Keeping reptiles as pets is a rewarding and challenging hobby. That’s because reptiles are so different from many of the other fluffy pets we keep. Unlike mammals, reptiles are ectotherms that have very specific environmental requirements. If these requirements aren’t met, captive reptiles may become sick and unhealthy.
Understanding where a reptile comes from is so important for proper husbandry. Even an easy-to-care-for reptile like a bearded dragon needs special attention.
So, where do bearded dragons come from?
Wild bearded dragons (Pogona) can be found dispersed throughout central Australia. Their natural habitats include grasslands, deserts, and other dry and rocky terrains. Pet bearded dragons have been bred in captivity for decades, and have not been taken directly from their wild environment since it was banned in the 1960s.
Even though your pet bearded dragon didn’t come from the wild, there’s still a lot to learn about their natural habitat. This article will tell you everything you need to know about where bearded dragons come from and teach you how to apply the knowledge to your pet’s enclosure.
Bearded Dragons In The Wild
To explain where bearded dragons come from, we’ll take a look at their wild lives. The five categories below will help us better understand where these spiny lizards originated.
Where Do Wild Bearded Dragons Live?
Bearded dragons have a very wide habitat range.
Bearded dragons can be found in the wild dispersed throughout Central Australia. They are mostly concentrated along the interior of eastern Australia, which includes western New South Wales and the Riverina region.
Bearded dragons are also found in a wide variety of habitats that range from tropical-arid to temperate to semi-arid and include woodlands, shrublands, grasslands, and deserts.
What Is The Bearded Dragon’s Habitat Like?
Bearded dragons are found in so many different habitats, it would take a novel to describe them all!
Bearded dragons are typically terrestrial animals, but can be semi-arboreal. Young bearded dragons, especially are known to climb up trees, in order to find safety from predators on the ground. For the most part, though, you’ll find bearded dragons on the ground or climbing up rocks and branches of low trees.
Most of the habitats in which bearded dragons are found have one thing in common: they’re dry. Bearded dragons have evolved to be able to tolerate a very dry environment and don’t do well in humid environments. Bearded dragon environments are often rocky, and filled with low vegetation like shrubs.
The video below is a great example of a man walking through a bearded dragon’s habitat. You can see just how sparse the vegetation really is! By the end of the video, you’ll also see a wild bearded dragon.
Bearded Dragon Natural Temperature And Terrain
To describe what a bearded dragon’s natural habitat looks like we’ll also need to discuss temperature and terrain.
Bearded dragon habitats host some of the most extreme temperatures on Earth. Deserts can experience both incredibly hot days and freezing cold nights. Typically, when temperatures are at their coldest, bearded dragons can be found brumating.
Brumation is a form of reptile hibernation, where bearded dragons burrow deep into the ground and spend days at a time hidden away. Brumation slows a reptile’s heart and respiratory rate. While brumating, bearded dragons can still emerge from dens on warmer days.
But, the temperature also gets very hot for bearded dragons in their natural habitats. This heat is something they are more accustomed to, and you can often find bearded dragons, perched on top of rocks and basking in the sun’s rays.
Where bearded dragons come from, the terrain is usually rocky and dusty. Bearded dragons have clawed feet to help them scale rocky surfaces and a tail to help them balance while climbing. This explains why bearded dragons are sometimes able to climb the impossibly smooth glass surfaces of their enclosures and escape!
What Do Wild Bearded Dragons Eat?
Bearded dragons are opportunistic feeders, and eat many of the things found in the habitats that they come from.
Bearded dragons are omnivores which means they eat a little bit of everything. In the wild, bearded dragons, survive on plant matter, insects, and small vertebrates. They eat ants, roaches, leaves, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and occasionally eat mice and lizards among other things.
Bearded dragons are both hunters and gatherers. These scaly lizards can make fast predators when needed. They will both run and lunge at prey to catch it. Bearded dragons are able to use their sticky tongues to grab onto live prey and plant matter alike. Bearded dragons aren’t at the bottom of the food chain, but they still have predators themselves.
Do Wild Bearded Dragons Have Predators?
The Australian wilderness is home to plenty of predators for a bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons are hunted and eaten by things like birds, snakes, dingoes, and foxes. Since many of a bearded dragon’s predators swoop down from above to eat them, bearded dragons often dart and hide in dens as a way to escape certain death.
