Bearded dragons are a type of lizard that is native to Australia. There are 8 different species of bearded dragons, and they can range in size from 20 cm to 60 cm.
The most common type of bearded dragon kept as a pet is the inland or central bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps).
Let’s discuss the eight species of beardies.
The 8 Species Of Bearded Dragons
There are 8 known species of bearded dragons, with each displaying a wide range of characteristics. The common pet species is Pogona Vitticepps, which is preferred for its friendlier, harmless, and low-maintenance nature as compared to the other species.
In addition, there are also other morphs and mutations of bearded dragons available today. Read the rest of the guide and learn more about the 8 species of bearded dragons and which one to keep as your companion.
The Pogona Henrylawsoni are sometimes referred to as Lawson’s dragons. Although similar in appearance to the P.Vitticeps, these species are much smaller (they reach a maximum length of just 12 inches) and have brighter colors than the Pogona Barbata.
You are most likely to come across these dragon species in Central and western Queensland in Australia, an environment that blends well with their habitation.
Lawsons are known to be temperament, just like the P. Vitticeps, in addition to having similar care needs to the Vitticeps bearded dragons.
This species is indeed incredible and seems to understand power dynamics as they show respect to their caregivers.
They’ll act more submissively when around humans and really like making that submissive waving gesture to their keepers-they seem to be cognizant of their relative diminutiveness and act accordingly.
If you’re hoping to be a dragon parent, just remember that no matter how big it seems, it can get very small if it isn’t treated properly.
In fact, it has been known for P.Vitticeps to be mislabeled as P.Henrylawsoni when they have simply been given sub-par care, which makes them suffer from stunted growth.
Little is known about Microlepidota bearded dragons because of how uncommon they are. Pogona Micropidota is a bearded dragon species found in Drysdale River (a small coastal region) in Northwest Australia at North Kimberly.
The reptiles are known to prefer dry woodland areas and coastal regions, hence the need for their keepers to provide dry substrate to make the Mircrolepidota beardies comfortable and adapt well to their new environment.
If you look at the Pogona Microlepidota and compare it to other bearded dragons, you will see that the spikes and scales are significantly smaller.
These rare beardies can measure 4 to 6 inches when fully grown, making them relatively small in comparison to other types dragons.
Also known as Banded Bearded Dragon, Pogona Nullarbor is found in South Australia, a sparse shrubland region. As the name suggests, you can identify a Banded Beardie from other beardies by the banding it has on its tail and back, in addition to having large white stripes.
Just like other pogona species, Banded Dragons are omnivores and consume a variety of plant species, worms, and insects.
The edible option that this beardie feeds on makes them a fun pet to feed. If you’ve come across one of such beardie chasing a cricket, you definitely know how much fun that is.
Pogona Minor Mitchelli
The most distinguishing feature of Pogona Minor Mitchelli is the large conical spikes on the surface of the skin. These species will grow up to 18 inches long when fully grown.
You will come across the Pogona Mitchelli in arid desert and semi-tropical woodlands in North-Western Australia, which is home to these incredible species.
Their environment is perfect for their diet bearing in mind that the Mitchelli bearded dragons are omnivores. These species will consume a variety of insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, some plants, worms, and small reptiles and mice.
That said, you won’t have to worry much about food because you’ve got a wide range of options to feed your little friend.
While all species of Pogona can be traced back to Australia, the different regions of the island they thrive in have a significant impact on the kinds of environments in which they thrive.
When most people think about bearded dragons, the first image that pops into their mind is that of the Pogona Vitticeps, which is also known as the yellow head bearded dragon. Their natural habitat consists of the stony deserts, dry shrublands, and wooded parts of central Australia.
Vitticeps bearded dragons make up the large majority of beardies pet trade which can be due to their well-known placid temperament and tolerant attitude towards humans.
The Vitticpes bearded dragon varies in color ranging from gray to white to orange and more other colors.
Most interesting to note is that their look can change depending on the amount of attention and care that has been provided for them as well as their morph. That said, Central bearded dragon parents need to provide extra attention to their little buddies.
