Iguana Vs Bearded Dragon

Which Reptile Is Right for You? Iguanas vs Bearded Dragons

Iguanas and bearded dragons are two of the most popular reptile pets around the world. Both species have their own unique traits and characteristics that make them desirable to own. But, which one is better? Let’s explore the differences between the two and find out which one is the better pet for you.

To make an informed decision, it is important to understand the unique needs of each species. Iguanas are typically larger than bearded dragons and require more space. They also require more specialized care and a higher degree of maintenance to ensure their health and well-being.

On the other hand, bearded dragons are smaller, easier to care for, and require less space. They are also much easier to handle and can be held more frequently.

What Are the Similarities Between Iguana and Bearded Dragon?

Bearded Dragon Iguana
Credit: BlaiseAllen

Both the iguana and bearded dragon have an average size of two to three feet long. Additionally, they both inhabit a variety of habitats, ranging from deserts to mountainous regions. Lastly, their diets are also similar, consisting of various insects, fruits, and vegetables.


As the sun rises over their respective habitats, the size of the Iguana and Bearded Dragon becomes apparent. The Iguana is the larger of the two creatures, commonly reaching lengths of up to 6 feet and weighing up to 10 pounds.

The Bearded Dragon, however, is much smaller in size, rarely growing longer than 24 inches and usually weighing less than one pound.


Though both the Iguana and the Bearded Dragon come from vastly different parts of the world, they share many similarities, one of which is their habitat. Both species are native to tropical and subtropical climates and are found in a variety of habitats.

The Iguana is found in South and Central America, as well as in the Caribbean, while the Bearded Dragon is native to Australia.

The habitats of both the Iguana and Bearded Dragon are diverse, consisting of forests, woodlands, deserts, and scrublands. They prefer open, sunny areas where they can bask in the sunlight. Both species are also well-suited for living in captivity, as they can easily adapt to a variety of environments.

They can also be found in urban areas, where they can be spotted on walls or in parks. With their adaptability, they can thrive in both outdoor and indoor environments.


Despite their differences in size, habitat, and many other characteristics, one similarity between iguanas and bearded dragons lies in their diet. Iguanas and bearded dragons both have a diet comprised mainly of leafy greens, vegetables, and some fruits.

In the wild, they also eat insects, such as crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and others. Some bearded dragons also eat small mice and worms.

In captivity, iguanas and bearded dragons have to be fed a variety of foods. The diet should include leafy greens, vegetables, and some fruits. It is also important to provide the right balance between proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

A variety of insects, such as crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and others, should also be included in their diet. Certain bearded dragons may also need small mice and worms as part of their diet.

What Are the Differences Between Iguana and Bearded Dragon?

Central Bearded Dragon, The Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk, Connecticut
Credit: James Robertson

The two lizards have distinct differences in terms of size, temperament, and diet. The iguana is much larger, reaching up to 6 feet in length, while the bearded dragon maxes out at two feet.

In terms of temperament, iguanas can be more aggressive and territorial, while bearded dragons are known to be docile and calm. Lastly, iguanas primarily feed on leafy greens, whereas bearded dragons eat a wide variety of insects and vegetables.


Now that we understand what similarities Iguanas and Bearded Dragons share, let’s explore the differences between them, beginning with size.

The Iguana is much larger than the Bearded Dragon, typically reaching lengths of up to 6 feet when fully grown. On the other hand, the Bearded Dragon, with its maximum length of up to 2 feet, is the much smaller of the two species.

While the two species are different sizes, they both can be kept as pets, so long as the owner is prepared for the size and care of the particular species.


Having discussed the similarities between Iguanas and Bearded Dragons, let’s look at the differences between them, starting with their temperament. Generally speaking, Iguanas are a bit more spirited than Bearded Dragons, so they require more attention and patience.

