When it comes to breeding bearded dragons for the first time, many beginner owners are not sure where to begin. From getting breeder pairs to making breeding preps in the tank, you would need to do various things. In this guide, you will learn all the relevant information related to bearded dragon mating/breeding. This way, you would be able to raise healthy clutches without any complications.
Bearded dragons are generally known for their calm and reserved demeanor. However, during the breeding season, some specimens might exhibit aggressive behavior. You would also have to ensure that you pick healthy males and females for breeding purposes. You might be doing it as a hobby or to sell new hatchlings in the market. No matter what your intentions are, there are various measures you would have to take.
Bearded dragons are oviparous reptiles, which means that their young ones are born inside an egg. So the embryonic development takes place inside the eggshell rather than the womb of the mother. Each ovary contains two germinal beds, which gives them the ability to produce new clutches in an interdependent manner.
While it might seem challenging to you, you would slowly find it fun to make breeding arrangements for your pet reptiles. These exotic lizards are known to breed rapidly, as a female can produce several clutches from one successful mating. So, it would not be a hassle to get the female into the heat to produce dozens of eggs in a given month. So, you can expect to hear noises of little footsteps after a few months of keeping two mates together. This is the reason you should be aware of the gender distribution of the bearded dragons you own.
Bearded Dragon Mating
Bearded dragons in their natural habitat tend to mate during the spring season after coming out of the brumation phase. On the other hand, captive beardies can be bred at almost any time of the year. Usually, their hormone levels are raging once their brumation activity comes to an end. It is better to run a medical checkup before allowing your bearded dragons to copulate.
The mating act of bearded dragons can appear quite violent and rough. The male would darken his beard and start circling around the female in heat. The female bearded dragon would wave her arms in a circular motion to tell that she is ready. Once they both stay in close proximity for a while, the male would suddenly hop over the female. He would hold the back of her neck or shoulders with his mouth to prevent her from moving. Once he has firmly gripped her with his mouth and hands, he would insert his hemipenis into the female’s cloaca. The male would either thrust only one of his hemipenes or both at the same time. It would last for several minutes, depending upon the time duration the female allows. Once she is done, she would tilt her head in an upward direction to get the male off her body.
A successful copulating session can produce up to 5 clutches, depending upon the female. A single clutch usually contains approximately 20 eggs – some of which might be infertile. The female bearded dragon can also store sperm in her body for a particular period. This means that she would not require mating again to lay eggs during that breeding season. It can also be difficult to sometimes identify the father of the offspring if you more than one male.
Bearded Dragon Breeding Setup
You would need a considerable amount of money when making preparations for breeding your breeding dragons. You would need to have separate vivariums for new hatchlings. Similarly, you would have to invest in a durable incubator or you can also make a DIY incubator.
Make sure to pick suitable color combinations of mates when you are planning to breed them. This would help you get babies with vivid and bright coloration. Some rare skin tones can be sold off for higher prices in the market. You would also have to identify the genetic background of both the specimens, as there are risks of inbreeding. It is advisable to run a DNA test before setting up the breeding environment for your pet reptiles.
It is always better to pre-book selling contracts with people who want to buy baby bearded dragons from you. You would have about 40 tiny babies walking around in the terrarium within a month. These babies grow very rapidly, which could be a problem for you, as you would have to feed them accordingly.
Once the female lays her clutch, it would take about 42 to 72 days for the eggs to hatch. Make sure that you have an incubator that can maintain an internal temperature of around 84 degrees Fahrenheit. You would also have to pour damp vermiculite, as it is the best substrate choice for incubating eggs. Make sure that the container remains warm and the humidity levels are amped up. This would create favorable conditions for the embryos to develop without any complications. Normally, you can expect several eggs to go bad in a single clutch. You should not worry about it, as long as you have several fertile eggs in the incubation zone.
Bearded Dragon Mating/Breeding Season
In the wild, bearded dragons’ breeding season begins in the spring season. This is the time of the year they also get out of their hibernation period. Depending upon the photoperiod in the tank, your pet beardie might also show mating signs during the spring season.
The sperm production of males improves when they lie dormant during the cold weather season. These males also tend to be larger in size than their counterparts who don’t snooze during the winter. Your male and female beardies would start showing telltale breeding signs in the spring season. When the days start getting longer than the night, your pet reptile is more likely to become sexually active. You would also notice males mounting females during this period.
Bearded Dragon Mating Behavior
When you introduce two bearded dragons of different genders, you would be instantly able to tell whether they are interested. Males are usually more attracted to the females in heat during this time of the year. Male bearded dragons would constantly revolve around the female if they are interested to mate with her. She would adopt a submissive behavior by slowly bobbing her head up and down.
