Central Bearded Dragon

Pogona vitticeps

Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Agamidae
Other names: Inland bearded dragon

Brandywine Zoo Bearded Dragon
Irwin - 0.1 B: 2011 Aq: 10/3/2011
Irwin was a relinquished pet.

Not Evaluated

Geographic Region
Bearded dragons occupy 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.

Desert, dune, savanna, grassland

  • Size: 18-22" [1]; tail accounts for over 1/2 the total body length
  • Longevity: up to 15 years [2]
Physical Description
  • They are appropriately named bearded dragons because of their "beard," an expandable throat pouch with spiky scales.
  • They have a broad, triangular head, round bodies, stout legs, and robust tails.
  • Color for this species depends on the soil of the region they live in, ranging from dull brown, grey, tan with red or gold highlights, white, yellow, red, reddish- brown, or orange.
  • They are capable of undergoing moderate changes in the shade of their colour to help regulate temperature. [3]
Sexes are not strongly dimorphic, but males can be distinguished from females.
  • Males: have a wider cloacal opening, the base of the tail is wider, the head is usually larger with a larger beard (often black) and possess hemipenes.
  • Males also have more pronounced femoral pores than females (these can be seen as waxy bumps on the underside of the back legs).
Diet: Omnivore
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. [4]

  • The beard of the dragon is used for both mating and aggression displays. [4]
  • 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. [4]
  • The bearded dragon may also open its mouth and gape in addition to inflating its beard to appear more intimidating. [4]
  • Another interesting behavior is semaphore, or arm waving. The bearded dragon stands on three 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. [4]
  • 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. [4]
  • Oviparous, egg-laying
  • The age of sexual maturity has not been measured, although it is estimated to be about one or two years. Body size and growth rates are more important than age when determining sexual maturity in bearded dragons [3]
  • Mating occurs in the Australian spring and summer months of September to March. [4]
  • Females dig a burrow and lay up to 24 eggs per clutch, and up to 9 clutches per year. [4]
  • Wild populations of bearded dragons are unevaluated, but assumed stable due to Australia’s restrictions on animal exportation. This cannot be said, however, for many wild reptile species. Many species of snakes, lizards, crocodiles and turtles are removed from the wild for the pet trade or are killed to make products for sale. As a result, many reptiles are endangered or are declining rapidly.
  • Responsible pet ownership starts with research into reputable reptile breeders. Only purchase a bearded dragon from a breeder who does not collect stock from the wild, and insures healthy animals. Remember that keeping reptiles as pets is a long-term commitment, often 15-30+ years.
Did You Know?/Fun Facts
  • The bulk of captive-bred bearded dragons today are thought to have originated from stock illegally exported from Australia during the 1970s. [3]
  • The two most popular species that are commonly kept as pets are this species, P. vitticeps, and the western bearded dragon (Pogona minor minor). [3]
  • There are 8 species of lizard in the genus Pogona, all native to Australia.
List of definitions of the most important recurrent technical terms used in the text.
  • Oviparous - refers to animals that lay eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother.
  • Hemipenes - duplex male sexual reproductive organs of lizards and snakes, usually held inverted, within the body's vent/cloaca.
  • Semaphore - a method of sign-language communication consisting of arm or foot waving. Found in species lacking vocal communication abilities or eardrums, such as the Panamanian golden toad.
[1] Edmonton Valley Zoo, "Inland Bearded Dragon," City of Edmonton, [Online]. Available: http://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_events/edmonton_valley_zoo/animals/inland-bearded-dragon.aspx. [Accessed August 2014].
[2] Cincinnati Zoo, "Bearded Dragon," Cincinnati Zoo, [Online]. Available: http://cincinnatizoo.org/blog/animals/bearded-dragon/. [Accessed August 2014].
[3] Wikipedia, "Central Bearded Dragon," Wikipedia, [Online]. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogona_vitticeps. [Accessed August 2014].
[4] Animal Diversity Web, "Pogona vitticeps," Animal Diversity Web, [Online]. Available: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Pogona_vitticeps/. [Accessed August 2014].

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