Bearded dragon breeding: Complete guide on how to breed bearded dragons

Breeding isn’t about placing a male and female beardie in the same terrarium and waiting for them to mate. You need to know how to breed bearded dragons, and it’s a lot more technical than you might think.

The beardies are renowned for their attractiveness and easy-going personality. They tend to do well with children, and many people are keeping them as pets today. Breeding the beardies needs several precise approaches, and this tends to create worries, mostly to beginners.

In this article, I will explain how to breed bearded dragons, and we’ll also learn so much more useful information.

What You Need to Know Upfront About Breeding Bearded Dragons

good preparing to successfully breed bearded dragons
good preparing to successfully breed bearded dragons

To reiterate, you don’t just pick a male and female bearded dragon, house them in the same cage, and wait for breeding to happen. This is the worst thing to do because it can result in terrible and dangerous outcomes for the beardies.

Sometimes you may end up breeding the wrong morph, which poses many challenges to the incoming offspring. Breeding isn’t something you wake up in the morning and rush to do it. Of course, you need some experience and a good understanding of the breeding process.

So, there are precise techniques that you need to follow for you to have a successful breeding. As a new breeder or owner, I would encourage you to have thorough research and get every step to follow to have proper breeding.

It is through this that you will be able to know what males should mate with what females and what kind of babies to expect. 

I hope that this article will be an incredible overview to show you the steps to follow in the breeding process and clarify whether breeding is your thing. Keep reading for more information.

Can a Male and Female Bearded Dragon Live Together?

The idea to keep a male and female dragon in one cage isn’t good because these lizards are incredibly territorial. The danger with territoriality is that if there’s no submission, the dominating dragon feels despised and will always introduce a fight.

In the process of fighting, if one lizard is small-bodied, it might end up being terribly maimed or perhaps killed. That’s how severe the fight can be, and I believe this is the last thing you want to happen.

Also, it is cruel to have your male and female dragon living together since the male usually acts upon its instinct to mate the female. Indeed, this behavior will cause the female a lot of stress or probably physical harm.

In the wild, the female beardies can take off from horny males, but there is no place to escape to while in the enclosure. Stress can shorten your lizard’s longevity.

So, if you are wondering whether male and female dragons can stay together, the simple answer is No. Every bearded dragon needs to stay separately in its cage regardless of the gender or morph.

How Old Does a Bearded Dragon Have to Be to Breed?

It is always important to consider the age of the beardies that you intend to breed. When a female breeds before attaining its maturity, it can be fatal. She may become sterile or egg-bound, which can eventually cause death.

Bearded dragons become sexually mature when they are 18 months old. Males can safely breed at this age, but as for the females, it would be much better to wait until they are 24 months old.

Another thing to look for in the breeding process is the beardie’s weight and length. At least both male and females should be 18 inches and above in length. You should only allow your female lizard to start mating if it is weighing around 350grams.

How Many Eggs Does a Bearded Dragon Lay at One Time?

Female bearded dragons are oviparous, and they usually lay a clutch containing anywhere from 15-30 eggs at one time. However, this depends on the age, diet, and the level of husbandry practices.

Within a single pregnancy, bearded dragons will lay around 1-4 clutches. So, if we do the calculations, one lizard can lay 60-120 eggs in total across several clutches in a single laying interval.

The more eggs laid, the higher the chance of getting many babies. So, be prepared because there is an added cost in caring for 100+ offspring within the short you will have before selling.

Typically, when a beardie wants to lay eggs, she digs a hole for its nest. She can’t lay until there is a suitable burrow for laying. Make sure you use substrates that can allow burrowing or provide a laying nest.

Do Bearded Dragons Have a Breeding Season?

In the wild, breeding happens in early summer after bearded dragons come out of brumation. And by this, I mean that mating usually occurs between September and March in the Australian desert, the beardie’s native home.

But life in captivity is exceedingly different as bearded dragons can breed anytime during the year. It is not always necessary for the lizard pets to brumate first and then enter into the breeding season as most breeders advocate.

