Bearded Dragon vs Iguana – Differences, and Similarities

A cat or a dog can be owned by almost everyone, but how many people own reptiles? If you have always wanted to have a unique pet. But, can’t seem to figure out which reptile would be the one for you, we’re going to be talking about two of the most popular ones, Bearded dragons and Iguanas.

What’s the Difference Between a Bearded Dragon and an Iguana as a Pet? Both reptiles are recognized for their peaceful demeanors and ability to form strong bonds with their owners. When it comes to picking which reptile will fit in best with your family, their distinctive growth patterns and natural defences are the most important factors to consider.

Reptiles are odd pets to have. They’re not only intriguing to be with and learn from, but they can also be as loyal as any other more “typical” companion animal if you do your study and learn how to handle them properly. If you’re looking for a lizard but can’t decide between these two popular species. So let’s go over the two and see if either one of these could be the perfect pet for you!

Bearded dragon

Bearded dragons are without a doubt, one of the most popular reptile pets ever and It’s really not surprising at all, considering they’re cute, friendly, and very low maintenance. If you are also thinking of getting this lizard, here are some of the basics you should know about it!

Lifespan:

For every new beardie owner, knowing the lifespan of a bearded dragon is very important. The average lifespan of a bearded dragon kept in captivity is around 10 to 15 years! This range completely depends on how well you take care of your beardie along with their genetics. So, make sure you buy your bearded dragon from a reliable seller.

Most pet stores take terrible care of their reptiles, resulting in a short life expectancy. As long as you keep them on a healthy diet, give them a proper enclosure and regular vet checkups, then your beardie will live a happy and long life!

Behavior:

Bearded dragons are great for new reptile owners because of their laid back attitude, they also have a reputation of being one of the friendliest reptile pets ever!

So, if you do end up getting a bearded dragon, you will without a doubt, learn many useful things about them, from what to feed them to habitat and handling methods, which would be rather difficult to learn if you were to get a certain cranky lizard. Read more on different bearded dragon behavior.

Diet:

Bearded dragons are omnivores and eat both insects and fruits or vegetables, which can make it very expensive to feed them.

If feeding live insects to your beardie freaks you out, then you either have to pass on getting on or get over this fear. You can expect to spend around $10 to 30 dollars feeding a bearded dragon every week. More on bearded dragon diet.

Cost:

When you get a bearded dragon, you should only get it from either a breeder or an animal rescuer, because they give it for a lot cheaper and the dragons are usually in good health and much happier. Bearded dragons aren’t very expensive but the cost to care for them is pretty high so it evens out in the end. A bearded dragon can be for anywhere around $20 to $160, with the baby bearded dragon being the cheapest.

However, the price can be a lot different based on what kind of morph you want to buy. Normally, the regular bearded dragon is on the cheaper end, and a more exotic morph like the Witblit bearded dragon will cost you a pretty penny.

Size:

To care for a bearded dragon properly, you must first determine how large they will get when completely grown. This is essential since it will guide you in selecting the best enclosure and creating a feeding strategy.

For the first three months of their lives, these reptiles grow fast. Bearded dragons will grow an additional 1 to 2 inches per month for the rest of the year. During their second year of life, these reptiles can still grow another 1 to 2 inches.

Bearded dragons can get from 17 inches to almost 26 inches and can weigh from 0.5 pounds to 2 pounds. This can make carrying them around super easy! Some people even let their beardies stay on their shoulders while they do some house chores. Who knows, maybe you’ll be one of those people too! Read our post on bearded dragon size.

Enclosure setup:

If you’re looking for a reptile pet with a simple cage setup, then bearded dragons are the perfect pet for you! Adult bearded dragons live perfectly fine in a cage around 80 gallons, but it should ideally be around 110 to 120 gallons. See our list of recommended bearded dragon terrariums.

With just a couple of UVB lights, a basking bulb, and some basic substrate, setting up their cage is super easy. You will probably need to spend around $100 to $700 to get a good quality bearded dragon enclosure with setup.

Daily care:

Poop and uneaten food must be removed from the cage on a daily basis, as well as the water and food dishes being washed with soap. You should also bathe your bearded dragon once or twice a week.

In addition, you’ll have to look after your bearded dragon’s feeder insects. You must purchase them and gut-load them for at least 24 hours before giving them to your bearded dragon.

Gut-loading involves feeding and watering bugs in a container. Cleaning the cage should be done on a daily basis.

