Bearded Dragon Vs Chameleon: What are the Differences?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: February 22, 2022
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Bearded dragons are some of the most common lizards that are kept as pets throughout the world. They’re cool-looking, docile, and they have an amazing ability to darken their beards in response to feeling certain ways. Chameleons are another reptile that people keep as pets and can change the way it looks in response to certain needs. How can you tell apart two lizards that sound so similar? We’re going to break down the biggest differences between a bearded dragon vs chameleon and show you what sets them apart. You may even decide which one makes a better pet for you!

Comparing a Bearded Dragon and a Chameleon

Bearded Dragon vs Chameleon
Bearded DragonChameleon
SizeWeight: 0.6lbs-1.1lbs Length: 1.5ft-1.8ftWeight: 0.2lbs-4.4lbs Length: 1.5ft-2ft
LocationAustraliaAfrica and parts of Asia
Tail– A long tail that makes up half its body length– Prehensile – May be curled up when they walk
Camouflage– Natural skin colors help them blend in – Can turn their “beards” black when they are displeased or scared– Adult males can change colors for thermoregulation and camouflage
Eyes– Typical eyes located on the sides of their head – Great eyesight and a large field of vision– Scaly eyelid in a cone shape – Each eye can rotate and move in two directions at once, allowing them to focus on different objects
Life expectancy6-15 years4-8 years

The 6 Key Differences Between a Bearded Dragon vs Chameleon

What Do Veiled Chameleons Eat - Chameleon on Branch

Chameleons are larger and heavier than bearded dragons.

©Lauren Suryanata/Shutterstock.com

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The greatest differences between a bearded dragon and chameleon are their size, tails, and eyes. Bearded dragons are smaller than chameleons. Although they share a similar body length, most of a bearded dragon’s body length comes from their somewhat thin tails. Chameleons also weigh more than bearded dragons, but they can be incredibly small, too.

Chameleons have prehensile tails that can be used to grab onto other objects, and they are sometimes rolled up while they walk. Bearded dragons have long tails, but they are not prehensile. Lastly, a chameleon’s eyes are protruding and conical, but a bearded dragon’s eyes are typical lizard eyes on the sides of their heads.

With these pieces of knowledge in mind, anyone can immediately tell the differences between a bearded dragon and a chameleon.

Bearded Dragon vs Chameleon: Size

bearded dragon eating plant

Bearded dragons are about as long as chameleons but not as heavy.

©iStock.com/JeannetteKatzir

Chameleons are larger and heavier than bearded dragons. A bearded dragon will usually max out the scale just over 1lb in weight, but chameleons can weigh upwards of 4.4lbs. Chameleons will grow up to 2ft long, and bearded dragons grow under 2ft long on average.

A fair amount of both creatures’ body lengths stems from their long tails, and that explains the discrepancy between weight and length for the bearded dragon. After all, half their length comes from their tail length.  

Bearded Dragon vs Chameleon: Location

The bearded dragon hails from Australia, but the chameleon lives throughout Africa and parts of Asia. It’s very unlikely that these two creatures would ever live in the same area. Still, both creatures enjoy living in warm, arid areas like deserts, savannas, and other similar areas.

However, some chameleons will also live in the rain forests in Africa, so these animals don’t completely overlap in their preferred habitats.

Bearded Dragon vs Chameleon: Tail

Blue animals - blue chameleon

Chameleons have a prehensile tail that they keep curled up.

©Ferdy Timmerman/Shutterstock.com

A bearded dragon’s tail is very long relative to its body, and the tail is thin. However, a chameleon’s tail is almost as long as a bearded dragon’s tail, but it looks remarkably different. For example, its tails are prehensile, meaning it can use that part of its body to grasp things.

A chameleon will use its tail to grab onto other things in its environment, especially branches. Moreover, chameleons tails are not long and straight like a bearded dragon’s. While they can be held straight, a lot of chameleons will curl their tails into a swirl while they’re walking to avoid dragging it along the ground.

Looking at these animals’ tails, you can tell them apart.  

Bearded Dragon vs Chameleon: Camouflage

The camouflage of a chameleon is much more effective than that of a bearded dragon. Adult male chameleons have the ability to change the colors of their skin to help with hiding and thermoregulation. Bearded dragons have skin colors that help them blend in very well, but they can only change a single part of their skin’s color— the “beard.”

In that sense, bearded dragons are not as well-camouflaged as chameleons.

Bearded Dragon vs Chameleon: Eyes

Bearded dragons have eyes that are typical of most lizard species. They are recessed within the head and can be covered by an eyelid when they blink. Moreover, their eyes provide them with a large field of vision.

A chameleon’s eyes are iconic. They have conical eyes that protrude greatly from their head. Aside from being obvious to see, their eyes are very noteworthy because these creatures can focus on two different things at the same time. Their eyes are independent of one another!

Bearded Dragon vs Chameleon: Life Expectancy

Largest Bearded Dragon - Eastern Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons will live longer in captivity than chameleons

©Zhitkov Boris/Shutterstock.com

Bearded dragons can live anywhere from 6-15 years when they are in captivity, and they can live up to 10 years in the wild. Chameleons live between 4-8 years even when they are held in captivity. A bearded dragon’s lifespan will greatly increase under the care of a good owner, but a chameleon’s lifespan will not be greatly extended.  

Bearded dragons will often bond with their owners, but chameleons usually do not. Chameleons do not like getting handled and they are very stressed living near other animals. That being the case, chameleons do not live especially long as pets, so they need an expert’s care. They especially do not like being housed with other chameleons.

As you can see, telling these creatures apart is rather simple when you know what features are unique between them. Based on the information that is available here about these animals, it’s clear that bearded dragons are better pets for beginners. They are more sociable and easier to care for than chameleons. Also, they don’t have such demanding feeding and enclosure requirements.

Both lizards can be great companions to those that know how to care for them.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/huettenhoelscher


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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