Bearded dragons and chameleons are popular options among reptile lovers. Each has distinct features that stand out from the other but confusion may arise when it is time to choose which lizard species to raise.
This article discusses distinct answers to the question “Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: What’s The Best?” by uncovering key differences between the two pet lizards. This helps prospective owners choose what works best for their circumstances.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: What’s The Best?
Chameleons are physically larger and weigh more than bearded dragons despite having similar body lengths. The presence of prehensile tails used to latch onto objects in chameleons is in contrast to the bearded dragon’s non-prehensile tails. Chameleons have the ability to change colors to camouflage their environments while bearded dragons do not.
Bearded dragons and chameleons are both great options for aspiring reptile owners. However, diving deeper into their core characteristics is the best way to determine the most suitable lizard for each person.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Eyes
Bearded dragons have sunken standard lizard eyes which offer excellent vision. A white or grey film eyelid often appears during blinking.
Chameleons have intriguing conical eyes that stick out of the head resulting in a conspicuous appearance. Chameleons are also famous for the ability to focus on two things at the same time making dual vision non-existent unlike humans and the majority of animals.
Owners looking for pet lizards with conspicuous eyes that stand out from the rest are better off with chameleons instead of bearded dragons.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Size
Bearded dragons have small body sizes compared to chameleons. Both lizards feature long tails but the chameleon’s can be longer at around 2 ft while the average beardie’s tail ranges from 1.3ft to just under 2 ft.
Besides, the average beared dragon weight of 1 pound pales in comparison to the chameleon’s 4-5 pound weight which is partly explained by the beardie’s smaller tail since it makes up a significant portion of their bodies.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Personality
Bearded dragons have enthusiastic personalities that allow easy bonding with their owners within the shortest possible time. Although they could be shy at first, warming up to owners becomes inevitable eventually.
Bearded dragons enjoy physical handling by snuggling owners and even strangers. Daily handling may improve their moods while providing opportunities to burn more calories during playtime.
Chameleons have no interest in bonding with humans or other animals. They hate physical handling and would rather be left alone in their enclosures like ball pythons. Attempts to pair up two or more chameleons in the same tank often backfire.
Folks who desire a more welcoming pet lizard are better off with bearded dragons compared to chameleons.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Diet
Bearded dragons are omnivores that thrive on a varied diet of plants and to a smaller extent, animal protein like insects. Leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and mustard greens are a popular choice for beardies which makes their feeding less cumbersome.
Adult bearded dragons eat once every 2 days so their feeding can be more convenient for busy owners although infants require feeding multiple times within a 24-hour timeframe. A small proportion of insects like mealworms could be a great addition but generally, beardies are less picky with their food.
The adult bearded dragon’s diet should feature three-quarters plant-based matter and a quarter insects like grasshoppers and flies.
Chameleon diets are species-specific although the majority thrive on insects. However, they tend to be picky so you may have to test with options like crickets, roaches, and mealworms to find what works.
Green leaves should form about half of the chameleon’s diet since they enjoy variety and get bored easily with monotonous diets. We recommend dusting the chameleon’s food with calcium powder every time to guarantee maximum health benefits.
Chameleons only need to be fed once in adulthood unlike infants that require food several times during the day to achieve the necessary growth spurts required to reach maximum size. Portion control is non-existent in infants but owners should limit adult beardies to eating 1 to 2 tablespoons of food.
Chameleons are relatively quicker eaters and are a delight to watch especially after starving for several hours.
Bearded dragons are easier and less expensive to feed which makes them a great option for busy owners that do not have too much free time at home.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Tank Setup
The quality of their environments could determine the survival chances of bearded dragons and chameleons in captivity. Not only are their tanks required to offer the right floor space but critical components like lighting and heating equipment as well as feeding and hydration accessories should be present.
Lizards are cold-blooded like the majority of reptiles meaning the right tank should always feature a temperature gradient. A healthy humidity level is another key housing component for bearded dragons and chameleons.
Bearded dragons require large tanks with generous floor space to gallivant and enjoy their time in captivity. They are not so particular about the tank height as long as there’s enough space to fit the core accessories.
Chameleons love climbing making taller environments more favorable to their needs. Their tanks should measure 4ft x 3ft x 4 feet (LWH). They’d rather have longer than wider tanks to enjoy higher climbing opportunities.
Besides, bearded dragon environments should be as close to their natural habitats as possible and key components like rocks and tree branches cannot be left out. Tree branches should be low to offer climbing and shading capabilities.
