Bearded Dragon Research
Juvenile Bearded Dragon Sub-adult Bearded Dragon
Internal & External
Gross anatomy photos are on a page of their own.
"Gross" is an anatomy term meaning complete or total body
Dragons in Our Classroom
Human and Reptile Cohabitating
Bearded Dragon Research
SB with eggs in her abdomen (07/26/03)
She laid one egg Saturday evening, and the remainder on Sunday. SB laid a clutch of 26 eggs on 07/27/03.
Above two photos taken during the second breeding season.
I had SB in the sandbox in my classroom for several days trying to get her to lay eggs. It wasn't until I put a science board (trifold cardboard display board) around the sandbox for privacy that she laid the clutch seen in the above photo.
Reproduction & Eggs
Most reptiles reproduce by laying eggs (oviparous), although some give birth to live young that have hatched from eggs inside the mother's body (ovoviviparous), i.e. chameleons. Bearded dragons are oviparous, which means they produce amniotic eggs. These eggs are able to survive outside of water because they have complex membrane systems and protective shells that are permeable to oxygen and other gases. These features allow eggs to survive and grow for the 65-75 days in the incubator or natural environment without intervention from the mother. The eggs are soft and pliable, unlike bird eggs that have a hard shell, and are able to stretch slightly as the bearded dragon grows inside. The eggshells thin out as the hatch date approaches making it easier for the hatchling (baby bearded dragon) to emerge into the big world outside. Female bearded dragons do not stay with their young. In the wild, the female lays her eggs in a sandy area 6 or 8 inches below the ground, or similar out-of-the-way area. The female bearded dragon will finish by climbing out of the hole and using her hind legs to shove dirt/sand back over the hole. She then compacts the dirt/sand with the top of her head and then she moves on. In captivity the process is quite similar. The breeder should use a large container filled with dampened playground sand. The female will dig a hole, lay her eggs, and then bury them just as in the wild.
The hatchlings survive on the amniotic gel (consistency of watered down hair gel) that is present as a residue on their skin (from their home inside the egg) for the first several days or even weeks until it is able to hunt and catch a cricket or find a leafy plant to eat. Feeding responses are natural instincts bearded dragons possess, much like the suckling response in human babies.
Progression from hatching to two hours later. After hatching dragons are totally out of energy. They will appear lifeless, but they are just exhausted. The third photo shows the same three dragons about two hours after hatching. Since Bearded Dragons are social animals they like to pile up on each other (as seen below).
First 3 hatchlings from breeding season 1: Saturday 09/20/03, 9AM
Bearded Dragon females are known to store sperm. However, it is unclear if dragons actually store sperm or if they store eggs. Through observation it is hypothesized both occur, but there is need for further investigations. The danger in over breeding bearded dragons is burnout. Having too many clutches too often will shorten the lifespan of the reptile. However, there is no control over this when the lizard is storing sperm.
SB began storing sperm her second breeding season.
SB (female) was mated with FB (male) on 3/6/04 and laid a clutch of 26 eggs on 4/27/04. Then again on 5/16/04 she laid a clutch of 32 eggs , and on 6/6/04 she laid a clutch of 33 eggs (due to storing sperm). She is bloated yet again and appears to be ready for clutch #4. Jennifer Marie Periat DVM states that the record for the number of dragon clutches from one insemination is 9. So, we'll be waiting and watching to see what this mating pair accomplish.
Breeding: Season 2
Of the "surviving hatchlings", all eggs that hatched lived and are healthy. No babies died after hatching until the arrival of clutch #3.This clutch also seemed aggressive (not passive as the other clutches) and bit each other's tails off. It's unclear as to if the DNA is compromised or not.
Eggs from clutch #4 and 5 did not look as good as other clutches when they were laid. They looked questionable from the very beginning. SB laid #6 spanned out. She laid one egg on 8/4/04 and two on 8/5/04, and the remainder around noon on 8 /6/04. Eggs from clutches 4 - 7 didn't seem to be the quality as the first few clutches. They were not plump, but rather small and deflated. I will try a different technique with clutch 7 to reduce mold buildup on the eggs. Clutch 8 looks better than the last three.
Mold: Clutches 5, 6, 7 and 8
First Signs of Hatchling Death
(Hatchlings from Clutch 3)
I noticed in the first couple weeks the dragon hatchlings were loosing their tails. I wasn't sure if it was predation from crickets or if they were biting each other. It turns out they were fighting and biting each other's tails off in the middle of the night (somewhere between 5PM and 6AM). There were some hatchlings with other problems as well. Some stopped eating, others seemed to have neurological problems. Hatchlings from clutch 4 had no problems at all, including no tail damage.
