The bearded dragon is a reptile with spiny projections under its neck. This resembles the male beard, hence their name. When they feel distressed or threatened, they puff out their beards and open their mouths wide, so they appear larger than usual. Their scientific name is Pogona.
The bearded dragons were initially found in the Australian deserts, mainly in the northern and southeastern parts. These unique reptiles love the sub-tropical woodlands and remote deserts.
It was during the late 1990s they were brought to America and introduced as a beautiful pet. Within a short time, bearded dragons have become extremely popular and loved by animal lovers because of their warm nature and cute looks.
While many bearded dragons belong to the Pogona family, there are only eight of the species that are legal.
- Black-soiled Bearded Dragon also called the Dwarf Bearded Dragon, discovered in 1985
- Central bearded dragon, discovered in 1926
- Eastern bearded dragon, discovered in 1829
- Kimberley bearded dragon, discovered in 1952
- Northwestern Bearded Dragon, discovered in 1975
- Nullarbor bearded dragon, discovered in 1976
- The second variety of Western Bearded Dragon discovered in 1933
- Western Bearded Dragon, discovered in 1919
Habits of the Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons have some interesting traits that may raise questions among owners.
- Arm waving
The dragon will stand high on three legs and raise the remaining leg in the air and wave it in a circular motion. There are a couple of reasons why. It could be species recognition. When a bearded dragon waves at another, it informs the other that it is aware of their presence.
Submission is another possible reason. A bearded dragon may wave its arm whenever approached by a larger dragon or animal.
- Head bobbing
This trait is more common in males. The dragon will repeatedly raise and lower its head.
It is typically a sign of dominance between two male dragons. Males will bob their heads at females to indicate dominance during mating.
Two bearded dragons will head bob at each other to show territorial aggression.
The faster the head bob, the more threatening it is. If one dragon is bobbing at another quickly, it is usually for territorial reasons. If it bobs slowly, it can be a sign of submission.
- Fluffing their beard
Both sexes can expand their beards. Generally, it is done as defensive behavior to appear larger.
It is not strange for a dragon to stretch their beards without provocation.
How large a bearded dragon gets depends on a few different factors such as:
- Diet and health
A healthy, well-fed dragon will grow larger and faster than a malnourished one.
The dragon will grow to the maximum size that their environment will allow. If you put a young, bearded dragon in a tank that is too small, it will not grow to its full size. To ensure that a bearded dragon achieves its maximum size, ensure that you are feeding it correctly and have a proper-sized enclosure.
As with most animals, males are larger than females. So, your male dragon will grow to be larger.
- Species or breed
The scientific name of the bearded dragon is “Pogona vitticeps.” They are average-sized lizards, generally 12-24 inches in length from the head to the end of the tail.
The bearded dragon has four stout legs, well-muscled flat bodies with a row of spikes that run down each side of the abdomen. Their tail is usually half the length of their body, and unlike other lizards, it will not fall off and regenerate when threatened.
Bearded dragons are tan, green, red, yellow, or brown, with some light patches of white or off-white. Beard and body color changes can occur slowly as the dragon grows.
If a sudden or temporary color change occurs, it is due to emotion, illness, or stress. A bearded dragon will often get darker or turn black if upset or threatened. Their beard will darken during a beard puff.
A bearded dragon has a triangular-shaped head containing rows of spikes that resemble thorns. Beneath their head, are rows of spiked scales, when puffed up, resembles a beard. These scales can become darker during breeding.
When brumation (like hibernation) comes to an end, the male dragon goes out to find a female. The courtship ritual of head bobbing, arm-waving, and stomping his feet in front of the female occurs. The male chases the female then bites the back of her neck and holds on while he gets in position to mate.
While in the breeding period, female dragons can store sperm in the oviductal crypts, allowing the female to lay 11-30 eggs twice from one mating event. Temperature determines the sex of the babies. While the embryo is developing, a higher temperature produces females; cooler temperatures produce males.
Do Bearded Dragons Eat Dirt?
Yes. A bearded dragon will eat dirt to get calcium. They know if they need more calcium and eating dirt will help to balance their mineral intake.
What Do Bearded Dragons Like to Eat Most?
A bearded dragon’s diet is essential to keeping it healthy and active. Bearded dragons need a diet of both vegetables, greens, and insects. Adults will eat more vegetables than bugs, so make sure the vegetables they are eating are fresh, healthy, and nutritious. Here are some of the vegetables that are good for a bearded dragon.
- Acorn squash
- Artichoke heart
- Bell peppers, raw
- Bok choy
- Butternut squash
- Cabbage, raw
- Cucumber, peeled
- Mustard greens
- Yellow squash
Certain plants are also healthy for your dragon.
- Mint leaves
- Rose petals
- Dandelion greens
- Maple leaves
- Rosemary, fresh
If you prefer to purchase your bearded food from Amazon, here are three foods purchased from satisfied customers, who have rated them five stars.
- Pack of four
- Bearded dragon medley food
- A perfect blend of freeze-dried crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers to ensure your dragon will enjoy this treat
- No dealing with live prey
- It comes in a 1.8-ounce jar
- Nutritious, dehydrated ingredients can be fed with other foods or as a treat
- Quick and easy way to provide reptiles with high protein foods
- Convenience, resealable packaging
- No refrigeration needs
- Ideal for bearded dragons and other reptiles
- Easy to use produce
- Ideal for reptiles, fish, or birds
- Natural juices
- Pack of four
Foods Bearded Dragons Should Avoid
Make sure you do not feed your dragon foods that are unhealthy for it. Do not feed your dragon any of the following foods.
- Fireflies, or any glowing insect
- Insects captured in the wild
Tips on Feeding Your Bearded Dragon
Some owners of dragons recommend that juveniles eat 50% insects, 50% plants, vegetables, and fruit. Adults should eat about 25% to 30% less animal matter and insects. Insects should be given once a day, with the remainder of their diet vegetation.
Bearded dragons love protein. Feed it crickets, mealworms, or waxworms. Young dragons should eat them once daily, adults once every two days.
1. Can bearded dragons eat fruit?
Yes, but only as a treat, as the sugar is not healthy for them.
2. Can they eat mushrooms?
No! Mushrooms are highly toxic for a bearded dragon and should always be avoided
3. How long do dragons live?
A bearded dragon, when kept as a pet, the lifespan will vary based on how well it is cared for. If you follow the best care practices, it can live up to 15 years.
4. How big are the babies when they hatch?
Baby bearded dragons are tiny when freshly hatched. They are three to four inches long. They will grow rapidly over the next five months, at a rate of two to three inches per month. After that, the growth rate is about one to two inches per month for the next six months.
5. How do I clean the dragon’s tank?
Good cleaning habits are necessary to keep your bearded dragon healthy. Every day, check for fecal matter and scoop it out of the enclosure. Check the corners and under the places where your pet hides.
Every month, replace the enclosure’s substrate, the pellets or paper used on the bottom of the tank.
6. Are bearded dragons nocturnal?
No. Unlike most other reptiles, bearded dragons are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. That is another reason why they make a good pet for beginners. You can feed or play with your dragon during the day without affecting their sleep cycle.
7. How do you figure out a bearded dragon’s gender?
You can ask your vet. Or if you do not choose to do that, there are other ways to determine it. Because of the size of a baby dragon, it will be difficult to determine its gender.
Some males have wider heads and thicker tails than females.
Otherwise, you can wait till your pet is older. Check between its hind legs for either two bumps for males, one bump, and a slit for females.
8. How do you trim a bearded dragon’s nails?
If you are a first-time owner, let your vet do the trimming.
If its enclosure is well stocked, containing enough rough and climbable objects, your pet’s nails will always be at a good length.
If necessary, use a special claw trimmer made for small animals.
9. Can you play with a bearded dragon?
Yes, they are far more friendly and sociable than other reptiles. If you treat it well, they love gentle playtime.
You can hold them, let them push around a ball, or take it for short walks with a special leash.
10. Do bearded dragons make good pets?
Yes, they do. They are friendly, easily handled, and a terrific choice if you like a hands-on pet.
Bearded dragons are an adorable choice for a pet if you desire one that is cute, friendly, and isn’t noisy! If you follow the care instructions for your dragon, you will get many years of fun and enjoyment with it.