Young bearded dragons are even more at risk of predation. You’ll often find hatchlings higher up in trees and hiding and shrubs to avoid danger.
How Can We Use This Information To Create Better Bearded Dragon Enclosures?
All of this information is good to know, but the important takeaway today is how we can use it to make our pet’s lives better!
One of the best ways to bond with your bearded dragon is to provide them with a stable environment. The best way to get them a stable environment is to make their enclosure mimic their natural environment. Obviously, that doesn’t mean putting predators in there with them or anything crazy like that. It just means giving them a natural and relaxing habitat where they can thrive.
Here are three things that we can take away now that we know where bearded dragons come from.
Beardie’s Need Rocky Terrain And A Place To Hide
One important feature of a bearded dragon enclosure is the need for rocks. It sounds simple, but providing your bearded dragon with a rocky terrain gives them both mental and physical stimulation. They can climb up the rocks when they want to get closer to a heat lamp and bask. Rocks can also be used as features to hide behind when they’re hunting or nervous.
Having a proper hide is essential to make a bearded dragon feel at home. If you remember where bearded dragons come from, you know how important a safe place to hide whether is a den for brumation or a rocky crevice for protection, beardies feel better when they can hide.
Your bearded dragon has no way of knowing that there aren’t the same amount of threats in captivity as there are in the wild.
Dry Is Best
The one thing that all bearded dragon habitats have in common is how dry they are.
Bearded dragon skin is adapted to retain moisture. Compared with many other reptiles, bearded dragons, do best in environments with low humidity. A relative humidity of 30-40% is recommended for captive bearded dragons.
If you think your bearded dragon is going to become dehydrated in this low humidity, you can provide them with hydration options. A den is usually going to be more humid than the outside air. It’s also essential to provide bearded dragons with a water dish, even though they wouldn’t necessarily have access to freshwater in the wild.
Maintain A Diurnal Schedule
Bearded dragons are one of the reptiles that are awake and active during the day. This means that they’re diurnal and sleep through the night.
In captivity, it’s important that you maintain this sort of sleeping schedule for your pet bearded dragon. Most people’s schedules align well with a bearded dragon’s diurnal rhythm—awake during the day and asleep at night. But, if your schedule doesn’t match up, there are a few easy fixes.
You’ll want to cover your bearded dragon at night if you have lights on late into the evening. This will allow them to get enough sleep and also allow you to stay up as late as you need to. If you sleep in late, you can put your bearded dragon’s lights on a timer so that they are on a consistent sleeping schedule.
Where Do Captive-Bred Bearded Dragons Come From?
A long time ago, bearded dragons were captured in the wild, and sold as pets.
All of that changed in the 1960s when bearded dragon exports were outlawed in Australia. Exports were outlawed to help protect the natural population of bearded dragons still left in the country. Even though taking bearded dragons from the wild is banned, there is a huge captive population.
If you currently own a bearded dragon, it was probably bred in captivity.
Sadly, the mass breeding of bearded dragons hasn’t necessarily been a good thing for them. Many of these bearded dragons come from poorly run reptile mills. Because these mills are focused on mass-producing animals, the reptiles in these establishments often suffer.
Major pet stores often rely on reptile breeding mills to supply a continuous stream of new reptiles. This is the same breeding story for many other popular pet reptiles, like leopard geckos!
Instead of buying a reptile from a major pet store, you have a few better options. The best way to get a bearded dragon is to adopt one from a shelter. These pets often come in when owners are overwhelmed by care demands. Shelters usually have low adoption fees and can help you find affordable vet care and proper housing.
You can also focus on finding a bearded dragon that comes from a legitimate breeder who shares information about your individual animal.
Bearded dragons come from so far away. These native Australian lizards have become one of the most commonly kept pet reptiles in the United States.
It’s important to know where bearded dragons come from so that we can give them the best care possible. Their enclosures should closely mimic the dry, arid, habitats they’re found in naturally. As you’re designing your bearded dragon’s home, always keep their original environment in mind and try to recreate it if possible!
Hopefully, we have taught you something new about where bearded dragons come from and how you can use that information to your advantage.