In terms of length, these species can grow to be up to 24 inches long after reaching adulthood, making them one the largest bearded dragon species.
The fact that they are omnivores means they can get the protein they require from worms, insects, and some small reptiles, as well as other essential nutrients from some types of plants.
In the wild, they usually only live between five and seven years at most. However, their care in captivity has been perfected in order to extend their lifespan where they can now survive for up to 14–18 years, way longer than they would in the wild.
The Pogona Barbata is primarily found in dry woodland regions in Eastern Australia. They have also been seen dwelling in the Southern and Central regions. Though the Eastern bearded dragon species are cousins of Pogona Vitticeps, they are an angrier version of their friendly counterparts.
The reason for their aggressive nature is due to the scarce nature of the resources surrounding their habitats which are never-ending.
As a result, the Barbata bearded dragon has evolved to become more aggressive and territorial, a character they’ve developed to safeguard their territory to enhance their survival.
Due to their unfriendly attitude, it’s rare to find these species in the pet trade because it’s only a few people that keep them.
These dragons feature a bright orange mouth that scares off possible predators to avoid being predated upon, in addition to having dark grey to black color.
While the female Barbata beardies tend to be less diminutive, normally growing up to 20 inches long, the males can even grow longer, up to 24 inches.
Having a look at their diet, you will notice that the Barbata are omnivores just like other bearded dragon species and consume live insects, vegetables, fruits, and tiny reptiles and rodents.
In terms of lifespan, the Barbata can live up to 9 years despite the fact that they aren’t kept in captivity, which means that they can be your companion for many years compared to other pet dragons.
Pogona Minor Minor
Another pet dragon species you would probably like to consider as a companion is the Minor Minor bearded dragon. The species also goes by the name Dwarf bearded dragons because they are usually small.
They prefer living in rocky areas, desert, scrubland, and woodland, and you will come across one of such in Central and Western Australia.
Most individuals confuse the Pogona Minor Minor with the Mitchells and Western dragons due to their similar appearance. But what distinguishes these species from other beardie species is their small size and their dark color.
Plus, they’ve got shorter tails and legs and smaller heads, in addition to almost not having any beard. Looking adult length, a mature Dwarf bearded dragon can grow up to 14 to 18 inches long.
What’s more, the Pogona Minor Minor would feed on a variety of diets ranging from veggies to meat.
Your pet dragon would hunt for insects such as crickets, cockroaches, silkworms, and earthworms as well as feed on some plan including Aloe plants, Oregano, Echeveria, Basil, and more.
Pogona Minor Minima
The Pogona Minor Minima can be found in Houtman Albrohos Islands- a Wallabi Group. They are also found in Western Australia hence their name, the Western bearded dragon.
You will find these adorable species in dry woodlands. You possibly need a reptile expert to ensure you pick the right species because the Minor Minima bearded dragon species resembles the Pogona Minor Minor.
To avoid confusion, notice the longer tails in the Minor Minima beardie species compared to the Pogona Minor Minor.
When fully grown, the Western bearded dragon can grow up to 12 inches long as opposed to their cousin, who grows up to 14 inches.
Being omnivores, these pet dragons can feed on some plants as well as feast on small insects, thus providing them with sufficient nutrients for their overall health and wellness. Let’s run down a quick summary of the Pogona traits in a nutshell!
Summary Of The 8 Species Bearded Dragon Characteristics
|Yellow or Tan
|Central and Western Australia
|Hot, dry/arid rock habitat
|Red or Tan
|Bushes, open/coastal woodlands
|Brown or Tan
|Flat dry shrubland
|Pogona Minor Mitchelli
|Red or Tan
|Arid desert and semi-tropical woodlands
|Red or Yellow
|Rocky desert, forest, and dry shrubland
|Pogona Minor Minor
|Brown or Tan
|Central and Western Australia
|Desert, rocks areas, Scrubland, and woodland
|Pogona Minor Minima
|Brown or Tan
|Houtman Abrolhos Islands
|Dry wooded regions
|Red or Gray
|Dry wooded areas
Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
The care sheet we are about to read is based on the Pogona vitticeps because it’s the most commonly domesticated species.
