Bearded dragons are dubbed the friendliest reptiles ever by reptile enthusiasts for several reasons. They are docile, easy to handle, good around kids and pets, appreciate nice neck scratches, and can breed readily. Plus, they look like cute little pancakes! In general, you don’t need to be an expert to care for beardies at all – or breed them. However, if you’re a newbie, I totally understand your concerns. Since beardies are highly solitary animals, how do you even begin to breed them?
Bearded dragons mate similarly to chickens. There’s first the dramatic mating chase before the male hops on the female, biting her neck down and tangling their tails to touch cloacas (anal/reproductive opening). This process lasts 2 to 3 minutes and may require a couple of tries over time to successfully call it a wrap.
Now that you have a picture of the beardie mating scenario, the next step is to understand how to breed bearded dragons. I’ll be taking you through the pre-mating, actual mating, and post-mating process so that you can properly prepare your pet for a successful baby-making like a pro. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
The Bearded Dragon Pre-Mating Process
Before your bearded dragon can become a parent, there are certain things you must consider. Think of the pre-mating process as getting ready for a date; sorting out an outfit, fixing your hair, creating unrealistic scenarios – all of that fun stuff.
Your beardies need to be prepared to meet themselves, and here are the best ways to go about it.
1. Identify Your Beardie’s Sex
It’s highly crucial to figure out the sex of the beardie you’re preparing to breed if you’re unsure about it. The one thing that would hurt more than realizing you cannot breed your bearded dragon because it happened to be a different sex, is realizing you’ve spent all this time thinking your beardie is a different sex!
If you’re wondering how to tell the gender of your bearded dragon, you can do this by lifting the tail in search of tiny bumps (hemipenal bulges) just at the base before the cloaca. If you see two bumps laying side by side, it’s a male, and if you’re met with nothing, it’s a female.
2. Go For Veterinary Check-Ups
Have you heard of Adenovirus? Well, it’s a nasty disease that is passed down from mother to hatchling, and it’s pretty contagious amongst other beardies. There’s an entire fact sheet compiled by Wildlife Health Australia concerning the issue of adenovirus in bearded dragons. The best way to properly limit the spread of the virus is by safe and healthy breeding. As soon as ADV is discovered, it is important to discontinue the breeding process until both parties are clear of the disease!
3. Feed Your Beardies The Necessary Vitamins
Before and after the mating process, your female beardie needs to be placed on a vitamin D and calcium diet to ensure that her eggs are properly formed and laid without depleting her vitamin load. It is not necessary to feed the male since it won’t be laying eggs, but it wouldn’t hurt to do so nonetheless.
4. Prepare The Mating Environment
For the period of mating, your beardies will be living in the same enclosure for a week. Ensure that there are several basking and hiding spots to confirm there is no competition. Of course, competition is inevitable and the female will submit and take the lesser deal, but you can still make conditions livable through and through for both beardies.
The Actual Bearded Dragon Mating Process
Now, there is only one process to having your beardies mate. All you have to do is place the female in the enclosure with the male, and let nature take its course. Provided that the conditions are suitable for both bearded dragons, you shouldn’t experience any difficulties at all.
Your female bearded dragon needs to be put in the same terrarium as the male for one week and then taken out for another on repeat till both beardies have spent a total of 3 to 4 weeks together.
During this period, both beardies – especially the male – will exhibit behaviors similar to stress. You’ll find them stomping around, bobbing their heads, and darkening their beards. The male bearded dragon will take the chase and run after the female. It will mount her and bite her neck simultaneously pressing their cloacas together. Coupling takes a few minutes before they disengage and this process can take place once a day to a few times in the week they spend together.
The reason why you need several tries to fully ensure the breeding is successful is because not every mount produces profit. As you can imagine, many efforts have to be made before beardies actually mate.
When Is A Bearded Dragon Due For Mating?
Beardies reach sexual maturity at 18 months old and are safe to breed if they weigh 350 grams. During this period, you are fully guaranteed that they are strong and healthy enough to lay eggs. In the wild, they’ll start showing signs of mating behavior that we have discussed above during the summer months which are December, January, and February when the weather is hot enough to hatch the eggs properly. However, since your beardie is in captivity, you can breed them during the warmest seasons where you are situated.
