There are over 4000 species of lizards in the world, and finding the best one to have as a pet is paramount. Bringing home a reptile is a decision that should be given serious thought, especially since both bearded dragons and leopard geckos have long life expectancies. So, A leopard gecko or a bearded dragon? A beardie or a Leopard? The choice between these two reptiles is a tough one. They are both excellent for beginner reptile keepers, both have pleasant temperaments, and all supplies necessary for safely housing them are easy to find.
If you have ever considered getting a reptile but were overwhelmed by the high level of care many of them require, then bearded dragons and leopard geckos may be good starter reptiles for you. Both of these types of reptiles are docile and curious, making them great pets for children and adults alike. Although they have relatively simple care for reptiles, there are important factors to take into account when deciding if you are ready for a reptile in your home.
Leopard Geckos and Bearded Dragons have stellar reputations among lizard enthusiasts. In fact, they come as close to being perfect pets as any reptile can. However, there are major differences in their habits, activity levels, and care needs, and it’s important to be aware of these when choosing a pet. When an animal is active, how much its care will cost, the space it requires and other factors will affect your pet-keeping experience and your new lizard’s quality of life. In the following article, I’ll compare Leopard Geckos and Bearded Dragons in all relevant areas. Detailed care information is provided in the articles linked under “Further Reading”; as always, please also post any questions or observations you may have.
|Aspect of Care
|Leopard Gecko Requirements
|Bearded Dragon Requirements
|Heating, lighting, Humidity
|Need a warm spot, hygrometer, and thermometer.
|Need basking area, and UVB light, plus hygrometer and thermometer.
|Cleaning the Tanks
|Leos poop in one spot, making cleaning easier.
|Beardies poop all over their tanks, so cleaning takes a bit longer.
|Tail dropping is a risk. A steady and calm hand is needed for handling Leos.
|Tail dropping is not a risk, making bearded dragons a better choice for young children.
|Tend to be a bit shy at first. They need time to get used to you.
|Tend to have bigger and more vibrant personalities.
|Mostly active in the early evenings or at night, sometimes in the morning.
|Active during the day and sleep at night.
|Dietary Needs (weekly)
|Adults: Only live foods once every 2 days
|Adults: Greens, Live foods 2x a week, fasting one day
|Age & Lifespan
|7-10 inches, Up to 3.5 oz
|15-32 inches, 1.5 lbs
Different between leopard gecko and breaded dragon
Leopard Gecko Look
These fascinating lizards have special movable eyelids which distinguish them from other Gecko species who instead have a clear membrane to safeguard their eyes. They have a thick tail, wide head, soft belly, and bumpy skin on the top. Leopard geckos are commonly yellow, white, and spotted with black dots. Hatchlings are striped and gradually change to the spotted appearance. There are several colorful and patterned morphs or variations.
Bearded Dragon look
The majority of Bearded dragons have small spikes, and they all have a beard under the jaw that can puff up and bristle out when they feel threatened. Like Leos, the Beardies exist in different morphs and have a wide range of colors and patterns. Their body can range from yellow, purple/blue, red, white/silver, brown/tar, and orange.
All have a flat body, a broad head, and stout legs. Sharp spikes run along the sides of their bodies and their throats. Larger species grow to 60 cm long from head to tail tip, but the Pygmy Bearded Dragon (Poona Henry Lawson) is only 30 cm long. Most species have a tail that’s as long as their body.
Leopard gecko life span
The lifespan of a leopard gecko can vary greatly, from 10-20 years. Depending on care, your leopard gecko can live as little as 7 years, especially females or ones that are cared for poorly. With good care, expect your leopard gecko to live at least 10 years, and up to 15-20.
Bearded dragon life span
Bearded dragons can live for up to 10-15 years with good care. Depending on care, expect your bearded dragon to live for 7-12 years on average.
Leopard Geckos size
Leopard Geckos will naturally be much smaller, with the typical adult Leopard Gecko being between 7 and 10 inches. The average size of Leopard Geckos is 8 inches.
Leopard Geckos reach their adult size by 18 to 24 months, at which point they are expected to weigh anywhere between 45 and 60 grams, but they can weigh as much as 100 grams, making them lighter and smaller than their counterparts, the bearded dragons.
