a baby beardie, you must be questioning just how long it will take for it to become an adult; how long you would have to continue the thrice-a-day feeding, or how long before you can hold your beardie without it sprinting out of grasp thanks to being so tiny and full of life.
Perhaps you’re just curious about bearded dragons and are wondering when it will take to complete a whole cycle from hatchling to adult beardie– this article has all the answers you need.
The transition from hatchling to an adult fertile bearded dragon takes 18 months. During this period, beardies go through 4 distinct stages – baby, juvenile, sub-adult, and adult – all of which would take different time frames to relatively complete.
In this discussion, I’ll be taking you through the different stages of a bearded dragon’s life cycle and the time frames involved in the process so that you can apply this information to your growing beardie and follow through every stage. So, Let’s dive into it!
The Life Cycle And Growth Duration Of Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons go through different stages with various timelines to reach adulthood; a transition that is quite an experience to behold. To know exactly how long it will take for your beardie to complete a cycle, you’ll need to understand the various stages properly.
Stage 1: The Baby Or Hatchling Phase (0 – 2 months)
Upon hatching, baby beardies are as tiny as three inches. You can spread a hatchling dragon in your palm from your index finger to your pinky and they’ll lay snugly in it. During this period, they eat voraciously and require a great amount of protein – about 70% of the diet – to grow. The hatchling stage is also the most active of all four stages since they metabolize food much faster to build muscles.
Did you know that dragons evolved and began to grow out of the baby phase pretty quickly? Since they are prey to many predators in the wild, they evolved to skim through the baby stage to ensure they don’t become easy snacks for huge birds or wild rodents. In 2 months, baby beardies would have increased 9 inches and leveled up to the juvenile phase to continue the cycle!
Stage 2: The Juvenile Phase (3 – 11 months)
The juvenile phase is easily the baby phase in a bigger body. This stage will have the same diet as the hatchlings but will have slower metabolism in comparison to the juveniles.
The juvenile beardies’ transition to the next phase is a lot idler than that of the hatchlings spanning 8 months, in comparison to 2 months, for complete growth into the sub-adult phase. During this period, hatchlings that grew from 9 to 11-inch juveniles will increase in consecutive inches over the months to 16 inches successfully.
Stage 3: The Sub-Adult Phase (12 – 18 months)
At this point, your beardie is welcoming adulthood and the docility that comes with it. No more eating heavy protein diets or jumping off your hands when you hold them loosely. The sub-adult dragons will break down food much slower than juveniles and hatchlings and will require less amount of food or protein in a day.
This phase, similarly to the juvenile phase, will last 6 months to transition into the fully-grown adult phase and will increase their length by 2 to 4 inches making them roughly 18 to 20 inches in length at maximum.
Stage 4: The Adult Phase (18+ months)
Adulthood for bearded dragons signifies sexual maturity and docility. After the pre-adult phase, metabolism slows down even more thus leading to a reduced necessity for a highly proteinous diet and an increased need for vegetables and minerals.
By 2 months into adulthood, your beardie is fully mature, ranging from 20 to 24 inches, and is ready for breeding thereby starting a new cycle of bearded dragons from eggs to hatchlings to adult beardies.
5 Factors That Affect The Growth Rate Of Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons will grow to the adult stage despite any difficulty they face. However, they may easily be stunted or malnourished due to several issues. Here are certain factors that can affect the growth of your bearded dragon:
1. A Poor Diet
A good diet consists of the right ratio of vegetables and protein relative to the age of the beardie. Providing your bearded dragon with an inconsistent or incomplete diet could cause them to grow at a much slower rate or build feeble muscles in comparison to a healthy dragon.
Remember, a baby and juvenile beardie will require 70% of protein and 30% veggies, and a frequency of three times a day. A sub-adult beardie would require to be fed twice a day with 60% protein and 40% veggies, while a fully-grown adult dragon would need an inverse of the baby dragon’s diet; 30% protein and 70% veggies fed at most once a day.
5 Examples of good protein choices are:
5 Examples of good vegetable choices are:
- Butternut squash
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
2. Difference In Genetics
Genetics can affect the growth of your dragon slightly, but not necessarily in a negative manner. There are of course 8 classes of bearded dragon species, and two of them are widely kept as captive pets; the central bearded dragon and the eastern bearded dragon.
These two beardies have slight differences that affect the way they’d grow. For instance, the central beardie is a little plumper and rounder in comparison to the eastern dragon which is rather slimmer and longer by a few inches. This is why knowing your dragon is key so that you don’t compare two different species and act on your comparison.
