How Fast Is A Bearded Dragon? (Vet Tech Answers)

How Fast Is A Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are pet reptiles that are well known for their calm temperament and dragon-like appearance. Bearded dragons tend to spend much of their time both in the wild and in captivity basking on rocks and living a fairly sedentary lifestyle. It might surprise you to find out that for such a small lizard, bearded dragons can run pretty fast.

So, how fast is a bearded dragon?

Bearded dragons have a maximum speed of around 9 miles per hour. Even though bearded dragons have four legs, they’ll usually run on two legs when trying to reach their top speed. Bearded dragons can run fast because it’s one of their survival mechanisms and helps keep them alive in the wild.

This article will cover everything you need to know about bearded dragons and how fast they run.

How Fast Can A Bearded Dragon Run?

It’s estimated that bearded dragons have a maximum speed of somewhere around 9 miles per hour (mph). For a relatively small lizard, that’s pretty fast. Though 9 mph is a bearded dragon’s maximum speed, it’s still faster than the average speed of a human running for a long distance.

Even though bearded dragons are fast for their size, there’s really no way they can outrun you in a realistic situation. Bearded dragons don’t have the stamina required to run at this pace for long distances.

Do Bearded Dragons Run On Two Legs?

Another interesting thing about how bearded dragons run is that they might only use their back legs when in a sprint. If you’ve never seen this in person, make sure to watch the video below for a quick example.

There are many theories about why bearded dragons run on their back legs, but most of them have to do with where a bearded dragon’s center of gravity is. In order to be able to turn sharply and avoid predators, bearded dragons carry a lot of weight around their back legs.

When bearded dragons run quickly, their bodies might go up into the air because of the sudden shift in weight from front to back. When a beardie runs on two legs, it’s kind of like they’re doing a wheelie.

How Fast Is The Fastest Lizard?

So, how fast is a bearded dragon when compared to the fastest lizard on earth?

It’s true that bearded dragons are faster than many other pet reptiles. Leopard geckos only have a maximum speed of about 3 to 5 mph. Bearded dragons also run faster than some snakes.  But, they’re no competition for the spiny-tailed iguana.

The spiny-tailed iguana has the fastest speed ever recorded for a lizard and even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. These South American lizards have been recorded running at speeds of up to 21.7 mph. These lizards can run fast and are also incredible climbers.

Bearded dragons don’t bear much resemblance to these speedy iguanas. It makes sense that they wouldn’t be able to run nearly as fast as a spiny-tailed iguana.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Run?

So, what are some of the reasons why bearded dragons run so fast?

Bearded dragons have good reason to run quickly, both in captivity and in the wild. Below, we’ve listed a few things that would motivate a bearded dragon to run quickly in both situations

Reason 1: They’ve Detected Danger

One of the main reasons why a bearded dragon will run fast is that they’ve detected some sort of danger or threat.

In the wild, danger can mean detecting the presence of a predator nearby. It can also mean a bearded dragon has sensed some sort of disturbance and is running away to protect itself. Bearded dragons aren’t at the bottom of the food chain but have plenty of other animals that prey on them.

In captivity, bearded dragons will also run fast when danger is detected. Danger and threats in captivity aren’t life-threatening, but that doesn’t mean your beardie won’t react dramatically to them.

Beardies might run quickly when a stranger walks past their enclosure or when they’re about to be picked up for handling. Not all bearded dragons like to be pet and may run fast in the opposite direction if they have a chance to avoid it.

It’s instinctual for beardies to flee when threatened, and they won’t hesitate to do so.

Reason 2: They’re Running For Their Lives (Literally)

Beyond, just running away from perceived danger, bearded dragons will also literally run from predators.

Bearded dragons aren’t great fighters and have plenty of animals that hunt them in the wild. Birds, snakes, dingoes, and foxes are all predators of bearded dragons. Bearded dragons probably run their fastest when they’re literally running through their lives away from one of these predators.