Keep in mind that the advice here may slightly vary for the other 7 species you adopt. Most of the advice is applicable to all pogona species.
Primary Care Requirements
It’s worth mentioning that bearded dragons are relatively easy to maintain. Here is what you need for your pet reptile
- A glass or wood cage
- A UVB lamp and infrared lamp for basking
- A mixed diet of insects, veggies, fruits, and water
Let’s learn more about the care requirement your pet dragon needs.
As babies between 6-12 months, their primary diet is insects for about 5 days a week. Still, they should be introduced to greens as this will significantly improve their lifespan and health. Fruit should not be fed regularly, at least not every day.
For bearded dragons above a year old, their diet is mainly leafy veggies. Avoid feeding them too many insects. Ensure you feed them leafy greens such as kales, parsley, and vegetables such as pepper and sweet potatoes.
Be sure to remove any remaining food before it turns dry and moldy, as this may result in complications. You definitely don’t want to lose your pet dragon because you failed to double-check on what they ingest.
Bearded dragon enthusiasts know that insects make up a large part of their pet’s diet. In fact, some experts believe that bugs are the best source of food for bearded dragons. Insects are high in calcium and protein and provide a good source of nutrients for bearded dragons.
As a matter of fact, insects form about 30% of their diet. Apart from dried insects, ensure to provide the beardie with live feeds to stimulate their hunting instincts in the wild.
Common insects to feed your bearded dragons include:
- King worms
- Phoenix worms
- Dubia roaches
- Mealworms for adults
- Non-fatty Morio worms
Feeding your bearded dragons with fruits is a great way to provide them with essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, fruits are high in fiber which keeps your pet’s gut health in check.
Sufficient fiber maintains the microbials in the gut of beardies by balancing the good and bad bacteria; hence your little friend is free from impaction.
What’s more, fruits can also provide some healthy fats and carbohydrates. It’s, however, important to note that fruits contain lots of sugar, so they should be fed in limitation. Too much sugar will lead to obesity and teeth complications.
Common fruits for bearded dragons include:
Vegetables And Greens
There are many benefits that come with including vegetables in your bearded dragon’s diet. Fresh vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can help keep your dragon healthy and lively.
Vegetables also provide fiber, which can promote regularity in your dragon’s digestive system. In addition to their nutritional value, vegetables also taste great and can be a fun addition to your dragon’s diet.
Common vegetables include:
- Leafy Greens
- Romaine Lettuce
- Beet tops
- Bell pepper
- Swiss chard
Also, beardies eat greens such as parsley, clover, turnip greens, mustards, endive, floret mix, spring greens, rocket, clover, and coriander.
Fruits are a great way to feed your bearded dragon. There are many benefits to feeding your dragon fruits, providing nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber that are necessary for good health.
In addition, Feeding your dragon fruit helps promote healthy digestion by aiding in the absorption of these nutrients.
Fruits also provide a source of energy that encourages physical activity. However, bearded dragons should eat fruits in limited quantities and should never be more than insects and greens. If possible, use fruits as treats.
Foods To Avoid For Bearded Dragons
- Iceberg lettuce
- Beet tops
Now that you have the right diet, you also need to have the right feeding essentials to make feeding easier and more convenient. Common feeding essentials for bearded dragons include:
Shallow dishes – You’ll need three, four, or more dishes to feed the bearded dragon different foods such as insects, supplements, insects, and water.
Insect Tweezers – for live feeding, having a pair or two of tweezers can be beneficial.
Not only is it fun to use tweezers, but it can also help protect against insect bites. It’s also a great option for those who are scared of touching live bugs with naked hands.
Larger container – you may also need a large container where the food is contained and let your beardie eat from there. Let’s dive in for more essentials.
Tank And Enclosure Set Up
For one adult bearded dragon, a 50 – 80-gallon tank with a secure screen top is ideal. Juveniles can live in smaller tanks but will quickly outgrow them.
There are different types of enclosures based on the material used. Regardless of the material you choose, ensure there is a screen lid to make certain of proper airflow and reduce the humidity.
