Monday, November 06, 2006

Bearded Dragon Breeding

The bearded dragon is a reptile and reptiles reproduce by lying eggs. The bearded dragon lizard must be properly cared for to ensure that the bearded dragon female is healthy and sound for breeding. Many bearded dragons will pair together for life and they will maintain an active courtship.

Before breeding the bearded dragon, you will want to make sure that the female is receiving a proper diet. The diet should consist of insects, newborn mice and vegetables. The female bearded dragon should also receive adequate calcium and vitamins. These vitamins and minerals can be bought separately as supplements and dusted on the bearded dragon’s food whether it is insects or fruit. Proper calcium is very important to the female bearded dragon to ensure that she is able to form eggs properly without risking her own health.

Before bearded dragon breeding, the bearded dragons should first be properly sexed. Male bearded dragons have larger heads than female bearded dragons. The throat area of the male bearded dragon will become dark during the breeding season. The male bearded dragon will also be larger in size overall than the bearded dragon. The femoral and preanal pores are larger in the males than in the females. The females may also show darkening in the throat area, but the male bearded dragon will have a darker throat. Other than these physical characteristics, you may find that it is very difficult to sex the bearded dragon. Many reptiles are sexed through a technique called “popping of the hemipenes,” but this should not be attempted on the bearded dragon as it may cause permanent injury to the animal. This procedure involves pushing tat the cloacal area to cause the male’s sexual organs to become exposed. The males also tend to have enlarged femoral pores, which are rounded pores on the undersurface of their thigh and femur bone.

The best method of sexing the bearded dragon is through a natural process. Purchasing hatchlings in groups of fours will allow pairs to form. When the hatchlings form pairs, they are generally forming breeding pairs and you will have both a female and a male. Most bearded dragons will breed at ten months and will form pairs at this time, however, they may become sexually active as early as eight months. Bearded dragon lizards are especially hard to sex while they are young. These hatchling bearded dragons may not exhibit the same sexual characteristics that the adult bearded dragon exhibits. Bearded dragons often have very active courtships and will reproduce well in captivity.

While carrying eggs, the female will show expansion in the abdomen. When it is apparent that your female is carrying eggs, you will want to begin developing an area in which the female can lay her eggs. This is very important because many females will not lay eggs without a properly designated area. If females fail to lay their eggs, they will suffer from a condition called “egg binding.” Many female bearded dragons have died from this condition. A proper egg lying area consists of a box that is approximately two feet by two feet. The box should also be eighteen inches deep. The box should be filled with potting soil and sand. The potting soil should be damp. Females will begin to show signs of egg lying by digging. After laying their eggs, the female bearded dragon will appear very thin. When you notice that the female is thinner than the day before, you will know that the female has deposited her eggs in the soil of her box.

The female may bury up to two-dozen eggs. One bearded dragon breeding may produce enough fertile eggs for more than one laying. The female bearded dragon may be protective over her eggs while lying, but then generally offers no care afterwards. Most female bearded dragons will produce multiple clutches of eggs per year. Many of them will lay their first clutch anywhere from ten months to three years. For many female bearded dragons, the first clutch of eggs is infertile. After you see the female lie eggs, you may begin allowing her to mate with a male bearded dragon. Eggs after the first initial clutch of eggs will be fertile. Because the bearded dragon lays multiple clutches of eggs per year, you will need to be prepared to care for many hatchlings. Many females have laid up to twenty eggs in one clutch. First year mothers may have erratic egg producing cycles, the may also have false gravidity, which means that they appear to be pregnant, but they produce no eggs.

Bearded dragon breeding can be an interesting process and it is very important that you make the egg lying process as comfortable for the female bearded dragon lizard as much as possible. You should also be prepared to house several hatchlings after the first successful clutch of eggs.

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