Male bearded dragons can appear quite violent when they are mounting the female. They might even bite the female’s neck to ensure that she stays in the same position during the act. Their tails would be intertwined to prevent each other from drifting off in opposite directions. During this period, they might also appear hostile towards other bearded dragons. You may even notice your beardie aggressive tearing apart its live feed during the breeding season. Some couples might even show a lack of interest in food during this time. Your bearded dragon can lose weight if he or she doesn’t eat food for many days straight. They might also keep their mouths slightly open. Their skin would darken in various parts of the body, especially the beard.
Normally, the mating act would last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. It is quite typical for males to appear uninterested in the females when they have ejaculated in them. Make sure to put them in separate enclosures when they are done with mating. You can always introduce them after a few days to spark up the mutual interaction. This would ensure that you end up with several healthy clutches towards the end of the mating season.
Male Bearded Dragon Mating Behavior
Male bearded dragons are not gentle during their courtship ritual, as they can appear quite aggressive. Their beard would remain puffed up and it would get a dark coloration for a few days. This helps them display their dominance in front of other challenging males in the area. By displaying their big and dark beards, they are also able to attract females.
Their head bobbing movement would also become repetitive when their hormone secretion increases. Depending upon the degree of attraction, the female bearded would reciprocate this mating behavior.
The males would typically take hold of the female’s neck with their mouth during the mating process. Sometimes they might even bite it too roughly that it can tear female’s skin from those areas.
Female Bearded Dragon Mating Behavior
Females would also adopt a slightly darker skin hue when the breeding season arrives. During this time, they would frequently be seen doing push-ups by going up down with their limbs. Their arm-waving gesture would also become frequent when a potential breeder male is around them.
Normally, females’ body language is more relaxed and reserved than their male counterparts. They would allow dominant males to mount over them if they feel attracted to them. Towards the end of the mating act, female bearded dragons tend to tilt her head in a vertical direction. This would let the male know that she would no more tolerate him having on her back. After breeding seasons, females can often be seen with bite marks around their lips and beards. These wounds are not hazardous in most cases, and they would heal on their own.
How to Breed Bearded Dragons in Steps
By learning the following steps, you would be able to execute a successful breeding session.
Contact a reliable breeder
Most of us don’t have the know-how about breeding setup and preparation associated with this Australian species of lizards. Unlike cats and dogs that have been domesticated for centuries, bearded dragons are fairly new pets. This means that there is limited information about their behavior and way of living in their natural habitat.
It is always better to have a face-to-face conversation with someone who is experienced in the field. They would provide you deep insights about how to look after your pet during its mating process. You would also get to know how to raise healthy hatchlings that can turn into graceful adults within 18 months. Sometimes bearded dragons might not mate even after you put them together in the same enclosure. Does it have to with the indoor temperature of the terrarium? Is the humidity too low to get their mood going? Having a breeder on your side would help you get all your answers without getting stressed out.
Learn about their genetic background
Just like you look for pedigree dog breeds for mating purposes, you would also have to evaluate the genetic makeup of your breeder pair before putting them together. You might have a particular skin texture and color combination in your mind. Some morphs can even be sold off at exorbitant rates, so you should choose your beardies wisely.
Inspecting the lineage of bearded dragons would not only help you decide skin hue but it would also prevent inbreeding. Because of the growing demand for these exotic pets in North America, many breeders resort to inbreeding. This is causing new hatchlings to have health complications and they can even develop diseases as they grow old.
Get them to a vet/herp specialist first
You can never tell if a certain bearded dragon is suffering from an underlying health issue. This is the reason it is critical to get them to a nearby vet clinic to ensure that both specimens are healthy. Just like most lizard species, bearded dragons are highly susceptible to adenovirus, which is a highly contagious disease. This endemic is known to spread rapidly in dragons of all ages and it can seriously affect young hatchlings and juveniles. This endemic can cause bearded dragons to display “non-specific” symptoms. Usually, the ill bearded dragon would rapidly lose weight and would have low energy levels throughout the day.
This is the reason you need to get a medical check-up to ensure that your beardies don’t carry any virus.
Provide proper nutrition
Your breeder couple should be fed with a nutritious diet during the breeding season. The last thing you want is your beardies getting exhausted and tired by doing repetitive mating acts. Make sure to provide additional supplements to the female, as she would be carrying eggs. From the formation of eggshells to laying eggs, this whole procedure requires a considerable amount of energy. Make sure your little gal is eating a diet that contains calcium and vitamin D is required amounts. You can always feed them supplements along with the diet to ensure that they stay healthy.
Prepare a neutral breeding ground
It is highly advisable to choose a new location/terrarium for your breeder couple to mate. You should never go down the road of forcing them to be in the same space for breeding purposes. Dominant bearded dragons can become aggressive in their territories, even towards females.
Look for separate space, such as a bathtub or somewhere they have never been before. This would help them focus on courtship rituals rather than marking their territories. The vivarium should have a volume of approximately 100 gallons to ensure that the male and female have enough space.