Depending on the age of your bearded dragon, you will need a certain tank size. Consider these tank size recommendations by age and body length.
|Baby bearded dragon
|Young adult dragon
|Large adult dragon
Here Are The Different Types Of Tank Enclosures:
This is by far the most popular type of tank for beardies, and for good reasons. Glass enclosures provide a high level of visibility for your reptile, as well as plenty of ventilation and airflow.
They’re also relatively easy to maintain because they can be cleaned without disturbing your pet.
However, glass enclosures are more expensive than other types of tanks, and they may be too small for larger beardies. Also, glass tanks are not as strong as other types of tanks and can crack if dropped or hit hard.
Like glass enclosures, plastic terraria provide a high level of visibility for your reptile. They’re also easy to clean, but they don’t offer the same level of ventilation and airflow that glass enclosures do.
Plastic tanks are also cheaper than glass enclosures, but they may not be big enough for some large beardies.
Nevertheless, they are durable and long-lasting. You can choose different plastics such as PVC cages, vision cages, and ABS cages.
Wooden tanks provide a safe and cozy home for bearded dragons and other pet reptiles. Properly built wooden tanks will help your pet reptile to adjust to its new environment and help keep them healthy.
Examples of woods used are plywood and melamine. The drawback with wood is it can be heavy and expensive, not to mention it can be ruined by water.
Your dragon tank will also need some form of flooring in it to stay healthy and happy. You can use different types of substrate, but it’s recommended that you go for the non-particle substrate.
There are a few differences between loose particle and non-particle substrates.
This type of substrate can be problematic for bearded dragons due to the loose particles that make up the substrate. These particles can easily be ingested, leading to problems with impaction, digestion, and even eye exposure.
Additionally, substrates can harbour dust and debris that can easily become embedded in the skin or tongue of reptiles, posing a potential source of bacterial and fungal growth.
Examples of the loose substrate include sand, gravel, wood shavings, walnut shells, millet, calcium sand, and millet. None of this is recommended for bearded dragons.
A bigger worry with this type of substrate is your pet dragon may eat it accidentally while chasing a live insect resulting in health issues. Besides, notorious insects like cricket can bury themselves in the substrate and hide past the feeding time. They eventually die and rot in the tank, causing odour.
This is the all-around safest option to use for bearded dragons. Simply put, it is a substrate that does not consist of tiny particles, like gravel or artificial turf.
Moreover, they tend not to retain odors, making them ideal for enclosures where multiple dragons share space. Lastly, non-particle substrates are less likely to cause colonization by bacteria, fungus, or other harmful creatures.
Examples of the non-particle substrate include:
Reptile Carpet – This is ideal due to a soft surface that is warm to the touch and easy to clean. Carpets come in a variety of colors and patterns, which can enhance the appearance of the habitat.
Paper Towels – affordable, easy to find, and more than adequate for most tasks, paper towels are a staple in many households. They work just fine and can be replaced when they pack moisture or become soiled.
Newspaper – Newspaper works well as a substrate because it is neither slick nor absorbent, providing an ideal balance for these lizards.
Ceramic Tile – ceramic tile is often one of the most popular choices because it’s durable and heavy. Besides, it’s easy to clean with a brush and soapy wet cloth.
Clay – if you have time to put a little more effort into the substrate setup, you can purchase the reptile excavator clay at your local store. The good thing with clay is it allows the dragon to burrow without the risk of impaction. However, you might need to replace it after every few months.
Heating, Lighting, And Humidity
It is no secret that bearded dragons require a specific temperature range in order to thrive and grow healthy.
While many people are familiar with the fact that a beardie should be kept at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, there are other considerations that need to be taken into account when keeping these fascinating lizards.
Here are some of the things to have in order to keep the ideal lighting, heating, and humidity that your dragon needs to live comfortably and healthy.:
The right temperature is also important for hatchling beardies because their embryos depend on a temperature gradient of 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit to develop properly.
Basking areas should be kept at 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and around 70-74 degrees Fahrenheit at night in order to help regulate these temperatures.
The enclosure needs to have a cool side, which should maintain between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. If their temperature falls too low or rises too high, they can become stressed and may develop health problems.
