Weighing & Interpreting Weight
of Bearded Dragons (Pogona Vitticeps)
Typically, bearded dragons are weighed in grams (g). It is important to note that weight should be used as a relative marker rather than a hard indicator. By this, we mean that bearded dragons are not supposed to be a set weight. One cannot assume that all bearded dragons over a certain weight are overweight. A number of other factors, such as genetics, shape, and composition, are also important. Instead, a skilled keeper will track the change in weight. For example, before breeding, a breeder will weigh a bearded dragon. They will then note if the dragon has gained or lost weight.
Indicators of Underweight Dragons
Bearded dragons will lose fat in two areas if they are underweight. Contrary to popular belief, bearded dragons can have a large stomach and be severely underweight. Look at the base of the tail. If the hip-like bones are protruding, the bearded dragon may be underweight. Likewise, look at the head. Fat pads are located toward the rear of the cranium. If these bones are notably visible, the bearded dragon should gain weight to become healthy.
The weight of a bearded dragon alone does not determine its health. A skilled caretaker can assess a dragon's form to see if it is at a healthy weight.
Adult male (3yr. 2 mo.) at 385g.
Adult male (1yr. 11 mo.) at 448g.
The weight of an adult bearded dragon will range from 350 to 650 grams. Pictured above are two average-sized adult male bearded dragons. Note how their body composition compares to their weight. Both animals are at a healthy breeding weight. Neither has shown fat loss at the tail or head. Furthermore, much of what determines a bearded dragon's weight is genetic. Below are a mother and daughter bearded dragon. The mother's being large results in offspring that is very large for its age.
Adult female (2yr. 8 mo.) at 612g. Mother.
Adult female (1yr. 1 mo.) at 534g. Offspring.
Credit: Copyright © Wild Herps. October 2015.
Obesity in Bearded Dragons
Most captive-bred bearded dragons face no shortage of food. Consequently, many are overweight. Pictured is a wild bearded dragon found on Barndioota Road, South Australia, Australia. Notice how the animal is not boney on the head or at the base of the tail. Likewise, it does not have a very large stomach. Bearded dragons in captivity are often overfed and overweight.
Granted, many wild bearded dragons are found underweight. The key takeaway here is that small does not equal underweight. Rather, bearded dragons with no protruding bones are typically at a healthy weight.
When Bearded Dragons Eat While Losing Weight
Occasionally, one will note a bearded dragon is eating more than usual! Yet, they are losing weight. Typically, this is a sign of parasites. Harmful parasites such as coccidia inside of the bearded dragon will consume the food, preventing the animal from benefiting. Attempt to spot this indicator before the parasites cause a loss of appetite.
Tracking Weight and Breeding
It is advised to record a bearded dragon's weight on a regular basis. This will allow you to note any extreme changes. Use a gram scale. Place a bowl or tub on the scale. Zero out the scale (or remember to subtract the weight of the bowl from the result). Place the bearded dragon in the bowl and wait for them to settle. A downloadable 52-week weight log is available below.
Bearded dragon breeders are typically ready to breed after being one year old. However, it is best if a female breeder is at least 350-400+ grams before breeding. This will ensure that they can properly handle the weight loss associated with breeding. There is no minimum weight for males. When developing eggs, a female will gain weight. Note these changes, and note the weight of the animal after laying eggs. Attempt to get her back to starting weight as quickly as possible after laying her eggs. This will prepare her for laying a second clutch (if she does).