Are you thinking of getting a bearded dragon as a pet for yourself? Maybe it is for a family or friend. Do you have questions regarding these marvelous creatures? Or are you just looking for information on bearded dragons? You are in the right place regardless of the category you fall into. I will answer one of the questions that pop up in conversations about bearded dragons here.
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded animals. They are four-limbed reptiles. They belong to the same family as rattlesnakes, cobras, caimans, alligators, salamanders, tortoises, turtles and several others. These animals also share many characteristics with other reptiles. Yet they have some unique characteristics of their own. Bearded dragons are reptiles in every sense of the word. Below are the characteristics that make them so.
Everyone has their own opinions when bearded dragons are the topic. There are a lot of questions that have remained unanswered because of a lack of research-based fact.
I will highlight the characteristics and habits of bearded dragons. This will deepen your understanding of this amazing lizard. We will delve into the biology of bearded dragons. Also, expect me to shed more light on what makes them tick. So grab your popcorn and fasten your seatbelts as we get started!
I bet you’re wondering what relationship the bearded dragons share with sea-turtle. Or the relationship they have with a crocodile. They have more in common than you may imagine. Let us take a look at the biological stratification of reptiles. We will also discuss several other characteristics of reptiles. Some of these include habitat, skin, and reproduction. We’ll also examine the skeletal framework and circulatory systems. We will discuss their reaction to temperature changes.
Biological Stratification Of Reptilia
Bearded dragons belong to the Class Reptilia under the Phylum Chordata in Kingdom Animalia. Class Reptilia is home to nearly nine thousand unique animal species. These species are divided into four separate Orders which are:
Crocodilia: comprising Crocodiles, Alligators, and Caimans.
Testudines: where Turtles and Tortoises belong.
Rhynchocephalia: comprising Tuataras only found in New Zealand.
Squamata: home of Snakes and Lizards.
Physical Differences Between Amphibians and Reptiles
Reptiles possess abilities and adaptive features. These features put them somewhere between amphibians and mammals. Amphibians have moist skin. They depend on water for their existence. However, Mammals have hair or fur on their skin. They have evolved to survive in every habitat on earth.
All reptiles are equipped with a well-developed skeletal structure. Every reptile will have a bony skull and a rib cage. They also sport a spinal column that houses the spinal cord. They have bone extensions that form the four limbs. Snakes are the only exceptions to this. They also have a ball and socket joint where the neck fuses with the head.
Reptiles do not rely on gills for respiration like Amphibians. They breathe with fully developed lungs right from birth. Most reptiles also have two lungs with the exception of snakes. Snakes have only one lung. Bearded dragons run with the same muscles they use in breathing. They have to hold their breath when running just like other lizards.
The digestive system in a reptile is not very different from other developed animals. The only difference is that the urinary ducts lead to an exterior opening at the base of the tail. This is called the “cloaca”. Their reproductive system leads here too. Herbivores have long intestines while carnivorous reptiles have simple digestive systems. Reptiles that inhabit very hot habitats reabsorb water at the cloaca before excretion.
Reptiles have developed sense organs to catch prey and to evade predators. They have their eyes in front of their head. This helps to facilitate binocular vision. Many reptiles can move their eyes independently. Some reptiles even have a special tissue that protects their eyes from harsh environmental factors.
Amphibians are dependent on water for survival. But reptiles can survive in a wide range of habitat. You can find reptiles in ponds, seas, lakes, deserts, mountains, treetops, etc… However, Reptiles can’t survive in harsh, extremely cold climates like Antarctica.
These reptiles are in a class of their own when it comes to their skin. They do not have moist skin like the Amphibians. Neither do they have fur or hair-like mammals. Reptiles have very tough skins made up of scales instead. Scales are hard plates made of a protein called keratin. This keratin forms in the epidermis of reptiles. Scutes are bony structures which look like scales but form from the dermis of reptiles.
Scales and Scutes play very prominent roles in the life of reptiles. They prevent water loss. Reptiles use them for camouflage and protection. These scales also make reptiles one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. Scales or scute color similarly play a major role in courtship. It also influences territorial matters. Carnivorous reptiles have very complex skin systems.
A bearded dragon’s skin is scaly with delicately arranged spikes lining its body.
All reptiles with the exception of snakes are Tetrapods. Reptiles generally have four limbs. These limbs are extensions of their well-developed skeletal systems. The reptiles’ four limbs are distinct. Some amphibians also have four limbs. The amphibians limbs are angled downwards. This end tables them to lift their bodies off the ground to move at faster speeds.
The bearded dragon has two pairs of limbs. Evolution designed it that way to put it at an advantage over its prey and predators.
The circulatory system in reptiles
Amphibians have very simple circulatory systems. However, Reptiles have more advanced circulatory systems than amphibians. Some reptiles have three-chambered hearts like amphibians. And others have four-chambered hearts like mammals.
Reproduction and birth in reptiles
Reproduction in reptiles is sexual. Male and female reptiles copulate during mating season. The male sperm fertilizes the eggs within the female. Most reptiles are oviparous. This means that the females lay their eggs. There are however some reptiles that are viviparous. They give birth to live offspring. These reptiles differ from mammals mostly in that they do not have a placenta. A placenta is a tissue that supplies nutrients to embryos in the womb.
Reptiles are amniotes. This means that their eggs contain a fluid-filled elastic sac. It is in this sac that8 the offspring develops. The eggs have a thick leathery protective shell. This shell allows the exchange of gases. The egg also contains the yolk. The yolk supplies the offspring with all the necessary nutrients.
The soil temperature determines the sex of the offspring for most reptiles. Reptiles are fully developed when they hatch. They can walk, glide, crawl or swim within hours of hatching. They are therefore ready to start a life of their own.
Bearded dragons lay eggs. They then bury and leave them like most other reptiles. They do not care for their hatchlings or have any parenting instincts.
Reptiles And Their Ectothermic Nature
Reptiles rely on their external environment for88 their body temperatures. They are therefore ectothermic or cold-blooded. Amphibians are also endothermic. They use the temperature of the water they’re in to regulate their temperature.
Mammals are warm-blooded because they regulate their body temperature independent of external factors.
The bearded dragon basks in the sun to raise its body temperature. All other members of the reptile clan do this too. However, they hide in the shades to cool off when they reach a potentially dangerous temperature. A higher body temperature translates to a higher level of metabolism in all reptiles. A lower body temperature makes a reptile very sluggish. Very low night temperatures can cause temporary immobilization in some reptiles.
Bearded dragons need the UV rays of the sun for the absorption of the nutrient. They also need heat to regulate their temperature. This is why beardies and other reptiles are often seen basking on elevated surfaces. They are trying to get as much sunlight as they can.
Bearded dragons are solitary animals. This is another trait that they share with other reptiles. They are fiercely territorial and can fight to the death for this.
Altogether we have studied major characteristics of reptiles. We have also studied subtleties that make them reptiles. Their position in the biological stratification has been made obvious to us too. We studied where they live and the makeup of their skin. Examined how they reproduce and their skeletal framework. We also talked about their circulatory structure. We even studied how they react to changes in their environment.
It is now clear to see that the bearded dragon is a reptile. Also that it belongs to the Class Reptilia. Bearded dragon thrives in a variety of habitats. But they don’t do well in the extremely cold ones. It has scales all over its body and it lays eggs. It also possesses a very developed skeletal system and an advanced circulatory system.
Therefore next time the “are bearded dragons reptiles?” question pops up, I am confident that you will be well equipped to answer