Bearded dragons and iguanas are reptiles that tend to fascinate people. While both are similar, they also have key differences that make them distinguishable from one another.

Today, we will discuss the differences you need to know.

bearded dragon and iguana
Bearded dragon vs iguana


Key takeaways

  • Bearded dragons have a beard of spikes under their chin.
  • Iguanas are tree-climbing lizards.
  • Iguanas grow much larger than bearded dragons.
  • Bearded dragons are omnivores, iguanas are herbivores.
  • Both bearded dragons and iguanas acquire water through misting.
  • Bearded dragons have acrodont teeth, iguanas have pleurodont teeth.
  • Iguanas have autonomous tails, bearded dragons do not.
  • Bearded dragons can cost slightly more than an iguana.
  • Both bearded dragons and iguanas can live between 10-14 years.

What Is a Bearded Dragon?

The scientific name of these reptiles is Pogonas. These lizards get their name because of the underside of their chins which look like they have beards.

These areas look like beards because they can gain weight here and even turn black.

bearded dragon

What Are Iguanas?

You may be slightly more familiar with iguanas than bearded dragons. This genus was first discovered by Josephus Nicolaus Laurenti in 1768.

The name iguana comes from the Taino word for this lizard called iwana.

green iguana

Differences in Size Between Bearded Dragons and Iguanas

One of the first significant differences between bearded dragons and iguanas is their size. When it comes to size, iguanas grow much larger than bearded dragons.

From the tip of their tails to the tip of their noses, iguanas can grow as long as six feet. At their very longest, bearded dragons only grow up to two feet long.

Iguanas also weigh much more than bearded dragons. At their heaviest, iguanas can weigh up to 17 pounds. Bearded dragons only weigh as much as 19 ounces at their heaviest.

Differences in Diet Between Bearded Dragons and Iguanas

Another difference you will discover is what each reptile eats. You would think because they are both lizards that their diets would be at least fairly similar.

Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they eat food from plants and meat. Iguanas, on the other hand, consume a diet of plants only.

iguana sitting on a log

Iguanas consume mostly vegetation, such as leaves. They also eat fruits and vegetables.

Interestingly, iguanas do not chew their food but swallow it whole.

Occasionally, these lizards will even eat flowers, though this is not their preference.

Bearded dragons prefer the same diet in captivity and in the wild. Bearded dragons primarily consume arthropods, like crickets and different types of worms.

Because bearded dragons also consume fruits and vegetables, adding these to their diet offers ample nutrition.

Like iguanas, bearded dragons do not chew their food. It is best to feed them bite-sized pieces to prevent them from getting choked. It is strange that neither of these lizards chews their food, despite having teeth!

bearded dragon eating a cricket
bearded dragon eating a cricket

How Do Bearded Dragons and Iguanas Get Water?

This is not an area of difference, but it is important to discuss how these two lizards get water. You may be shocked to discover neither lizard drinks water.

Lizards, like bearded dragons and iguanas, absorb water from their baths, misting, and the foods they eat. Iguanas will occasionally drink from a water bowl.

If you own one of these lizards, they need to be misted daily. They also need regular baths. Bearded dragons are more likely to become dehydrated in captivity because they are less likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

Differences in Bearded Dragons and Iguanas’ Teeth

Another key difference between these two lizards is their teeth. Many people do not know these lizards have teeth and are surprised to learn they have a mouth full of them.

Iguanas, despite being herbivores, have teeth. These lizards have pleurodont teeth, which are easily replaced and all the same size. Iguanas will lose and grow more teeth throughout their lifespans.

When you look at an iguana’s teeth, they resemble a serrated knife.

closeup of bearded dragon face

Bearded dragons have what are called acrodont teeth. Acrodent teeth are permanent teeth that are spiky in appearance.

If a bearded dragon loses one of its teeth, it will not grow another one in its place.

It is important to note that bearded dragons have a much more painful bite than iguanas. These lizards can latch down tightly when they feel threatened.

Differences in an Iguana’s and Bearded Dragon’s Tail

Lizards have the most amazing tails. Many of these reptiles have what is called an autonomous tail. These tails can detach when grabbed by an enemy. Lizards use this attribute to their advantage.

When a predator bites the tail of some lizards, it becomes detached. The still wiggling tail confuses the predator, giving the lizard time to run away.

Iguanas have autonomous tails. If these lizards lose a tail, they will grow back. Bearded dragons do not have autonomous tails.

For this reason, you are more likely to see iguanas using their tails as weapons, while bearded dragons will try to protect their tails.

iguana with long tail in the grass
Iguana tail

What Are the Color Differences Between Bearded Dragons and Iguanas?

There are also some key distinctions between the color of bearded dragons and iguanas. Iguanas typically come in shades of green or brown. These lizards do not change colors like some, but they can be banded.

The bands of iguanas are found on their backs and tails.

Bearded dragons have the ability to change colors, depending on their moods. If a bearded dragon is scared or sick, it will either lighten or darken.

These lizards can also change colors based on the background they are up against. The beards under their chins will also change colors if they become angry or frightened.

Differences in Cost Between Iguanas and Bearded Dragons

Yet another difference between bearded dragons and iguanas is the cost. You will pay just a little more for bearded dragon babies, at around $20 to $25. Iguanas cost between $15 to $20. You will pay much more for adult bearded dragons or iguanas, up to $150.

bearded dragon
bearded dragon

Which One Is Right For You?

Both of these lizards are fascinating creatures and fun to care for with the right knowledge. No matter which one you choose, it is essential you learn how to feed your lizard and provide them with daily care.

Iguanas and bearded dragons can live between 10 to 14 years, so it is vital you are prepared to care for them for many years. When cared for properly, these lizards make good pets and companions.

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