Herps & Habitats Bearded Dragon Info Page

The Australian Bearded Dragon

COMMON NAME: Australian Bearded Dragon (generic), Inland Bearded Dragon

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pogona vitticeps (was Amphibolurus, Wagler, 1830). Other species of Pogona include: barbata, henrylawsoni, minor, minima, nullarbor, mitchelli, nobbi. There are approx. 25 species of Pogona.

FAMILY: Agamidae

DISTRIBUTION: Australia, Tasmania

RANGE: Beardies are found in rocky semideserts and outer forest areas, wet coastal sand dunes and open woodlands, as well as arid inland scrublands. The P. vitticeps is widely distributed throughout the non-coastal areas of the eastern states through the eastern half of south Australia and north to southeastern Northern Territory.

DESCRIPTION: The most obvious feature is a characteristic beard on a wide, massive head. Scales on the posterior throat skin and the skin along the sides of the head have pointy extentions. With the aid of the hyoid bone this area can be spread in a threatening display to increase the apparent size of the head when viewed from the front. Scales along the sides are also spiny. Males have femoral and preanal pores. Moderate color changing capabilities are restricted to lightening and darkening and is often an indication of the lizards weak ability to regulate temperature. Most are diurnal dwellers, with semi-aboreal traits. Many will bask on fence posts or on fallen logs. Beardies often remain in deep burrows during the heat of the day.

FEEDING: Dragons are a voracious insect predator and can easily consume large numbers of crickkets or other live insects placed in the enclosure. Mealworms, waxworms, cabbage loopers and small grasshoppers are suitable for feeding. As they mature, dragons will eat a variety oof other foods that include kale, squash, carrots, bananas, apples, oranges, dandelions, bok choy, butter or Romaine lettuce, peas and green beans. Parsley, collard greens, rapberries, strawberries and peaches are also good choices. We DO NOT feed baby dragons meal worms. The worms are too hard and too big for the baby to digest properly. Feeding mealworms to babies can often cause paralysis and/or death. As your dragon grows, we suggest feeding only the freshly shed worms, thus avoiding any problems due to digesting the hard exo-skeleton. Freshly shed worms are almost an albino white and stand out against the darker worms. Once your dragon is grown, this concern lessens considerably but can still pose problems, especially in older or sick dragons.

TEMPERATURE: Optimal beardie temperature will vary. Daytime temperatures should range from 80-85°F (26.7-29.4°C), with one or more basking areas reaching 90-100°F. Night temperatures should drop to 75°F and supplemental night lights and heat sources are usually not necessary.

LONGEVITY: Dragons can live 7-10 years with the record being 10 years 1 month for P. vitticeps and 9 years 11 months for a P. barbatta (Slavens 1992).

NOTE: Random studies of reptiles in general indicate that more than 90% carry samonella, a germ that can be passed to humans. To date no bearded dragon has been implicated in human cases of the disease. This does not mean that beardies are not capable of getting and transmitting the germ, so obey all guidelines offered to minimize the risk.

©2001, Herps & Habitats.

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