Animals / Reptiles

The Central Bearded Dragon

Синонимы и названия на других языках

Inland bearded dragon

Bartagame, Australische Bartagame (German)

Классификация

Order: squamata

Family: agamidae

Subfamily: istiurus

Genus: amphibolurus

Species: Pogona vitticeps.

Ареал

The central bearded dragon is endemic in the central part of Australia. It can be found in Queensland, New South Wales, north-west of Victoria, south-east of Northern Territory and in the eastern part of South Australia.

Normally they dwell in deserts, rocky semi-deserts and dry woodlands. They are diurnal. The central bearded dragon is semi-terrestrial and semi-arboreal. It lives in the holes which it digs itself or uses other animals’ holes, and they can also hide on the trees and in scrubs. They are very territorial and seldom live their area.  

They often live near people, for example in villages. They love climbing on fences. 

Внешний вид

Normally the central bearded dragon can reach a length of about 45-60 cm and it weighs about 300 gr. It is a typical terrestrial lizard with flattened body and triangular head. Under the lower jaw the central bearded dragon has the guttural pouch which it can puff up if threatened. These lizards got their names due to this feature.

Usually they are grey or brown. Their spine, head and the outside of legs are covered by spiky scales that look like letter “V” on the throat. The central bearded dragon can change its colour to some extent as a reaction on its mood and to ambient temperature. On cooler days bearded dragons are darker, on hot days they are considerably lighter. The eye colour also changes from brown to golden. Hatchlings tend to have more contrasting colouring that adult lizards.

Males and females have similar size, but males’ tails are wider at the base. During mating season the males’ throat (“beard”) turns dark-blue or even black. Females’ “beards” are beige or orange.

A lot of various morphs of the bearded dragon have been bred in captivity: larger specimens and of course, lizards in different colouring: yellow, orange, red, black and tigroid. 

Характер

The central bearded dragon quickly gets used to people; it is sociable and friendly, enjoys being handled. They are easily tamed and fun to watch both in their enclosures and outside of them.

They can even learn simple tricks as they like treats and are ready to follow the hand with something tasty.

The males are very territorial, so two males shouldn’t be kept together, no matter how big your enclosure is. They will find each other and fight, which may result in serious injuries and even death of one of them.

Although in the wild they tend to live in deserts, central bearded dragons enjoy bathing. 

Содержание и уход

You will need a large horizontal enclosure at least 80x40x40 cm. You can keep one lizard or a couple (a male and a female).  You can use as substrate a thick layer of sand or fine gravel. Your bearded dragon will also need big stones and branches as hiding places. A stone or a branch can be used as a basking spot: you can put the heating lamp above it, but not too close, so that it doesn’t burn the lizard. It is a good idea to decorate the walls with stones, so that the dragon can climb them. A bowl with fresh and clean water is a must. You will also have to mist the enclosure daily, since the dragons prefer to drink water by licking the drops from the walls and decorations.

Ambient temperature should be within the range from 20 to 24 degrees at night and 25 to 30 degrees at daytime, and it can reach 42 degrees under the heating lamp. UV lamps are a must.

The humidity in the enclosure should be about 50%.

The bearded dragons need light for 12 hours daily, but it shouldn’t be too bright. 

Кормление

The central bearded dragon is omnivore. The menu of young lizards should consist of 80% animals and 20% of plants and vice versa for adult dragons.  A young bearded dragon can eat 20-30 crickets a day. Also they eat cockroaches, mealworms, grasshoppers and pinky mice. You can offer your bearded dragon finely chopped vegetables and fruit: squash, pumpkin, apples, bananas, pears and carrots. Salad leaves and dandelions can also be given to the lizard. You have to add mineral supplements (calcium) and vitamins.  

You should see to that your dragon doesn’t overeat – it can lead to obesity and serious health problems. 

Особенности

It is an interesting lizard which is not difficult to keep.

They are easy to tame and are willing to interact with people.

 The bearded dragon requires a large enclosure.

Live food is a must.

Adult agamas need an annual period of hibernation (up to 2 months).

The bearded dragon doesn’t discard the tail and its tail cannot recover after an injury. 

Болезни

With proper care the bearded dragon doesn’t often get ill.

They can get ectoparasites and tapeworms. If your lizard gets anxious and scratches a lot, you should examine it carefully – perhaps it’s got mites. A vet should prescribe the treatment. If a lizard gets tapeworms, it becomes lethargic, loses weight and its appetite changes.  If you suspect that your bearded dragon has tapeworms, you should submit its feces for a test and based on the results a vet can prescribe the treatment. 

Разведение

The central bearded dragon gets sexually mature at the age of about 2 years old. This is an egg-laying species. Prior to breeding a brumation period is strongly recommended. The lizards hibernate in their enclosure. All you need to do is to gradually decrease the temperature and the amount of hours of light in the enclosure and to stop feeding lizards. There must be a bowl or tray with damp sphagnum for the lizard to sleep in. The next step is to switch off the light and the heater completely. The bearded dragon has a brumation for 1-2 months, then you need to gradually increase the temperature and the amount of hours of light. You should also start feeding your lizard. Immediately after the brumation you should separate a male and a female and feed them varied diet with added vitamin E. After a couple of weeks you can put the couple together. The male will puff up its gular sac and become brighter colour during the courtship. About 45-65 days after mating a female lays 9-25 eggs in a hole about 40 cm deep (you have to provide a thick layer of substrate in order for her to do that).  Then you can take the eggs and put them into an incubator where they will be for 65-90 days with the temperature 27-29 degrees.

The hatchlings get out of the eggs when their yolk sac dissolves. The sex of a dragon depends on the temperature during incubation: within the range of 22-32 degrees both males and females are born, and if the temperature is above 32, only females are born.

Average life span is about 10 years, though there are reports of specimens living much longer. 

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