If you are thinking about getting a new pet and you narrowed your options down to a Bearded Dragon or a Turtle, you are in the right place. Today I will lay down for you what I believe to be the ULTIMATE Bearded Dragon vs Turtle Resource.
Some aspects to consider when trying to choose one reptile over another are their environmental needs, diet, lifespan, as well as the cost of buying and owning one and of course, their behavior.
Nonetheless, other fact-based pieces of information will be discussed in this blog post, all of them are meant to help you make an informed, educated, and responsible decision.
Main Topics Discussed
- Difference In Size
- Difference In Cost
- Difference In Life Expectancy
- Difference In Diet
- Difference In Behavior
- Difference In Cage Setup
- Bearded Dragon vs Turtle: What Are The PROS For Each?
- Bearded Dragon vs Turtle: What Are The CONS For Each?
Difference In Size
Asking yourself how BIG your new pet will get is one of the most important questions to ask before actually buying one. This is especially important with Turtles since they can GREATLY vary in size depending on their species and size.
Therefore, before making a decision you need to do some serious research and decide upon the species of Turtle that fits your needs. And because I promised this is going to be the only article you will EVER have to read when trying to decide between a Bearded Dragon and a Turtle, here’s a list of different species of Turtles that make good pets and how big they get.
- Western Painted Turtles: Western Painted Turtles, as their name suggest, come in a variety of colors [Red, Yellow, Olive], making them one striking species. Western Painted Turtles grow anywhere between 4 to 10 inches.
- Red-Eared Slider Turtles: Red-Eared Sliders – also known as Red-Eared Terrapin – are semiaquatic Turtles. These Turtles are some of the most popular species of Turtles to be kept as pets. Red-Eared Slider Turtles range in size from 5 to 10 inches.
- Eastern Box Turtles: Eastern Box Turtles can get very stressed, very rapidly if not handled with care. According to TheSprucePets.com, seem to have quite distinct personalities and are social in their own way. Eastern Box Turtles range in size from 4 to 8 inches.
Other species of Turtles that are popular as pets are the Texas Map Turtle, which can grow anywhere between 3 to 9 inches, and Wood Turtles, which can grow up to 9 inches.
There are, however, species of Turtles that can get quite big, such as the African Spurred Tortoise, which can get as big as 33 inches and weigh 220 pounds, according to PetMD.
Bearded Dragons, however – regardless of their species – can grow anywhere between 18 to 26 inches and weigh anywhere between 450 to 800 grams.
Difference In Cost
The cost of buying a Bearded Dragon can, of course, vary greatly depending on the species of Bearded Dragon you wish to buy. However, as a general rule, you should expect to buy for a brand new Bearded Dragon anywhere between $30 to $150, with Baby Dragons being on the cheapest end of the spectrum.
Turtles are not very different from an initial cost standpoint. The cost of buying a Pet Turtle can vary anywhere between $20 to $200 depending on a number of factors such as the species of the turtle, the age and/or the seller.
Red-Eared Sliders – one of the most common species of Turtles to be kept as pets – are sold for as less as $20 in most Pet Stores. In conclusion, the cost of buying a Pet Turtle compared to that of buying a Pet Bearded Dragon is pretty much the same.
Difference In Life Expectancy
It is quite difficult to answer this question without knowing the species of Turtle you have your eyes on. However, for the sake of simplicity I will say that depending on their species, Turtles can live anywhere between 10 to 100+ years. Not quite helpful, isn’t?
What you need to remember is that most Pet Turtles that survive past their few years of life can leave at least for a few decades. That’s a HUGE responsibility if you ask me.
The lifespan of a pet should be of extreme importance for each and every owner, which is why I decided to provide you with the lifespan of some of the most common Turtles people keep as pets so than you can make an informed and responsible decision:
|Turtle/Tortoise Species||Lifespan In Captivity|
|Red-Eared Turtles||25 to 35 Years|
|Map Turtles||15 to 25 Years|
|Wood Turtles||40 to 55 Years|
|Eastern Box Turtles||50+ Years|
|Painted Turtles||25 to 30 Years|
|Russian Tortoise||40+ Years|
|Greek Tortoise||100+ Years|
|Leopard Tortoise||100+ Years|
Bottom line? These creatures can live quite long lives.