Lighting:

For your bearded dragon’s enclosure, a UVB tube lamp is required, you can use the 3M command to mount it inside the cage. A basking light is a must, a halogen lamp will do (don’t waste any money on “reptile bulbs”). It should be mounted entirely to one side of your system.

You should also get a ceramic heater if the temperature in your home drops into the 60s at night. It should only be used at night.

Heating:

Bearded dragons require heat to digest food and keep their immune systems healthy. They will become sick and die if they do not receive it. Bearded dragons are basking lizards, meaning they get their heat from an overhead heat source that is similar to the sun.

Bearded dragons require a temperature gradient in their cage to maintain their body temperature because they are cold-blooded. They can survive high basking temperatures, but they must be able to go to cooler parts of the cage to avoid overheating. Keep the temperature of the cage around 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 to 85 degrees at night.

More on bearded dragon lighting and heating requirements.

Humidity:

Relative humidity levels should be kept between 35 and 40% to guarantee that your bearded dragon’s habitat closely resembles its native environment.

This humidity level is similar to that seen in Australia’s hot, dry inland regions, which will benefit your beardie’s health. High humidity levels, among other things, can put your fragile bearded dragon at risk of significant respiratory problems.

Advantages of having a bearded dragon as a pet:

Now that you know about the basics of a bearded dragon, let’s look at some of the advantages of having one!

  • Easy to take care of
  • Laidback
  • Safe
  • Friendly
  • Intelligent
  • Not too big

Disadvantages of having a bearded dragon

After seeing the advantages, here are some downsides of having a bearded dragon.

  • Fragile
  • Diet is expensive
  • Need to be fed live insects

Iguana

Iguanas are pet lizards, who are native to Central and South America. Despite being common reptile pets, Iguanas are high-maintenance animals that require a high level of care. They have a very strict diet and cage requirements, and can get very large, aggressive, and difficult to tame at times. This doesn’t mean that iguanas can’t be great pets, but you should know that they will be a big commitment, from the very beginning.

Lifespan:

The normal life expectancy of iguanas is around 10 to 60 years! Their lifespan can range because of genetics, species, environment, or just how they were taken care of. Wild iguanas usually live the longest and towards the end of this spectrum, although pet iguanas do usually live for at least 10 to 15 years. Some even manage to reach over the twenties!

Most owners understand the basic needs of their pets, ensuring they live a long and healthy life. But, research is essential for anyone that is planning on getting an iguana. It’s important to remember that you should never get an iguana because of impulse, because they need tons of money, time, and effort. You will also need to learn about the habitat they used to live in the wild, their humidity, temperature, and hydration needs as well.

Behavior:

If you get an iguana as a baby you will find that they seem very friendly and outgoing. But when they start growing up, they get pretty annoying to deal with. An iguana in its breeding cycle can become very aggressive. They can bite and scratch, and even use their tail almost like mosquito swatter if they feel threatened in any way.

For this reason, it’s not really the best idea to get an iguana if you have children or other pets, and if you are buying one regardless, you will have to be extra cautious.

Diet:

Iguanas are herbivores, meaning they solely eat vegetables and fruits. It’s actually pretty cheap to feed an iguana, you should expect to spend $20-$40 a month on an iguana, depending on how much you feed your adult iguana.

Make sure to feed your iguana at least once a day, or every other day if it’s overweight.

Cost:

Iguanas can be purchased from pet retailers, breeders, and rescue organizations. Many wind up in rescues after their owners find they are unable to match the species’ care requirements. They’re usually available for $20 to $50 if you buy or adopt them.

Don’t be tricked by a pet store’s claim that a little iguana will stay that size. These creatures grow at a rapid rate. Look for an iguana with clean eyes, healthy skin, and normal feces that is active. Low body weight, mucus around the animal’s nose, lumps or lesions on the skin, and lethargy are all red signals.

Finally, confirm the legality of owning a pet iguana in your location by checking your local regulations or consulting an exotic animal veterinarian. You should also check to see if a local veterinarian accepts iguanas as patients.

Size:

When fully mature, an iguana can be anywhere from 5 inches to 7 feet long. This varies by species, which differ in color, shape, and size. At three years of age, iguanas normally achieve full adult size.

There are now 35 species that can be kept as pets, and they are all different sizes, so it’s crucial to know what you have or plan to adopt.

Enclosure setup:

In order to thrive, the iguana will need a considerably larger space. The majority of mature iguanas will need cages that are at least 6 feet tall, 6 feet wide, and 3 feet deep… that’s almost 100 cubic feet of room!