They can become quite active and inquisitive, particularly when they become comfortable in their environment. Bearded Dragons, on the other hand, tend to be more relaxed and laid-back. They are less likely to explore their surroundings and are often content to just sit and observe.

In terms of handling, Bearded Dragons will generally tolerate being handled more than Iguanas will. Iguanas are more likely to become agitated when they are picked up, whereas Bearded Dragons may not mind it as much.


Having discussed the similarities between Iguanas and Bearded Dragons, it is important to also consider the differences. One such difference is their diet. Iguanas tend to have a more diverse diet than Bearded Dragons.

Iguanas require fruits and vegetables such as squash, carrots, collard greens, and apples for their daily nutrition. They also enjoy insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and mealworms, and small amounts of lean protein such as cooked chicken or eggs.

Bearded Dragons, however, are mostly insectivores. They also consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, but they do not require as much variety in their diet. Bearded Dragons prefer to eat crickets, mealworms, and waxworms, as well as vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and squash.

Overall, Iguanas have a more diverse diet than Bearded Dragons, but both should have a balanced diet in order to stay healthy and active. Both species also enjoy occasional treats such as waxworms, which should be fed to them in moderation.

Iguana vs Bearded Dragon: Physical Appearance

Now that we have established the differences between an Iguana and a Bearded Dragon, let’s take a look at their physical appearances. Iguanas have various shades of green on their skin, with ridges running along their spines. They are typically longer than a Bearded Dragon and can grow up to 6 feet in length.

Bearded Dragons have a more diverse color palette, ranging from brown to yellow, to orange, and even pink or purple. They are typically shorter than an Iguana and grow to be around two feet in length.

Both animals have a long tail that helps them to balance when they climb, and they also have a set of claws on each foot which they use to grip onto surfaces.

Iguana vs Bearded Dragon: Behavior

Now that we have discussed the physical appearance of iguanas and bearded dragons, let’s move on to their behavior. Unlike their physical characteristics, iguanas and bearded dragons have similar behavior that can make it difficult to distinguish between the two.

Both iguanas and bearded dragons are solitary animals, meaning they prefer to live alone. They may spend time in groups, but they do not form permanent social bonds.

They are also both non-territorial, meaning they do not defend one area from other animals. Despite their non-territorial nature, both iguanas and bearded dragons do become very protective of their owners.

Iguanas and bearded dragons are also both diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and inactive at night. During the day, they spend most of their time basking in the sunlight and foraging for food.

They are both typically very docile and do not show aggression unless they are provoked. They can be trained to follow commands, such as “come” or “sit.” When it comes to handling, both iguanas and bearded dragons tend to become skittish when they are handled too much.

Iguana vs Bearded Dragon: Diet

Having examined the behavior of iguanas and bearded dragons, it’s time to take a look at their diets. While both animals are omnivorous, there are quite a few differences in their eating habits.

The diet of an iguana typically consists of leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits. They also enjoy insects and some commercial foods. Unlike bearded dragons, iguanas lack the ability to digest many of the proteins available in the meats found in their natural habitat. This leads to an increased reliance on the green vegetables and fruits they consume.

Bearded dragons, on the other hand, are much more carnivorous than iguanas. They enjoy a variety of foods, both from the wild and from commercial sources. These include insects, worms, spiders, small lizards, and leafy greens.

They also enjoy commercial foods, such as crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. These provide the proteins that iguanas lack, allowing bearded dragons to thrive in their habitats.

Iguana vs Bearded Dragon: Enclosure

When discussing the differences between an iguana and a bearded dragon, the enclosure can be a crucial factor. Both species require secure, yet spacious enclosures in order to thrive.

An iguana’s enclosure should be at least 6 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4 feet tall, while a bearded dragon’s enclosure should be no smaller than 3 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 1 foot tall.

The materials used to create the enclosure are also important. Iguanas need an enclosure with mesh walls that will allow for air circulation and allow the iguana to climb. Bearded dragons do not require mesh walls but can benefit from them, as it will allow the dragon to climb and exercise its muscles.

