Pogona vitticepsCentral Bearded Dragon

Geographic Range

Pogona vitticeps 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 (Grenard 1999).

Habitat

Pogona vitticeps occupies a large range of habitats from the desert to dry forests and scrublands. It is a semiarboreal lizard that can be found basking on fallen branches, fence posts and picnic tables (Grenard 1999).

Physical Description

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 spikey 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 to tan with red or gold highlights (Tosney 1996).

Reproduction

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 (Grenard 1999). 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 (Tosney 1996). In captive conditions, the eggs will hatch in 55 to 75 days, at 28.9 degrees Celsius (Vosjoli 1993).

Behavior

The beard of Pogona vitticeps is used for both mating and agression 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 (Zoffer 1997).

Food Habits

Pogona vitticeps 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 (Grenard 1999).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Inland bearded dragons have been used in scientific research (Wood 1995). 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 (Tosney 1996).

Conservation Status

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated
  • CITES
    No special status

Other Comments

Since the 1960's, 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 (Grenard 1999).

Pogona vitticeps is the most commonly found captive bred bearded dragon species. Breeders are focusing on breeding for particular colors such as red phase or gold phase, which are more marketable (Grenard 1999).

Contributors

Jennifer Periat (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5? N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Grenard, S. 1999. An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet: The Bearded Dragon. New York, NY: Howell Book House.

Tosney, K. 1996. "Caring for an Australian Bearded Dragon" (On-line). Accessed November 16, 1999 at http://www.ualberta.ca/~rswan/ERAAS/bd.htm.

Vosjoli, P., R. Mailloux. 1993. The General Care and Maintenance of Bearded Dragons. Lakeside, CA: Advanced Vivarium Systems, Inc..

Wood, P., C. Daniels, S. Orgeig. 1995. Functional significance and control of release of pulmonary surfactant in the lizard lung. American Journal of Physiology, 269 (4 part 2): R838-R847.

Zoffer, D., T. Mazorlig. 1997. The Guide to Owning a Bearded Dragon. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications, Inc..