Iguana vs Bearded Dragon – The ULTIMATE Comparison

Iguanas and bearded dragons are a few of the two popular pets to keep in your house. Although they might share similar appearances, they have several distinctions separating them from each other. This article will discuss iguana vs bearded dragons and who is a suitable match for you.

One of the major differences between an iguana and a bearded dragon is their size. Iguanas are known to grow much longer as compared to bearded dragons. They also have different diet and care requirements. You should also know about several factors, such as their difference in cost, enclosure, and temperament before making the final decision.

ComparisonIguanaBearded Dragon
SizeCan grow up to 65-6 feet in lengthCan grow up to 16-24 inches in length
DietPrimarily herbivorous, with few species eating insects and small animalsAre omnivorous, eating both plants and insects
TemperamentCan be aggressive and difficult to handle due to their large sizeGenerally docile and easy to handle, but can become stressed if not handled properly
LifespanCan live up to 20 years in captivityCan live up to 12 years in captivity
HousingRequire large enclosures with plenty of climbing objects and UVB lightingRequire relatively smaller enclosures, with adequate hiding places and UVB lighting
Care LevelAdvanced care level, including specialized diet, lighting, and temperature controlModerate care level, requiring a balanced diet, lighting, and temperature control
Activity LevelActive during the day, and also require space to move aroundActive during the day, but spend more time basking than moving around
Common Health IssuesMetabolic bone disease, respiratory, and parasite infectionsMetabolic bone disease, impaction, and parasites

The Most Crucial Difference Between Iguanas and Bearded Dragons

iguana vs bearded dragon

Iguanas and bearded dragons are one of the most loved pets in the reptile community. They have a list of similarities, such as being cold-blooded and requiring specific temperatures to thrive in. Although, you should also be aware of the major differences between the two lizards that set them apart.

One of the most prominent differences between an iguana and a bearded dragon is the diet they consume. Iguanas are herbivorous and will only eat leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits. Bearded dragons, on the other hand, consume a diet including vegetables and small insects. This is because they are omnivorous and need a versatile diet to thrive. Bearded dragons need a diet including both leafy greens and small insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and other feeder insects.

Another important difference between an iguana and bearded dragons is their temperament. Iguanas are known for their aggressive nature when stressed and can be a bit hard to handle. Bearded dragons are docile creatures and easy to care for. Although any animal will get agitated or stressed if provoked. You should provide your pet with a calm and comfortable environment to avoid causing them stress.

Lastly, the elephant in the room is their size difference. Iguanas are known to grow up to 6 feet in length. Bearded dragons will only grow up to 16-14 inches in captivity. Because of their size difference, iguanas require a tank that is much larger to live comfortably. Bearded dragons can be housed in smaller tanks with adequate hiding spaces.

Editor’s Note
Iguanas and bearded dragons require an enclosure with a controlled environment and adequate basking spaces. You should also monitor the temperature and humidity inside the tank for them to live comfortably.

Iguana vs Bearded Dragon

Iguanas and bearded dragons have a ton of differences that you should be aware of before making the final decision. Here is a direct comparison between iguanas vs bearded dragons. Lets us compare the two lizards on various factors such as diet, tail, price, and other major differences.


iguana eating vegetables

Iguanas are primarily herbivorous and have a diet mostly containing leafy greens, vegetables, and occasional fruits. Bearded dragons are omnivorous and consume a diet including vegetables and small insects. You should know about this key difference before deciding to house a pet.


bearded dragon chewing vegetables showing teeth

Iguanas have sharp canines which are used to tear and bite food. They also have a serrated edge in their tooth, which is used to grind up food. Bearded dragons, on the other hand, have smaller and blunt teeth, which are used to mash their food. Thus, you should avoid a bite from an iguana as it can cause serious injury, while a bite from a bearded dragon will be barely painful.


Iguana Tail

Iguanas and bearded dragons have long tails, which are used to balance and communicate. Although, an iguana’s tail is much thicker as compared to bearded dragons. They use their tail as a defensive weapon and can cause serious damage when struck with it. Bearded dragons have a thinner and more flexible tail that can barely cause any real damage.

