Bearded dragons occur in eastern and central Australia. They are found from the eastern half of south Australia to the southeastern Northern Territory.
Bearded dragons occupy a broad range of habitats from the desert to dry forests and scrublands. It is a semi-arboreal (semi tree-dwelling) lizard that can be found basking on fallen branches, fence posts and rocks.
Bearded dragons are opportunistic omnivores. They live in areas where food may be hard to find; so bearded dragons cannot afford to be finicky. Their stomachs are big to accommodate large quantities of plant matter, insects, and the occasional small rodent or lizard.
Bearded dragons reach sexual maturity at 1 to 2 years of age. Mating occurs in the spring and summer months. Interestingly, captive bearded dragons kept indoors 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 a single mating. Under captive conditions, the eggs will hatch in 55 to 75 days, at 28.9 degrees Celsius.
Bearded dragons can live from 4 to 10 years.
The “beard” of bearded dragons is used for both mating and aggression displays. Both sexes have a beard, but males display more frequently, especially for courtship rituals. However, females will display their beard as a sign of aggression too. The beard turns dark black and inflates during the display. In an attempt to appear more intimidating, the bearded dragon may also open its mouth and gape in addition to inflating its beard.
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 purpose 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.
Predators of bearded dragons include large goannas (lizards), dingoes, and birds of prey.
It appears that no conservation effort is needed for bearded dragons at this time. Excluding heavily urbanized areas, most populations in Australia are secure and under no known threat.
Periat, J. 2000. “Pogona vitticeps” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 15, 2007 http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pogona_vitticeps.html.