While every bearded dragon is unique, there are some standardized data when it comes to their size and weight. Bearded dragons who fail to grow at a normal rate can potentially trouble their novice owners. In this article, you will get detailed information about bearded dragon weight.
They are known to wave their tiny hands for communication purposes. We also know that they occasionally nod their heads when they recognize their human parent. You might be thinking that we are talking about a human gentleman, but we are actually referring to the famous inland bearded dragons. They love hanging out with people and would gradually build a bond with their owners.
This inland species of bearded dragons has revolutionized the concept of keeping reptiles in the household. Gone are the days when reptile husbandry was only performed by highly specialized individuals. You can easily raise a beardie like a typical hamster. You don’t need to be a reptile-keeping aficionado in order to ensure the proper health and wellbeing of a beardie.
A new hatchling enters this world weighing a couple of ounces. Because of their pocket-size dimensions, they instinctively grow at a rapid pace. The juvenile bearded dragons usually weigh 4 ounces, as long as they are healthy and strong.
The adult males can reach a size of about 22 inches – from snout to the end of the tail. They can weigh anywhere from 10 to 18 ounces, depending upon the breed. On the other hand, females have stockier built with thinner limbs. Female bearded dragons might have lighter bodyweight than their male counterparts.
Healthy bearded dragon weight range
Every bearded dragon can have a different physique and body-fat percentage. Males are usually leaner than the leaner because of their greater muscle mass. Gravid females that are carrying eggs would gain more bodyweight.
If your beardie has just come out of brumation, then he or she might be significantly less in weight. Most of their body fat gets burned during the sleeping phase, which makes them skinny when the winter ends. Each dragon would have its own rate of bulking and shredding, and you should compare them.
When bearded dragons hatch out of their eggshells, they weigh around 3 grams. Within 1 year they can rapidly gain weight of around 300 to 700 grams. Some dominant males can even boast a weight of approximately 850 grams, which gives them an intimidating outlook.
Most beardies exhibit a diverse range of standard weight mainly due to variations in their overall length. When your loving pet reptile turns 1 year old, they should weigh around 350 grams. A dragon would be included in the obesity bracket if they weigh more than 850 grams.
They could either be fat due to inactivity or due to an underlying illness. In the wild, they can never reach such massive body-fat ratios because of the scarce resources in their habitat. We sometimes tend to over-feed our pets in order to show our appreciation of them.
Are captive breeds more likely to gain weight?
In the wild, all the creatures have a built-in mechanism of regulating their natural bodyweight. They would sudden abstain from eating any food if they start gaining weight. This is the reason you would never see obese wild animals in their natural habitat. They usually consume a single meal in a day, and it keeps them moving without feeling drained.
A heavy-weight dragon’s diet mainly comprises of leafy greens and veggies. They utilize most of their food intake by patrolling their designated territories. Even juveniles have to cover a great distance to gobble up a couple of live bugs. So every meal they catch they end up burning similar amounts of calories.
On the quite contrary, when bearded dragons are raised in households, the doting parents feed them large quantities of meals in a single sitting. Most loving parents would consider a weight loss program as torture for their pets. This misplaced affection has a pernicious effect on the overall wellbeing of your animal friends. Just because you are emotionally attached to your dragon doesn’t mean he has to go through the punishment of eating more than his body can burn. So you should plan to provide a well-balanced diet in order to keep them healthy.
Many people have a misconception that bearded dragons are lazy animals. In reality, they simply work on the mechanism of making any physical effort when they need to hunt. In a household setting, a bearded dragon would typically be served food before he gets hungry. This has forced them to become less active, which in turn affects them with obesity.
So you can make their mealtime more interesting by placing mealworms and roaches in different parts of the tank. This would cause your dragon to make an effort for each meal.
What if Bearded Dragon is just pregnant?
Just like chicken, a female bearded dragon can get pregnant with infertile eggs even if she hasn’t mated with any male. Your mature female can even store sperm after mating and might become gravid after a few months of mating. So you can never be fully sure whether she is carrying fertile eggs or not.
After successful breeding sessions, you can expect your female beardie to lay eggs 5 to 6 weeks later. Once she starts carrying eggs, you would notice that she would be heavier than before. She would also have a strong appetite for food several times a day.
You would notice that her belly area is sagging more than usual. You would start observing these symptoms after 2 weeks of successful mating. During the final months, you can even spot eggs, as they would be protruding outwards from her abdomen.
You can also tell that your female beardie is pregnant when she starts appearing skittish whenever you try to handle her. She would run away whenever you bring your hand close to her. She would prefer to be left alone during these days and might resort to a dark corner of the tank. You can also feel small bumps around the sides of her belly, and they indicate the presence of eggs.
Health complications in overweight bearded dragons
An obese bearded dragon would be at a high risk of suffering from various diseases – some of them being fatal. Their lifespan can also be reduced if they are not able to maintain the desired level of body-fat percentage. If their bellies drag to the floor when they are moving, then this can be a clear indicator that they are overweight.