These cages are also not cheap, as you might expect. A decent adult iguana cage will cost you anywhere from $500 to hundreds of dollars. For this reason, I would suggest you consider building your own iguana enclosure.

The majority of responsible iguana owners construct their own cages to accommodate not just the available space in their houses, but also their pet’s needs.

Because iguanas are arboreal, they will require a lot of space to climb. Make sure the cage is at least 6 feet, but ideally 8 to 9 feet.

Daily care:

Iguanas depend on schedules, eating, pooping, napping, and doing other things at the same time every day. Based on your way of living, this can be both a good and a terrible thing.

You must allow your iguana to defecate on a daily basis. You’ll also need to prepare fresh salads for your iguana daily.

On top of that, mist your iguana twice a day and bathe it every day, or at least four times a week. Food and water dishes must be washed every day.

Lighting:

Iguanas need UV radiation, particularly UVA and UVB, to survive. UVA is required to keep the iguana happy and healthy. UVA can be easily accessible to an iguana via window glass or ordinary room lighting. The iguana’s UVA requirements can be met by providing a source of UVA, such as window exposure or room lighting.

Iguanas are basking reptiles that need a lot of UVB to effectively synthesize Vitamin D, which allows them to absorb calcium from their meals. If the iguana’s calcium metabolism is disrupted, the nervous system will begin to draw calcium from the bone structure to meet its needs.

Heating:

Iguanas are cold-blooded and require additional heat to digest properly. They like temperatures ranging from 84-90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit at night. When a reptile is chilly, it is unable to digest its food efficiently and is more likely to develop unwellness.

Lizards prefer a temperature gradient, which allows them to travel to a warmer portion of the cage when they are cold and vice versa. Install a decent quality thermometer in the cage where the iguana spends the majority of its time so you can keep track of the temperature.

Humidity:

Iguanas are native to a tropical climate and require a high amount of humidity to survive. It can be challenging to maintain correct humidity levels in the cage (between 65-75 percent ). Spraying the cage and iguana with water many times a day, putting a humidifier in the room where the enclosure is kept, and placing big tubs of water in the enclosure are all ways to boost humidity.

To help with moisture availability, bathe your iguana or wash it every day. For a number of reasons, including hygiene, this is recommended. Humidity levels that are appropriate for the iguana assist keep them hydrated and aid in shedding by moistening and softening their skin.

Advantages of having an Iguana:

Assuming you have read everything written above, here are the advantages of having an iguana!

  • Herbivores
  • Long lifespan
  • Strong
  • Smart

Disadvantages of having an iguana:

Here are some of the disadvantages of having an iguana.

  • Aggressive
  • Need a lot of space
  • Not child/pet friendly
  • Not the best for first-time owners
  • Sharp claws and teeth

Which one is the best pet for you?

Now that you know basically everything there is to know about bearded dragons and iguanas, individually, let’s take a look at them side by side, so you can see which one is the best pet for you!

The size of a bearded dragon is preferred by most people because it remains small. They are about 18-24 inches long from nose to tail when fully grown.

Bearded dragons are one of the most popular lizard species. They are extremely friendly and rarely bite. They are curious and gregarious reptiles in general. Iguanas, on the other hand, grow to be large lizards with a length of 4 to 6 feet from nose

Iguanas can be hostile if they are not handled regularly. Male iguanas can be hostile, especially towards women, during the breeding season. Female iguanas also have the rare capacity to deposit eggs even when they don’t have a mate.

So, it’s best to leave them alone when they’re getting ready to lay eggs to prevent frightening them.

Bearded dragons are completely unaffected by the breeding season. Long, sharp claws and teeth of iguanas can produce a severe bite or scrape. They also have spines on their tails that act like serrated whips when agitated.

On the other hand, bearded dragons have small teeth, so if they do end up biting you (which is uncommon) it will barely leave a scratch.

Conclusion

By now, you should have a better idea of which pet would be best for you and your family. And, if it wasn’t obvious beforehand, these two reptiles couldn’t be more different!

Bearded dragons are quite easy to care for and handle, whereas iguanas may be quite difficult in many ways. Whichever pet you choose to adopt, your best approach is to research as much as you can about each species. This will help you make the best decision.

About Tariq Aziz

I am working as Chief editor at MY BEARDIES. I have been working in the publishing business for over a decade now. I love reptiles and I love talking about them. I have years of experience in herpetoculture. I have cared for many reptiles including bearded dragons, geckos, and skinks since childhood.

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