Bearded Dragons are very popular reptile pets, and arguably the most popular of all lizards to be kept as pets. They are relatively small in size, certainly compared to Monitor Lizards. They are also easier to handle, as long as you learn to pick them up correctly to avoid startling them and coming into contact with those spikes. And while they do require some live feeding, they at least don’t necessitate the feeding of pinkies, or baby mice.
Another reason for their popularity is that they are easy to breed. Though Bearded Dragons are typically capable of breeding from the age of around 8 months, most breeders recommend waiting until the pair is 18 months of age. mostly so that the female will be large enough to be able to pass the eggs. Accidental breeding is common because it isn’t always easy to tell males and females apart, and while having an incubator will help eggs hatch, it isn’t always necessary because the Beardie will do a decent job of burying and caring for the eggs.
Below, we look at what age these fascinating little reptiles can breed, what age is best for breeding, and some other factors regarding the breeding of Bearded Dragons.
Breed With Caution
If you are considering breeding, consider what you will do with the resulting young. A single clutch can result in up to 20 babies, and one mating incident can actually result in three or four clutches of eggs, which adds up to a lot of Beardie eggs. Pet stores might not be willing to buy the young if they don’t have any experience dealing with you. And, while Bearded Dragons are a popular reptilian pet, not everybody wants lizards—even fewer people want the locusts and roaches that they feed on. You may end up with a dozen or more young hatchlings and no way to rehome them.
Even if you do have homes for them to go to, Beardies don’t usually go to a new home until they reach around 10 weeks of age, and you can’t reasonably keep 12 young in a single vivarium.
About Bearded Dragons
Pogona, more commonly known as Bearded Dragon, is a genus of reptiles that consists of several different species. They are named for their dragon-like appearance and for the beard of spikes that they have under their chins.
In the wild, Bearded Dragons are found throughout Australia. They are most often found in deserts and subtropical regions. Although the export of Bearded Dragons from Australia is prohibited and has been since the 1960s, they have been bred in the U.S. and other countries around the world since this time and they are widely available in most countries.
With regular handlings, Bearded Dragons rarely bite, will sit on hands and laps, and are active during the day. They will greet their owners and habits like head-bobbing and charging across the room make them an intriguing pet to watch and enjoy.
However, while they do make good pets, Beardies do need quite a lot of vivarium space. They also need precise temperature, lighting, and humidity conditions, and some prospective owners are put off by the prospect of feeding live insects that includes cockroaches.
Bearded Dragon Mating
To breed Bearded Dragons, you need a sexually active male and female pair. Although Bearded Dragons are often capable of mating at the age of around 8 months, most breeders recommend that you wait until the pair is 18 months of age. Typically, after a first mating, the female will have a clutch of eggs that are infertile and will therefore not yield any young, although this isn’t always the case. From a single mating, the female can have three or four clutches of eggs, each consisting of as many as 20 eggs, which means a single mating can result in 80 eggs. Clutches will usually be laid around 3–4 weeks apart. Size is generally considered more important than age when it comes to ideal mating conditions, and females that are too small can be at risk.
If the female is too small to be able to pass the eggs, she will become eggbound. This will require veterinary attention, typically from a specialist vet, otherwise, it can prove fatal. By waiting until the female is 18 months, you reduce the risk of her being too small to be able to successfully produce the eggs.
When the male is ready to mate, his beard will darken. He will bob his head more violently and more often and the female will wave her arms if she is receptive. The actual mating process can be quite rough. The male will bite onto the female’s neck to keep her in place, and while she doesn’t usually protest this, rough biting can pierce the skin and cause injury to the female. The process is usually finished within a few seconds.
In approximately 4 to 6 weeks, the first clutch will be laid. The female will usually bury the eggs in a suitable spot. If she doesn’t believe there is a suitable area, the female may effectively hang onto the eggs and can become eggbound. Most experts recommend placing a sand-filled container into the vivarium of a gravid female, therefore ensuring a suitable laying site and ensuring a healthy laying process.
The eggs may incubate if left in the box, but it is usually better to incubate them yourself so you can ensure ideal conditions. If you do intend to remove the eggs, it can be a good idea to move the female out of the vivarium while you do it. Female Bearded Dragons will not necessarily become aggressive if you try to remove the eggs, but it is possible.
If you do remove the eggs, you need to do so carefully. Tilting or tipping the eggs can cause the death of the embryo inside, so they need to be kept in the same position as you move them and once you place them in an incubator or tub.
The eggs need to be kept at around 28°C and humidity at around 80%. Hatching will take between 50 and 100 days. If you don’t want to invest in a professional incubator, you can make your own using a polystyrene box with a few inches of water and a pond heater. The eggs are then placed in dry containers on top of the water and the temperature can be safely regulated using the pond heater. This also helps with humidity levels.
Approximately a month after the first clutch is laid, your female may lay a second clutch. In fact, she can lay three or even four clutches, although two is the most common. You will need to continue to provide somewhere to lay or risk your Beardie becoming eggbound, and if you want all of the eggs to hatch, you will need plenty of incubator space because the first eggs will not have hatched by the time the second clutch is produced.
Bearded Dragons are very popular lizard pets because they are gentle, tolerate handling, and are fun and interesting to watch. They also breed easily, and you will need to keep an eye on yours if you keep two or more Beardies together. If you are intentionally mating them, it is best to keep the male and female apart until they are ready to breed and, when they do, be prepared for what could potentially be a lot of eggs and a lot of hatchlings over the space of 2 or 3 months. Always ensure that you have homes for the young to go to before you let the eggs hatch and bear in mind that some pet stores may not be willing to buy them from you.
Featured Image Credit: J.A. Dunbar, Shutterstock