How much do you really know about bearded dragons? If you want to learn more, you’ve come to the right place! Once you read these 29 fun facts about bearded dragons, you can consider yourself an emerging expert on how cool bearded dragons really are.
So let’s dive in to these 29 fun facts!
1. Bearded dragon spinal cords have no discs.
In people, spinal cord discs protect the delicate vertebrae that make up the spine. They provide shock absorption, mobility, and support. This lack of protection in bearded dragons' spines means their spines can be easily injured. If bearded dragons fall, if they are deficient in calcium, if they become impacted—all of these can damage their spine.
2. Bearded dragons are cold blooded.
This is why you need to keep their enclosure heated—to mimic their natural environment and keep them from getting too cold.
3. The sun helps beardies digest their food properly.
This is one of many reasons they need a basking lamp in the enclosure. In the wild, bearded dragons need the sun for Vitamin D, which is essential for their bodies to absorb nutrients. As pets, they need a basking spot with heat and UVB rays to imitate the sun. Generally speaking, bearded dragons should have twelve hours of UVB exposure a day. Taking them outside on warm, sunny days to get natural sunlight is a great way to meet this quota, too.
4. Bearded dragons can’t breathe well when they are on their backs.
Your pup may roll around on her back to play, scratch, or beg for tummy rubs, but you will rarely (if ever) see a bearded dragon on his back. It’s not a position they naturally gravitate towards—and now you know why!
5. Bearded dragons have three eyes.
All the better to see you with, my dear! Bearded dragons' third eye is tiny and is hidden on the back of their head. It perceives light, dark, and shadows, which helps with predator detection.
6. Bearded dragons are venomous.
And here’s the kicker: bearded dragon venom contains crotamine, a.k.a. the same substance found in rattlesnake venom! But don’t worry. A bearded dragon’s venom helps kill their prey; it does virtually nothing to humans. If your dragon bites you, the site may swell and bleed a bit; that’s all.
7. A bearded dragon’s color and pattern may appear different after they shed.
They may look more vibrant or more dull. Colors that were not previously there may emerge. You may notice new patterns or variations in the pattern they had before. You never quite know how they will look when they emerge from a shed, so even though the shedding process is not fun…the after effects can be exciting!
8. There are 11+ types of bearded dragon morphs, and they come in all kinds of colors and patterns.
The standard morph—or the typical brown and yellow bearded dragon that closely resembles its wild ancestors—is the most common morph, and typically the cheapest. Other morphs include German Giant, Dunner, Leatherback, Hypo, Zero, Witblits, Wero, Translucent, Paradox, and Silkie. A bearded dragon may exhibit characteristics of just one morph, or multiple morphs.
9. Bearded dragons (especially males) shouldn’t be housed together.
At their core, bearded dragons are solitary creatures. Cohabitating results in the more dominant dragon(s) taking charge of the food and basking spot, so that the health of the less dominant dragon(s) deteriorates. The dragons will also get aggressive with each other and fight, resulting in injury or even death, especially to the less dominant dragons.
10. Bearded dragons can change their sex.
Weird, right? During incubation, when bearded dragons are in development, high temperatures can change their sex from male into female. Scientists speculate that this is an adaptive response to extreme conditions which would require the species to produce more offspring (Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/dragon-lizard-embryos-change-sex-when-temperature-rises-1.3135839)
11. Bearded dragons tend to live longer in captivity than they do in the wild (provided they are well cared for, of course).
The typical lifespan for a wild bearded dragon is 5 to 8 years, whereas pet bearded dragons can live 8 to 12 years or even longer. This is largely due to the lack of predators and tailored care, including access to veterinary care to treat illnesses.
12. The oldest known bearded dragon lived to be 18 years, 237 days old.
His name was Sebastian and he lived in the UK. According to Guinness World Records, Sebastian was born on June 1, 1997, and died on January 24, 2016.
13. Bearded dragon spikes are not very sharp…unless the beardie is stressed out.
Typically bearded dragon spikes have more bark than bite, so to speak. They look pretty impressive and threatening to potential predators, but are more rubbery than sharp to the touch. If a bearded dragon is feeling defensive or stressed (maybe puffing out his beard), the spikes become more stiff and sharp. But they are still more of a visual deterrent against predators than a physical one.
14. Bearded dragons smell with their tongue.
Similar to how human noses work, a bearded dragon’s tongue gathers particles which their brains then read as an odor.
