Pogona is a genus of reptiles which contains eight lizard species. However, some others say nine which are often known by the common name bearded dragons. The name “bearded dragon” refers to the “beard” at the chin of the dragon. That is, the underside of the throat which can turn black if they see a potential rival. Also, they are adept climbers, spending significant amounts of time on branches. And in bushes and near human habitation
Where are bearded dragons from? Bearded dragons originate from all over Australia. Thus, it leaves various species occupying slightly overlapping areas of the landmass. They live in
- the arid and subtropical woodlands
- shore areas, and
- into the great interior deserts.
The following information will be addressing the issues of where bearded dragons come from:
- bearded dragons habitat
- physical characteristics of bearded dragons
- the behavior of bearded dragons
- bearded dragons lifespan
The genus Pogona is in the subfamily Amphiboles urinal of the lizard family Agamidae. Characteristics include:
- triangular heads and
- flattened bodies, with spiny scales which are arranged in rows and clusters.
These are on the throat, which expands when it feels unsafe, and at the back of the head.
Thus, these scales are for scaring off predators. Yet they are not very sharp.
- bearded dragons display a hand-waving gesture to exhibit submission
- head-bobbing display to show dominance between dragons.
- skin color changes during rivalry challenges
- turning black to absorb heat
Further, males grow up to 60 cm (24 in) long, while females grow up to 51 cm (20 in). Bearded dragons also produce mild venom originating from primitive venom glands.
Although generally, they are harmless towards humans, it is effective towards smaller-sized animals.
Bearded dragons originate from all over Australia. Thus, it leaves various species slightly overlapping areas of the landmass. They live in:
- the arid and subtropical woodlands
- shore areas, and
- into the great interior deserts.
Their range extends throughout the interior of the eastern states. Down to the eastern half of South Australia and southeastern Northern Territory.
Likewise, they are semi-arboreal and will quite readily climb and bask at height. This is also linked to dominance behavior and competition for territory/basking areas.
They also find them on fallen/broken trees, rocky outcrops and bushes when basking.
Bearded dragons go through a kind of hibernation called brumation. This is like hibernation where reptiles go months without eating. But they sporadically drink water. And it differs from brumation during cooler temperatures.
When temperatures are extreme, there is always a very small range between temperatures. That is:
- where the reptile’s bodies can stay active, and
- where their bodies find it hard to tolerate the extreme heat and they die.
Further, bearded dragons go through brumation. This is when the temperature goes below 60-70 °F during the night, and 75-80 °F during the day for eight to ten hours. When the climate is too hot, they usually burrow underground.
The bearded dragon is usually tan to yellow in color. It is called “bearded” because of the dragon’s ability to flare out the skin in the throat region when it feels unsafe.
Likewise, its body has a flattened appearance, which becomes even more pronounced if the dragon feels unsafe. Thus, there are spines on the throat, sides of the head, and sides of the body.
The head has a wedge shape, and the bearded dragon has a tail that is almost as long as the body. Therefore, it is difficult to distinguish males from females among hatchlings and juveniles. When they become adults, sexual differences become more apparent.
However, the males generally have larger heads and larger, darker beards. The femoral pores of males also help to distinguish them from females.
Adult bearded dragons are very territorial. As they grow, they establish social hierarchies.
A dominant male will adopt a dominant stance. And sometimes ready itself for a fight to
- attack a male aggressor
- to defend territory
- food sources or
- in competition for a female.
Further, it will see any approaching male as a challenger for the territory. Also, aggressive males have also been known to attack females. These males target those who do not display submissive gestures in return.
The bearded dragon uses its beard for both mating and aggression displays. It also forms part of
- a range of gestures
- and signals through which the bearded dragons have basic levels of communication.
Generally, both sexes have a beard. However, males display this more frequently, especially in courtship rituals. Females likewise display their beard as a sign of aggression.
The beard darkens, sometimes turning black, and inflates during the display. The dragon may also open its mouth and gape.
