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Paradox Bearded Dragon

Nicole Cosgrove

With the incredible popularity of bearded dragons as pets, many breeders have devoted time and energy into creating wild color morphs and variations. One such morph is known as a Paradox bearded dragon. It’s one of the rarest morphs in the bearded dragon world, and there’s a lot of confusion as to what exactly a Paradox dragon is. These dragons have unique markings without a discernable pattern. Instead, you’ll find spots of color that seem almost out of place, and certainly not in line with other dragons, which is what makes them a paradox.

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Quick Facts about Paradox Bearded Dragons

Bearded Dragon

Species Name: Pogona vitticeps
Common Name: Paradox bearded dragon
Care Level: Low-moderate
Lifespan: 8-12 years
Adult Size: 16-24 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Temperature & Humidity: 70-110 degrees and 30%-50% humidity

Do Paradox Bearded Dragons Make Good Pets?

Bearded dragons are some of the most popular reptiles to keep as pets because they make great pets. However, Paradox bearded dragons are extremely rare. As such, they’re some of the most expensive bearded dragons on the market. But breeders are still learning about the genetics that make up a Paradox dragon; you can’t just breed two Paradox dragons to create Paradox offspring. Most Paradox dragons come from breeding two Hypo Translucent dragons, and the resulting offspring are often riddled with health problems and deformities. So, Paradox dragons actually make poor pets compared to other beardies.

Appearance

It’s the Paradox dragon’s appearance that makes it so special. However, there’s no uniformity to the looks of Paradox dragons, which is why they’re a paradox! They don’t display any discernable pattern. Most of them have large splotches of color that look out of place and incredibly unique. These dragons can be any color with splotches of any color, and many are multi-colored, making for some of the most interesting dragons you’ll ever see.

divider-bearded dragonHow to Take Care of a Paradox Bearded Dragon

Although Paradox dragons are unique in their appearance, caring for them is no different than caring for any other bearded dragon.

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Tank

An adult bearded dragon needs a 75-gallon tank at the minimum, though larger is recommended. Glass aquariums with screen lids are one of the most popular choices. Inside, you’ll need to provide plenty of hiding places for your dragon, such as logs and rocks. Once each month, you’ll need to remove your dragon so you can empty the enclosure of everything and clean it down with a bleach solution to disinfect it.

Lighting

Bearded dragons need 12-14 hours of light every day. Make sure to choose a reptile bulb that provides both UVA and UVB light to keep your dragon healthy.

Heating (Temperature & Humidity)

Dragons need to be given a rather drastic temperature gradient so that they can regulate their body temperature. One end of the tank should be a basking area under a heat lamp that’s between 95-110 degrees. The opposite end of the enclosure should be kept cool with a temperature between 75-85 degrees. Temperatures can drop to the low 70s at night without issue. Humidity levels in your dragon’s enclosure should remain around 30%-50%, which should be easily achieved by the evaporation of water from the heat lamp.

Substrate

There are several types of substrate you can use for a bearded dragon, though there’s debate about which is best. Substrates like bark, mulch, and gravel should be avoided since they’re likely to cause impaction if ingested during feeding. Many dragon keepers use sand, though others believe sand can also cause impaction. Newspaper or paper towels make a safe substrate that’s easy to replace so you can keep the enclosure clean.

Tank Recommendations

Tank Type 75-gallon glass vivarium
Lighting UVA/UVB for 12-14 hours daily
Heating Ceramic heat emitter bulb
Best Substrate Newspaper
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Feeding Your Paradox Bearded Dragon

A bearded dragon’s diet changes throughout its life, though it’s always eating the same types of things. Your dragon will feed on a combination of insects and plant matter, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, weeds, grasses, and more. For insects, popular feeders are crickets, roaches, waxworms, mealworms, earthworms, and other similar insects.

Baby dragons’ diets should consist of 75% insects and 25% plant matter. Juvenile dragons will eat about half insects and half plant matter. For adults, 75% of the diet should be plant matter and just 25% will be insects.