Bearded Dragons size
Bearded Dragons are very manageable pets, making them great first pets for both kids and adults. They are small, nice-looking, funny to watch lizards that are easy to handle and carry around due to their size.
A healthy, full-grown bearded dragon can grow anywhere between 18 and 26 inches and can weigh anywhere between 450 and 800 grams.
Leopard gecko weight
An adult leopard gecko is likely to weigh around 45-65 grams but can reach up to 100 grams (males tend to be heavier than females). Adult females are about 18 to 20 cm (7.1 to 7.9 in) in length and weigh about 50 to 70 grams, while adult male geckos are about 20 to 28 cm (7.9 to 11.0 in) in length and weigh about 60 to 80 grams. Common leopard geckos are ectothermic.
Bearded dragon weight
Bearded dragons will weigh around 2-3 grams at hatching. An adult bearded dragon has to weigh a minimum of 250 grams but can reach up to 750 grams. Some big bearded dragons can even reach up to 850 grams, but anything above that is obesity. Most bearded dragons average around 18″ to 21″ long and weigh approximate 0.6 to 1.1 pounds in adulthood
Leopard gecko diet
Leopard geckos are strictly insectivores, which means that they need to eat only live food. You might feed your leopard gecko a big range of live foods. Also, you can rarely top the diet with freeze-dried insects, but live bugs should be the main source of food.
Young leopard geckos will need to eat once a day, and adults over 12-18 months old – once in two days. To compare, you have to feed your dragon every day. However, leopard geckos can go for one week without food if required.
Bearded dragon diet
Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means that they will need to eat both live food (insects) and veggies/greens/fruit. Young bearded dragons will mainly eat live insects. But with age (after around 10-12 months old), they need to eat mainly vegetables and greens and bugs only 2 times/week.
Baby bearded dragons need to eat 2-4 times a day, which will go down to once a day after reaching maturity at around 12 months old. Bearded dragons can go for up to a few weeks to a month without food if required.
Leopard gecko tank size
Young leopard geckos can live in a small 10-15 gallon tank. Adult leopard geckos will require preferably a 25-30 gallon wide terrarium like this. 20 gallons is a bare minimum, but 30 gallons or more will help to create a stimulating environment.
Bearded dragon tank size
Young bearded dragons can live in a small 15-gallon terrarium for up to 1-2 months only. An adult bearded dragon will require a 55-70 gallon tank that is at least 36 inches long, such as this large tall Exo Terra tank. A 40-gallon breeder tank is a bare minimum, so at least 55 gallons is important for a stimulating environment.
Leopard Gecko: 10-20 gallons (larger is preferable)
Bearded Dragon: 30 gallon
Leopard Gecko: 72-85 F, with a basking site of 88 F
Bearded Dragon: 75-88 F, with a basking site of 95-110 F
Leopard Geckos Maturity
As with most other reptiles, size or weight determines sexual maturity more than age does. Leopard geckos become sexually mature when their weight reaches a little over an ounce (30 grams), at roughly 18 to 24 months of age. Females produce one to five clutches of two eggs throughout the breeding season
Bearded Dragons Maturity
Bearded dragons, on the other hand, attain their maturity when they are between 8-18 months or even two years. Don’t breed them until they are about 400 grams.
Breeding your beardie when it is below 18 months can result in stunted growth and maybe other health problems
Leopard gecko Breeding and egg-laying
Leopard geckos become sexually mature at the age of around 12 months. Your leopard geckos should weigh a minimum of 50 grams before you start breeding them. Leopard geckos can also lay eggs without mating with a male, and eggs will be infertile.
Bearded Dragons Breeding and egg-laying
Bearded dragons become mature for breeding when reaching 8-12 months old. But however, you should not try breeding bearded dragons before they reach around 18-24 months old and weigh at least 400 grams. Bearded dragons can lay eggs without mating with a male, but eggs will be infertile.
ARE BEARDED DRAGONS EASIER TO HANDLE THAN LEOPARD GECKOS?
As a reptile owner, you will treasure the moments you spend holding and interacting with your bearded dragon or leopard gecko.