Just like any other creature, the skeletal structure of a bearded dragon is designed to support a healthy body. If the weight exceeds that average limit, then this can put excessive pressure on the joints. Their bones would be at a greater risk of suffering from a fracture when they take part in physical activities.
The excess fat under the skin would also cause their metabolism to slow down. This can weaken their immune system, and it would be difficult for them to ward off potential diseases. It would be also difficult for you to spot cancerous lumps when your beardie is obese. These overgrowths should be immediately removed by performing a surgery. Your vet would perform an X-ray to identify the exact position and dimensions of these cancer cells. Older beardies are at a greater risk of suffering from cancer and the owners should always stay alert.
An obese female bearded dragon is also at risk of suffering from dystocia in which her eggs bind with each other. This not only blocks the normal passage of the eggs but it can even crack the eggshells. Broken eggshells can cause serious infection to the animal.
This disease occurs when the eggs are retained in the oviduct and they stay in the reproductive system for longer than usual. Therefore, you should ensure that your pet lizards stay lean and active.
How to tell if your bearded dragon is overweight?
Are you familiar with the feeling when you eat more than you should have because the food was good? You feel miserable because your stomach is bloating and you can’t breathe properly. Well, most of the captive bearded dragons go through a similar experience on a daily basis.
Nowadays you don’t have to be a herpetologist to raise a bearded dragon, as almost anyone can purchase it. This increase in the misinformed reptile owners has resulted in poor health of dragons. Many of us end up feeding our beardie more food than they can burn. This triggers their bodies to store fat reserves.
You should be concerned if your adorable lizard starts getting heavier than 800 grams. It would be more alarming if they reach this bodyweight at a length less than 22 inches. They would start developing health complications at this bodyweight. You might want to avoid feeding those slimy bugs to your bearded dragon if he is getting obese.
Bearded dragons can get fat very easily because their bodies are designed this way. In the wild, they mainly rely on their fat reserves when they need to survive a few days without any food.
PRO TIP: beardies usually store most of their fat deposits near the base of their tails right next to the vent. If you notice that their tails are getting wobbly and bulgy, then this can be an indicator that they are getting fat.
Some experts can even tell the level of obesity by observing the chin and belly of a bearded dragon. An inexperienced individual might even confuse big belly for a gravid female. You might be in doubt whether your female is pregnant or just fat. This is the reason you should always look at the tail’s base.
How to make your obese bearded dragon to lose weight?
When you are implementing a slimming diet plan for your pet dragon, you should always have their slow metabolism in your mind. Unlike mammals, reptiles don’t easily lose or gain weight because of their slower metabolic rates. So you don’t have to rush for getting quick results when helping your dragon lose weight.
Rapid weight loss can indicate an underlying illness and you should immediately get medical help. By implementing these strategies, you can expect your fatty lizard to lose a few grams each week.
Re-assess the feeding frequency
Putting food in a bowl appears to be highly appetizing for us, as we can munch on everything within an arm’s length. For bearded dragons, this can only make them more susceptible to getting fat. They would likely eat large volumes of food if you place them all in a single bowl.
You can use large plates and feeding containers in which you can sparsely place food items. Spreading out the food in this manner would allow a mentally stimulating activity to your docile pet.
If you have ample living space in your residential property, then you can also set up foraging zones for your beardie. This way they would have the opportunity of catching and chasing live insects. Their feeding time would turn into a calorie-burning session for them.
You should also refrain from cutting the veggies into small bite-size cubes. Make sure to cut fibrous vegetables into long slices, so that it encourages chewing behavior. This would also help restore their periodontal health, as they would not be swallowing all the meals.
Change the type of food they eat
It is more than likely that you are feeding a high-fat diet to your exotic lizard. You need to actively reduce the amount of sugar and fatty meals to help then reduce weight.
Your beardie would easily get addicted to all those feeder insects that are slimy and soft in their texture. Feeder bugs, such as mealworms and fly larvae, contain extremely high amounts of fat. You should wait for these insects to turn into beetles so that your pet lizard can get a greater portion of protein over fat.
You should add more green and leafy vegetables, such as dandelion and chickweed. This would help them process high-fat meals in a more controlled manner. Your obese dragon might appear frustrated during the initial period when you take out live insects from their diet. They would slowly get accustomed to the veggies and might even start loving it.
Brumation is practiced by most reptiles in the reptiles, as the food resources get scarce during the cold climate season. The activity levels of a bearded dragon sink down to a minimum during this annual deep-sleep mode. When it starts getting cold outside the appetite levels of a mature dragon would also be reduced. You should never allow your juvenile dragon to hibernate, as it can have deleterious effects on their growth.
You can artificially induce brumation by making some customizations in the vivarium. Start by lowering down the temperature at night that replicates the cold winter nights. This reduced temperature would trigger an instinctive behavior for your dragon to start preparing for brumation. They would prefer spending more time in the dark and damp corners of their enclosure. When they start skipping meals, this would cause their lipids to burn at a rapid rate.