Extreme behavior such as hissing can be observed when it feels unsafe with a predator. Inflating the body and tilting towards the threat in defense.
Head bobbing is another behavior seen in both females and males. They quickly move their head up and down, most often darkening and flaring their beard.
When brumation comes to an end, the male bearded dragon goes out to find a mate to mate with. Thereafter, a courtship ritual occurs where the male starts
- bobbing his head
- waving his arms, and
- stomping his feet, in front of the female bearded dragon.
However, the male dragon chases the female dragon where he will bite the back of the female’s neck. And hold on while he gets in position to copulate.
Thus, during the breeding period, female bearded dragons have the capability to store sperm in the oviductal crypts. This allows the female dragon to lay a clutch (11-30 eggs) of eggs twice from one mating.
When breeding bearded dragons:
- the incubation temperature can sometimes change the sex of the baby within the egg. Regardless of the sex chromosomes, it has in its DNA.
However, if the eggs incubate at a higher temperature (34 °C/93.2 °F and higher), the hatchlings will be female. And when the eggs incubate at a lower temperature (30 °C/86.0 °F and lower) the hatchlings will be male.
Bearded Dragons in captivity
Dragons are usually kept as pets. Most commonly, the inland or central bearded dragon (sometimes Rankin’s dragon) are in captivity.
These pets were introduced into the U.S. as pets during the 1990s. Thus, bearded dragons are a species that have gained much popularity as an exotic pet.
However, this popularity still exists, even after Australia banned the sale of its wildlife as pets in the 1960s.
Generally, the bearded dragon is a solitary animal. Male bearded dragons usually prefer to be alone, as they will fight with other males and breed with females.
Captive adults generally reach about 40 to 61 cm (16 to 24 in) from head to tail. Also, weigh 350 to 600 g (10 to 20 oz). And live for about 10 to 12 years, provided they receive good care.
Through selective breeding. However, there are many different versions of the Central Inland Bearded Dragon; these are “Morphs”.
Therefore, there are a few main genetic traits, Hypomelanism and Translucent. These refer to traits physically displayed by the dragon.
Hypomelanism (or Hypo) tend to have brighter coloration and lighter colors as well as very light brown/see through claws.
Translucent (or Trans) on the other hand, has a slightly opaque quality to their skin. Therefore, making their colors seem stronger, and also have black eyes.
There are also:
- leatherbacks (reduced scale texture to give a smoother skin),
- silk backs (highly reduced scale texture and very soft outer skin), and
- german giants (noticeably larger than your average bearded dragon)
Thus, silk backs, in particular, require special care as they have far more delicate skin. And as such require different UV and humidity requirements.
Juvenile and baby bearded dragon diets mainly contain insects. Thus, they require substantial amounts of protein. However, A juvenile bearded dragon eats insects three times a day on average.
Therefore, after a few feedings, you should be able to determine the dragon’s usual appetite. Meanwhile, crickets and dubia roaches are the most popular insects that owners feed bearded dragons. However, they can also feed them with other insects such as
- black soldier fly larvae
- fruit flies
Bearded dragons also eat increasing amounts of plant-based kind of food as they grow. However, adults should have a diet consisting primarily of plant matter. Thus, the most important of which are leafy greens.
Therefore, it is important to check before feeding something new to a bearded dragon. This is because some things can be toxic to them or will act to bind calcium in their diet. Hence, it prevents them from being able to absorb calcium.
This diet is also seasonal, meaning that it changes with the availability of live prey in the wild.
Bearded dragons usually require UVB to enable vitamin D3 synthesis and to prevent illnesses like a metabolic bone disease. Vitamin D3 is essential to calcium absorption. That is, calcium plays a major role in various critical biological functions.
Also, bearded dragons require UVA. This wavelength stimulates
- feeding, breeding
- basking and
- overall health.
They also require a basking heat source, most commonly a light-emitting source, usually to provide a basking area. Thus, heat and UV are both vital to the bearded dragons’ biological function.
In the wild, a bearded dragon may live up to 12 years, if not killed by predators.