The mating cycle in bearded lizards entails intricate mating dances of males and females and territorial males.

So, while wild bearded dragons have a breeding season during summer, captivated dragons can breed any time in the year.

How Long After Mating Does a Bearded Dragon Lay Eggs?

Generally, female bearded dragons lay their eggs anywhere from 3-6 weeks after successful copulation.

It will be a good idea to leave the female with the male until she shows signs of wanting to lay the eggs. But make sure there’s no fight at all as it only takes a matter of minutes for one lizard to be maimed.

A gravid female needs to take enough calcium supplements since the eggs require a decent amount of calcium to develop properly.

Bearded Dragon Breeding in 16 Steps

Bearded dragon breeding: 16 Steps
Bearded dragon breeding: 16 Steps

As I said, there is more in the breeding than just placing male and female dragons in the cage to mate. Breeding is a thing for responsible owners who have a lot of good knowledge on this process after doing their research profoundly and wisely.

Before entering into breeding, there are some attributes that you need to take into account, including but not limited to age, health, fitness, temperament, etc. I’m afraid you may not know these things if you aren’t educated on breeding.

Proper breeding gives the best possible results for the parents and the offspring. On the other hand, if you mess up on any step, the worst can happen. So, never attempt to breed your beloved lizards if you don’t understand breeding. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Read on to know some of the essential steps on how to breed bearded dragons.

Meet with a Breeder

Being in a new job is like transitioning into a new grade level, where you know nothing about the grade.

The same also applies to the breeding, and as a new breeder or owner, you need to hear from professional breeders who have great experience in that field. These are the people who can tell you the challenges they usually face and the possible ways to handle them.

Avail yourself to their breeding center and learn how they conduct breeding, ask questions, help where you can, etc. That’s how you will build your confidence and breed your pets in the right way.

Please don’t assume things; I don’t deny that breeding is fun but only when you know what you are doing. What if your lizard or hatchlings are having some health issues? What if the female produces 100+ babies, what will you do?

The outcomes can be positive or negative, and it is upon you to act accordingly. That’s why you need to meet a breeder at first; he will explain to you all the possible situations you need to consider before making a decision.

Learning About the Lineages and Genetic Makeup of Bearded Dragons You Want to Breed

The first and foremost thing when it comes to breeding is to know the kind of offspring you want concerning body size and color. Having that in mind, you need to know what combination of parents can produce such babies.

If you didn’t know, a baby inherits half of the genetic materials from each parent. Therefore, you must understand the lineage and genetic makeup of bearded dragons you want to breed and make a decision if that’s really what you want.

Some dragons possess genetic disorders after inheriting them from their parents, and one thing is for sure, they will pass the diseases to some babies. Also, certain morphs don’t mesh well together and can bring forth sick or weak babies, or offspring that die when still young.

Make sure to consult or do in-depth research from the websites on the genetic type of each bearded dragon. It is one way to ensure that you get healthy and lovely babies.

Involve Your Reptile Vet to Check the Dragons You Want to Mate

You don’t want to mate unhealthy dragons, right? So, make an appointment with a reptile veterinarian that you trust and let him perform the health tests for your dragons.

The vet will identify if the lizards are healthy for breeding or whether they have viruses or not, plus other health concerns. It ensures that the beardies are in good condition for them to start mating.

To check for all these factors, the vet weighs the dragons, takes their measurements, and conducts proper health tests. This is an important step that you should never avoid at any time.

Preparing Your Beardies for Brumation

Although this is not always necessary, the vet may ask you to allow the dragons to brumate before they begin mating.

If that is the case, you don’t need to force them to hibernate either way as it goes against the natural cycle of things. You need to prepare the process sometime in the winter to allow and encourage the lizards to brumate.

After waking up from the deep sleep, bearded dragons usually show signs of wanting to mate. It is at this point that you can consider cohabitating your lizards but be sure to exercise the following steps below beforehand.

