The name of bearded dragons is climbing to the top of the list of popular pets at an amazing pace. But with that, lots of their owners have come up with a pile of issues and questions too where the most common one is – why isn’t my bearded dragon growing?
Malnourishment is the most common reason for bearded dragons not growing. Not only that, poor habitat conditions, incorrect temperatures, and parasites too can influence the growth of bearded dragons negatively.
But can there be any more reasons that are stopping your pet reptile from growing? Well, this article is all about finding that out.
The easiest way to find out whether your bearded dragon is growing up to the mark or not is by tracking the growth. But how are you going to pull that off? Well, this is where a growth chart comes in handy.
But before we jump into the chart, let us tell you this isn’t anything ‘inevitable’ as the size and growth are dependent on several aspects. The first one there is the species and depending on that a bearded dragon can grow up to 24″. Besides, on the basis of sex, the growth can vary as well.
There are also other factors that can mess with your pet’s growth, but we’ll come to those later. First of all, let’s check out the growth chart.
|Age (months)||Size (inches)||Weight (grams)|
|1||3″ to 4″||4 to 6|
|2||5″ to 9″||8 to 40|
|3||8″ to 11″||22 to 110|
|4||9″ to 12″||41 to 115|
|5||11″ to 16″||102 to 115|
|6||11″ to 18″||183 to 188|
|7||13″ to 18″||230 to 280|
|8||14″ to 20″||252 to 327|
|9 to 10||16″ to 22″||280 to 360|
|11 to 12+||16″ to 24″||350 to 510|
Having this fascinating reptile as a pet surely is an amazing experience. But the problems start once they notice their four-legged friend isn’t growing anymore or is too small for their age. Well, that can happen for a bunch of reasons including –
If you’re expecting that feeding your beardie with anything will make it grow, then you’re still in the dark. It’s the balanced nutrients that trigger the growth in the first place. So, when you’re seeing your pet has stopped growing, look into its diet before you run to the vet.
When the baby is at the age of 2 to 3 months, keep it 30% on the vegetation and 70% on the insect proteins. By the way, that goes for both juvenile and baby beardies. But once it steps into adulthood, increase the vegetation up to 70% and lower the insect proteins to 30%.
We guess you’re already thinking about why the vegetation when the insect protein will do just fine. Well, that’s because this is what the balance of nutrients relies on as the vets also suggest that owners shouldn’t ignore greens in the diet of the reptile. After all, veggies are considered a great source of calcium which is nothing but essential for growth.
Not only that but they assist in grabbing the major nutrients as well that can simply keep the health of the dragon on track.
We won’t be surprised if you’d say – what’s the problem with sharing the tank when pet shop owners themselves are doing it? Well, they might not tell you but that surely can prevent the dragons from growing.
Staying alone is in the nature of these animals. So, when you’re putting more than one in the tank, their growth might get paused, especially with male ones as they’re highly territorial. This is the same reason why keeping two males in the same tank is a worse idea.
Besides, putting two in one place can rise conflict and lead to injury sooner or later. The same rule goes for keeping one female and one male or two female beardies in the same tank as well.
If you’ve had your share of research about bearded dragons, then you already know that they’re from Australia which is a quite hot place. So, the dragons are pretty much made for such temperature and need the same kind of heat in any place they’ll live afterward.
But missing out on the heat can simply mess with their growth rate as they need a temperature around 110-degree Fahrenheit. Without this kind of heat, you probably won’t be seeing the dragon moving much which will ultimately slow down the growth.
Due to being cold-blooded, their body doesn’t come with a static temperature. That’s why having an external source of heat is a must for them. It allows them to have control over their body temperature.
Like any other pets, bearded dragons also deal with parasites at times. This mostly happens when you’re not keeping the tank clean enough. As parasites feed off the dragon’s energy, they might easily slow down its growth. By the way, worst case scenario – along with slowing down the growth, they can kill the dragon too.
Not only a dirty tank but the cricket box you’re getting from the pet stores can bring in parasites as well. Even the ones you’ve ordered online can call in the bloodsuckers. The easiest way to keep track of the parasite infestation is checking out the beardie every now and then along with keeping the tank clean.
Clearly, calcium is highly essential for the growth of bearded dragons. After all, this is what maintains the bone’s health and keeps the growth on point. But once the pet starts getting insufficient calcium, the growth curve going down becomes pretty obvious. On top of that, missing out on it will gradually soften the dragon’s bones.
But that’s not the only hassle that’ll be waiting on the way. The pet will gradually become deformed. This means, it won’t be able to hunt and in the long run, might even lose the ability to stand as the bones will become weaker than ever. And the worst part? Without proper treatment, it might end up dead.
