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How Fast Can a Bearded Dragon Run? Speed Chart & FAQs

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By Nicole Cosgrove

male hypo leatherback bearded dragon on a branch

Bearded Dragons are generally quite laid-back reptiles. They watch their insect prey through the corner of their eyes and stretch their long tongues out to catch their quarry. They might even charge across their enclosure or run across the room, but pet Bearded Dragons aren’t usually prone to fits of sprinting. For many owners, it is surprising to learn that these little lizards can reach speeds of up to 9 miles per hour, which is nearly twice as fast as a Guinea Pig and considerably faster than Ball Pythons, which can’t even muster up a top speed of 2 miles per hour.

Below, we look at the typical speed of a Bearded Dragon and how this compares to other reptiles and popular pet species.

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About the Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragons originate from Australia, where they live in a variety of locales and habitats. As well as being found in deserts, the lizards can be found in forests and rainforests, on beaches, and in savannahs. They are easy to spot, don’t really shy away from people, and are active during the day.

Because they are active during the day and are peaceful animals, they have become popular as pets. While it is illegal to export wild Bearded Dragons from Australia, in a bid to protect the country’s natural wildlife, there is a considerable population of pet Bearded Dragons that are bred and sold across the world.

Another reason for the lizard’s popularity as a pet is that they are quite sedentary and less skittish than a lot of other reptiles. They can be handled, and they will even learn to recognize their owner’s voice, often coming to the enclosure door to be picked up or fed. Their relaxed nature makes it surprising for a lot of owners to learn that Bearded Dragons can sprint at decent speeds.

a central bearded dragon digging the substrate
Image Credit: Sara Stanojevic, Shutterstock

How Fast Are Bearded Dragons?

Although there are a lot of factors that ultimately determine how fast an individual Beardie can run, it is generally known that these reptiles can run at speeds of up to 9 miles per hour. Age, general condition, species, and size of the Bearded Dragon will determine the speed one can reach. So, too, does the reason the Bearded Dragon is running. One that is running from a predator or after prey is likely to run a lot quicker than one that is looking for water or simply wants to move to a different location.

Bearded Dragons vs Other Pets

Bearded Dragons are fast for lizards, but how do they compare to other animals?

Animal Speed
Python 1.1 mph
Sidewinder 18 mph
Leopard Gecko 6 mph
Bearded Dragon 9 mph
Spiny-Tail Iguana 22 mph
Guinea Pig 5 mph
Rat 11 mph

While Bearded Dragons are certainly faster than other lizards including some Geckos, they don’t compare to the likes of the Spiny-Tail Iguana, which is the fastest recorded lizard that can run at speeds of more than 20 miles per hour. Similarly, the Beardie is faster than Pythons, which really only reach speeds of about 1 mile per hour, but the incredible Sidewinder snake tops out at about 18 miles per hour, making it much faster.

The 3 Reasons for Running

Bearded Dragons are both prey and predator, which means they likely use their impressive turn of pace to chase after and away from animals. The main reasons that Bearded Dragons run are:

1. Running from Predators

Bearded Dragons are prey to several predators in the wild. They are predated by crocodiles as well as some species of snakes, dingoes, and even some large birds. Because they are hunted by such an array of animals, both on the ground and from the air, they need to be able to run quickly to survive.

2. Running After Prey

Bearded Dragons are omnivores. They eat invertebrates including beetles and ants, as well as vegetation. They don’t need to be able to run at 9 miles per hour to catch these, but they will also eat some small lizards and other vertebrates. The ability to run quickly means that they can catch these smaller, often nimble prey animals.

3. Moving Locations

Although Bearded Dragons will generally walk from one location to another, they can sometimes be seen running to a new location. They may run when looking for a water source or simply when moving from one spot to another. Running is generally safer than walking for prey animals like the Beardie.

close up of a bearded dragon on branch
Image Credit: Gerhard G., Pixabay

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Can a Bearded Dragon Run on Two Legs?

Bearded Dragons can often be seen running on their two hind legs. This doesn’t help them run quicker but it does allow them to keep cool while running, enabling them to run further without tiring as quickly. It improves stamina rather than sprinting speed. Some studies have also shown that they adopt this hind leg running position because they are forced to by a shift in their center of gravity.

Can Bearded Dragons Swim?

Not only are bearded Dragons quite nimble on land but they are also capable of swimming. The Beardie will inhale air to make themselves buoyant and then use their legs to paddle through the water. A swimming Bearded Dragon doesn’t look graceful, and you won’t often see this lizard species using its ability to swim, but they do have the capability.

Can Bearded Dragons Climb?

Bearded Dragons are described as being semi-arboreal which means that they spend some of the day in trees. They have strong legs and sharp claws, both of which make it possible for them to scale the bark of trees and reach higher positions. This also means that pet Bearded Dragons can clamber up stairs and climb some other surfaces and it means that they do appreciate being given logs and other pieces of wood in their enclosures.

Leatherback bearded dragon
Image Credit: Worraket, Shutterstock

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Bearded Dragons are the most popular pet lizard species. These Australian lizards are known for being sedate and easy to care for, but they can achieve top speeds of up to 9 miles per hour when they need to run quickly. Typically, Bearded Dragons will achieve the highest speeds when trying to escape predators or chase after prey, and when they do reach these top speeds, they are likely to run on their two hind legs as their center of gravity shifts and as a means of keeping cool and maintaining that speed for longer. These agile reptiles are also capable of swimming and climbing.

Featured Image Credit: Ery Azmeer, Shutterstock

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