Bearded dragon breeding
When a male and female Bearded dragon is housed together, breeding is almost inevitable. For many owners it is a joy to go through the breeding process. This article will prepare owners for the experience.
Bearded dragons are proliferous by nature and successful breeders. Breeding with Bearded dragons is easy and in most cases even unstoppable. Apart from the correct husbandry, only a bit of extra knowledge is required to produce a batch of Bearded dragon babies.
In order to breed, an adult male and female Bearded dragon need to be housed together. When the enclosure size allows, one male can be paired with a couple of females. Breeding age (sexual maturity) for Bearded dragons depends on the gender, date of birth and weight, but is generally between 8 and 18 months of age. Female Bearded dragons can loose a lot of weight during the breeding process and it is therefore advised to only start breeding when they are fully grown or at least one year of age. Sexing is done by looking at the vent area. Hemipanal bulges will be visible in males while they are absent in females. To prevent Bearded dragons from breeding, smaller females should rather be separated from males until they are the correct size/age and well bodied.
Mating and mating behaviour
The natural breeding season of Bearded dragons is from early spring to autumn. Breeding is seasonal. During the breeding season, owners will often come accross the male sitting on top of the female. Females often try to escape when this happens and males often need to bite the female for this not to happen. This is normal mating behaviour in Bearded dragons.
During the mating season, a breeding pair will show much more interest towards each other, especially the male towards females. Mating behaviour is typically characterised by the male on top of his female counterpart, biting her neck and beard to hold on for copulation. Their tails will be intertwined to allow the reproductive organs to meet.
After mating was successful, the female Bearded dragon will start to show signs of being gravid. Over the next 5 weeks, her abdomen will start to enlarge with eggs.
During this period, female Bearded dragons might eat more or eat less than usual. She might also isolate herself more frequently from her cage mate(s). Near the end of the 5 week period gravid females will start showing digging or burrowing behaviour.
Laying eggs and incubation
Bearded dragons are oviparous, meaning they lie eggs which hatch outside the body of the female. A female Bearded dragon can lay anything from ten to thirty eggs per clutch. Most healthy, well fed females can lay up to five clutches per breeding season. Bearded dragon eggs are whitish, soft shelled, oval and about the size of a large pea.
Nearing the end of the 5 week gravid period, digging females should be supplied with a large enclsure or tray with a moist, but clean, egg laying substrate. Popular egg laying substrates include sand and vermiculite. This will give a safe place for the female Bearded dragon to deposit her eggs. During this time the male Bearded dragon should preferably be isolated from the female.
After the eggs has been deposited into the egg laying substrate, they should be transferred to a smaller container with a fresh mixture of moist vermiculite before they are transferred to the incubator. By this time the incubator should be readied and calibrated to maintain a temperature of 29 °C / 84 °F. Also see Bearded dragon egg incubation temperatures for more information. Eggs should be monitored regularly, but not frequently. Stick to principles that will cause the least amount of temperature fluctuations for the incubator that is used. Mouldy eggs will not hatch and should be removed and discarded as soon as they appear in order not to affect healthy ones.
Hatchling Bearded dragons
Viable eggs will take on average 62 days to incubate. Also see Bearded dragon egg incubation period for more information. When babies start to appear, try not to interfere. Only once a baby Bearded dragon has emerged completely from the egg should it be transferred to a larger keeping container.
Hatchling Bearded dragons should never be kept with juvenile and adult Bearded dragons. Also see baby Bearded dragon care for more information.