The floor of the enclosure should also be considered. For iguanas, the floor should ideally be made of tile, as it is easier to clean and disinfect. For bearded dragons, a substrate of sand and/or pebbles should be used.

The temperature of the enclosure is another key factor to consider. Iguanas require temperatures ranging from 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit and need access to a basking area with temperatures reaching up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bearded dragons require temperatures ranging from 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit, and a basking area with temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Both species also need access to ultraviolet (UV) light and should have humidity levels at around 50%.

Iguana vs Bearded Dragon: Lighting

Moving on to lighting, while both iguanas and bearded dragons require full-spectrum lighting, there are slight differences between the two. Iguanas require more intense UVB lighting than bearded dragons, while bearded dragons require less intense UVB lighting to get the same level of benefits.

This is because iguanas are active during the day and bask in the sun for longer periods of time; whereas bearded dragons are active during the day, but do not bask in the sun for long periods of time.

In addition, iguanas require a higher temperature than bearded dragons. Therefore, when it comes to lighting, it is important to ensure that the right temperature and UVB intensity are provided.

For iguanas, it is best to provide a light that is 5% UVB, 10-15 inches from the basking spot, and provide a temperature of 85-95°F. For bearded dragons, it is best to provide a light that is 2.0-5.0% UVB, 10-15 inches from the basking spot, and provide a temperature of 75-85°F.

Overall, when it comes to providing the right lighting for your pet iguana or bearded dragon, it is important to understand their individual needs and provide the appropriate lighting and temperature for them. This will ensure that they stay happy and healthy!

Iguana vs Bearded Dragon: Handling

With the differences in lighting needs out of the way, let’s move on to the differences in the handling of iguanas and bearded dragons. Iguanas can be quite fast and skittish, so they require a bit more patience and careful handling than bearded dragons.

Iguanas also don’t particularly enjoy being handled, so it’s best to try to limit handling sessions to only when necessary.

On the other hand, bearded dragons can often be quite docile and enjoy being handled frequently. It’s important to handle them gently and consistently, as it will help them become more comfortable with being around humans.

Iguana vs Bearded Dragon: Lifespan

While handling can be a deciding factor for a pet, another aspect to consider is the lifespan of each animal. Iguanas are known for their longevity, usually living up to twenty years. Bearded Dragons, on the other hand, are known to live only about 10 years. This can be a major factor to consider when deciding between these two species.

Iguanas are known to be resilient creatures, and with proper care, they can remain healthy for many years. Proper nutrition is essential for iguanas, and an owner should be aware of the essential vitamins and minerals that the iguana needs.

If the diet is not properly balanced, the iguana may develop health issues such as metabolic bone disease. As such, it is important to provide them with a healthy and balanced diet.

Bearded Dragons, while not as long-lived as iguanas, can still be very rewarding pets. With proper care, they can remain healthy and active for the duration of their life.

Bearded Dragons require a diet mainly composed of insects, as well as some leafy greens. It is important to make sure that the insects are free of pesticides, and that the greens are washed before feeding them to the dragon. With the proper nutrition, a bearded dragon can remain healthy for several years.

In conclusion, both iguanas and bearded dragons can be wonderful pets with proper care. However, when considering lifespan, it is important to keep in mind that iguanas tend to live much longer than bearded dragons.


In conclusion, Iguanas and Bearded Dragons can both make great pets when given the right care and attention. They have similar dietary and enclosure requirements, but their physical appearance, behaviors, and lifespans can vary widely.

Before deciding between an Iguana and a Bearded Dragon, consider the specific needs of each reptile. It is important to research both species to ensure that you are providing a safe and healthy environment for your pet.

Ultimately, the decision between an Iguana and a Bearded Dragon should come down to personal preference.

The pros and cons of each species should be weighed accordingly, and any potential owner should be prepared to give both species the time, attention, and care they need to thrive.