Backyard Buddies
Bearded Dragon

Photo: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Bearded Dragon

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Bearded Dragons have spines under and around their throats that give them their distinguishing feature and name. These spikes are actually quite rubbery, not sharp, and fool predators into thinking that this is a dangerous lizard. Both male and female Bearded Dragons have beards.

Wild Bearded Dragons only live in Australia, and right across the mainland. The Eastern Bearded Dragon lives in Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia. The Dwarf Bearded Dragon lives in Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia. The Central Bearded Dragon lives in Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

Central Bearded Dragons breed from September to March during the warmer months. It takes about 50 to 70 days for their eggs to hatch, and once they do the young fend for themselves straight away.

Look for Bearded Dragons or their babies in sunny spots, soaking up the rays. They will sit on rocks, pavers or even driveways or pavements to attract heat from above and soak up the heat stored below them. During the hottest months of the year, look for dragons during the early morning and late afternoon.

The long, low, wide body shape of the Bearded Dragon helps it hug to the ground and remain relatively camouflaged when it is still - but it can move quite quickly if disturbed.

Bearded Dragons are good climbers and can be found on tree stumps, in the branches of trees or bushes, on large rocks or even on fence posts. These positions higher up from the ground help them see prey below, and watch out for predators.

If you live near woodlands or dry eucalypt forests, you may see Bearded Dragons coming to investigate your garden, looking for food or a good spot to sun themselves. They can live in many different kinds of habitats such as subtropical wetlands, scrublands, savannahs, shore areas and even in deserts.

Bearded Dragons are great backyard buddies as they will eat up insects, ants, beetles, cockroaches, spiders, as well as the occasional small rodent or lizard. They will eat whatever they can find, including some plant matter such as fruit or leaves.

Bearded Dragons can change colour very quickly to blend in to their surroundings or to make themselves less appealing to predators. When threatened, a mature male changes the colour of his beard to black and puffs it up so that the spines appear rigid and his body looks bigger. He also opens his mouth, revealing a bright colour that surprises predators.

Did you know? 

Bearded Dragons can drink when it is raining by standing on their back legs with their heads and tails hanging low. As the water runs down the head towards its mouth, the Bearded Dragon simply laps up the droplets.

Tip
To be a buddy to Bearded Dragons, put out flat rocks or pavers in your garden for them to sun themselves on. Mulch your garden beds so that lizards and other insects that Bearded Dragons like to eat will be available. Provide fresh water in a shallow dish on the ground for them to sip, and keep the water fresh. Keep your pets indoors. Watch out for lizards on roads after dark, especially on hot days.

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Quote

”Birds, bugs, lizards and penguins are my favourite Backyard Buddies – I like to find, watch and learn about what they do and what I can do to help them.“

Gus – 11 year old Backyard Buddy, NSW

Photo: OEH