Inland Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)
Order: Squamata, Family: Agamidae
The inland bearded dragon has a wide natural distribution in eastern and central Australia. They are found from the eastern half of south Australia to the southeastern Northern Territory.
Inland bearded dragons are 13 to 24 inches long, including the tail.
I. GEOGRAPHIC RANGE
II. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
- The inland bearded dragon has a wide natural distribution in eastern and central Australia. They are found from the eastern half of south Australia to the southeastern Northern Territory.
III. FOOD HABITS
- Inland bearded dragons are 13 to 24 inches long, including the tail.
- They are appropriately named bearded dragons because of their "beard," an expandable throat pouch with spiky scales.
- They have a broad, triangular head, round body, stout legs, and robust tail.
- Color for this species depends on the soil of the region they live in, ranging from dull brown to tan with red or gold highlights.
- Inland bearded dragons are opportunistic omnivores. They live in areas where food may be hard to find so bearded dragons are not finicky eaters.
- Their stomachs are large to accommodate large quantities of plant matter, insects and the occasional small rodent or lizard.
- Inland bearded dragons reach sexual maturity at 1 to 2 years of age.
- Mating occurs in the Australian spring and summer months of September to March. However, captive indoor dragons do not seem to be seasonal and can breed year round.
- Females dig a burrow and lay up to 24 eggs per clutch, and up to 9 clutches per year. Females have also been known to store sperm and are able to lay many clutches of fertile eggs from one mating. In captive conditions, the eggs will hatch in 55 to 75 days, at 28.9 degrees Celsius.
- The beard of these inland dragons is used for both mating and aggression displays. Both sexes have a beard, but males display more frequently, especially for courtship rituals. Females will, however, display their beard as a sign of aggression also. The beard turns dark to jet-black and inflates during the display. The bearded dragon may also open its mouth and gape in addition to inflating its beard to appear more intimidating.
- Another interesting behavior is arm waving. The bearded dragon stands on 3 legs and waves one of its forelimbs in a slow circular pattern. It looks a lot like the bearded dragon is waving hello, or swimming using only one arm. One function of arm waving seems to be species recognition. Arm waving is also used to show submission. A small bearded dragon will respond with arm waving when confronted with a larger, more dominant bearded dragon. Females will also arm wave to avoid aggression from males, especially if the male is head bobbing.
- Head bobbing is when the male quickly bobs its head up and down, often with a darkened beard. The male will head bob to show dominance to both smaller insubordinate males and females that he would like to mate with.
VII. ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE FOR HUMANS
- The inland bearded dragon occupies a large range of habitats from the desert to dry forests and scrublands. It is a semi-arboreal lizard that can be found basking on fallen branches, fence posts and picnic tables.
Inland bearded dragons have been used in scientific research. They are also very popular in the pet trade. In recent years, the bearded dragon has become a favorite reptile to keep and breed because of their manageable size and pleasant temperament. With their array of social behaviors and inquisitive nature, bearded dragons quickly become endearing to their keepers.
IX. OTHER COMMENTS
- CITES: No special status.
- Since the 1960s, Australia has strictly prohibited exports of any native wildlife. It is believed that the "founder stock" of captive bred bearded dragons found outside of Australia today were smuggled out of the country between 1974 and 1990.
- The inland bearded dragon is the most commonly found captive-bred bearded dragon species. Breeders focus on breeding for particular colors such as red phase or gold phase, which are more marketable.