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Why Is My Bearded Dragon So Small?

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Bearded Dragons have to be some of the coolest pets on the planet.

They’re so different from your typical hamster, mouse, cat, or dog, and they’re a pretty great lizard to own for beginners who want to start owning more reptile pets in their life.

They take up comparatively little space when compared to other pets and also don’t usually need the most extra equipment when compared to other reptile pets that are popular to own.

However, just because they are generally easier to look after than other reptiles doesn’t mean that they are easy pets to look after.

Bearded dragon on black background

Quite the opposite.

Reptile pets are so different from many of the other pets that we normally keep, especially those mammalian companions that we love so much, that going from owning something like a hamster to a bearded dragon can be a little shocking.

Their needs are very different, after all!

And this can also lead to bearded dragon owners worrying about their pet’s health.

One of the most common things that new bearded dragons owners tend to notice is the size of their pets.

They’ll notice that their bearded dragon, at a year or 2 old, just isn’t the same size as the ones that they saw in the pet store.

The truth is, it isn’t possible to know how big your bearded dragon will get until you’ve had them around for a while.

But certain factors would make your bearded dragon grow smaller than average.

Low Temperature In Their Homes

The first thing that most people realize when looking after their bearded dragons is that they aren’t always the same size.

One of the reasons for a small dragons is that they’re cold-blooded creatures, meaning that they rely upon external temperatures to regulate their internal body temperature.

This means that if the air temperature drops below a certain point, then they will not only become less active, but they may even stop eating completely.

And without eating the proper amount of nutrients, bearded dragons simply aren’t going to grow as large as they otherwise might.

So if you’re keeping your bearded dragon indoors, then you should ensure that the room where they live has a constant temperature of between 40 and 45 degrees Celsius when they are young and a little lower down to 40-41 degrees Celsius once they are adults, usually after a year.

If you want to control the temperature of your bearded dragon’s home, you should consider having the right type of heat lamp and UV bulb available to use inside their cage or lizard tank.

Inadequate Nutrition

Just like with any animal, diet plays a huge role in their growth rate.

If they eat too little, they won’t be able to reach their full potential.

Likewise, if they eat too much, they could potentially gain weight and end up being unhealthy.

As such, it’s important to feed your bearded dragon a healthy mix of food every day.

You should try to provide enough protein, calcium, iron, vitamins B12 and D3, and minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium.

Most of these nutrients can be found in most species of crickets, which most lizard-selling pet stores should have in stock.

They can also be found in some greens and vegetables, which you should also encourage your bearded dragon to eat.

Not only that, but your lizard’s feeding habits will change depending on their age.

Younger bearded dragons tend to need to eat a lot more frequently than their older counterparts, even if they don’t necessarily eat as much per meal.

But if you do happen to find yourself running out of food, you should be sure that you clean the bowl thoroughly before refilling it.

This way, you’ll prevent the buildup of bacteria that will help to cause problems down the line.

Parasite Infection

Parasite infection is something that many bearded dragons can pick up from other reptiles.

Because they share similar environments, parasites can easily jump from one reptile to another.

Sometimes, the containers that house the crickets that are fed to your bearded dragon companion may also contain small parasites that your lizard may ingest.

Other times, the parasites themselves may enter through the skin.

If a parasite manages to get inside your young bearded dragon, it may start to act more lethargic than it otherwise should and eat far less than it should, further stunting its growth.

The best solution for this problem is to make sure that all of the insects that you feed to your lizard are fresh and free of parasites.

To avoid this issue entirely, you can place the insects into a separate container so that they don’t come into contact with other bugs.

Your bearded dragon may experience a similar problem if it bites itself while trying to catch a cricket.

In some cases, biting off part of their tongue can leave them unable to properly swallow their meals.

This scenario can become especially problematic if a piece of food is blocking their airway, slowly suffocating them or preventing them from swallowing new food.

To combat this issue, you should regularly check your bearded dragon’s mouth to see whether or not there is anything lodged in it.

If you suspect that there might be an object inside it, you should gently pull it out using tweezers.

Too Many Dragons

This is a common mistake that many people make when first buying a baby bearded dragon.

Because many people see a cluster of bearded dragons in a lizard tank in the pet store, they assume that it is fine to own more than one in a single tank.

However, this is not recommended.

Adult bearded dragons are solitary creatures, and this can cause them to become stressed if they are kept together with another lizard, which can cause them to not grow as they normally would on their own or in the wild.

Because of this, it is important to ensure that you have enough space for each lizard that you’re adding to your collection.

You should also try to keep your bearded dragons happy by giving them plenty of toys and hiding places.

These little guys love basking in the sun, after all, and having a few spots where they can bask safely will go a long way toward making their days feel better.

However, the easiest way to make sure your bearded dragon is happy is to simply keep them in separate tanks.

