For people new to having bearded dragons, or even current owners who are looking to expand their dragon family, breeding bearded dragons may be an idea that some may eventually want to venture into. This can be a very expensive and time-consuming adventure that certainly should not be rushed into. Researching and learning about all aspects of taking care and owning a bearded dragon is essential before attempting to breed. It is proven that breeding these reptiles on your own can be done easily if you take the time to learn how to do it properly.
You will need 2 adult bearded dragons – a healthy male and a healthy female. Identifying the sex of each is the first step. Be sure that you have a male and female bearded dragon. It is best to wait until they are about 18 months old before you decide on breeding them. Cage them in two separate enclosures. If housed together all year, male Dragons can cause a lot of stress and damage to a female, through continually attempting to breed with her. During the mating, a male will bite the neck of the female to position itself for sexing. If the female is never given a break, they will never heal and can end up becoming sore and infected.
The photo-period is intended to simulate the cold season in each of your bearded dragon cages. This help the lizards go into a semi-hibernation state known as brumation. Reduce the heat of the enclosure to between 64 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit and increase the time of darkness to around 14 hours a day, the remaining hours is for your beardies to receive light. The basking spot on your enclosure should be at a maximum of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, you must decrease the food intake for both beardies. This photo-period should last for 6 weeks and acts as a resting period before the stressful act of breeding. After this period, you will have to offer more food than usual as preparation for them to breed.
Mating and Female Pregnancy
The second stage to breeding bearded dragons is mating, which occurs around 4 weeks after the photo-period. The males will begin to show signs of aggressiveness during this time. The females will look for a place to lay her eggs in a soft, sandy area. You have to make sure that you can provide an area like this while the dragon in still in captivity. Pregnant beardies can be easily identified because it will appear heavier or bloated.
In this period of the breeding, you have to provide extra food for the female. A clean dish, or open-top container where you can place the eggs after the laying of the female. An incubator (can be a do-it-yourself project), heat mat, pulse thermostat and thermometer are needed for you to monitor the pregnancy of female beardies.
The area within the substrate where the egg laying will occur can be a mixture of sand and potting soil. A typical female beardie can have between 15 to 30 eggs. Once your female has laid her eggs, take the eggs out and be careful not to rotate them while moving them to the incubator.
The temperature must be kept at 85 degrees Celsius at all times for 60-75 days. Bearded dragon eggs should be kept moist. Spray it with water regularly or place water below the incubator. The easiest way is to use a commercial incubator like Styrofoam incubators, but this raises the overall cost of the project. The incubator itself should be placed in an area that is cooler than the internal temperature of the incubator.
Re-homing Baby Beardies
Remember that baby dragons grow at a fast rate. They have to be housed in groups of five at the most. Each baby bearded dragon enclosure should meet all the necessary food and accessories requirements that are needed to raise adolescent/adult beardies. The hatch-ling or juveniles will be very hungry and need to be fed with the right kind and amount of food. This is to stop them from chewing at their tails and toes. They need to be fed 3 times a day until they are at least 4 months old before you can begin to reduce food intake.
Breeding bearded dragons is a tough job but it can be worthwhile if you are willing to commit the time, money and effort.