Keeping bearded dragons as pets has surged in popularity in recent years resulting in more and more people reaching out to ask about how they are able to offer the best possible care for their pet bearded dragon.
That said though, bearded dragons are one of the more difficult reptile pets to keep if you are new to keeping reptiles with there being a number of areas where people new to keeping bearded dragons go wrong on a regular basis.
Due to this, some bearded dragon are smaller than they should be for their age and this has resulted in a number of people reaching out to ask why their bearded dragon is small.
This is why we have decided to publish this article going over the more common reasons that your pet bearded dragon may be small as well as how you are able to fix them.
Once the conditions or diet problems that are keeping your bearded dragon small are fixed, they do tend to start to naturally grow again. Even older bearded dragon that are small have been reported to start growing once these common problems have been corrected.
As most people new to keeping bearded dragons often make more than one mistake, we would highly recommend that you skim over the first eight sub-headers in our table of contents below to try and identify as many areas as possible where you may be going wrong and keeping your bearded dragon small.
Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Small!
The most common reason that your pet bearded dragon can be small all relate to issues in their environment or diet with most being easy to fix.
]Some people new to keeping bearded dragons have been known to get a pigmy bearded dragon that will always be small though but this does tend to be rare.
Most of the common reasons that your pet bearded dragon will be small are easy and cheap to fix but if you are keeping your bearded dragon in an enclosure that is simply too small for them, you may have to pay a few hundred dollars to get them a larger tank.
For the most part, outside of some very specific health issues that pet insurance can help to cover the costs for, the other common causes for bearded dragon to stay small are cheap fixes.
We will be going over the eight most common reasons that may be causing your pet bearded dragon to stay small below.
We have arranged them in descending order of the most common to least common causes of stunting your pet bearded dragons growth to help our readers save time when going over the list.
How Often Do You Feed Your Bearded Dragon Bugs?
The most common reason that bearded dragon stay small is due to not being fed enough bugs to increase their protein intake.
Although bearded dragons are omnivores, they struggle on a strict herbivore diet and should always be offered various types of bugs as their main protein source to help them grow at a normal rate.
Thankfully, a high-quality bearded dragon food is cheap and offers a decent amount of protein to be used as their primary food source.
Most of the time, people who keep bearded dragons will also offer them additional insects in the form of freeze dried mealworms or freeze dried crickets to help increase their protein and calcium sources to help them grow.
If your pet bearded dragon does not eat these freeze dried bugs, it is not due to your bearded dragon being vegetarian, some bearded dragons will only eat live bugs.
This means that you will have to order some live mealworms or live crickets to help top up your bearded dragon’s protein intake to help them grow at a normal rate.
Live mealworms do tend to be the more popular option for bearded dragons due to them not hopping around like crickets making it easier to keep them.
Are You Using A Tube, Compact Or Coil UV Light?
Not all UV lights are created equally for bearded dragons with a tube UV light usually being considered the best option for keeping bearded dragons.
Compact UV lights tend to be unsuitable but a small number of modern compact UV lights can work and coil UV lights can be bad for your bearded dragon and be far too strong for what they need.
A decent tube UV light for bearded dragons can be purchased for less than $50 and offer your pet bearded dragon optimal conditions for growth.
If your UV light is not up to scratch then there is a high chance that this could be the reason that your pet bearded dragon is so small but switching to a suitable UV light can be enough to encourage your bearded dragon to grow again.
A healthy bearded dragon will need between twelve and fourteen hours of light/heat from its UV lamp per day depending on where you live.
Some situations may require your UV lamp to be turned on all day so always check the best options available to your for your local area as well as the time of year as colder seasons often need the UV lamp on longer in many areas.
Are You Using A T5 Or T8 UV Light?
Most people think that a T5 UV light is always the best option but in some situations, a T8 UV light is more than fine for your pet bearded dragon.
If your bearded dragon’s enclosure is shallow and you are able to place a T8 UV light around 8 inches away from your pet then it will perform well with your bearded dragon but larger enclosures will require a T5 light as it can work up to 18 inches away from your pet offering more options.
Due to most beginners opting for a long and shallow enclosure for their pet bearded dragon, they can often use a T8 UV light without issue.
Sometimes though, if they do use a T8 light and it sites more than 8 inches away from their pet bearded dragon most of the time then it can result in stunted growth in your bearded dragon and cause it to stay small.
This is where the T5 UV lights come in and although they can be as much as double the price as a T8 UV light but still usually under $80, they are needed for larger tanks.
They are effective up to 18 inches away from your pet bearded dragon and offer it all the heat it needs in those larger enclosures to help it grow at a healthy rate.
What Size Is Your Bearded Dragons Enclosure?
It is very common for people new to keeping bearded dragons as pets to keep their bearded dragon in an enclosure that is just too small.
Although a 40 gallon tank is the absolute minimum for an adult bearded dragon, even a 40 gallon tank can result in your pet bearded dragon being stressed, anxious, and not growing at a healthy rate.
This is why we usually recommend that you go with a tank over 40 gallons for an adult bearded dragon if possible.
The general rule of thumb for keeping bearded dragons as pets is to keep a baby under 10 inches long in a 20 gallon tank, a juvenile between 10 and 16 inches in a 40 gallon tank, an adult bearded dragon between 16 and 20 inches in a 50 to 70 gallon tank, and larger adult bearded dragons over 20 inches in a 75 to 125 gallon tank.
