Order Squamata - snakes and lizards
Family Agamidae - Old World iguanids
Scientific Name: Pagona barbata
Description: Characterized by a massive, wide and somewhat pointed head. Prominent scales along side of head and posterior throat skin have spiny extensions (the beard) which can be extended for an aggression or courtship display. Scales along the side of the body are also somewhat pointed. Color varies from brown and gray to orange or nearly black. The ventral scales are pale to dark gray with white spots lined in black. The body is dorso-ventrally flattened and ranges from 7.8-19.5 inches in length. Males are usually longer than females. The tail cannot be shed and regenerated.
Home Range: Central Australia.
Habitat Type: Rocky semi-deserts and arid forest. Though they tend to remain on the ground, they can be semi-arboreal.
Reproductive Habits: Though males and females often engage in head bobbing, arm waving, and bowing for aggression and courtship displays, females tend to be more aggressive in initiating courtship. She will repeatedly lift her tail and display her cloacal opening until the male’s interest is aroused. Occasionally, males will become aggressive and chase the female nipping at her tail and feet while displaying his beard. Eggs are laid in September (spring in the Southern Hemisphere), and clutch size is 11-15 eggs. Clutches of up to 30 are not unusual. The eggs will hatch in November-December and the young reach sexual maturity in 1-2 years.
Diet in Wild: Prey on grasshoppers, beetles, termites, and insect larvae.
Diet in Zoo: Winter-1/4 cup greens, ½ tablespoon fruit and vegetable mix, and 3 mealworms. Summer- ½ cup greens, ½ tablespoon fruit and vegetable mix, and 3 mealworms. Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays- 3 crickets
General Info: Bearded dragons can change their coloration somewhat from light to dark. This seems to be an adaptation which enables them to control their body temperature; however, they have also been known to change color when they are sick or distressed. Bearded dragons are diurnal, but seem well adapted to their hot environment. There is some evidence that they have physiological adaptations which allow them to control body temperature as they are able to remain active during cooler periods and after sunset. In the early morning hours, they will position themselves perpendicular to the sun in order to receive the most direct basking light. During the heat of the day, they will turn their face directly into the sun in order to limit the sun exposure. Frequently, they will spend the hottest part of the day in sandy burrows or in shade where they will change to a darker color to dissipate heat.
When in flight, these lizards will run for short periods on their hind feet only. Although this appears to slow them down somewhat, they may be using this posture to expose their stomach which dissipates heat energy built up through exertion.
Bearded dragons are lizards which do not seem to be afraid of humans. They are easily captured and handled. Populations are not threatened however
Predators: Snakes, large lizards and birds.
The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium. 1988. Fritz Jurgen Obst et al. T. H. F. Publications, Inc. Neptune City, N. J. pp. 48-50.
Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. Vol. 6, Reptiles. 1975. Bernhard Grzimek. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. New York. pp. 206, 217.
Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. Vol. 7, 2nd ed. 2003. 219 pp.
World Wide Web, www.oaklandzoo.org/atoz/azdragon.html