Conversely, on the hot side, they should be maintained at a temperature of 85 – 90 degrees F or slightly higher in Winter.
The basking spot is also an important part of the bearded dragon’s environment and should be kept at a temperature of about 100 degrees F.
Just make sure the temperature stays consistent throughout their enclosure by checking the thermometer regularly!
You also need to have a UVB lamp to emit UVB rays. Remember that in the wild, they get it from the sun to convert vitamin D3 and calcium.
In captivity, vets recommend the use of a self-ballasted mercury vapor UVB lamp. In addition, consider replacing the lamp every 6 months to maintain the quality of the rays.
Ceramic Heat Emitter
If the area is cold and you are unable to provide the right temperature with the heat lamp, this is where you should consider other ways to maintain the temperature at the ideal range.
You could also look for other sources of heat such as heat packs, handwarmers, and hot water bottles covered in clothes.
Beardies are seen to enjoy life when the humidity is about 35 – 40% because it’s similar to what they are used to in the wild.
The good thing is you can achieve it by offering adequate ventilation, not misting the tank too often, and placing the water dish away from the hot basking light.
It’s helpful to have your hygrometer in order to measure whether the humidity lies within the range.
We highly recommend having a background as this will help your beardie ease into the environment, looking more like their natural environment. This is arguably the most fun part for reptile lovers because it allows you to be creative.
Some keepers will go for a simple, laid-back environment, while others go for an elaborate environment. If you are a new keeper, you can start out simple, but you can always make it more interesting. The sky’s the limit!
However, you need to consider the décor you add to ensure they are easy to clean and won’t harm the bearded dragon. Common decorations to put inside the tank include:
Hide Boxes – Hide boxes are a great way to keep your bearded dragon safe and comfortable, so make sure to get one for them! Some people put the hide boxes in the tank itself, while others place them in an area near the tank where the bearded dragon can access them easily.
Basking Logs – Basking logs are one of the most versatile and easy ways to add personality and interest to your bearded dragon tank. They can be used as part of the décor or as perch for your bearded dragon to relax in warm weather.
Hammock – By adding a hammock to the tank, you can give your dragon a place to relax and escape from its environment. Keep in mind that size is important because you want your pet to fit in and relax. Make sure the hammock has tight ropes so your beardie can’t fall, and ensure there are no sharp edges or protrusions on the surface of the fabric.
Things To Climb On – Beardies love to climb on things. Some popular items to use for bearded dragon climbing include tree branches, PVC pipes, rocks, logs, and other fixtures as long as they are stable enough.
Safe Plants – some dragon keepers enjoy decorating the terrarium with plants, whether fake or alive. Keep in mind that live plants do alter the tank’s humidity, so ensure you test that regularly. Also, beardies will eat plants, so it’s important you use those that are edible.
Some safe plants to use in the beardie’s cage should be able to survive in low light and water conditions. Common plants used for bearded dragon cages are aloe vera, rosemary, oregano, parsley, basil, turtle vine, prickly pear cacti, and succulents like echeveria and haworthia.
Bearded Dragon Health – Shedding, Brumation & Common Diseases
Bearded dragons are known for their vigorous shedding, and this is especially true during the active season. Shedding can last for a few weeks or up to several months, and it’s entirely normal for a bearded dragon to produce thick layers of skin during this time.
The average bearded dragon will shed anywhere from one to twelve times per year, and this can be quite a nuisance.
Most of the shedding occurs in the Spring and Fall, but it can also happen in the Winter. There is no set schedule, and it is completely random.
Here are a few tips to help a shedding bearded dragon:
One of the best ways to help your bearded dragon shedding is by regularly bathing them. This will help to remove any accumulated dirt and shed skin, which can make things easier for them.
Make sure to use mild soap and water to clean them, and be sure to rinse them off well. You can also use a pet shampoo or a diluted vinegar solution to clean their skin.
Provide Plenty Of Drinking Water
Bathing in itself hydrates the dragon, but you also need to give them clean water to drink. Ensure you change the water every day.
Additionally, consider misting the beardie if they do not want to drink. Apart from absorbing more droplets on the skin, misting encourages them to link some water on their lips and drink.