It’s fun to hold these “tiny dinosaurs,” and you get to feel closer to your scaly family member. But there are significant differences in handling between the two you should be aware of.
HANDLING LEOPARD GECKOS
Leopard geckos are OK with being held- they certainly don’t bite. However, inexperienced handlers should NOT be left with a leopard gecko, and neither should very young children. The biggest reason behind this is tail dropping.
The scientific term for this is autonomy, and it is the gecko’s form of self-defense when it comes to staying free from the clutches of predators.
Should the gecko be held by its tail and dangled, it could very well drop and runoff. The tail will grow back but losing one’s tail is a very stressful thing and should be avoided at all costs.
As a result, ensure all handlers of the leopard gecko are prepared to properly hold the leopard gecko by letting them climb onto your hand when ready and slowly lifting it out of the tank.
Handlers should seat themselves on the floor to minimize falls and drops. Once handling is complete, be sure to wash hands with soap and water.
HANDLING BEARDED DRAGONS
Bearded dragons that are comfortable with you and are used to your presence will enjoy your company and will welcome being handled.
There have even been reports of bearded dragon owners discussing their beardies, trying to get the attention of their keepers in hopes of getting out for a little while.
There are fun bearded dragon leashes you can use to bring your pet outdoors or around your home safely, too.
Safely holding a bearded dragon will require that you’re pet is used to your hand. You will want to slide your hand under the belly of the dragon to support them and then slowly lift them out of the tank.
Once handling is complete, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
BEARDED DRAGONS HAVE A DIFFERENT ACTIVITY SCHEDULE FROM LEOPARD GECKOS
Are you a night owl? An early bird? Something in between? It will be worth it to pick a reptile that somewhat matches your schedule- therefore, you can better enjoy each other’s presence. Let’s discuss the day-to-day habits of these reptiles.
Leopard geckos are what we call crepuscular animals. In the wild, these creatures spend their days under cool rocks or in burrows. Once the twilight hour hits, they hit the road for hunting.
This also is safer for Leo. Snakes, foxes, and other reptiles are less likely to be out during this time. They are also protected against nocturnal creatures, who do not come out until nightfall.
This translates into your leopard gecko being most active in the evenings or early mornings. You can spend time with your Leo before you head to work or school, and they can relax the rest of the day while you are away.
You will notice they spend most of the daylight hours inside hides- this is normal for leopard geckos and no cause for concern.
Bearded Dragons are diurnal creatures. They are like most of us humans: active during the day and sleeping during the night. Daytime for these creatures is about 13 hours, after which point would turn on the nighttime lamp for them.
Most families would agree that this pet is the best choice in terms of its active time- after all, they are awake when the rest of the family is, making it easier to play with, feed, care for, and learn from.
Bottom Line: Leopard geckos tend to be active in the early evenings and early mornings, as in the wild, this is prime hunting time.
Meanwhile, bearded dragons are like most of us, moving around in the daytime and sleeping at night. Most of the time, the beardie tends to be the better choice for owners in terms of care.
ARE BEARDED DRAGONS HEALTHIER THAN LEOPARD GECKOS?
Bearded dragons are tough cookies. With proper care, diligent cleaning, and a healthy diet, they can live 12-15 years.
However, owners must be careful to learn about and prevent diseases such as mouth rot, metabolic bone disease, impaction, and infections of the skin.
These are not as scary as you would think, and many owners will never have to worry about them, provided they keep the habitat clean and neat, the diet of the dragon on point, and vet checkups regular.
Leopard geckos may be small, but they are mighty. They, too, will do well so long as their owner keeps them in good health, a clean environment, and feeds them properly.
Like bearded dragons, Leos can suffer from broken bones, metabolic bone disease, and internal/external infections.
So, now you know much of the comparison between bearded dragons vs. geckos. Leopard Geckos tend to be cheap in maintenance because they don’t require special lighting. They are also easy to feed because they only eat once every other day and need less space.
Bearded dragons are tolerable to children and display more personality than the Leos, but even so, Leopard geckos are superior in maintenance. Because you have all the information with you, what to choose will depend on your preference.
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