Tanya is an animal lover to has care experience with a variety of animals. She has studied as a vet technician and now is a volunteer.
Bearded dragons are popular lizards that people keep as pets. They are easy to care for, have a ton of personality and create a bond with their owners. Most pets are from the species known as Central Bearded Dragon or simply, Bearded Dragon. This species, along with a couple of others, began to grace homes in the 1990s.
Did you know there are actually eight species of bearded dragons? All of them come from different parts of Australia and most of them can not be kept as pets. They all share certain bearded dragon behaviour as well as having their own unique elements
Traits Across All Bearded Dragon Species
Although each species is unique, they all share a few common behaviours. All bearded dragons use a series of head bobs, arm waving and puffing/darkening their beard.
Most bearded dragons are solitary unless they are looking to mate. The males are very territorial and use their beards to give warnings. If a male is showing dominance, whether to a female or to another male, they will puff up the underside of their chin (the beard) and it will turn black. This is sometimes accompanied by a fast head bob.
These behaviours are also used when mating. The female will wave with one arm to show submission to the male. The female will also show acceptance of the male with an arm wave and slow head bob together. While the male will use waving at another male, to deescalate an aggressive situation. Other ways all bearded dragons communicate are posturing and colour displays.
Central Bearded Dragon - Pogona vitticeps
Also known as Bearded Dragon, Yellow-Headed Bearded Dragon, Inland Bearded Dragon
Average Length: 32 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in)
Average Weight:250 to 500 grams
Average Life Span: 10 to15 years
Common Colors: Wide variety of brown, red, yellow and orange. Many morphs are bred in captivity/
The Central Bearded Dragon is the one that you see the most in captivity all over the world. They have the classic bearded dragon look with a triangular head, round body, a series of spiny scales and a large beard. They have strong, stocky legs that allow them to lift their bodies fully off the ground.
They are known as easy-going lizards with mild temperaments.
The Central Bearded Dragon is found across Eastern and Central Australia in a very wide range of environments -such as savanna, desert, forest and shrubland.
Food can be scarce in some of its habitats, which is why bearded dragons are omnivores. The Pogona vitticeps will eat plants, insects, small rodents or other lizards.
These dragons tend to mate in the spring and summer. Males use their beard display and head bobs to attract a female. The females are able to store the sperm from the male and lay extra clutches from it. Sometimes laying up to nine clutches a year.
The female will dig a burrow and lay 10 to 24 eggs on average, with them hatching 60 to 80 days later.
Foxes, feral cats, gull-billed terns, birds of prey, black-headed pythons, dingo, and goannas
In the 1960s, Australia banned the export of the Central Bearded dragon and it is illegal to collect from the wild. However, because this species is so widely bred in captivity, central bearded dragons remain common outside of Australia.
Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata)
Also known as: Common Bearded Dragon, Bearded Dragon, Jew lizard, frilly lizard
Average Length: 50 to 60 cm (20 to 24 inches)
Average Weight: 250 to 350grams
Average Life Span:6 to10 years
Common Colors: gray-black, red, yellow, brown
The Eastern Bearded Dragon has a triangular-shaped head with a throat covered in spiny scales, which is called the “beard”. It has these spiky scales along its head, corners of the mouth, around the ear openings and along both sides of the body.
They are more aggressive than the central bearded dragons, which are very similar in look. Males are territorial and only allow females and juveniles in their territory. The largest and usually the most dominant are the males and they will seek out the highest perches. When provoked, they display their puffed-up body and beard and an open mouth.
They are diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime often, laying on exposed places like tree branches and retreating to lower cooler places when they become too hot
These bearded dragons are primarily found in Eastern Australia but also have been seen throughout central and the west coast of Australia. They prefer shrubland, forests and grassland areas.
The Pogono barbata is an omnivore that eats a variety of insects as well as mice, and smaller reptiles. In the wild, they also eat flowers, fruits and berries. In captivity, they eat a mix of vegetables, fruit and insects.
Late summer is when these dragons breed. The female then digs a tunnel and lays a clutch of anywhere from 10 to 30 eggs. She will then bury them and leave them.
The sex of the babies are temperature dependent. This follows the pattern that eggs in extremely high or low temperatures become male and eggs in medium temperatures become female
Birds of prey, snakes and goannas
Rankin's Bearded Dragon - Pogona henrylawsoni
Also known as:Pygmy Bearded Dragon, Black=Soiled Bearded Dragon, Dwarf Bearded Dragon, Dumpy Dragon
Average Length: 20 to 25 cm (8-12 inches)
Average Weight:60-100 grams
Average Life Span: 6 to 8 years in the wild, 10 to 15 in captivity
Common Colors:Dark grown, green, gray
The Rankin’s Dragon looks like the Common Bearded Dragon, but smaller and with a shorter snout and body, as well as their scales and spikes. These dragons also do not have the large beard as other species of bearded dragons do.
There are no special morphs of the Rankin’s dragons and they carry only the common colours as well as a bowtie pattern on their backs.
Unlike other bearded dragons, Rankin’s Dragons live together and are not solitary. One male will often keep three females. Males will fight for dominance if they meet each other, however, the females live side by side with no problems.
The Rankin’s dragons are native to the area of Queensland, Australia. They prefer a rocky, harder type of sand area.
The Rankin’s Dragon is an omnivore that eats a variety of insects and plants
Like other bearded dragons, the female digs a burrow and lays around 5-18 eggs with them hatching about two months later.
Birds of prey, snakes and goannas
Kimberly Bearded Dragon (Pogono microlepidota)
Also known as: Pygmy dragon, black-soiled dragon, dumpy dragon
Average Length: up to 28 cm (11 in)
Average Weight:132 grams
Average Life 6-8 years
Common Colors: light or dark striped pattern, black, brown, orange
The Kimberly Bearded Dragon is one of the reptiles that we do not know a lot about. It has been observed as having the same look as the Vitticepts, but smaller. They have small narrow heads, flat bodies, 5 rows of spines along the body and a smaller neck frill. They seem to also be highly territorial.
These bearded dragons are found mostly in eastern, south and northwest Australia, They prefer a subtropical habitat and have also been seen in savannas, deserts and on shorelines.
Due to their smaller size, the Pogona microlepidota feeds on mostly insects.
Their breeding patterns are much like other bearded dragons with head bobbing, waving and feet stomping. The male cheeses the female and holds her by the neck while mating.
The female buries the eggs and typically has a clutch of 11-30 eggs.
They are small and susepicale to a variety of predators, including cats and dogs.
These four types of bearded dragons are all able to be found as pets around the world. The Kimberly Dragon is the hardest to find.
If you are looking to add one of these lizards, it is important to read up on caring for your dragon and know how to set up a habitat before getting one of these great pets.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Tanya Huffman