Those spaces are only just big enough for a single dragon. It’s best not to push it with two or more!

Not Enough Calcium

As we mentioned before, your dragon needs enough nutrients for it to grow big and strong.

However, one nutrient that you can’t usually find in a normal pet store diet is calcium.

Without enough calcium in its body, whilst it grows, it will not be able to support a larger body and so will simply not grow as big as it should.

Most pet stores will sell a calcium powder that you can add to your lizard’s food (or even mix it into a vitamin supplement for him).

You’ll want to buy this from a reputable source, though, since there are lots of cheap products on the market that may contain harmful substances.

If you decide to use a calcium supplement, you’ll need to be careful about how much you give your lizard daily.

This can vary depending on the age of your lizard, but most owners recommend starting at around 1/4 teaspoon per feeding.

The Wrong Type Of UVB Bulb

Bearded dragon on a wood

As we also mentioned earlier in this piece, the UVB Bulb you use in your lizard tank or cage is critical to your dragon’s health.

If you are living in colder areas, then chances are that your bearded dragon won’t get the necessary rays from the sun that they would otherwise get in the wild.

And this isn’t just for giving your lizard a nice tan, either!

Without enough vitamin D, your bearded dragon’s bones will not be strong enough to support a larger body, which will, in turn, stunt its growth.

It’s important to note here, too, that while some stores claim that they can provide UVB radiation to their bearded dragons, they may not be able to provide the right type for your bearded dragon, as different species of lizards require different types of UVB bulbs to provide the right amount of radiation.

UVB bulbs are very expensive, and it’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on an LED bulb that doesn’t work properly for your lizard, so this is important to keep in mind!

That being said, because bearded dragons are some of the most popular lizard pets out there, most stores that sell lizard and bearded dragon equipment and food should have some appropriate UV bulbs in stock as well.

If you specify to a member of staff that you need a UVB bulb for a bearded dragon, they should be able to help you out.

A Different Kind Of Bearded Dragon

This is an answer that can often be overlooked when compared to the rest of the issues that we have discussed on this list.

And really, this isn’t even an issue!

There are a variety of different kinds of bearded dragons that you can own, and each kind has its unique characteristics.

Some species, such as the Eastern bearded dragon, can be as large as two feet in some cases, whereas the Pygmy bearded dragon can be half that.

Other factors include the coloration of their bodies, whether or not they have claws on their feet and even the shape of their tails.

So, if you’re looking to purchase a specific kind of bearded dragon, make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting before committing to any purchases.

Your panicking over it being the wrong size might just be a misunderstanding!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Bearded Dragons Good Pets?

Yes, bearded dragons are generally considered good pets.

They tend to live long lives, and many people find them quite charming.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell just how long your lizard will live, as this depends entirely on you!

Some owners report that their lizards lived up to 20 years, while others only saw their bearded dragons reach seven years old.

However, if you take care of your bearded dragon properly, he should be able to last for as long as a cat or dog will usually live.

What Equipment Do I Need To Look After A Bearded Dragon Pet?

One of the first things that you’ll want to consider is the cage that you choose to buy.

There are lots of options available today, but if you don’t know much about cages at all, you could end up with something that doesn’t fit your bearded dragon correctly.

You’ll also want to ensure that you have a suitable enclosure, as this will allow your lizard plenty of room to move around and explore his environment.

If you’re planning on having more than one bearded dragon, you’ll probably want to invest in multiple enclosures.

This way, you can separate them into different rooms and give them their own private space to call home.

Another thing that you’ll need to think about is a water bowl, as reptiles like to drink water frequently.

Most bearded dragons require daily access to freshwater, which means that you’ll need to provide them with a bowl that stays full throughout the day.

And, of course, you must not forget the heat lamp and UVB bulb to keep your dragon warm and healthy!

How Much Does It Cost To Raise A Bearded Dragon As A Pet?

The cost of raising a pet bearded dragon varies from individual to individual.

However, the average price of the supplies needed to look after a bearded dragon ranges between $40 – $80 per month.

Bearded dragons need a lot of attention, so you’ll have to dedicate several hours every week to care for them.

The amount of time required for your bearded dragon may vary depending on the type of food that you feed him, the age of your lizard, and other factors.

It’s also worth noting that the higher quality the beard dragon food, the better it will suit him.

Therefore, you’ll want to spend a little more money on the best quality foods compared to cheaper alternatives.

Do Bearded Dragons Eat Fish?


Generally speaking, bearded dragons will eat mostly insects such as crickets, locusts, and some vegetables.

They do not eat fish, however, due to the fact that they lack teeth that are suited to eating them.

Instead, they use their tongue to catch small animals by surprise!


Now you’ve got everything that you need to raise a bearded dragon successfully.

If you follow these tips carefully, you’ll have a happy and healthy lizard within no time!

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.