Medium sized agamid from a large part of the interior of Australia. They are semi-arboreal, and love to climb. They were originally exported to America from European breeders because Australia’s export laws prevent the removal of native animals. There are only three common species of the bearded dragon found in America, the Inland bearded dragon (P. vitticeps), the coastal bearded dragon (P. barbata), and Rankin’s dragon (P. rankini/lawsonii depending on who you ask). P. vitticeps is the most common, with the other two being pretty uncommon. P. barbata looks nearly identical to P. vitt., except that P. barbata is darker in color, and slightly larger. P. rankini is very small, and easily distinguishable from the others(It almost looks like a sub adult inland).
Arid to semi-desert Australia. They can often be found sunning themselves on fence posts in suburbs in Australia.
Varies greatly among species, but usually 16-20 inches with some being smaller, and some pushing a full 2 feet in length. As with most animals, the male is slightly larger than the female.
They are typically very docile, and are considered one of the best pet reptiles among many hobbyists. Second only to the leopard gecko, the bearded dragon is one of the most commonly kept reptiles, due to their wonderful temperament and easy care. They will usually just sit with you, and sometimes hang out on your shoulder as you do light housework. In all honesty, they are charming, hardy animals who are more than worthy of their great popularity and reputation.
5-10 years (please don’t consider this animal for a pet unless you can care for it over its entire life)
Baby/sub-adult: 60% insect meat and 40% greens. Insect prey should be smaller than the width between the dragons eyes, and can include small crickets, small mealworms, and waxworms(feed sparingly, high fat content). NEVER feed your dragon fireflies (They WILL KILL your dragon). Vegetables should include collard greens, escarole, carrots, green squash, green peas, parsley, dandelions, hibiscus flowers (good for picky eaters), blueberries (don’t overfeed), bell peppers, celery, corn, kiwis, okra, grapes, bananas, raspberries, papayas, and green beans. There are also many different pellet diets on the market that are good for mixing with your dragon’s veggies. They should be moistened before feeding though to prevent injuring the beardies jaws. It’s very hard to overfeed a dragon, so give them what they can eat in a 10-20 minutes.
Adult: 60% greens 40% insect and small vertebrates. Adult dragons will eat all of the same vegetables as a baby or sub-adult will. The only differences are that they eat more, and they can eat larger pieces (remember the eye width rule). Adult dragons also eat the same insects as a baby, but again in larger portions and sizes, and will now eat roaches. Adult dragons will also happily wolf down baby mice as an occasional treat. “Pinkie” mice are highly nutritious, and can be used to fatten up a female after breeding, or an underweight dragon(again, feed sparingly. You don’t want your dragon overweight. Health issues may occur with an overweight dragon).
NOTE: You should never feed your dragon spinach because of the high phosphorous content or iceberg lettuce because it is about as nutritious as newspaper. Also, I’d like to restate that fireflies will KILL your dragon.
73F on the cool end, and up to 90 on the warm with an 105-110F basking area. Night temps can drop into the mid to low 70s, and high 60s(no lower than 65 without a heat source such as a heat pad). Your dragon should be misted with water a few times a week to ensure proper hydration. You should also include a water bowl large enough for your dragon to soak itself in.
40 gallon(non-tall) terrarium/aquarium for a single adult, but it’s best to be generous with space(the more the better). Include logs for them to climb and bask on. Substrate can be anything from paper towel and newspaper to sand. Some keepers dislike using sand, citing issues with impaction, but I have personally never had a problem with it. Some things you should stay away from are wood chips(mold and impactions), crushed coconut shell(impactions. I’ve seen my dragons eat it.), and calci-sand(impactions). Make sure all cage furniture is fixed in place to avoid a scaly pancake. Also make sure that all heavy objects sit on the bottom of the tank so that the dragon can not burrow under them.
Sexing isn’t usually hard with adults, but it’s very hard to sex a baby. Adult males have a set of small femoral pores, whereas females typically don’t have them, or have very small ones. Males also have hemipenile bulges, swollen spots at the base of the tail along both sides behind the vent.
If you keep a male and female together, they will likely eventually breed with no help from you. Sometimes, they will need a little help in the form of cycling (gradually changing temperatures, food amounts, and daylight hours to simulate seasons over time). If you have to do this, your animals may go dormant for up to several months, but continue to offer food even if they don’t eat it. When you start warming the temperatures up, increasing daylight, and increasing food, they should be ready to breed. About a month after breeding she’ll take on a swelling look. You’ll know your female is gravid(pregnant) when she puffs up like a balloon and you can feel lumps in her stomach. During the time between mating and egg laying, keep her on an excellent diet and give her extra supplements. She will need a nesting box to lay her eggs in. The box can be a large cat litter box filled with moist (not soggy) sand. A clutch will consist of about a dozen to two dozen eggs which should be immediately be placed in an incubator (in a deli cup. Half submerged in moist vermiculite), and incubated at 85 degrees, but no higher than 88(it’s likely to cause birth defects and death). Incubation should take about 50 to 70 days, in which time you should check them daily
Success With a Reptile Pet: Bearded Dragon by Tom Mazorlig (published by T.F.H. Publications, inc.)