Setting up the habitats of chameleons may be a bit more complicated due to their tropic origins. Plants such as fig trees and pathos are popular options because of the multiple climbing and feeding opportunities on offer. Branches and rocks also provide a sense of security by allowing chameleons to gallivant and hide from threatening situations.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Temperature
Heat is critical to the chances of survival in both domesticated lizards. Beardies require daytime temperatures of 77 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bearded dragon temperature requirements are similar at 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Basking spots ranging from 88 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit allow these lizards to increase their internal body temperatures when cold.
Heating lamps are a critical component of beardie tanks to enable temperature gradients for basking. Both reptiles require UVB lighting in their enclosures but bearded dragons may need up to 14 hours of exposure compared to 12 hours for chameleons.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Humidity
Proper breathing is essential to the comfort and overall well-being of both lizards in captivity. But, humidity requirements may vary. Bearded dragons need 30 to 40 percent humidity to enjoy proper breathing.
However, chameleons prefer 50 to 70 percent humidity levels for maximum respiratory fuctionality due to their tropical origins. Make sure their enclosures offer the stipulated humidity ranges at all times to minimize the risk of breathing difficulties.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Hydration
Bearded dragons should be offered clean drinking water in bowls or other containers that provide easy access.
Meeting the hydration needs of chameleons can be a bit more complicated since they only drink water drops sitting on leaves. Water bowls are pointless because they will never drink from them which explains why owners set up drip systems to ensure droplets of water on tank leaves at all times to keep chameleons hydrated day and night. (Source)
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Costs
Bearded dragons are available in multiple morphs and prices typically start from $40 to $900 for more exclusive varieties. Initial costs can range from $250 to over $1000 based on the exclusivity of the morph.
Multiple chameleon varieties are offered for sale with pricing ranging from $30 to $600 depending on the exclusivity of the species. The initial setup costs could range from $300 to $1,000 based on the lizard breed and chosen components.
Scouting local pet stores and online retailers may lead to significant bargains that could reduce the overall costs significantly. Some owners also DIY a few of the components to reduce the total outlay of the project.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Camouflage
Bearded dragons are able to camouflage in multiple environments due to their natural colors. However, they have limited abilities to change their body colors intentionally with the exception of their beard.
Chameleons on the other hand are famous for their active ability to change body colors to blend in with their environments to great effect. Not only does this promote their internal body temperature maintenance but also eases concealment from predators.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Habitat
Bearded dragons are native to the Australian deserts and grasslands unlike the chameleon that calls Africa and certain Asian regions home. The geographical differences between their habitats could mean finding both lizards in the same area is almost impossible although both may thrive in deserts, savannas, and other naturally warm arid regions.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Tail
Both pet lizards have long tails that play a major role in their physical appearance and ability to thrive daily. While the lengths may look similar, each lizard has a distinct tail that could be differentiated with proper observance.
Bearded dragons have standard long, thick lizard tails that make up a good option of their bodies. The tails have no prehensile properties unlike that of chameleons.
But chameleons have crooked prehensile tails that allow latching onto objects in their environment including tree branches. Chameleons also typically curl their tails during movements to eliminate dragging on the ground.
The signature tails in chameleons can make them stand out in the eyes of potential owners, in comparison to beardies.
Bearded Dragon or Chameleon: Life Expectancy
Bearded dragons have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years under the care of committed and knowledgeable owners. Chameleons usually enjoy 4 to 8 years of life during captivity regardless of the quality of care offered.
Prospective owners looking for long-term companions often choose beardies over chameleons because of the longer life expectancy.
Are Bearded Dragons Easier Than Chameleons?
Bearded dragons are relatively low maintenance compared to chameleons although they require stringent tank setups and other forms of care to maximize the chances of healthy lives. The fact that bearded dragons are more friendly is another positive for prospective owners.
Will A Bearded Dragon Fight A Chameleon?
Pairing up bearded dragons and chameleons in the same tank environment could lead to fights that may result in dire consequences. Despite their friendly nature, bearded dragons will not hesitate to fight to defend their territory especially when there’s competition for food and other resources.
Conclusion: Bearded Dragon or Chameleon
Bearded dragons and chameleons both make suitable pets for different personalities. Bearded dragons are more docile and easy to bond with since they enjoy physical contact. This is in contrast to chameleons that would rather be left alone.
Adult bearded dragons are easier to feed because they rely mostly on plant-based diets supplemented with 25 percent insect options like flies, roaches, and grasshoppers. Chameleon diets comprise up to 75 percent insects with 25 percent plants during infancy but adults need 50 percent proteins and 50 percent insect-based options to minimize the risk of obesity and improve their overall well-being.
Bearded dragons are relatively easier to care for than chameleons. But chameleons may be more exotic thanks to their numerous morph colors and ability to camouflage their bodies.