Central Bearded Dragon Fact File
The central bearded dragon is covered with scales that vary in their size and shape. Their colour is also highly variable across their range with them potentially being grey, orange, yellow or a reddish brown depending on their locality. A darker streak of colour starts behind the eye and runs across the ear to the base of the head. The underside is a lighter colour such as white.
Their colouration is an adaptation which helps them to blend in with the soil on which they spend most of their time.They can vary their colour throughout the day when needing to be aggressive or if they are threatened. It is also used when they are basking. During warm weather they are lighter colours and during cool weather they are darker. These changes can take place in a few minutes.
Down the sides of the body are spike likes scales which are soft and bendable. Their head is broad and shaped like a triangle. Under this is the gular pouch which is more commonly referred to as the beard. This can be enlarged and is an adaptation which makes them appear bigger to predators. This beard is typically a darker colour such as black when extended.
They typically measure 55cm (21.7in) long with around half
of this made up of the tail. They weigh 284-510g (10-18oz).
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To obtain water the central bearded dragon has been observed to stand in light rain with their back legs raised. With their head lower the water runs down to the mouth and they can then lick this up. They will also drink standing water.
Australia is the native home of the central bearded dragon. Here they can be found throughout the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory. They are mostly found in the inland portions of these states.
Central bearded dragons make their home in forests, woodlands, dry grassland, mallee, acacia scrub, deserts and scrubland.
Breeding takes place in spring. Males will fight for the right to mate with females through a combat display which may involve beard flaring, signaling and tail biting.
Once a male gains breeding rights he will then find a suitable female with which he can begin copulation. This involves biting the female on the back of the neck while mating takes place.
Following a successful mating the female will dig a hole in sandy soil where she can deposit her eggs. Each clutch may consist of 15-30 eggs. Multiple clutches are laid across the season with up to 4 clutches possible. There may be as few as 13 day’s between clutches. They can store sperm allowing them to lay multiple clutches from a single mating.
Incubation last for 78-85 days after which the young hatch. The hatchlings resemble small versions of the adults with more pronounced markings. They measure 39-42mm (1.5-1.7in).
They are independent from birth receiving no parental care.
Sexual maturity is reached between one and two years old.
Bearded dragons spend much of their time basking in the sun. Basking often takes place on top of a log or rock. They are often seen sitting on human made fence posts. They typically pick an elevated spot where they can survey their surroundings for potential predators. After dark they may be seen sitting on roads to absorb the heat.
If they become too warm while basking they will open the mouth and this cools them through the air moving over the roof of their mouth.
They are agile climbers and spend much of their time sitting up off the ground in the trees.
Their only vocalization is a low hiss. To communicate with others they bob their head and wave their arms.
Both the male and female maintain a home territory which they defend.
Predators and Threats
They face predation from a range of species including birds of prey, goannas, snakes such as the black headed python and dingoes. They are also preyed upon by invasive animals such as cats and red foxes.
To avoid predators they will inflate their beard and expand the stomach to make themselves appear larger.
Humans have little effect on their population. They may be captured in small numbers for the pet trade but they are easily bred in captivity so there is little need for this.
The central bearded dragon is a commonly kept pet both in Australia and overseas.
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Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.
Australia, A., 2020. Species: Pogona Vitticeps (Central Bearded Dragon). [online] Bie.ala.org.au.
Available at: <https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:723cb684-9e70-4618-aafd-0afad3d4501e> [Accessed 21 June 2020].
Melville, J. & Wilson, S. 2018. Pogona vitticeps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T83494364A83494440. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T83494364A83494440.en. Downloaded on 21 June 2020.
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<https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/reptiles/central-bearded-dragon/> [Accessed 21 June 2020].
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