PRO TIP: make sure that your bearded dragon is not malnourished before it enters into the brumation phase. It can be difficult for the skinny beardies to get out of the hibernation mode once they deplete all their fat reserves. You should also ensure that your dragon is not suffering from any intestinal worms. These parasites can have debilitating effects on the health and wellbeing of your pet lizard.
Start an exercise routine
Most herp experts preach about providing captive dragons with physical activities. In the wild, they have to work for each meal and have to hunt each day to survive. They also engage in strenuous digging sessions in their natural terrains, which offer a workout session. In indoor tanks, we mostly find newspapers or other solid substrates that cannot encourage digging behavior.
You can increase the energy expenditure of your beardie by installing tree branches and other natural obstacles in the enclosure. Your young dragons would love climbing up on small branches and sticks that would get them above the ground.
You can also provide them weekly bathing sessions, as that would be beneficial for their bodies. You can add different variations of depth and shallowness in the tub to add natural settings. You should only allow them to take a splash under your supervision, as they are susceptible to drowning.
You should also keep track of the temperature with a mini thermostat. If the weather gets too cold, then this would cause your beardie to become lazy and lethargic.
How to know if your Bearded Dragon is too skinny?
If you notice a certain depression behind the eyelids of your beardie, then this can be an indication that they are underweight. Sunken fat pads usually occur when a bearded dragon is malnourished or dehydrated. You can easily spot these fat reserves just below each eyelid of your dragon.
Healthy bearded dragons would have raised fat pads that can be spotted from a distance. You might want to increase the quantity and quality of food you feed to your pet lizard if you notice that.
Malnourished dragons also tend to have heads that are disproportionately bigger than their torsos. The ribcage and other skeletal structures of your dragon would also become visible when they become thin. You would notice that their skin appears loosely attached to their limbs and pelvis. Their spine would also be slightly protruded rather than being ingrained in the body.
Emaciated dragons would also possess weaker and thinner limb muscles. Their body would enter into starvation mode, which would initially target the fat reserves in the body. It would then be switched to their muscle fibers when most of the fat deposits are burned.
How to make your skinny bearded dragon gain weight?
You have just noticed that your adorable mini dragon seems to be getting more on the thin side. Skinny is never a good sign when it comes to evaluating the health of a bearded dragon. In order to fatten them up in a natural manner, you might want to make some changes with their enclosure. Usually, the UVB setup is not efficient when the beardies start becoming thin in a tank. You might also be feeding them a substandard diet.
Young bearded dragons are more likely to become skinny because their bodies mainly grow in length during this phase of life. The concerned owners should stay patient when they are trying to fatten up their loving pet reptiles. You might want to review your husbandry before taking them to the vet.
There are various ways you can help your underweight bearded dragon gain weight.
Stay patient regarding their weight
For new hatchlings and juveniles, it is fairly common to put on length rapidly rather than becoming plumper than before. Most of their calories would be going into their bone development, and this can leave them looking malnourished.
Make sure that the hips and pelvis of your beardie stay hidden under the fat deposits. If these body parts start becoming visible, then this can indicate a serious malnourishment issue. You can place your bearded dragon regularly on a jewelry weighing scale to keep track of their body weight.
Re-adjust the UVB settings
Bearded dragons spend a great portion of their basking up under the sun. They need UVB exposure in order to properly absorb vitamin D into their bodies. Make sure that you keep the UVB bulbs turned on for at least 10 hours during the warmer months. On the other hand, you can reduce this duration to about 8 hours during the winter season.
You would naturally turn off the lights when it gets dark at night but make sure that it doesn’t interfere with their feeding pattern. If they are eating food late at night, then you should keep the heat lamps switched on for at least an hour. It is best to adjust their feeding time to early hours of the day so that they don’t end up having undigested food during their sleep.
Re-evaluate their diet plan
You can feed an unlimited amount of feeder insects to your young beardie within a timeframe of 5 to 10 minutes. There should be no restriction regarding the number of insects they want to eat.
Once your dragon reaches adulthood, you can add more leafy greens in their diet. Their daily food intake should be around 70% veggies and 30% meat when they are mature.
For your think beardie, feeding cockroaches and crickets might not be a suitable option because of their low-fat content. You can add mealworms and wax-worms in their diet for maximum fat percentage. Occasionally adding pink and hopper mice might also be a good dietary option.
You should also thoroughly gut-load the feeder insects before adding them in the feeding bowl of your dragon. For the gut-loading session, you can add nutritious vegetables, such as carrots and parsley. This would your thin beardie get optimum nutrition from a single meal.
By following the tips and guidelines mentioned above, you would be able to control the desired weight of your pet dragon. Their body weight should always be maintained at every life stage, and there shouldn’t be any excuses when it comes to their health and wellbeing.
If you notice that your bearded dragon isn’t eating, then you should go to the vet to perform a stool examination for potential parasites. You can also feed them baby food supplements with the help of a syringe if they seem uninterested in their food.
Try out these techniques for a week before getting them examined at a veterinary clinic.