Bearded Dragon vs Iguana – Differences, and Similarities

Have you ever struggled to differentiate between an iguana and a bearded dragon? At first glance, it may seem like a challenging task. However, these reptiles have some key differences that make them unique.

One significant difference is their size. Iguanas are known for growing much larger than bearded dragons. Moreover, their diets and care also vary.

Nonetheless, with proper care, both iguanas and bearded dragons can make fantastic pets.

To gain a better understanding of these fascinating creatures, let’s explore their similarities and differences in greater detail.

Visual Differences


Key Differences Between Bearded Dragon and Iguans

Bearded Dragon

  • Average length (adult): 16–24 inches
  • Lifespan: 7–12 years
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Suitable for children: Yes


  • Average height (adult): 4–6 feet
  • Lifespan: 10–15 years
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Suitable for children: No

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Overview

BEARDED DRAGON: The bearded dragon is a captivating reptile with a prehistoric appearance that typically grows to around 2 feet in length.

When faced with stress or predators, this fascinating creature puffs out its throat to display its unique, bearded appearance, hence its name. Its beard also plays a vital role in mating.

You’ll often find it enjoying time in trees and bushes, and it’s a common sight near human habitation. Although its body is flattened and covered in spiny scales that may seem threatening, they are not very sharp.

Bearded dragons are naturally found in western Australia, where it inhabits arid, subtropical woodlands, savannas, and shore areas. They come in various colors and are relatively easy to care for.

IGUANA: If you’re thinking of owning an iguana as a pet, you’ll be happy to know that there are several species to choose from. However, the most popular one is the green iguana, also known as the American iguana. These creatures hail from South America, but can be found as far north as Mexico.

Unfortunately, the green iguana is considered an invasive species in many areas of the United States, including Southern Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. Despite this, many people still keep them as pets.

These lizards can grow to be over 4 feet long and weigh more than 20 pounds. They certainly make a statement in any home!

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Personality

BEARDED DRAGON: Bearded dragons are generally docile creatures however, they can be quite territorial creatures and tend to establish social hierarchies when housed with their own kind. This can often involve displays of aggression and submission.

In fact, some males may even change color to assert their dominance. The most dominant male in the group will take a dominant stance and may even initiate fights with males who do not show submissive behavior.

IGUANA: The green iguana is a popular choice of pet, thanks to its stunning colors and friendly nature. Unlike the bearded dragon, which takes an aggressive stance and puffs up its neck when threatened, the iguana prefers to run and hide or swim away if it is near water.

Only when it has no other option will it puff up its body and neck. It can also hiss to deter predators. If these tactics don’t work, it will whip its tail and use its sharp claws for protection.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Breeding

BEARDED DRAGON: When it’s time to mate, the male goes through a little dance that involves bobbing his head, waving his hands, and stomping his feet. Then, he starts chasing after the female, nipping at her neck so they can get into the right position for mating.

The female can save up some sperm and lay two batches of eggs, each containing anywhere from 10 to 30 eggs.

Interestingly, the environment’s temperature can play a big role in determining the gender of the offspring. For instance, if it’s particularly hot outside, a male embryo might end up becoming a female, no matter what its chromosomes say.

IGUANA: Iguanas lay a considerable number of eggs ranging from 20 to 70, once a year. They carry out this ritual during the nesting season, where they will safeguard the nest while constructing it. However, after laying the eggs, the female iguana will leave the nest, making the eggs vulnerable to predators.

After 10 to 15 weeks, the eggs will hatch, and the baby iguanas will remain close to each other during their first year of life. It’s fascinating to know that during this time, the males assume the role of protecting the females from danger, even putting themselves in harm’s way to safeguard them. It’s worth mentioning that iguanas are the only reptile species that exhibit such protective behavior.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Habitat

BEARDED DRAGON: You will need a 120-gallon tank with plenty of branches to climb on. You will also need to install a UVB light to keep them warm and help them digest their food.

You will need to coat the crickets you feed your pet with calcium and vitamin D supplements. This will help prevent a serious illness called metabolic bone disease. By taking these steps, you can help your bearded dragon thrive and live a healthy, happy life.

IGUANA: Iguanas are fantastic pets but they need plenty of space to be comfortable. You’ll need a habitat that measures at least 6 feet in height, 6 feet in width, and 4 feet in depth, though bigger is always better.

You will also need to add plenty of logs and wood so they can create a natural environment and climb around, which they love to do!

They also need a basking area with a steady temperature between 100 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. You can achieve this by placing a heating lamp directly over the area, and using a few more heating lamps to keep the rest of the habitat warm between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat should come from above as iguanas can’t detect heat from below and can get burned. The bulbs must also provide UVB light if your pet spends most of its time indoors, as this is important for their health.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: As Pets

BEARDED DRAGON: Bearded dragons are an ideal beginner reptile pets. They are suitable for both kids and adults alike. They love to socialize with humans and will spend long hours by your side, which means your children can enjoy their company without the fear of them running away.

Their habitat is effortless to set up and maintain, and they live for a long time without any significant health issues.

IGUANA: If you’re an experienced pet owner with plenty of space, creating an ideal habitat for an iguana can be a rewarding and exciting endeavor.

We don’t recommend iguanas to beginner reptile keepers because creating and maintaining their habitat is comparatively harder. Its also important to note that handling reptiles can be slightly dangerous, even for experts.

That being said, for experienced owners, an iguana can make a wonderful and relatively calm pet that is quite colorful and has a longer lifespan than a bearded dragon.

A large tank will make you feel like you have a piece of nature in your home, and your friends will surely be impressed and excited to visit.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Lifespan

BEARDED DRAGON: 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.

IGUANA: The normal life expectancy of iguanas is around 10 to 15 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!

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Diet

BEARDED DRAGON: 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.

IGUANA: 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.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Cost

BEARDED DRAGON: 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.

IGUANA: 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.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Size

BEARDED DRAGON: 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.

IGUANA: 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.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Daily Care

BEARDED DRAGON: 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.

IGUANA: 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.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Lighting

BEARDED DRAGON: 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.

IGUANA: 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.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Heating

BEARDED DRAGON: 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.

IGUANA: 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.

Bearded Dragon VS Iguana: Humidity

BEARDED DRAGON: 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.

IGUANA: 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 Bearded Dragon as Pets

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 Bearded Dragon as Pets

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

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

Advantages of Iguana as Pets

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

  • Herbivores
  • Long lifespan
  • Strong
  • Smart

Disadvantages of Iguana as Pets

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?

If you’re considering a reptile as a pet, you may be wondering which one is the best fit for you. While both the bearded dragon and iguana are popular choices, we recommend the bearded dragon for most people. Here’s why:

Firstly, an iguana needs a large habitat that can take up an entire room in your home. Maintaining the temperature within this habitat can be a challenge, especially during the colder months. On the other hand, a bearded dragon requires a smaller and more manageable habitat.

Secondly, an iguana can be aggressive towards humans, using their tail or sharp claws to lash out. Bearded dragons, however, are generally docile and friendly towards their owners, making them a great choice for families with children.

In conclusion, while both the bearded dragon and iguana are attractive pets, the bearded dragon is the more practical choice for most people. We hope this guide has helped you make an informed decision.

Filled under: Lizards

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