Where Do Bearded Dragons Come From?

In the wild, Bearded Dragons are originally from Australia, however, there are different species in different parts of the country.

There are a total of 8 types of bearded dragon, they all originate from Australia and are all part of the same family. The Pogona Vittikins is a crossbreed that naturally occurs between the Vitticeps and Lawsons/ Brevis Bearded Dragons.

Since the 1960s the export of Bearded Dragons outside of Australia became illegal. This means that all beardies found outside of Australia are captive bred and descend probably from dragons that were illegally exported. It also means that the genetic diversity may be limited in the captive-bred population.

There were rumors that most dragons in the US were bred from stock in Germany (Illegally exported from Australia) back in the 1980s. The Bearded Dragon has since gone on to be one of the staples of the exotic pet trade and is now commonly found in most pet stores – however, it’s not always legal to sell Bearded Dragons, different states, countries, provinces etc… have different rules and licenses for different species.

Where are Bearded Dragons Found?

Bearded Dragons are found in the wild in a variety of habitats that are difficult to reproduce in the confines of a vivarium. They are semi-arboreal meaning they like to climb, they live in scrubland, desert, rocky areas, coasts, woodlands and this depends upon the specific location.

Different species will have slight differences in tolerance of environmental factors such as UVB, humidity, and temperature but are all within a common range to the Pogona family.

On the below map the main 8 species locations are marked and showing the overlap between them.

Distributions of Pogonas in Australia
  1. Eastern Australia but has been found centrally as well as in the South
  2. Found in central/ western Queensland, Australia
  3. Western and central Australia
  4. Western Australia and the Wallabi Group of the Houtman Albrohos Islands
  5. North western Australia
  6. Small coastal region (Drysdale river) in north Kimberley, in North West Australia
  7. Nullarbor plain, South Australia
  8. Central Australia

The data on this map was compiled with the aid of the following sources:

Outside of Australia you’ll find Pogona Vitticeps (Central/Inland Bearded Dragon) and Pogona Henry Lawsoni (Rankins Bearded Dragon) are common in the pet trade, very rarely Pogona Barbata will turn up in the trade in the US from specialized breeders. Almost all color morphs and variations are likely to be Pogona vitticeps. Typically you don’t need a license to keep them as a hobbyist.

Within Australia, you’re able to keep most species of Bearded Dragon but will need to be a licensed keeper and this depends upon the species and territory that you’re in, for example, in NSW you can keep:

  • Pogona Barbata (Common Bearded Dragon)
  • Pogona Henrylawsoni (Downs Bearded Dragon)
  • Pogona Minor Minima (Western Bearded Dragon)
  • Pogona Minor Minor (Dwarf Bearded Dragon)
  • Pogona Vitticeps (Central Bearded Dragon)

With a class 1 license, but you need a class 2 license to keep:

  • Pogona Microlepidota (Small-scaled Bearded Dragon)

But you can’t keep Pogona Nullarbor or Pogona Minor Mitchell. In Western Australia, you can only keep Pogona Minor Minor (Western Bearded Dragon) under a class 2 license and none of the others.

Whether you live in or outside of Australia, always check that you’re buying a legally captive-bred Bearded Dragon. If you live outside of Australia and you see species other than a Vitticeps or Lawsons/ Rankins then question the legality of it and where it’s come from and its lineage.

Filled under: Lizards

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