One of the other options a bearded dragon has when confronted with a predator is to play dead. These dragons have an amazing innate ability to go completely still and paralytic when under extreme stress. To read more about how and why bearded dragons play dead, click here.

If a bearded dragon decides not to play dead and to run from a predator instead, you bet they’ll be on their two back legs and running as fast as possible.

Reason 3: They’re Very Hungry

The last reason a bearded dragon might run fast is that it’s very hungry.

In the wild, an animal’s next meal is never guaranteed. A bearded dragon might see a nice crunchy cricket in the distance, and will likely sprint to catch it. The hungrier a bearded dragon is the faster and longer they might run to catch their prey.

Some bearded dragons in captivity also get very excited and hungry when anticipating their next meal. You might notice that when you set down your bearded dragon’s plate they run excitedly over to it. This might simply be instinctual; your bearded dragon can’t help but run toward the sight of some jumping bugs on top of a plate of plants.

How Fast Can a Bearded Dragon Climb?

Bearded dragons aren’t the most natural climbers, but that doesn’t keep them from trying to escape their tank every once in a while.

In the wild, young bearded dragons are considered to be semi-arboreal. These young dragons spend some of their time living in the trees where they’re safer from predators. Adults live a mostly terrestrial life and only climb to bask, hunt, or flee from predators.

There aren’t any studies showing how fast bearded dragons can climb. But, they can definitely scale rocks, vines, and trees if they need to.

How Fast Can A Bearded Dragon Swim?

If bearded dragons are decent climbers, then they’re pretty terrible swimmers.

Bearded dragons are mostly found in inland Australia in dry environments. Typically, bearded dragons aren’t found near or in bodies of water in the wild. These lizards don’t have any of the adaptations you would expect to see in an aquatic reptile (like the ones on this list).

Bearded dragons can swim in a pinch, but aren’t good at it and wouldn’t be able to swim for long distances.

Are Bearded Dragons Easy To Handle?

Since bearded dragons can run pretty fast, what’s the best way to go about handling them?

Bearded dragons are actually one of the most handleable pet reptiles. Once you’ve got your pet bearded dragon in your hand, they’re usually fairly relaxed.  Bearded dragons are the perfect size to pick up and hold. Even though they look spiky, they’re not. Plus, they’re not prone to biting as their main defense is usually to run away when threatened.

If you’re worried that a bearded dragon will run too fast for you to catch them, try holding one of their favorite treats in your hands.

How To Avoid A Runaway Beardie

If you’re handling a reptile at all, there’s always a small chance that it might run away or escape. Remember that if your bearded dragon does escape their enclosure or your hands, you should still be able to catch them.

To avoid causing your bearded dragon to run fast, keep noise and stimulation to a minimum while handling. Try to discourage people from walking in and out of the room that you’re hanging out in.

Never grab your dragon from behind as they might be surprised and try to run away. If your bearded dragon is struggling while you’re holding them, just let them go back into their enclosure, it’s better than losing them somewhere in your house.

Can You Let Your Beardie Run Around The House?

Some people like the idea of letting their bearded dragons run around the house.

The speed at which a bearded dragon runs isn’t the only reason why you shouldn’t let them run around your house. Bearded dragons are still small enough that they can easily get lost in the furniture and fit under doors. Bearded dragons also naturally carry the bacteria, Salmonella, which you probably don’t want to spread around your floors, especially if you have kids or other pets.

If you do decide to let your bearded dragon run around the house, we recommend keeping the space as controlled as possible. Try to remove as many objects as you can from the area you’re letting your bearded dragon run around in. Consider using an exercise pen or a kiddie pool to give your bearded dragon some freedom while still keeping them enclosed.

Final Thoughts

It’s amazing how fast bearded dragons can actually run.

Bearded dragons run fastest when they’re up on their two back legs. Bearded dragons run at a speed of 9 mph when they feel threatened, when they’re escaping a predator, or when they’re chasing down food.

It’s important to remember just how fast bearded dragons can run when you take them out of their enclosures.  We always recommend keeping a tight hold on your bearded dragon to avoid losing your fast pet reptile!