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The life span of a bearded dragon is primarily affected by its habitat, the available food supply, and the presence of predators or parasites. Pet bearded dragons generally live longer than those in the wild. The average life span of a bearded dragon is between five and eight years. With a nutritious diet and adequate medical care, a bearded dragon can live up to 12 years.
Bearded dragons are native to Australia and Tasmania. They live in a variety of habitats, including forested areas and rocky deserts. These reptiles are most active during the day, but they prefer to keep to deep burrows when the temperature is too hot or too cold. Like other cold-blooded reptiles, bearded dragons cannot self-regulate their internal temperature and must rely on the ambient temperature to keep them warm or cool.
Available food supply can also affect the life span of a bearded dragon. In the wild, these reptiles eat fruit, flowers, and insects. Pet bearded dragons are fed a similar diet, along with as vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. Bearded dragons are prone to developing calcium deficiencies. Low calcium, or hypocalcemia, can cause weak bones and poor muscle or nerve function. Feeding a bearded dragon greens and other foods high in calcium may not provide adequate calcium, so supplements are typically required.
Live food is usually purchased from pet stores to provide proper nutrition for bearded dragons. Crickets are the most popular, though meal worms, young Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and wax worms are also good sources of protein. Offering live prey from gardens or other neighborhood areas with insect populations can pose a potential threat to the life span of a bearded dragon, because unlike commercially-bred insects, native insects can be exposed to pesticides. Consuming insects that have been exposed to pesticides can injure or kill a bearded dragon.
A bearded dragon’s food supply can shorten its life span in another way. If crickets are not removed from a bearded dragon’s habitat while it is sleeping, they can bite the reptile during the night, causing injury and possibly infection. Having too many crickets in its enclosure can also place stress on the bearded dragon, weakening its immune system.
Certain diseases can negatively affect the life span of a bearded dragon. These reptiles are relatively healthy creatures, but they are sometimes susceptible to internal and external parasites, gastrointestinal or respiratory infections, and pseudomona, a bacterial infection that affects major organs. Bearded dragons are also susceptible to coccidia, tiny protozoa that can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration.