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Bearded Dragon

Pogona vitticeps

  1. Not Evaluated
  2. Data Deficient
  3. Least Concern
  4. Near Threatened
  5. Vulnerable
  6. Endangered
  7. Critically Endangered
  8. Extinct in the Wild
  9. Extinct

About Us

The bearded dragon gets its name from the ‘beard’ of spikes around its neck. This beard can be found on males and females, and is used to display their mood. The beard can be inflated, and turns a dark brown to black as well to emphasise it. The dragon part of their name comes from the spiky scales and head shape which give it the appearance of a mythical dragon.

Here at Woburn we have a small mixed sex group of bearded dragons. Their custom built vivarium is designed to mimic their natural habitat, with themed rockwork, climbing structures, and specially designed heating and lighting to allow them to enjoy basking in the heat, climbing, or just lazing around, as they would in the wild. Come and meet them in the ‘Disscovery Zone' (only open at set times throughout the day).

Distribution
Australia
Habitat
Subtropical woodlands, scrublands, savannahs, shore areas, and deserts
Height
30 to 40cm long including tail
Weight
350 to 600g
Lifespan
10 to 15 years in the wild, 15 to 29 years in captivity

Physical Features

The bearded dragon has a broad, triangular head, round body, stout legs, and a  robust tail, allowing them to move quickly on sand. Their body is covered in scales, some of which form large spines, particularly around the face and beard. The layout of these spines and scales around the face allows any water which gathers on their head to be directed towards their mouth

The color of an individual depends on the soil of the region they live in, but it usually ranges from dull brown to tan with red or gold highlights.

The beard of the bearded dragon can be inflated, and can also turn very dark or black. This display can be used for several reasons, it may be to show aggression, or as part of a mating ritual. The males and females have this ability, but the males will use it more often.

The bearded dragon is a mostly ground dwelling species; however it is often seen climbing. The young will spend more time at height, but even adults will still climb when given the chance, to bask on logs and branches.

They are diurnal, active throughout the day time when it is warm, and resting when temperatures cool. During the cooler months of spring and summer, they can be active most of the day. As temperatures rise, they bask during the early morning or late afternoon but during the heat of the day they are inactive and take cover in crevasses, leaf litter, and underground

The bearded dragon thermo regulates by basking in the sun to heat up, they will change the colour of their skin to help with this, turning darker to absorb more heat when needed. They cool off by hiding out of the sun, or changing to a lighter colour.

Diet

Bearded dragons are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will try to eat anything if they can! Their habitat can often make finding food hard, and so they have adapted to eat most things. Their stomachs are large to allow them to eat ;large quantities of food when it is available, mostly to accommodate large quantities of plant matter, which usually makes up around 20% of their diet. They will also commonly eat insects, spiders, and the occasional small rodent or lizard.

Social Structure and Communication

Bearded dragons are not social animals, but they will often form small groups when they encounter others, or during mating seasons. They establish a hierarchy amongst themselves, and can become aggressive to others, with males being territorial.

Bearded dragons rarely make any noise, the only time they do is when they were extremely threatened or in pain, when they can make a raspy hissing noise. They instead communicate through a series of signals and body language.

 The beard of the bearded dragon can be inflated, and can also turn very dark or black. This display can be used for several reasons, it may be to show aggression, or as part of a mating ritual. The males and females have this ability, but the males use it more often. During these displays they may also hold their mouth open, as a way of making themselves look more intimidating.

 Arm waving can be used as well; they will stand on three legs and move their front leg in the air in a waving action. This is usually used to show submission to more dominant animals.

 Head bobbing shows dominance and also to show females that a male is interesting in mating them.

Breeding occurs in the Australian spring and summer months of around September to March, a female can lay up to 9 clutches in this time, and can even store sperm to lay several fertile clutches from one mating. The female will dig a burrow in the sand and lay up to 24 eggs in a clutch.

The eggs are slightly elongated, a creamy white colour, and have a parchment type texture. They measure around 18mm to 25mm.  After 50 to 70 days incubation the eggs will hatch, with hatchlings being around 10cm long.

Sexual maturity is reached at around 1 to 2 years, and the average life span is 10 to 15 in the wild, and 15 to 20 in captivity.

Husbandry and Enrichment

The Dissscovery zone is home to our group of Bearded dragons. Here they live in their custom designed vivarium. This enclosure is designed to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible, with temperatures kept at a precise range, a lighting system to mimic daylight and provide a day and night cycle, to give as natural an environment as possible.  Basking spot lights allow them to bask in the sun as they would in the wild, or to move to cooler parts of their enclosure to regulate their body temperature. The enclosure is themed with rockwork and branches to allow the dragons to explore and climb a natural environment like they would in the wild.

Threats and Conservation

There are no threats to bearded dragons in the wild, other than natural predators. Often snakes and birds of prey will try to eat them.

The bearded dragon is very common in the pet trade as they are a manageable size, and have a good temperament.

All dragons in the pet trade are captive bred, and are thought to come from a small group smuggled out of Australia in 70’s and 90’s. Since 1960 Australia has banned any export of its native species, although there is occasional illegal smuggling of animals.

Fun Facts

There is no name for a group of bearded dragons, but the name for a group of lizards is a lounge of lizards!

Their beards can inflate and turn black when they are displaying for each other!

They are good climbers and often like to climb onto branches!

They are common as pets due to their friendly nature!

Bearded dragons often wave at each other, this is a way of signalling submission to more dominant individuals!