Updated August 3, 2022 byJennifer Münsel
Bearded Dragon vs Iguana, Which is the Best Pet Lizard for You?
Bearded dragons and iguanas both dogreat pet lizards, also for kidsand beginner herpes! However, there are some key differences between the two scaly animals that mean they're better suited to different owners' lifestyles.
The differences in size, diet, husbandry requirements, and personalities will help you decide which lizard is a better fit for your life.
Read on to find out who the winner is between bearded dragons and iguanas!
Table of contents
Key Differences Between Bearded Dragons and Iguanas
The main differences between bearded dragons and iguanas are:
- Bearded dragons are relatively small, measuring around 20 inches, while iguanas are much larger and can grow up to 7 feet from snout to tail tip.
- Bearded dragons have smaller enclosures, while iguanas require much larger, custom-made enclosures.
- Bearded dragons are omnivores while iguanas are strict herbivores.
- Bearded dragons are easy to tame and have a calm temperament, while iguanas can be difficult to tame and are often aggressive.
Bearded dragons are suitable for almost anyone who wants to own a lizard, regardless of experience level. They are fairly small and easy to manage, have a varied diet, only require a 40 to 60 gallon tank, are great with kids and love to be handled.
On the other hand, iguanas are better suited to a more experienced owner who has enough space for a 6 foot lizard enclosure, has plenty of patience and time to tame them, and won't be too disappointed if they don't enjoy being handled.
Next, let's take a closer look at the differences between these two large lizards.
Bearded Dragons vs. Iguana: Overview
Bearded dragons are originally from Australia. The Beardies that you can find for sale all over the US are all captive bred because it is now illegal to export them.Bearded dragons are adorable lizardsthat go down well in the care of most people. They are fairly small but hardy animals and relatively easy to care for.
Read our article onwhere bearded dragons come from.
Iguanas available in the US, on the other hand, are all wild-caught or farm-bred. Iguanas are not actually bred in captivity because they are widespread. However, some states have banned them because they are invasive species and are listed as a pest or ecosystem hazard. Always check if your state has an Iggy ban before making a purchase.
A lizard's size considers two factors: the lizard's total weight and its total length from snout to the tip of its tail.
The lizard's size determines many aspects of its care, such as: B. how big their enclosure needs to be, what kind of setup they need in the enclosure, the amount of food they eat and the severity of their bite/claws.
Bearded dragons start out very small as juveniles, weighing just 4 grams! However, they grow quickly and by around 12 months old they are sexually mature and fully grown at 20-24 inches in length and weighing 360-420 grams!
Bearded Dragons are a good "average" sized lizard if you are thinking of handling them. They need two steady hands to handle them to provide proper body support and they can fit on your shoulder, head or sleeve quite comfortably.
Check out our tracking guideBearded dragon growth.
Als Jungtiere beginnen Leguane bei etwa 0,2 Pfund. Sie wachsen recht langsam und erreichen ihre volle Reife erst mit etwa 7 Jahren. Wenn sie jedoch die Geschlechtsreife erreichen, können Männchen 15 bis 20 Pfund wiegen und eine Länge von 7 Fuß erreichen!
Iguanas are large, very long, strong and heavy animals. Much of their length comes from their tails - which are strong, lined with sharp spines, and heavily muscled. When handling adult iguanas, you'll need both hands, your arms, and maybe someone else! Even the most docile iguanas can be difficult to handle due to their massive size and strength.
Check out our tracking guideiguana growth.
Bearded dragons would win in the size department if you want a lizard that is easy to manage and doesn't take up a lot of space. However, if you are looking for a magnificent display animal and are willing to put in the work to set up a very large, elaborate enclosure, then the iguana is for you.
Enclosure size is very important when housing reptiles. Dogs and cats can roam all over your house and garden. You cannot give your lizards free reign over your home because they need a carefully controlled environment to survive.
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your reptile is how much space you have for its enclosure.
Bearded dragon hatchlings can be housed in a 20-gallon enclosure. However, by the time they are 6 months old, they must be in an enclosure that holds at least 40 gallons. However, a 50 to 60 gallon enclosure would be ideal for a single adult bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons are terrestrial lizards, which simply means that they live on the ground and are not very strong climbers. Therefore, a beardie's enclosure needs to be longer and wider than it is high, so that he has plenty of room to run around.
Check out our full guideEnclosure structure for bearded dragons.
Iguana enclosures cannot be purchased at your local pet store; they must be custom made. Once your iguana is fully grown (7 years old) it needs to be in an enclosure that is at least 72 x 36 x 108 inches. That's a big enclosure!
Iguanas are semi-arboreal lizards, meaning they spend time both on the ground and in the trees. Their enclosure must allow them to move both vertically and across the ground. In addition, their enclosure must be large enough to have a large water trough/bowl for your iguana to dip its entire body into.
Check out our full guideSetting up an iguana enclosure.