Bearded Dragons, however, live way shorter lives than most species of Turtles. Specifically, Captive Bearded Dragons, if properly cared for, can live anywhere between 8 to 14 years.
Difference In Diet
From a dietary standpoint, Turtles can have different needs based on their species. Some Turtles are carnivorous, while others follow a strictly vegetarian diet. There are some species of omnivorous Turtles as well. So when asking What Can Turtles Eat?, the best answer is: It Depends.
For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to a Red-Eared Turtle’s Diet in this post. Red-Eared Turtles need both animal and plant protein in their diet with Baby Turtles needing more animal protein than plant protein.
The exact same thing can be told about Bearded Dragons. Bearded Dragons are 100% omnivorous, meaning that they need both animal and plant protein to survive.
In conclusion, based on the species of Turtle you would like to acquire, Bearded Dragons and Turtles can have pretty much the same or completely different dietary needs.
Difference In Behavior
Bearded Dragons are currently among the most popular reptile pets in the world. They are still shooting through the roof in popularity among both seasoned and beginner owners.
The #1 reason Bearded Dragon make great pets is due to their docile temperament and low maintenance requirements. Bearded Dragons have distinct personalities but most of them enjoy handling once they get used with your scent.
Turtles, however, are not very cuddly or social creatures. Red-Eared Turtles are known to be quite unsociable and can get very stressed, very rapidly if handled too often or improperly.
For that reason alone it is believed that Red-Eared Turtles – and Turtles in general – don’t make good pets for kids. Additionally, Aqutic Turtles can also carry salmonella bacteria, which could be transferred to kids. In conclusion, this fight is won by the Bearded Dragon no questions asked.
Difference In Cage Setup
Bearded Dragons, specifically, Adult Bearded Dragons need a cage that is at least 75 gallons [ideally 120 gallons] to live a happy and long life. Additionally, they also require proper heating, lighting, and inside-modification such as a hot area and a cooler area.
To narrow things down a bit and provide you with helpful and actionable information about ousing a Turtle, I will only refer to Aquatic Turtles. Bottom down, Aqutic Turtles need quite complex housing. Due to their messy personality, Aquatic Turtles need regular cleanings.
You will also have to invest in providing your Turtle with UV Light, and most importantly, a good water filtration unit meant to keep the water as clean as possible.
I could go all day talking about a Turtle’s housing requirements but what you need to know is that they require way more attention and more elaborate housing than Bearded Dragons. Another battle won by the Bearded Dragon.
Bearded Dragon vs Turtle: What Are The PROS For Each One?
As you can imagine, each one of the two reptiles have their PROS and CONS. Let’s take a look at the PROS of owning a Bearded Dragon and those of owning a Turtle.
Bearded Dragon PROS
- They are Low-Maintenance Pets
- They like being handled
- Have distinct personality
- Easy to care for
- They are docile and pleasant
- They are NOT needy
- They are very special/different pets
- They are fun to watch
- Plenty of species to choose from
Bearded Dragon vs Turtle: What Are The CONS For Each One?
Bearded Dragon CONS
- Expensive Diet
- MUST Be Fed Live Bugs
- Require a LOT of Space depending on the species
- Not good FIRST pets
- Complex Housing and Dietary needs
- They are not social
One last thing I’d like to mention here, and that is the fact that while a Turtle’s lack of social bond may seem like a disadvantage for some, it is perfect fine with others.
So I’m not judging Turtles – any other reptile pets for that matter – for being anti-social. I guess you have to love them for what they are and expect nothing in return.
I really hope that this article helped you at least kick start your research on whether a Turtle or a Bearded Dragon is the right pet for you and your family. Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] and let me know what did you choose.