The Bearded Dragon Post-Mating Procedure
After your female and male beardies have spent a great while running around making babies, the next step to consider is egg laying. Is your female beardie fully prepared to lay her eggs? Here are 3 steps to follow to prepare your beardie to lay her eggs safely:
1. Ensure Your Female Beardie Is Pregnant
If you’re wondering how to tell if your beardie is pregnant or not, you should be able to predict it about 4 to 6 weeks after mating. Slowly, you’d notice her belly drags lower to the floor than usual. After the 5th week, you’ll begin to see the imprints of the eggs inside the belly. If it’s past 6 weeks and you still find your female beardie the same size as she’s always been, then the mating was not successful.
2. Provide A Lay Box For Your Beardie
Bearded dragons bury their eggs in the sand, so it’s crucial to provide a similar habitat for your beardie to feel safe laying her eggs. You can utilize a plastic container (view on Amazon) similar to the enclosure and potting soil to replicate the suitable environment. The potting soil (view on Amazon) should be deep enough that you can bury your fingers completely, and lose enough for your beardie to easily dig.
3. Have An Incubator Ready
The lay box is not enough to ensure the eggs are hatched successfully. In fact, it’s a horrible end for the embryos considering a lot of climate changes have to be evaluated. Incubators (view on Amazon) are the best – if not the only – way to hatch a beardie’s eggs.
How Does A Female Beardie Lay Her Eggs?
Around the 4th week, your beardie should start displaying signs of ‘labor’. This includes indications of distress like running around the enclosure, head bobbing, floor scratching, and waving. Once you notice this, quickly place your beardie in the lay box and wait for a few hours.
Usually, beardies lay their eggs during the evenings and nighttime. They’ll dig into the soil, push out the eggs, and bury the clutch right after like nothing ever happened. Beardies can lay about 20 eggs in one sitting. This can take anything from 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Sometimes, bearded dragons lay their fertilized eggs weeks later. This happens when some eggs develop slower than others and happen to be late.
While your beardie can plop the eggs in her enclosure, it’s highly dangerous to leave the eggs around the female for long. See, bearded dragons are not exactly the best parents. They can turn around and eat the eggs they have just laid if it’s still in sight.
3 Easy Steps To Incubate Your Bearded Dragon’s Eggs
Now that the eggs have been laid, the next step is incubation. The first thing you should have ready is the incubator and a pen marker, and you’re good to go!
Here is a step-by-step process of how to incubate your beardies eggs:
- Do Not Rotate Or Disrupt The Position Of The Eggs
The way you find the eggs, pick them slowly and carefully one after the other till they’re all out of the soil. Using your marker, draw an ‘X’ on the area facing upward so that you don’t mistakenly turn the eggs upside down.
- Transfer The Eggs To The Incubator
Now, you can place the eggs in the incubator neatly giving little spaces where a thumbprint can fit into. This allows a stable temperature to flow around the eggs through and through.
- Fix The Proper Temperature And Humidity
The temperature for the incubator has to be 84° Fahrenheit with a humidity of 80% for the eggs to hatch. If you’re using an automatically adjustable incubator, you’d have fewer chores to do. However, if you have to manually set the thermometer or hygrometer, you’d have to check in every time you experience a change in temperature around your surroundings to ensure the incubator’s conditions don’t get thrown off.
How Long Does It Take For Bearded Dragon Eggs To Hatch?
Beardie eggs take approximately 60 days to hatch. It can be a few days less or more, but shouldn’t exceed 80 days. The eggs may not necessarily hatch at once; hatching can take place in 3 weeks. So, do your best to check on the eggs morning and evening to ensure no hatchlings are running around disturbing the other sleepers.
Wrapping It Up
Bearded dragons are typically easy to breed. I agree the process is a little hectic, but it’s not difficult to follow through at all. All you need is the proper situations and directions (that I have provided in this article) to become a beardie breeding pro.
Remember to be patient with your beardies because breeding isn’t fun for either party. Trust me, your beardie would prefer to be done earlier than you hope for. Once you follow through with the necessary steps, you should have a couple of beardie babies within 3 to 4 months. Good luck!