3. Availability Of Stress
Stress is a common factor that negatively affects the growth of bearded dragons even more than you may think. A lot of problems can stir up from stress; your beardie may refuse to eat or hydrate itself, and it may be less active thus leading to decreased amount of the necessary UVB or shade, obstructed brumation, and an avenue for bone diseases to settle in.
When your dragon is stressed, it could alert you by waving, pacing around, hiding away for most of the time, loss of appetite, agitation and unfriendliness toward you or other people, scratching at the tank in an attempt to get out, or overall looking pale, slow, and droopy.
Once you notice that your pet is stressed, you should ensure that its environment is calm and serene. Bearded dragons rely on noise or vibration to alert them of incoming danger, so imagine what your beardie must feel if it constantly thinks those loud humming noises from electrical appliances mean danger and they’re stuck in a box unable to get away!
Perhaps you have boisterous guests cooing or cheering loudly around the enclosure, or the terrarium is close to a window where your pet can hear large predatory birds fly by; all these are stress instigators and should be rectified so that your beardie can relax and develop mentally and physically towards a healthy, happy life.
4. Presence Of Parasites
The presence of parasites is a gateway for dwindling health and declined growth rate. They eat away all the nutrients your beardie consumes for themselves and thus, starve your pet of the proper nutrition that is detrimental to their growth. If your dragon is losing appetite, is pooping unusual stools, or looks pale and lean, ensure you visit the vet to cross-examine your bearded dragon’s gut health and ensure it’s free of parasites.
5. Improper Lighting Or Temperature
The bearded dragon’s enclosure is made up of all the necessary features that are needed for it to grow well. Lighting and temperature are two major factors that can drastically decline the health of your pet. Bearded dragons need UVB light to provide them with vitamin D which is good for the development of their bones, and the correct temperature of 104° to 107° Fahrenheit in basking spots, and 71° to 77° Fahrenheit in the shaded areas for them to cool off so that they can develop to their maximum growth properly.
3 Factors That Improve The Growth Of Your Beardie
If your beardie needs a little safe growth boost, here are things you can try to ensure that:
Provide Them With Dietary Routines
Beardies in captivity enjoy routines. As unaware as they seem, they understand when it’s time for food and may even throw a fit if you’re a little late! Invest in providing the correct diet accustomed to your dragon’s age at specific times of the day so that your dragon is conditioned to this routine. It will improve the awareness it has of its surroundings and stimulate its brain which is good for your pet to thrive.
Invest In Supplements
While dragons in the wild do not need supplements to thrive, your beardie might just require an extra push to grow into its healthy and robust state. Calcium and Vitamin D3 (view on Amazon) provide beardies with an avenue for stronger bones and multivitamins (view on Amazon) ensure that your beardie has a good appetite and gut health to protect them against illnesses.
Encourage Physical Therapy And Bonding
Bearded dragons are fairly sociable pets that like to be held and petted once in a while. Creating a friendship between you and your pet will help them decrease stress and be more used to their surroundings. It also improves mental activity which has been shown to enhance metabolism in bearded dragons. So, play with your pet more– they certainly want you to!
How To Track Your Bearded Dragon’s Growth And Tell Its Age
If you are wondering what stage your beardie is, there are a few ways you can tell. It would require tracking and measuring your beardie every month to note the increase in length.
Using this table below, you can discern what phase or stage your beardie is at the current moment.
|Length In Inches
|0 – 1 month
|3” – 5”
|5” – 9”
|8” – 11”
|9” – 11”
|11” – 16”
|12” – 18”
|13” – 20”
|12 – 18 months
|16” – 24”
To easily apply these values, here are the stages with the ranges of measurable inches to look for:
- Baby Beardies: 3 to 9 inches in 2 months.
- Juvenile Beardies: 8 to 16 inches in 8 months.
- Sub-adult Beardies: 16 to 20 inches in 6 months.
- Adult beardies: 20 to 24 inches in 2 months.
As we have discussed, the growth rate of bearded dragons depends on the stage they currently represent in their cycle. Baby beardies have the fastest growth rate and juveniles the slowest, where the sub-adult and adult phases are relatively contained to fit into the process.
After this article, you should be able to determine the age of your beardie as well as monitor the process and figure out if your beardie is healthy or not. This discussion also equips you with the factors that determine healthy beardie living to help you decipher and improve its growth. I wish you and your pet bearded dragon the healthiest life there is. Good luck!