Diet Summary

Fruits and vegetables 50% of diet
Insects 50% of diet
Meat 0% of diet – small/medium-sized rodents
Supplements Required Calcium, Vitamin D

Keeping Your Paradox Bearded Dragon Healthy

Unfortunately, many Paradox bearded dragons are predisposed to birth defects, deformities, and health issues. They’re often born weak and deformed, but if yours is healthy enough to survive the first few months, then you should be able to keep it healthy with proper care. Most health concerns dragons face are due to improper conditions, such as inadequate temperature and humidity.

Common Health Issues

  • Infectious stomatitis or mouth rot – Reptiles’ mouths are filled with bacteria. When the animal’s immune system is weakened, the bacteria can cause mouth rot. Symptoms include redness around the mouth, pus, dead tissue, and drainage from the mouth or nose. Usually, improper temperature and humidity are the causes of mouth rot.
  • Impaction – Impaction is extremely common in bearded dragons, and it’s usually caused by a poor choice of substrate that got ingested when the dragon was feeding, which causes a bowel obstruction.

Lifespan

In the wild, bearded dragons live just five to eight years. Eight years is a very long time when dealing with parasites and predators, hunting for your food, and receiving no medical care. In captivity, dragons can live as long as 15 years because they face none of these issues.

Breeding

Paradox bearded dragons are wildly expensive, often costing thousands of dollars. However, they’re not of much use to breeders. Rather, Paradox dragons tend to be a collector’s item. This is because you can’t simply breed two Paradox dragons and create valuable Paradox offspring. If you could, they probably wouldn’t cost so much. You must breed two Hypo Translucent dragons to create a Paradox beardie, which is never recommended due to the high prevalence of health issues common in the offspring of such a pairing. Many paradox dragons are the result of accidental breeding, though some breeders have started trying to produce them on purpose.

Are Paradox Bearded Dragons Friendly? Our Handling Advice

Like all bearded dragons, Paradox dragons are generally friendly and docile. Granted, this is partially dependent on the dragon’s upbringing. Dragons that are held more tend to be more comfortable with handling, as is to be expected. If you want to handle your Paradox dragon, it’s recommended that you handle it often, starting at a young age. But your dragon will need a few weeks to acclimate when you first bring it home, so don’t handle it for the first four to six weeks.

Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect

Baby dragons will shed their skin every week. This frequency decreases as the dragon ages, and by adulthood, your dragon will only shed two or three times a year. Often, appetite decreases during this time, so don’t be surprised if your dragon stops eating around shedding time.

Brumation is a reptile’s version of hibernation. When reptiles brumate, they don’t eat much and hardly move for several months during the winter. Not all dragons will brumate in captivity. Usually, it only happens if the temperatures drop, which is how you can initiate brumation if you desire. If you’re unsure whether your dragon’s behavioral changes are due to brumation or not, your vet can better inform you with a checkup.

How Much Do Paradox Bearded Dragons Cost?

Paradox bearded dragons are incredibly unique and rare, which means they’re also expensive. Many of these specimens cost several thousand dollars, which prices them firmly out of the reach of all but the most diehard dragon collectors. Unless you’re in love with rare and interesting beardies, the Paradox dragon is one you’ll probably just observe and fantasize about but never own.

Care Guide Summary

Pros
  • Beautiful and eye-catching appearance
  • Each one is a unique specimen
  • They’re a collector’s dream dragon
Cons
  • Prone to a plethora of health problems
  • Outrageously expensive
  • Can’t breed them to produce Paradox offspring

divider-bearded dragonConclusion

Many Paradox dragons don’t survive their first few months, but if you get a healthy specimen, you’ll have one of the most unique dragons on the market. These beardies display paradoxical color patches that have no pattern and seem almost out of place. They’re a sight to behold, but purchasing one could set you back several thousand.


Featured Image Credit: Audrey Snider-Bell, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.