Preparing the Female Beardie with the Right Supplements

Calcium is essential for the development of the eggs and keeping the dragons healthy. For that reason, you should consider giving your female bearded dragon calcium and vitamin D supplements.

It is made possible by incorporating the supplements in the diet for approximately two weeks before breeding. The eggs will have sufficient calcium, and the beardie will also not be at risk of becoming calcium deficient after successfully laying the eggs.

Prepare a Separate Breeding Tank

You might be wondering what’s the need to have a separate tank for the sake of breeding. It is crucial because it helps to minimize the risks of territoriality. There is a high chance that the dragons won’t fight because the cage is new to both of them.

Make sure that there’s enough space in the tank, and the beardies can freely move inside. While the dragons can operate in 75 gallons tanks, it would be much better to use a slightly larger tank of at least 100-120 gallons.

Moreover, provide branches for climbing and rocks where the beardie can hide and chill the fellow partner. Providing a terrarium that mimics the natural habitat allows the beardies to express their natural behaviors fully.

Allow Your Bearded Dragons to Mate

After two weeks of supplementing your female dragon with calcium and vitamin D supplements, there is nothing to stop you from mating her. Introduce the male and female lizards in the new cage simultaneously to encourage them to breed.

Be sure to supervise them and ensure that they aren’t fighting. It takes only a few seconds for the beardie to be injured in case a fight breaks out.

If you see the beardies getting along well with each other and there are no signs of aggression after visiting them severally, you can leave them to continue staying together for a little bit longer.

But that doesn’t mean you should stay away; of course, you need to supervise them more often.

Provide a Laying Box

It is crucial to provide a laying box once the female is gravid because you will be expecting to have eggs after a month or so.

Ideally, use a box that is around eight gallons in size and includes a minimum of six inches potting soil or topsoil plus some sand.

Ensure that the mixture is damp to facilitate burrowing when the female wants to bury the eggs. If the mixture can clump together, it will be best that way.

Make Sure You Have an Ideal Incubator

Now that you have the eggs, you will need to put them in an incubator that provides the necessary conditions for hatching to take place successfully.

Typically, female beardies aren’t pretty maternal, and they usually don’t guard their eggs. That’s why you need to transfer the eggs to an incubator. Note that the embryo is in the process of developing, so minimize handling the eggs as much as possible.

Leave the eggs to stay in the incubator for a couple of days, and after that, you will need to do candling to identify if the eggs are fertile or not. You can do this by shining a flashlight through the egg in a dark room and check for the pink embryo.

If the egg is fertile, you will be able to see the pink embryo, but infertile eggs lack the embryo, and that means that they can’t hatch into hatchlings.

Based on the incubation temperature, the eggs will start hatching anywhere from 60-90 days after incubating them. Make sure the temperature is ranging between 80-85℉, and humidity should be around 30-40%. Proper humidity is vital to prevent the eggs from drying up.

Set Up Your Baby Bins or Care for Your New Hatchlings

Now that you have new hatchlings, it is important to immediately put them into separate bins to have plenty of space. Giving an ample space prevents overcrowding and reduces the chances of limbs and tails being nipped.

Preferably, one bin should accommodate an average of 4-6 hatchlings depending on its size. As the babies grow, it requires you to reduce the number of hatchlings per container to keep things fair.

Moreover, similarly set the bins to the standard terrarium of adult bearded dragons. By this, I mean you provide a heat source, UVB bulb, right substrate, etc. Baby bearded dragons thrive well in higher temperatures of around 110℉ in the basking spot.

Making a Nest Site/an Egg-laying Box for Your Bearded Dragon

Now, it is time to make a nest site for your bearded dragon to provide a space for her to lay eggs. When the female is nearing to lay the eggs, you will notice her starting to burrow, and this is an indication that she needs an egg-laying box.

So, to come up with an ideal nesting box, make sure you have all the materials with you. This includes organic soil, sand, one big container, and a small one. Start by mixing the sand and soil in the big box until it reaches a depth of around nine inches.