Nursing hatchlings from clutch #3 back to health. They are doing fine now in our class, and are eating crickets and greens on a daily basis. This particular dragon (above) is not gaining weight like his sibling, but he's doing well. The difference is more noticeable in the image below taken 10/12/04. Both dragons are getting the same treatment and care.
The process will continue...
After several months rest, February 14, 2005 SB and FB were bred.
Well, it's 4/30/05 and SB still hasn't laid. So, I will try breeding her again the beginning of May.
Breeding: Season 3
Female dragon storing sperm. The following clutches are the result of one insemination.
(above and below taken after 30 days of incubation)
I normally choose to separate the eggs when placing them in the vermiculite, the photo above shows why. I placed the best looking eggs together (shown to the right) and then the eggs that look questionable at the end. Interestingly, after 21 days in the incubator the questionable eggs began to deteriorate. The egg on the top far left seems to be transparent in several spots. The eggs that turned brown were removed from the incubator on June 6, 2005. I'll continue to watch the eggs through the duration of the incubation period. SB is storing sperm again this season and is ready to lay another clutch.
New Clutch #2
Photo of laying tank (left) taken as SB was laying eggs on June 7, 2005. After all the eggs were laid she buried the entire clutch with sand and compacted the surface with her head. This is a normal procedure for bearded dragons and many other lizards. Photo of new clutch (right) taken 10 minutes after the clutch was laid. Again, the better looking eggs are placed on one side (left) and the questionable eggs to the other side (right).
New Season 2012 - New Breeding Pair
Eggs donated by a parent in the community who didn't realize she had a male and female dragon.
Two dragons hatched out early in the morning on Thursday, 4/12/12. The remaining four eggs are still in the incubator. One of the four eggs is deflated looking while the other three look full of fluid. On 4/13/12 the four eggs in the incubator remain unchanged. The two dragon hatchlings from yesterday are in a tank with UV lights, food and water. On 4/15/12 the egg that appeared deflated was identified as non-viable and was disposed.
4/16/12: one more egg in incubator is beginning hatch. I saw movement at 7 AM inside the egg.
Head bobbing and arm waving are two characteristics seen in many lizards, including bearded dragons. These are signs of dominance (or aggression) and submission and are normally seen when a male comes within view of a female.
Arm Waving shows submission
Both male and female show black beards when they feel threatened. They show the beard to look threatening or larger to scare off predators. Beard can be extended and black or just black.
Bearded Dragon Health
This parasitic worm was found in a juvenile bearded dragon I dissected in Melbourne, FL.
I'm still researching the genus and species of this worm.
See Bearded Dragon Gross Anatomy for further details.
Feedback from Web Surfers
Date: 22 Nov 2005
Congratulations on an informative and helpful website.
I live in Australia and breed bearded dragons and other native reptiles, while on an Aus website reading other breeders ideas and info your website was mentioned to be worth a look for all new owners and breeders of dragons, I poked my nose in and was glad I did it was fascinating.
I will be recommending it to other keepers for reference.
4/15/09Kristin My wife Beth and I spent most of this morning on your web site. It is outstanding. The material offered is very interesting and the presentation really engages the visitor. We were certainly engaged. I especially enjoyed the BIO Newsletter and the parent survey, which I started to complete and decided it should really be completed by parents of students attending Eau Gallie High School. Beth was really into the Bearded Dragon Rearch and the Corn Snake Research. Beth, being a retired Art Teacher, also enjoyed the color wheel within your Solor System page. Kristin, the web site is very well done. Knowing something about web sites, I also understand and appreciate the amount of time and effort that you have invested in this great teaching and learning tool. Beth and I thank you for the wonderful experience of visiting your web site. Have a great week. Dr. Doherty University of Central Florida
Corn Snake Research
formally known as Elaphe guttata
Moved to a page of it's own ...
"To keep zoonotic risk in perspective, it may be necessary to point out to concerned parents and teachers that of some 240 infectious zoonotic diseases, 65 are transmitted by dogs and 39 by cats (Gittleman, 1995). There are 110 million pet dogs and cats in the United States. The chances, then, of contracting feline and canine hookworm, roundworm, and feline toxoplasmosis are higher than contracting host-specific parasites and Salmonella from the far-less common pet and education reptiles. Those individuals at high risk for contracting reptile salmonellosis are also at high risk for contracting Salmonella from eating poorly cooked poultry and for contracting other zoonotic diseases from other animals."