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Inland Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps)

Australia

A combination of moderate size, attractive appearance, diurnal activity, docility, and an alert and bold personality have skyrocketed bearded dragons to the top of lizard popularity. They are now bred on a large scale and readily available in the pet trade Selective breeding of bright yellow and red morphs has further fueled the interest in this species. They are simply one of the best pet lizards.

Size

14-24 inches.

Sexing

Difficult to sex as juveniles. Adult males have broader heads, thicker less tapered tails and enlarged preanal and femoral pores compared to females. Experienced individuals can sex young animals through manual eversion of the hemipenes or examination of the width of the cloacal opening.

Longevity

6-10 years. There are claims of their reaching 12 years.

Social groups

Best kept in groups one male and several females but multiple males can be kept together in large enclosures.

Housing and Care

Enclosures

Bearded dragons grow rapidly, so you should start them in at least a 20 gallon long tank with screen top, figuring you will need a 48 inch or larger enclosure by the time they reach young adult size (12-18 months). Low enclosures will require less heat and light to reach the vivarium floor and thus will be end up more economical to maintain.

Substrates

Sand or sandy soil substrate will work well with this species.

Landscaping

Add raised basking areas of rock (placed on the floor of the aquarium not on the sand surface) and dried wood, and shelters of cork bark. Thick-leaved plants, such as some of the sanseveria species in pots can be introduced but they will likely suffer some leaf damage.

Heat and light

Bearded dragons require a basking spot that reaches 90-100°F. This is provided by an overhead incandescent bulb or spotlight. In cool rooms, to assure that adequate heat is provided, this can be combined with a hot rock type heater.

As bearded dragon breeders have found out, the best color (yellows and reds) in bearded dragons comes out after a couple of months of exposure to natural sunlight. Indoors the combination of a heat and a UVB source will bring out good, if not optimal color in these lizards. A UVB source is also a good way to assure these lizards get adequate amounts of vitamin D3. In summer bearded dragons can be kept outdoors in secure enclosures and allowed exposure to sunlight, always offering a shelter as a retreat.

Water and Feeding

Water

Bearded dragons will obtain a significant amount of water from leafy greens but it is still recommended to make available a shallow container of water.

Feeding

Bearded dragons feed on insects and leafy greens and flowers. When young they should be fed three week old crickets dusted with a vitamin/mineral supplement and offered chopped (bite-sized for juveniles)leafy green such as romaine lettuce, dandelion and mustard greens. As they grow larger, larger crickets and superworms can be offered, also dusted with a supplement. Feed juveniles twice daily and adults daily as much as they will eat at a sitting. When raising juveniles in groups, failure to offer enough food will result in cannibalism through mutilation of tails and limbs. Larger juvenile bearded dragons will also not hesitate to eat smaller ones so segregation by size is recommended.

Sexually mature animals will not mutilate each other.