Massage your bearded dragon daily with cocoa butter. This will help to hydrate their skin and reduce shedding.
Keep in mind that too much cocoa butter can be harmful if used excessively. You can also use aloe vera to speed up shedding.
Try A Shedding Aid
They help speed up the process by delivering a massage to the skin that helps loosen the shed. There are a number of different aids on the market, so it’s important to find one that best suits your dragon’s needs.
Do Not Pull Off The Shed
This can cause damage to the skin and may even lead to infection. If you need to remove a shed, use a paper towel to gently remove the skin, being careful not to rip it. You may as well leave the peel to fall off on its own.
Manuka Honey For Trouble Spots
Some parts of the beardie, like the tail, may take more time to shed. You can apply manuka honey on these spots to moisturize the skin and kill any germs.
Brumation is a term used to describe the hibernation-like state that cold-blooded animals like bearded dragons go through during the winter.
The cooler temperatures forces these ectotherms to burrow underground or under rock crevices, where they can conserve energy while staying safe.
During brumation, the lizard’s activity, heart rate, temperature, and respiration reduce significantly.
Common signs of brumation are decreased appetite, sleeping more, staying out of the basking spot, hiding, moving sluggishly, and pooping less. In the wild, brumation starts in early June and can last until September.
In captivity, beardies will become less interested in food and sleep all day long. During the period, ensure to provide planters, burrows, and natural décor that enhance their state.
It’s normal for owners to mistake brumation for illness, but you shouldn’t be worried. It’s normal for them.
However, note that brumation occurs after the bearded dragon reaches 10 months old. If a beardie is younger than that and showing signs of lethargy and loss of appetite, you may need to seek a vet to be on the safe side.
Many owners ask: Can I stop bearded dragon brumation?
Owners may feel like brumation causes great suffering to the pet. While this may be true, there’s really nothing you can do to stop it. After all, it’s a natural behavior for them.
Please do not interrupt if the beardie is healthy enough. The only thing you can do is help them stay in ideal conditions. With the right care, it may only last for a few weeks of the winter.
How To Care For A Bearded Dragon During Brumation?
While many bearded dragons will undergo the process safely, there are a few things you can do to ensure your beardie has the best brumation experience. Here are some:
Allow Them To Bury
In the wild, these lizards dig a hole and bury themselves to help regulate their body temperature while keeping out of their predator’s sites. You can also give them the opportunity to burrow in captivity by offering a suitable substrate.
For instance, allowing them to bury their head in excavator clay is one of the best things you can do for them! Not only is this a fun way for them to spend their downtime, but it also helps to keep them warm and comfortable.
Tile and carpets won’t provide this, and you might catch them scratching it before brumation begins.
Provide A Hide
Bearded dragons love to hide when brumating. As such, you can provide them with a hide where they can stay away from direct light and high humidity.
This can be anything from an old cardboard box that you cut into a small enclosure to a large piece of furniture covered in plastic wrap. Make sure the hide has plenty of ventilation.
A freshwater dish should be available at all times, and misting the dragon’s body with a spray bottle filled with room temperature water can help keep them properly hydrated. When they can eat, provide leafy veggies and fruits for additional hydration.
Give Occasional Baths
Misting your bearded dragon is not enough; you also need to bathe them. To do this, fill the tub with water so that they cannot submerge the head and add some calcium powder therein.
Ensure the water is warm before putting the beardie inside. Let the beardie soak for a few minutes. Bathing encourages them to poop and serves as a way to hydrate. Do this once a week.
Lower the Temperatures
If your bearded dragon is brumating, you’ll want to lower the temperatures in its enclosure. The ideal temperature for a bearded dragon during brumation is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can accomplish this by creating a cool retreat area for your dragon, lowering the ambient temperature in the enclosure, or using a cool box.
Turn Off The Lights
It may sound brutal but turning off the light allows them to brumate much better. Bearded dragons will usually sleep for 16 to 20 hours per day during brumation, so there’s no need for light.
However, you should gradually lessen the UVB light when you notice brumation is beginning and turn it off eventually until there’s no longer light.