This ensures that your pet bearded dragon has plenty of space to grow at a healthy rate and will not stay small due to not having enough space.
The stress and anxiety that bearded dragons can suffer from when kept in an enclosure that is too small for them can be a leading cause of the animal not growing at a healthy rate and staying small all of their life.
Are You Using A Low-Quality UV Light Brand?
Some UV lights are of surprisingly low-quality and tend not to be able to maintain their heat output levels throughout the day causing bearded dragons to stay small due to a lack of heat.
Always go with a when setting up your bearded dragons enclosure as it pays off in the future and can easily last you for many years to come.
Although a low-quality UV light may be able to save you $20 when you first get your pet bearded dragon, it can cause your bearded dragon to stay small as well as develop other health issues with its skin and eyes over time too.
These cheaper, lower quality UV lights also tend to wear out sooner than the better brands often costing you more in the long run.
Many of the “starter tanks” for bearded dragons come with a very cheap UV light that is sometimes not fit for purpose.
If you are purchasing your very first baby bearded dragon then we would highly recommend you buy yourself a decent T8 UV light or a decent T5 UV lights depending on the tank size you go for as well as a high-quality 50 to 70 gallon tank if possible.
The setup will easily be enough for a baby bearded dragon to grow into it at a healthy rate and should be enough to prevent your bearded dragon from staying small.
When Did You Last Change Your UV Light Bulb?
Reptile UV lights do need replacing every few years and the longer you leave them without replacing them, the less heat they are able to produce.
The less heat that is produced by your UV light, the smaller your pet bearded dragon is likely to be due to not having the environment it requires for normal, healthy growth.
Depending on the type of UV light you use, you may have to replace the full unit but more often than not, at least with the decent modern UV lights you are able to just replace the bulb in the unit.
This helps to keep the costs as low as possible to maintain your UV light over the years and ensure that your bearded dragon is getting all of the light and heat that it requires.
How Often Do You Feed Your Bearded Dragon Greens?
Bearded dragons are omnivores and their plant based food intake is just as important as their animal based foods.
Although most people tend to neglect the meat in their bearded dragons diet, some people do make the same mistake with the greens that the feed their bearded dragon.
Although most bearded dragon foods do offer a good blend between animal and plant based foods, some people try will only feed their bearded dragon insects.
Although some insects are jam packed with vitamins and minerals, this can be a possible cause of your bearded dragon being small due to not getting as many vitamins and minerals as a well balanced diet can offer.
Thankfully, there are huge number of vegetables that bearded dragon can eat and enjoy if you want to feed your bearded dragon kitchen scraps.
Suitable veggie kitchen scraps to offer your bearded dragon include collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens, broccoli, turnip greens, alfalfa hay or chow, bok choy, kale, parsley, Swiss chard, watercress, clover, red or green cabbage, savory, cilantro, kohlrabi, bell peppers, and green beans.
What Types Of Greens Do You Feed Your Bearded Dragon?
Some people will only offer their pet bearded dragon a single type of vegetable from their kitchen and this can result in your bearded dragon being deficient in a number of different essential vitamins and minerals for optimal growth.
Ideally, you will be wanting to mix up the veggies you offer your bearded dragon so it is able to get a nice mix of different vitamins and minerals in its diet to promote healthy growth and prevent it from being small.
There are a huge number of vegetables and other plant based foods that are suitable for pet bearded dragons so there really is no reason to restrict what is available for your pet bearded dragon.
If you do choose to go with a link=”B00KA5BHUW” title=”commercial bearded dragon food” /] then they will usually contain a good mix of plant based and animal based foods to offer everything that you could ever want in a primary food for a bearded dragon.
You can then add various treats to your bearded dragons diet to keep it interesting and to top up various areas of their diet as required.
As we touched on earlier in the article, popular options for treats for bearded dragons to help promote healthy growth include freeze dried mealworms and freeze dried crickets due to them being excellent protein and calcium sources that small bearded dragons are usually deficient in.
How To Make Your Small Bearded Dragon Grow!
The easiest way to make a small bearded dragon grow is to make sure that it is getting as plenty of insects and veggies in its diet and has an enclosure that is large enough for it.
The vast majority of problems that we see leading to a small bearded dragon are related to their diet or enclosure making them very easy fixes.
As we touched on earlier in the article, a decent 50 to 70 gallon tank is a good tank for a first time bearded dragon owner as it can work well for a baby, jouvanile, and small adult bearded dragon offering them plenty of space to grow.
We believe that the core of a pet bearded dragon’s diet should be based around a high-quality bearded dragon food as it offers plenty of protein as well as all the vitamins and minerals your bearded dragon could need to grow.
There are some health issues that can occur in captive bearded dragons that can cause them to be smaller than normal no matter what you do.
If you feel that you are doing everything else correct but your bearded dragon is still small then booking a video call with a professional vet can be a quick and cheap way to get some insight into if your bearded dragon may be small due to a health issue but these do tend to be rare.
That brings our article going over why your bearded dragon maybe small to an end. We hope that you have found our article helpful and that we have been able to offer you some tips and tricks to help promote healthy growth in your bearded dragon throughout the article. As we mentioned earlier in the article, it can be common for people new to keeping bearded dragons to make these mistakes that can result in a small bearded dragon but thankfully, most of them are relatively easy to fix in most situations.