If you are looking for comfort in terms of cost and enclosure setup, the bearded dragon is your best bet. However, if you want to devote a large part of your time and your house or garden to a magnificent enclosure, then the iguana wins for you!
Diet is an important part of considering what type of lizard you want. Some diets are very easy to follow and can come prepackaged, while others are very complicated to calculate when it comes to protein to fat and calcium to phosphorus ratios.
Bearded dragons are omnivores. Omnivores eat a mix of plant and insect protein.
As babies and young animals, bearded dragons need a high-protein (80%) and low-vegetable (20%) diet. However, as they get older, this ratio changes to where they need to eat most of the plant matter (80%) and only a little bit of insect protein (20%).
Bearded dragons can eat a number of insects, such as:
- The grill
- Dubia Kakerlaken
- Phoenix worms (also known as NutriGrubs or black soldier fly larvae)
Beardies also need a daily salad. Your salad can consist of:
- Dark leafy greens like mustard greens
- Vegetables like yellow squash
- Non-citrus fruits like melon, berries, bananas, etc.
- Certain flowers, such as zucchini flowers
Read our comprehensive guide to ahealthy bearded dragon diet.
Iguanas are strict herbivores, which means they only eat plant matter! You need a fairly large, balanced daily salad to stay full and nourished.
An iguana's ideal diet should consist of 60% dark leafy greens, 30% vegetables, and 10% fruits and flowers. All foods should be high in calcium but low in phosphorus and oxalates.
A balanced salad can consist of:
- mustard green
- beet tops
- lucerne heu
- Berries like strawberries and blueberries
- Rose petals
Check out our comprehensive guidewas iguana ash.
Iguanas win in this category because their diet is uncomplicated and consists only of vegetation. You don't have to worry about getting live insects or hand-feeding them to your lizard. This is also a bonus if you are a vegetarian yourself!
taming and temperament
It is important to tame every animal in your home. The taming process is slow and often tedious at first, but if you stick with it, you will most likely get good results. These results will be that you will be able to handle your reptile, easily clean its enclosure and not have to worry about anyone getting hurt.
Bearded dragons are known for their calm, inquisitive, and friendly disposition, making them an absolute favorite for hobbyists who want lizards to interact with on a regular basis. Beardies are easy to socialize from an early age and tolerate being handled regularly.
Bearded dragons make good pets for older children and teenagers as they are very laid back and do not get stressed easily. However, they can and do become a little aggressive when injured, overwhelmed, or stressed, and will occasionally bite or claw at you if they feel particularly threatened. Their bites are painful and can injure skin, but fortunately don't usually need stitches.
Iguanas aren't exactly known as cuddly toys. As I said before, iguanas are not generally bred in captivity. Wild-caught and farm-bred iguanas are used to minimal human contact and are not usually properly socialized.
That means if you're not consistently and patiently socializing andtame your iguanaOnce they arrive at your home, it's unlikely that you'll ever be able to cope with them. An aggressive iguana uses its heavily spiked tail like a whip, claws defensively with its claws, and bites hard enough to remove fingers and noses!
Unfortunately, sometimes an iguana just won't get used to interacting with humans, or will generally be around humans at all, and will remain aggressive throughout its life. These are usually large males that are very territorial. It's not the end of the world, however, as you can always enjoy your Iggy as a beautiful show animal.
Bearded dragons win this category with claws. They're easy to socialize and tame, they're small enough that they won't do any serious harm if they throw a tantrum, and they're even-tempered by nature.
Bearded Dragons vs. Iguana: The Winner
Choosing a winner between these two beautiful creatures seems unfair. Both have their pros and cons, and which one suits you best will depend on the species of animal you want and the environment you can provide them with.
If you want a smaller lizard that is easy to manage, then the bearded dragon is your winner. However, if you want to display a magnificent animal and are willing to invest some time and effort in building a custom enclosure, then your winner is the iguana.
Bearded dragons need an enclosure that is about 40 to 60 gallons in size. If you have the perfect spot for that enclosure, then the Beardie is your new beast. On the other hand, if you are building an intricate custom exhibit and want room for a 6ft lizard, then the Iggy is your champion!
Iguanas definitely win in the diet ring because they only eat plant matter. Your meals are easy to prepare and readily available. However, if you want to feed your lizard succulent bugs, then opt for the varied diet of bearded dragons.
Finally, bearded dragons win the personality contest with 10s across the board. Unfortunately, iguanas score a few 6's here because they bit off some of the judges' fingers! If you want to hold and cuddle your pet, then get a Beardie. Depending on your mood, your Iggy can give you the time of day for a few bites.
At the end of things...
Both bearded dragons and iguanas make wonderful pets for the right owners. You need to look at the main differences between the two lizards to decide which one suits you best. You should also examine your own life and see what kind of space, time, and resources you can offer your new reptilian beast.
See where their unique needs and yours match, and you'll have made the best decision ever when it comes to your new scaly friend!