Bearded dragons are popular pet lizards known for their calm and friendly personalities. Their unique, spiny beards give them a wise, distinguished look that captures the hearts of reptile lovers worldwide.

If you’re a bearded dragon owner, you may wonder – just how fast can these quirky lizards move when they want to?

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: bearded dragons can sprint up to around 18 miles per hour for very short bursts over several feet. Their average walking speed is closer to 0.3 miles per hour as they meander around their habitat.

Measuring Bearded Dragon Speed

Top Speed vs Average Speed

When evaluating how fast bearded dragons can move, it’s important to distinguish between their top speed and their average speed. At full tilt, bearded dragons have been clocked running at around 18 miles per hour. However, they can only maintain this pace for very short bursts.

Generally, the average bearded dragon moves at a more leisurely 3-5 miles per hour during normal activity.

A bearded dragon’s top speed is fueled by strong leg muscles and motivation from perceived threats. Lizards are cold-blooded creatures, so their speed is also impacted by body temperature. On hot days when their body is fully warmed, they can achieve faster sprints compared to cool days.

Factors That Impact Speed

There are several key factors that influence a bearded dragon’s movement speed:

  • Age – hatchlings and juveniles can scamper very quickly, while mature adults over 2 years old tend to move slower
  • Size – larger/heavier dragons expend more energy to run and tire more quickly
  • Health – issues like metabolic bone disease lead to weakened limbs and slowed movement
  • Temperature – as mentioned earlier, ambient heat allows bearded dragons to reach optimal active body temperature
  • Motivation – perceiving food, threats, or mating opportunities triggers faster movement

By understanding these variables, bearded dragon owners can better provide conditions that allow their pet lizard to comfortably range around the tank at their desired brisk or relaxed pace.

How Bearded Dragons Run and Move

Short Bursts of Speed

Bearded dragons are capable of short bursts of speed when needed. They can sprint up to around 15 miles per hour for very brief periods. This allows them to dart after prey or escape from predators in the wild.

In captivity, bearded dragons may sprint short distances across their enclosure if startled or chasing a feeder insect.

These short bursts use a lot of energy, so bearded dragons do not run at top speeds for more than a few seconds. Their muscles are designed for explosive power over sustained speed. Their top land speed is much faster than their relaxed walking pace of around 0.3 mph.

Some key facts about bearded dragons’ sprinting abilities:

  • Can reach speeds up to 15 mph for 2-3 seconds
  • Use fast startle response to lunge after prey or away from threats
  • Sprinting requires high energy expenditure, so is used only for short bursts
  • Have powerful leg and tail muscles for explosive acceleration
  • Much faster sprinting vs. typical walking speed of 0.3 mph

When given space to run around, healthy adult bearded dragons may sprint short distances for exercise or stimulation. But excessive sprinting can cause stress, so their enclosures should also provide ample room for slower movements.

Walking and Climbing

In addition to sprinting, bearded dragons spend a lot of time walking and climbing using their strong legs and claws. These moderately-paced movements allow them to explore their environments without rapidly burning energy.

Some key facts about bearded dragons’ walking and climbing abilities:

  • Walk steadily at around 0.3 mph on average
  • Can climb on rocks, branches, and textured decor using sharp claws
  • Powerful leg muscles allow them to walk all day while foraging
  • Often pause for periods of standing still or resting between movements
  • Will climb tank decor, basking sites, and cage furnishings when exploring

Enclosures for pet bearded dragons should include ample floor space for walking as well as elevated climbing opportunities. Providing an enriching habitat with places to explore encourages natural movements and exercise.

A healthy bearded dragon will be quite active through the day, moving between basking sites, food dishes, and hiding spots. Allowing space for regular walking and climbing promotes muscle growth, metabolism, and stimulation.

Why Monitoring Speed Matters for Health

Monitoring the speed and mobility of bearded dragons is an important part of caring for their health and well-being. Here are some key reasons why paying attention to your dragon’s speed is vital.

Signs of Illness or Injury

Sudden changes in your bearded dragon’s speed or mobility can signify an underlying health issue. For example, lethargy and reluctance to move can indicate metabolic bone disease, parasites, respiratory infections, or other illnesses.

On the other hand, tremors, loss of coordination, or stumbling could point to neurological problems. Catching these motor issues early allows you to get prompt veterinary care.

Injuries, such as broken bones or sprains, will also obviously limit your dragon’s ability to run and climb normally. Monitoring their speed helps you identify injuries so you can take steps to help them recover.

Ensuring Proper Habitat Setup

Observing how your bearded dragon navigates its habitat provides key information on whether your vivarium setup is meeting its needs. For instance, if your dragon seems reluctant to climb due to lack of grip or footing, you may need to add more textures and climbing accessories.

Slipping on loose substrate may signal that a different ground material is needed.

Seeing whether they can easily access basking spots and hideouts without obstruction also helps identify any habitat changes needed. Essentially, their speed and agility in their home environment is a barometer for how suitable their habitat is.

Fun Bearded Dragon Speed Facts

How Their Speed Compares to Other Animals

Bearded dragons are moderately fast reptiles when compared to other animals. Here are some fun facts about their speed:

  • Bearded dragons can run up to 9 mph at full speed in bursts over short distances. This makes them faster than the average house cat which runs at speeds of up to 30 mph.
  • However, bearded dragons tire quickly and cannot sustain these top speeds for very long. Their average walking speed is closer to 1 mph.
  • Smaller lizards like geckos and anoles can run over 15 mph, making them twice as fast as bearded dragons.
  • Large monitor lizards like the Komodo dragon have been clocked at 20 mph, over double the speed of a bearded dragon.
  • Snakes tend to be slower than bearded dragons, with even the fastest snakes like the black mamba reaching speeds of just 12 mph.

So while bearded dragons are not the speediest reptiles, their short bursts of speed are pretty quick compared to some other common pets. Their smaller lizard cousins are much zippier!

Unique Adaptations for Speed

Bearded dragons have evolved some cool adaptations to help them run fast:

  • Powerful leg muscles allow them to launch into a sprint and reach top speeds.
  • Their claws provide traction on loose substrates like sand or gravel.
  • Long tails help counterbalance the body while running and changing direction.
  • Spiked scales on the tail and back protect them from predators during high-speed chases.

Additionally, bearded dragons can puff out their throat (the “beard”) to appear more intimidating if caught by a predator while running away. This may surprise the predator and allow extra time to escape.

While not designed for sustained speed like cheetahs, bearded dragons are equipped with the right adaptations to sprint away from danger or chase down prey when needed.


A bearded dragon’s top speed may surprise some owners, reaching up to 18 mph for very short bursts. However, they spend more time moving at a leisurely walking pace as they explore their habitat. Monitoring your bearded dragon’s speed can give insight into their health and happiness.

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