After that, take the small container and cut it around the bottom to have two openings. You will need to fix it well in the mixture inside the larger box and pour the substrate on top of it and cover one opening. It will serve as a cave, and it’s the place where the beardie begins to dig.

Now, you have a complete egg-laying box; it is just a simple procedure. You are now free to introduce the nest site in the enclosure and put your lizard inside. The dragon may begin to burrow if it’s time to lay, or she can take some time before the process starts.

Watch the video on how to make a DIY egg-laying box for bearded dragons from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCCoQBDBnYo.

Substrate for an Egg-laying Box

The ideal substrate to use in an egg-laying box entails the mixture of organic topsoil and sand.

Ensure that the substrate is moist and loose enough to enhance burrowing, and it must be at least nine inches deep. You can use organic garden soil or potting mix and sand, and ensure you mix them well.

Introducing Bearded Dragon Male to Female(s) for Breeding

When pairing male and female bearded dragons, there are three approaches that people commonly use. For instance, there are those people who prefer two put the two beardies together in a new enclosure.

Some owners tend to bring the male into the female’s terrarium while others carry the female to the male’s cage.

Whichever approach you choose depends on your preference but ensures it is capable of reducing the risks resulting from territoriality. You don’t need to handle your female dragon excessively, and that’s why bringing the male to her tank would be much better.

Just monitor them and make sure there are no fight breakouts. Sometimes, it can take several hours or days before mating happens, and that’s why some breeders tend to leave the lizards together until they can observe the pregnancy in the female.

What Does Bearded Dragon Mating Behavior Look Like?

When it’s time to mate, females express their mating behaviors, so do males. The male beardie displays a black beard and bobs its head more frequently. If there’s a female around, the male tends to stomp its front feet at the female and begins chasing her as it tries to mount her.

You will also notice the male trying to bite the female on the neck as it is also trying to mount on her. In the process of biting, your female might get injuries, and that is why you need to be present for supervision.

It is also because of the same reason that male and female bearded dragons need to stay separately except during breeding. Male dragons are a bit unromantic when it comes to breeding and may cause many injuries to the females.

If you are worried that the bite may develop into a wound, please make sure to visit your reptile vet for further advice. Females show mating behavior by bobbing their heads in a slow manner and arm-waving. This indicates that they are ready to mate.

How to Tell if a Female Bearded Dragon is Gravid (pregnant)?

You can quickly tell if your female dragon is gravid by just observing. A few weeks after mating, she will begin to add weight and the belly changes its shape. The stomach will eventually appear like it is full of round pebbles or marbles.

The marbles or round pebbles show that there are eggs in the stomach. When the female remains with a few days to lay the eggs, she will suddenly stop eating, appears restless, and digs from one place to another in the tank.

Bearded Dragon Laying Eggs

Typically, female bearded dragons lay their eggs in the afternoon or early evening. You may or may not see your lizard laying eggs, but you can tell by looking at her body. After laying, the dragon seems skinny and tired.

The female can lay 15 to 30 eggs at a time, but others can lay as many as 50 eggs. It all depends on how you feed your pet and in addition to other factors.

If you think that your pet has not laid all the eggs, it is necessary to take it to a reptile vet as quickly as possible. The eggs may be binding in the body, and this is a severe condition that mostly stops laying.

Patient! Your Babies are Coming Soon

The eggs are incubated for about 60-90 days, and during the end of the incubation period, you will notice the eggs deflating, and water droplets develop. If you observe such signs, it means that the egg is fertile, and you are about to have hatchlings.

Baby bearded dragons possess an egg tooth, which they use to make a slit on the egg’s exterior when they are coming out. You can easily see this slit, and you should prepare to welcome the new hatchlings.

Every dragon makes a slit that its snout and head can fit comfortably. When the head is out, the lizard rests like that for at least one day before coming out fully.

Incubate bearded dragon Eggs

After the female finishes laying, transfer the eggs to a reptile incubator and place them in the same position, you find them in the nest site. To maintain the same orientation, I would recommend you to put marks on the eggs with a pencil and do it gently.

