Bearded Dragon Facts

Scientific Name: Pogona

Bearded dragon

Andi Gast / Getty Images

Bearded dragons are cold-blooded, semi-arboreal lizards in the genus Pogona that have spiny scales on their back and a pouch under their jaw. They are found in arid regions, including savannas and deserts in Australia. They are part of class Reptilia, and there are currently seven different species of bearded dragon. The most common is the central bearded dragon (P. vitticeps). These lizards are often kept as pets.

Fast Facts

  • Scientific Name: Pogona
  • Common Names: Bearded lizard, large Australian lizard
  • Order: Squamata
  • Basic Animal Group: Reptile
  • Size: 18 to 22 inches
  • Weight: 0.625 to 1.125 pounds
  • Life Span: 4 to 10 years on average
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Habitat: Deserts, subtropical woodlands, savannas, and scrublands
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Fun Fact: Bearded dragons are one of the most popular reptile pets, as they are kind, inquisitive, and active in the daytime.

Description

Bearded dragons get their name from the spiny scales on their throat pouches—which can puff up when threatened. They have triangular heads, round bodies, and stout legs. Depending on the species, they range in size from 18 to 22 inches and can weigh up to 1.125 pounds. They are cold-blooded and semi-arboreal, often found on tree branches or fences. Bearded dragons also have strong jaws and can crush hard shelled insects.

P. vitticeps have varying colors depending on the environment, ranging from brown to tan with red or gold highlights.

Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragon On Tree Trunk. Rijin Tv / EyeEm / Getty Images

Habitat and Distribution

Bearded dragons can be found across Australia. They thrive in warm, arid regions like deserts, subtropical woodlands, savannas, and scrublands. P. vitticeps can be found in eastern and central Australia. They are also bred for the pet trade in the United States.

Diet and Behavior

As omnivores, bearded dragons eat leaves, fruit, flowers, bugs, and even small rodents or lizards. Due to their strong jaws, they are able to eat hard-shelled insects. For Eastern bearded dragons, up to 90% of their diet consists of plant matter as adults, while insects make up most of juveniles’ diet.

Adults are very aggressive, often fighting for territory, food, or a female. Males have been known to attack unsubmissive females. They communicate by bobbing their heads and changing the color of their beards. Quick movements signal dominance while slow bobs show submission. When threatened, they open their mouths, puff their beards, and hiss. Some species go through brumation, which is a type of hibernation in the fall or winter that is characterized by a lack of eating and little drinking.

Reproduction and Offspring

Mating occurs sometime during the Australian spring and summer, from September to March. Male dragons court the female by waving their arms and bobbing their heads. The male then bites the back of the female’s neck while mating. Females dig shallow holes in a sunny spot to lay up to two clutches of 11 to 30 eggs. While incubating, the sex of the dragon can be changed based on the temperature. Warmer temperatures can change developing males into females and make some bearded dragons slower learners. The eggs hatch after approximately two months.

Species

male bearded dragon
A male bearded dragon displaying his beard. Byronsdad / E+ / Getty Images

There are seven different species of bearded dragon:

  • Eastern bearded dragon (P. barbata), which lives in forests and grasslands
  • Black-soil bearded dragon (P. henrylawsoni), found in grasslands
  • Kimberley bearded dragon (P. microlepidota), which lives in savannas
  • Western bearded dragon (P. minima), found in coastal regions, savannas, and shrubland
  • Dwarf bearded dragon (P. minor)
  • Nullabor bearded dragon (P. nullarbor), found in shrubland and savannas
  • Central bearded dragon (P. vitticeps), which is the most common species and lives in deserts, forests, and shrubland

Conservation Status

All species of bearded dragons are designated as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The populations are listed as stable.

Bearded Dragons and Humans

Bearded dragons, especially P. vitticeps, are very popular in the pet trade due to their pleasant temperaments and curiosity. Since the 1960s, Australia has prohibited exports of wildlife, putting an end to the legal capture and export of bearded dragons in Australia. Now, people breed bearded dragons to get desirable colors.

Sources

  • "Bearded Dragon". The Free Dictionary, 2016, https://www.thefreedictionary.com/bearded+dragon.
  • "Eastern Bearded Dragon". Australian Reptile Park, 2018, https://reptilepark.com.au/animals/reptiles/dragons/eastern-bearded-dragon/.
  • Periat, J. "Pogona Vitticeps (Central Bearded Dragon)". Animal Diversity Web, 2000, https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pogona_vitticeps/.
  • "Pogona Vitticeps". IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species, 2018, https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/83494364/83494440.
  • Schabacker, Susan. "Bearded Dragons". National Geographic, 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/group/bearded-dragon/.