Allow Bearded Dragon to mate
Once you ensure that their nutritional levels are up to the mark, you can finally introduce them to each other. You would be able to tell from the get-go whether the male is finding the female attractive. Despite the fact that he might appear aggressive, it is usually a normal body language during mating rituals. You should allow them to come close to each other under your supervision. You never know when they might start attacking each other once they are done with the act. Therefore, you should be there to pull out the male once they successfully mate.
Set up a lay box
Once you notice that your female’s belly is drooping low, you can tell that she is pregnant. Make sure to prepare a laying box where she can safely deposit her fragile eggs. The volume of this container should be at least 8 gallons so that the eggs don’t get all cramped up. You would also have to place damp vermiculite to keep the eggshells moisturized.
Set up an incubator
This is the most important part, as that would ensure that the eggshells would crack open within 9 to 10 weeks. You can either invest in a well-designed incubator or just hand-make your own. For the DIY incubator, you can make small holes in a box to let the air flow freely. You would also need to have a controlled temperature of about 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Set up separate baby bins
It is never a good idea to keep baby bearded dragons in the same enclosure. A peaking tail from a rock would appear like a live feed to a hungry baby. The last thing you want is your baby beardies with nipped tails and limbs. Because of their strong appetite, baby bearded dragons might even bite each other. It would also ensure that their bodies grow according to their full potential.
During the first few weeks, you would have to replicate the heating levels of an incubator. You should also avoid handling the young once. You would also have to select a substrate that doesn’t contain any small ingestible particles. And also avoid gravel and sand, as it can increase the chances of impaction. Baby bearded dragons can end up swallowing sand and debris while picking live bugs.
How to Breed Bearded Dragon Video
Bearded Dragon Mating Signs
Your bearded dragon would show several unique signs that would indicate that they are ready to breed. From hand-waving to head-bobbing, you would notice a couple of idiosyncrasies in the breeding season. These exotic lizards usually don’t mimic the body language of other lizards, so most of their behaviors are original.
Bearded dragons wave their arm to show submission or to communicate with other dragons. A female bearded dragon would typically stand on her three limbs and lift her one arm to wave. This would indicate the male that she is inviting him for the mating ritual.
Bearded dragons would also shake their head up and down in a controlled motion during the mating season. They would repeatedly do this when they come face-to-face with a potential mate. Some males might even do this show signs of aggression towards other rivals in the area.
Similarly, you would notice mouth-gaping behavior from your adorable pet dragon. They normally do this for heat regulation purposes. And they don’t have any sweat glands, which require them to open their mouth to vent out heat. They would also do this repeatedly during the breeding season when they are ready to mate.
Bearded Dragon Breeding Age
You might be wondering how old does a bearded dragon have to be to breed? It is ideal to wait at least 18 months for your male beardie and 24 months for your male beardie before allowing them to breed, but it is better to wait a little longer than that to ensure that their health and wellbeing. Females usually take more time to be fully sexually mature than their male counterparts.
You would also have to measure them from the tip of the mouth to the distal end of the tail. If they are about inches long, then they are ready to carry out a successful breeding session.
Female bearded dragons can become gravid even without any male intervention. This means that you would notice several infertile eggs during the early adulthood of your female beardie. There is no specific amount as far as these infertile eggs are concerned.
The fertility of male bearded dragons remains at peak levels throughout the year except for late summer. This is the time when they prepare for brumation, so their hormone levels drop rapidly.
When is bearded dragon mating season?
Bearded dragon mating season usually starts in the spring season, when the days start getting longer than nights. The adult bearded dragons come out of their brumation during this period. Once the weather starts getting warmer, their hormone levels start increasing. Your female bearded dragon would come into heat, which would lure nearby males.
How long does it take a bearded dragon to lay eggs after mating?
Once a female bearded dragon becomes pregnant, she would lay her eggs after about 40 to 72 days. This is almost double the time it takes for the eggs of chicken to hatch. You would have to prepare suitable heating and humidity settings in the incubator to make sure that eggs don’t become dead.
How large does a female bearded dragon need to be for breeding?
The female should be at least 24 months before they can reproduce without any pregnancy complications. If you breed a female that is younger than that, then it might result in the retention of eggs. This means that it might be painful for them to pass eggs from their cloaca. Some females might even retain eggs if they don’t find suitable soil for laying purposes.
Will a bearded dragon lay eggs without breeding?
A female bearded dragon can get gravid without mating with a male. These eggs would have a proper shell but they would not go through embryo development. Your female bearded dragon would produce several infertile clutches when she reaches sexual maturity.
How Many Babies Does a Bearded Dragon Have at One Time?
Bearded dragons typically take anywhere from 42 to 75 days to lay eggs once they become gravid. One successful mating session produces around 3 to 4 clutches. You should also not be worried if not all of her eggs are fertile.