Editor’s Note
Iguanas can hurt other pets like dogs and cats and should not be mishandled as they can cause serious injuries when under stress.


Price is another major difference between an iguana and a bearded dragon. Iguanas are more expensive than a bearded dragons and can cost anything between $50-$100. Bearded dragons are cheaper, while hatchlings can cost anything between $20-$40. The cost of iguanas also depends on their rarity, species, and appearance. Some species of iguanas are sold for $10,000 and are even illegal in some parts of the world.


Adult Bearded Dragon

Another big factor that sets both of them apart is their size. An adult iguana can grow up to 6 feet in length, while a matured bearded dragon can only grow up to 16-24 inches. The size of an iguana also varies for different species. Hosting an iguana also requires you to purchase a bigger tank with a lot of climbing space. Bearded dragons can thrive in smaller tanks and just need enough hiding spots.


Iguanas are known for their aggressive temperament, bearded dragons are more docile in nature and easy to care for. Iguanas mite bite or whip their tails if they feel threatened or agitated. You should be extra cautious while handling them and avoid them if they are stressed or ill. Respect your pet’s boundaries and provide extra care during the shedding and mating season. You should also know that iguanas bite are very painful and cause serious injuries Provide your pet lizard with a comfortable and peaceful environment to avoid such incidents.


Iguanas have many species and come in a variety of colors, such as green, red, and brown. Bearded dragons also have unique colorations, including tan-yellow, brown, and orange. Some bearded dragons are also known to have spots or markings on their skin. The appearance of your pet depends on the species you are purchasing and the characteristics that come along with it.


iguana enclosure setup

Iguanas are larger and thus require a spacious enclosure. Bearded dragons are relatively smaller and can thrive in a much smaller tank. Iguanas also like to climb on things as they are arboreal creatures and thus require a tall and large tank. Both lizards are cold-blooded and require additional UVB lighting to regulate their body temperature and to produce Vitamin D3. They also require plenty of basking spots to maintain their body temperature.

Editor’s Note
Place a thermoregulator and a humidifier to maintain optimal conditions for your iguana and bearded dragons in their tank. 

Activity Level

Iguanas are mostly active during the daytime and need plenty of space to move around. Bearded dragons are also active during the day but spend most of their time basking than moving around inside the tank.


Iguanas have a lifespan of over 20 years in captivity. Bearded dragons are known to live for 12 years. You should know about the lifespan of a lizard before deciding to house them as pets. You should also provide a well-balanced diet and clean environment to ensure they live healthy life.

Care Level

Iguanas require more advanced and specific care, while bearded dragons are much easier to handle. Both lizards come with their care and needs you should provide a clean and comfortable environment for them to grow rapidly. Iguanas are also prone to fall ill and get diseases such as MBD, respiratory infections, and parasites. Bearded dragons can also fall ill and develop infections such as impactions and mouth rot.


iguana being held in owner's hand

Iguanas are much larger and thus are difficult to handle. Both pets can be handled comfortably but they require different approaches. You should stay slow and calm while handling your pet mishandling can lead to accidental bites or tail whipping. Bearded dragons are much more tolerant to handling and can be picked up easily. 


Who is the better pet bearded dragons or iguanas?

Bearded dragons are docile creatures and are easy to care for. They are considered more beginner friendly and are easy to manage. Iguanas, on the other hand, can grow up to 6 feet and can get hard to handle.

How big can iguanas get?

An adult iguana can grow up to 6 feet in length. Female iguanas are relatively smaller than males and can grow up to 4 feet in length. Iguanas also require a spacious tank as compared to bearded dragons.

Final Thoughts

Now we know what makes these lizards different from each other. You should know about these comparisons to choose the right pet. Iguanas are a bit hard to handle due to their large size and short temperament. Bearded dragons are docile and easy to care for. 

If you are a beginner at keeping reptiles, you should consider housing a bearded dragon. If you are a thrill seeker and want to house a majestic beast, then an iguana is the way to go.

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