Bearded dragons are calm and docile creatures. But during the breeding season, they can change into some little aggressive breeding monsters. During this time, bearded dragons will show the typical aggressive, mating behaviour towards their mates and keepers.
How do bearded dragons mate? The mating process of bearded dragons is vigorous. Courtship involves climbing and holding on by the male. Bite marks are usually visible on the
- dorsal head
- lips and
- front legs of adult bearded dragon females during the breeding season. Flapping of the forelegs by the male may occur while holding the dragon female.
The following information will be addressing bearded dragons mating:
- mating behaviour
- accidental mating of bearded dragons
- bearded dragons’ breeding age
- how to condition bearded dragons for mating
- reproductive cycle of bearded dragon in the wild
- the dance
- copulation and gravidity
- egg laying
- egg storage
The male bearded dragon is not the most gentle of courtiers. When he is ready to breed, his beard will darken, and can even stay dark over a number of days. The head bobbing habit demonstrated from a very young age becomes very violent. The female may reciprocate by arm-waving to show she is receptive. The male will jump onto the female and hold her in place by biting at the skin on the back of the neck.
It is a very rough behavior, but the female seems to tolerate it. Although in some bearded dragons the male has been known to tear the female’s skin.
Therefore, mating can take place in seconds. If you let a female and male out together then you risk an accidental mating as it may happen before you can separate them.
Accidental Mating of Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons are notoriously difficult to sex properly, even as adults. If you find that your bearded dragons have mated, then just take a step back. And think of the cost and time involved in raising the hatchlings before rushing about to buy an incubator.
You may just find yourself looking after multiple clutches. This will involve daily cleaning of vivariums for about 3 months.
You cannot deny that it is a wonderful experience seeing eggs in the vivarium. And 2 months later seeing the hatchlings emerge. However, this is only the start of the hard work, and then you will need to find homes for them all.
A wise breeder will make sure they have a market for the young bearded dragons before allowing them to breed. Thus, with an accidental mating, there will not be time to do this.
If your dragons have mated accidentally, then do consider freezing the eggs as soon as they are laid. This stops any development of the embryo. Likewise, do not throw the eggs out with the rubbish as there is chance they might hatch on the rubbish heap, and then die.
Therefore, now that you know you have a male and female bearded dragon. It is time to get a new vivarium and keep them separated. Otherwise, your female may consistently be laying eggs which will put a huge drain on her body and shorten her life.
What age can Bearded Dragons breed?
Ideally, it is best to wait until the bearded dragons are about 18 months old before you start thinking about breeding. However, if you keep a male and female together, then you don’t have a lot of say in the matter. Bearded dragons often breed from as young as eight months. However, size seems to be a more important factor than age.
How to Condition Bearded Dragons for Mating
You should keep male and female bearded dragons in separate enclosures. This will prevent them from fighting with one another before the mating process.
You should feed both with highly nutritious meals up to the time of mating. So they can keep up their strength and avoid becoming stressed.
Also, many conditions can affect breeding. These Include,
- daytime and nighttime.
During the pre-mating time, the bearded dragons ought to receive a period of ten hours of daylight and fourteen hours of nighttime.
Daytime temperatures should be dropped to 75°F to 85°F. And nighttime temperatures can go as low as 55°F to 60°F.
The reduced temperature and light periods should begin in early December and maintained until the middle of February.
At this time, increase the daytime light to fourteen hours with ten hours of darkness. The daytime temperatures should return to about 85°F.
Begin feeding the female dragon a triple dose of calcium supplement to her diet to support formation of the eggshells. The male ought to be fed two meals per day. One with a calcium supplement and one without some calcium supplement.
Also, ensure both bearded dragons are receiving a varied diet of insects and vegetable.
Within a few weeks, the bearded dragons ought to begin showing signs of breeding behaviors.
Next, you will need to begin introducing both bearded dragons to each other.
Reproductive Cycle of Bearded Dragons in the Wild
Wild bearded dragons mostly become sexually mature when they’re between 1 and 2 years old. Mating takes place during the summer months, between September and March in their native Australia.
In captivity, many breeders offer a brumation period to the dragons prior to mating, although it’s not always necessary. Brumation is similar to hibernation, although the bearded dragon’s body doesn’t go through as extreme changes.
The brumation period is offered to somewhat mimic winter. The mating cycle involves territorial males and intricate mating dances between males and females. Once gravid, a female dragon will search for an acceptable site to lay and bury her eggs.
During courtship, males and females bearded dragons will perform a dance of sorts, signaling to each other their acceptance. In captivity, a female who is unwilling or unready to mate will try to escape the male, often by clawing at the sides of the enclosure. A willing female dragon, however, will perform the dance with her prospective mate.
The male will bob his head rather ferociously and then display his beard, which often darkens in color. A submissive female will respond with slower head bobs. And in many cases, she will perform the submissive “arm wave,” a gesture used by both males and females to exhibit submission.
Copulation and Gravidity
The dance may be the longest part of the courtship cycle, as actual copulation can take less than one minute. Once the mates have accepted each other, the male dragon will quickly mount the female’s back. Often times biting her on the fleshy part of her neck. The two intertwine their tails and copulation takes place.
The female dragon can reside with the male until she shows signs of needing to lay her eggs. Generally, females lay their eggs three to five weeks after successful copulation.
Bearded dragons dig a hole for their nest. They will not lay their eggs until they have created a suitable burrow. An appropriate substrate for digging must be provided or the female dragon may end up with egg binding.
Thus, the area with the substrate for egg laying must be at least 8 inches deep. A mixture of potting soil and sand works very well. It must be loose enough for the female bearded dragon to dig, but not so loose that it caves in while she digs.
If you make a pre-made hole in the substrate, the bearded dragon will often use it to complete her burrow. Depending on age, condition, and previous breeding, the bearded dragon will lay a clutch of between 15 and 50 eggs.
You should carefully uncover the bearded dragon’s eggs and then place them in a plastic container that has a lid with air holes. Do not rotate or change the position of the eggs while you are moving them.
The bottom of the container ought to contain enough vermiculite to cover each egg 2/3 deep. Also, you should mix the vermiculite with water at a rate of 4 parts vermiculite to 1 part water.
The best method for incubating bearded dragon’s eggs is to adopt a commercial incubator. Styrofoam incubators are inexpensive and work fairly well.
However, the temperature of the incubator should be between 83* and 86*. Likewise, you should keep the incubator in a room that is cooler than the temperature of the incubator.
They design them to raise and maintain one temperature. If the room is warmer than the incubator, then it will raise the temperature above the thermostat setting in the incubator.
To help the dragon maintain humidity levels, you can place a dish of water within the egg container and refill it as necessary. Therefore, The eggs will hatch in about 60 to 70 days.
There are several ways to distinguish between male and female bearded dragons. Male dragons have larger heads, smaller abdominal girth, and darker beards. Male dragons also have larger pores around their anal region.
For bearded dragons that are older than six months, you can check for the hemipenile bulges. Thus, you hold the bearded dragon in your hand, stomach up, and bend the tail up toward the back at a 90* angle. However, be very careful that you do not bend the tail too far. You could break the vertebrae at the base of the tail.
If there are two bulges on either side of the tail base, then it is a male. If you see one centered bulge or no bulge at all, it is female.