Breeding – This May Not Be a Great Investment
If you are planning on breeding bearded dragons become well-educated about this endeavor before you decide to do it. The process from beginning to end is very involved. To be successful, you must be diligent at following through if you want to be successful. Once begun be aware that if you miss even one step along the way, you could end up with a female bearded dragon who is not with eggs or possibly the eggs are not going to hatch.
I am not trying to discourage you. I am encouraging you to become knowledgeable so you can make an educated decision to breed or not to. The following is an outline about what is involved before, during, and after breeding bearded dragons. It is by no means complete. It only provides an introduction to bearded dragon breeding.
Bearded dragons must be of the proper age to breed. The female must be 2 years of age and the male 1.5 years. Breeding too young causes health issues.
You have to mirror nature’s conditions to stimulate breeding and this process is quite involved.
Correct Vivarium and Setup for Two
The vivarium must be large enough for two with proper barriers set up to ensure the female does not become stressed by the male’s advances.
Bearded dragons lay eggs. Once the female becomes gravid (carrying eggs) you need to know what is now her normal behaviors and attitudes. These can be much different from her “normal” behaviors.
Correct Environment for Laying Eggs
Once she is ready to lay her eggs, you must provide the proper environment. When she is ready, the female bearded dragon digs a burrow in which she lays her eggs. So you need about 8 inches of moist, sandy soil in a separate container from her vivarium.
Ready to Lay Eggs or Not!
Note that she may show signs of being ready to lay her eggs, but the actual process may take from one day to several before she actually does. During this time you must place her in the container for a few hours. If after this time she has not laid her eggs, you must return her to the vivarium and try again the next day. Repeat until she actually lays her eggs.
Relocate Eggs to Incubator
Once she lays her eggs, she buries them. You must carefully dig them up and place them in an incubator. The incubator must be thermostatically controlled.
To hatch, there are special conditions in which to place the eggs. You must carefully watch the eggs. There are precautions to take to ensure hatching is successful. Hatching can take 24 to 36 hours to complete and must be carefully observed. Once hatched you have special conditions for housing these 4-inch lizards. And a typical clutch (eggs from one female) can be from 16 to 24 eggs.
So, the typical clutch size is between 16 and 24 eggs. That means you are going to have more than a few beardies.
As they grow older, you must house them separately. Ensure you have a proper set up for housing each one. For more information refer to Creating a Dragon’s Lair.
Finding Responsible Owners
When considering breeding, you must also factor in finding buyers for them. Those who do not sell, you must then find homes. And the hard truth is that beardies are not everyone’s cup of tea. Check out the local pet stores. How many do they have in stock?
Finding people who properly look after a beardie as a pet is not as easy as finding someone who is willing to take in an adorable puppy or a fluffy white bunny. Some people do not like the appearance of these lizards and even if bearded dragons are docile by nature, folks have the misconception that they are fierce.
Make sure you have enough people interested in beardies who are willing to buy the dragons BEFORE you begin breeding. This means advertising, promoting sales, and if you are more than just a breeding mill, taking precautions to ensure the buyers are going to properly take care of their new pet. This is not impossible to do. After all, these precautions are taken for dogs, cats, bunnies, and other various pets, so it can be done with bearded dragons as well. With some effort, you will not be stuck with beardies that you can’t find homes for. But you must take this endeavor seriously and see it through to the end should you decide to breed.
The above is a very brief synopsis. For a more detailed explanation about this, refer to REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY OF BEARDED DRAGONS IN CAPTIVITY By Jonathan Rheins. This article goes into more detail about breeding bearded dragons.