As bearded dragons are from the Australian desert, UV ray is the last thing they have to worry about. And yes, it assists in their growth. But they’re getting that there from a purely natural source – the sun.
On the other hand, in a tank, it’s hard to manage something like that which ultimately interferes with their growth process. Lots of dragon owners do try to arrange UVB light for their pets, but keeping it on for less than 12 hours every day won’t do the trick.
It’s not that always the external factors will come between your bearded dragon and its growth. Sometimes, the growth level and its rapidity depend on the type of the dragon as well. Some of the bearded dragons are inherently smaller. So, before you call your beardie’s growth stunted, check out its type first.
Usually, most of the dragons seen as pets are the Pogona Vitticeps type and they often don’t extend a length from 20″ to 22″. On the other hand, types like Pogona Barbata don’t grow more than 24″ if it’s kept captivated. And the smallest one? Well, that will be Pogona Henrylawsoni with a length of 12″ only.
No matter how nutritious food you give your dragon, if it’s low on appetite, the growth won’t be up to the mark for sure. But what can possibly cause it? Well, it’s mostly caused by stress which can be triggered by reasons like –
- Being new to the place
- Being intimidated by other pets
- Over handling
- Low tank space
- Excessive noise around
- Poor tank placement
So, if you’re beardie is not eating up even though you’ve given it enough food, then there’s a high chance of it dealing with one of the above-mentioned situations.
Do you know what dragon owners overlook the most? It’s the tank size and unfortunately, that too can negatively influence the beardie’s growth potential. When they’re babies, smaller tanks won’t matter that much. But once they step into adulthood, congested space not only will limit their movement and growth but will also affect their appetite.
Being confused about whether the bearded dragon is growing or not is pretty much normal for the pet’s owners. But avoiding that ‘confusion’ part is quite easy if you just know how to track if the dragon is growing or the growth has been stunted. There are two ways to be sure about the growth part.
First, weigh the beardie every month and match the number with the growth chart we’ve mentioned above.
Second, monitor the shedding. A healthy dragon usually sheds on a regular basis. The young ones shed in every 4 weeks. But once they grow older, the shedding frequency goes down.
Like any other reptiles, they too keep growing for their entire life. As the younger dragons grow faster, they shed more frequently compared to the older ones. So, clearly, if the shedding has been stopped, so has the growth of your beardie as well.
So, what should be the next move once you find out that your beardie has caught up with stunted growth? Clearly, fixing that up. But how? Well, you can try the following tips –
- Set up a good UVB light that will stay on for 12 hours every single day.
- If the temperature is too low than 110 °F, set the temperature back to it or change the setup that can keep the warmth right on point.
- Check out how much food the beardie is taking. If the amount is insufficient, fix the feeding schedule following the food chart given by the vet or reliable sources.
- Avoid relying on calcium supplements alone. Add food to the diet that is high in calcium.
- Check out the tank size. Replace it with a bigger one if the tank is smaller than 50 gallons.
- Go for a check-up on a regular basis. Also, learn how to look for parasites on your own so that you can do an initial inspection of the beardie at home.
There is still no clear evidence that females grow faster than male ones. But some of the dragon owners have claimed that their female dragon has shown significant rise in growth compared to the male dragon.
As not too many pet owners have agreed to that, we’re not counting those statements as valid yet. But if you’re asking about the length part, the male one surely surpasses the female dragon in that race.
It’s kind of tough to accelerate the growth of a bearded dragon in a natural way. So, what you can do is ensure proper care and nutrition for your four-legged friend, so that it can grow at its natural and uninterrupted pace.
There’s no major alternative to calcium when it comes to making a bearded dragon grow. So it’ll be better if you can just fill its diet with insects and greens that are rich in calcium. Adding dietary supplements like crickets can also do the trick.
If the tank is less than 40 – 50 gallons, change the tank. Go for something as big as 55 gallons to be on the safe side. But if you’re dragon is still a baby, try using a tank with a size of 15-gallon, till it grows 12 inches.
And also check out the lighting setup. If it’s not delivering the required UV rays, change that too. Make sure that the next setup is good enough to keep the beardie warm for 12 hours in a row. As turning off the light manually every time all by yourself can be hassle, try using a timer to switch it off.
It’s the right temperature that aids the most in ensuring active digestion. So, we’d say you better keep the heat between 90° to 115° Fahrenheit in order to speed the digestive system of the beardie. After all, slower digestion will make it eat slow and grow slow.
‘Why isn’t my bearded dragon growing’ – If you’ve come this far, we’re guessing that question won’t be bothering you anymore. As you can see, there are lots of reasons that can hold back the growth of your bearded dragon.
All you have to do is just change a few things around and before you know it, the lizard will start growing again to the fullest.