Set the eggs in the incubator and ensure you maintain the temperatures at 80-85℉ throughout. Incorrect temperature can interfere with hatching, and you may end up with no babies. Having a digital thermometer will help monitor the temperatures.

And of course, you will need to monitor the humidity more often and ensure it is at an average of 35%.

Read more: incubate bearded dragon eggs without an incubator

Also, visit the incubator regularly to inspect the eggs and see if they look wet or overly dry. The presence of moisture on the egg is fatal, as it can damage the embryos. If the eggs are wet, remove the lid for a day to lower the humidity and dry the vermiculite.

Sometimes, the eggs look like they are collapsing, and this happens when they are too dry. You will need to damp the vermiculite with water at room temperature to wet the eggs.

How Long Does It Take for an Egg to Successfully Hatch?

Under the right temperature and humidity, a fertile egg typically takes an average of 75 days to hatch successfully.

After the baby removes its head and snout from the egg, it can take around 24-36 hours to emerge fully. Never attempt to assist the hatchlings in hatching but leave them to do that on their own.

It can take one or two days for all the eggs to hatch. Please don’t remove the babies immediately from the incubator but allow them to remain for the first 24 hours of life to adjust to the new surroundings. Make sure to discard the dead babies.

Signs of a Dead Bearded Dragon Egg

If your female bearded dragon lays eggs today, you will have to wait for two weeks before evaluating them to check for fertility. The embryo isn’t developed until it is 14 days old.

Then, you will need to perform a candling process, which helps you to identify if the eggs are fertile or not. Dead eggs don’t show the pink embryo or veins when you shine the flashlight through them.

You can use the water waving test where you place the dragon’s egg in cool water. Dead eggs don’t waver. During incubation, you may notice there are moldy eggs, and they could be dead.

Check full detail: Signs Of A Dead Bearded Dragon Egg

Why Does My Female Bearded Dragon Lay Eggs without Mating?

A female bearded dragon can lay eggs even without breeding her as long as she had spent time with a male dragon recently.

But there are cases where the females lay eggs without mating with a male at any time. However, those eggs are infertile and cannot give you hatchlings.

This is a normal behavior in bearded dragons, and it is pretty standard. But you don’t need to incubate the eggs since they are not fertile.

What to Remember When Taking Care of Baby Beardies?

Now, the hatchlings are under your care, and you must make sure that things are Ok. The first thing to do after the babies are a day old in the incubator is introducing them to the tank. Ideally, a 20-gallons tank can hold an average of 5 baby bearded dragons.

Make sure to group the babies according to their size. The babies don’t necessarily need to eat food during the first three days of life since the yolk from their egg supplies them with nutrients.

It would be best if you don’t miss to line the babies’ terrarium with a moist paper towel during the first few weeks for hydration. You might also want to mist the hatchlings with water before they start drinking on their own.

Introduce them to food and provide plenty of it to prevent the beardies from nipping on each other’s tail and toes.

Will Bearded Dragons Eat Their Young?

Although bearded dragons are so affectionate, they don’t show any maternal care to their young ones. In case a female bearded dragon meets her hatchlings, don’t be surprised to see her trying to eat them.

That’s why the eggs have to be incubated because the female cannot sit on them. After laying, she has no business of what follows next. So, it is upon you to look after the new babies.

Fully understanding your bearded dragon will help you better take care of them. As a suggestion, we would recommend you to get the best bearded dragon book. Not to become an expert on bearded dragon care but will help you avoid the common mistake in new pet lizard owners.

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion

Breeding bearded dragons is a fun exercise, but only if you understand what you are doing. I hope this article has been helpful to you, and now you have a useful review of how to breed bearded dragons.

There is a lot that you need to do to ensure that your adult dragons and the babies are healthy and are living a comfortable life.

You have seen that breeding isn’t about placing a male and female dragon together and waiting to see them mate.

Also, there are many costs involved in breeding, as you will need plenty of materials before the process is complete.

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