Backyard Buddies
Eastern Bearded Dragon

Photo: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Eastern Bearded Dragon

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Around March, be on the lookout for some Eastern Bearded Dragon youngsters emerging from the soil. Eastern Bearded Dragon adults mate from August to December each year, and the hatchlings emerge about 45 to 79 days later.

At 9 cm long, these babies might be easy to miss, but what they lack in size, they make up for in numbers. The mother lays up to three clutches during the breeding season of 14 to 31 soft shelled eggs, which are each about as long as a 10 cent piece.

Eastern Bearded Dragons are great buddies to have in your garden as they will eat snails, insects, grasshoppers, beetles, katydids, small lizards, worms, flowers, fruits, and the occasional mouse. Avoid using chemicals in the garden, and the Eastern Bearded Dragon will take care of the bugs for you.

Eastern Bearded Dragons stay close to trees, to climb up to escape danger, get some sun or look for a potential mate. Look out for them basking in the sunlight of a branch, log or even on your fence.

Growing up to 55 cm, it would be hard to miss an Eastern Bearded Dragon if it didn't have such a brilliant natural disguise. They range from grey, black and dark brown through to lighter reddish-brown and ochre shades, which blend in with bark, rocks, logs and dead branches.

You can tell an older Eastern Bearded Dragon by the pale blue, green or yellow markings they develop on their forehead as they age. They have a row of spikes along their side that continue up their forearms. This is a good way to tell them apart from their close relative, the Central Bearded Dragon.

The Eastern Bearded Dragon's first line of protection is to stay very still and let their rocky appearance act as camouflage until danger passes.

But if threatened, their beard extends forward and they open their mouth wide to flash the bright yellow colour inside, which usually scares off potential predators. 

Keep your eyes peeled if you live in eastern Australia, particularly if you're south of the Cape York Peninsula, as this is where the Eastern Bearded Dragon is most commonly spotted.

The Eastern Bearded Dragon is often mistaken for a frill-necked lizard. Frill-necks are only found in northern parts of Australia and their frill goes all the way around their heads. The Eastern Bearded Dragon's beard is a little less impressive, but no less important when it comes to defending themselves.

The male Eastern Bearded Dragon makes quite the effort during mating season; they will attempt to get the attention of females with wild waving and head-bobbing.

Did you know?

Waving and bobbing isn't the only way these dragons get the attention of the opposite sex. Up to 75 different display sequences have been observed in their mating rituals, with a repertoire that includes head-licking, push-ups and even colour changes.

Tip

Watch out for Bearded Dragons and other lizards sunning themselves or looking for food on your driveway, or along the edge of a road or highway. It's also a great idea to check any long grass for dragons and Blue-tongues before mowing the lawn.

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Quote

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Marcia - Grandparent & FNPW Supporter, QLD

Photo: OEH