15. Bearded dragons see a broader color spectrum than we do.
Meaning they perceive colors that are beyond our imagination! Bearded dragons have four cones in their eyes, whereas humans have three. This allows them to see more colors than we can. They can also see UVA rays from the sun, which are invisible to humans.
16. Bearded dragons have quite the mouthful of teeth—68 to 80, to be exact.
This is twice the amount that adult humans have! But don't worry...typically you don't have to brush your dragon's teeth, unless your vet instructs you to do so.
17. Front teeth grow back if they fall out.
Cats have nine lives, and bearded dragon teeth have another chance, too—that is, if they are in the front. If a bearded dragon loses their front teeth, they will regrow. If a bearded dragon loses a tooth on the side or in the back of its mouth, however, it will not grow back. The back teeth are fused to the jaw (a.k.a. “acrodont dentition”). Because of this, they are more susceptible to damage done by decay or injury since harm to the tooth can easily lead to problems in the jaw. Of course, if you ever notice any of your bearded dragon’s teeth exhibiting signs of damage or decay, give your vet a call whether it’s the back teeth or front.
18. Fireflies and avocados are toxic to bearded dragons.
Fireflies contain a defensive steroid called lucibufagins, which is highly toxic to lizards and other insects. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, “It takes half of a firefly to kill a full-grown bearded dragon.” Enough said. As for avocados, there is a fungicidal toxin called "persin" that is present in the skin and seeds. A little bit of persin makes its way into the avocado’s flesh, making the fruit toxic for all animals, and lethal for many smaller animals like birds and reptiles. Although some bearded dragons have survived after ingesting avocado, it’s absolutely not worth the risk.
19. Bearded dragons are lactose intolerant.
Yep, bearded dragons can’t digest milk. Their digestive system isn’t made to handle it. So don’t feed them dairy products!
20. Bearded dragons tend to be healthy and resilient pets with proper care.
The key to raising a happy, healthy bearded dragon is providing a proper habitat, and feeding them a healthy, age-appropriate diet (young bearded dragons need more bugs; adults need more greens). Getting educated before you bring your dragon home, and continuing to learn about and practice proper bearded dragon care, are key to giving your dragon a great life.
21. Bearded dragons exhibit some interesting behavior, including waving, head bobbing, glass surfing, and beard puffing.
Waving can signal submission or docile acknowledgement to another dragon, while head bobbing can mean your dragon is excited or wants to mate. You may also see your bearded dragon glass surfing (standing on hind legs with front paws on the glass of the terrarium) or puffing out the skin around their neck (a sign of aggression, defensiveness, or stress—and also the reason they are called “bearded” dragons).
22. Bearded dragons lay 20 eggs at a time.
That's a lot of eggs! And they can become gravid without mating, so if you have a female, she might lay infertile eggs. Signs that your female dragon is about to lay eggs include:
- Digging frantically (which is how dragons prepare a nest)
- Bulges on your dragon's stomach
- Rapid weight gain without diet changes
- Your dragon's belly dragging on the floor
- Signs of stress
Definitely give your vet a call if you suspect your dragon is going to lay eggs.
23. Bearded dragon tails are half their length.
Male bearded dragons can grow up to 24 inches and females can reach 19. Pretty long, right? However, without their tails they would only reach 12 and 9 and a half inches, respectively! Take a look at your bearded dragon and you’ll see that it’s true: about half of their length comes solely from their tail.
24. Bearded dragons can run up to 9 miles per hour.
That's human speed! Before you grab starting blocks and challenge your reptile to a race, know that they are sedentary lizards overall. They can run away from predators but you won’t often see them running at high speeds around their enclosure, not even to chase down bugs. They generally only sprint at 9 miles per hour if they need to.
25. Bearded dragons can run on their hind legs.
Although pet bearded dragons may not do this very often, wild bearded dragons will sometimes run on their hind legs when being chased by a predator. This allows them to regulate their body temperature better so they can stay cool and run for a longer time; it can also help them go faster since they have more weight in the back of their body toward their hind legs. If your dragon does ever do this, it's quite a sight to see!
26. Bearded dragons are native to Australia, but are not imported from there.
According to National Geographic, Australia banned the export of bearded dragons in the 1960s. In the 1990s, bearded dragons became popular pets in the United States. So how did they get here, if they couldn’t be exported? There is some speculation that bearded dragons were smuggled into the country a couple decades prior to their rise in popularity (Source: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pogona_vitticeps/). The bearded dragons in the US today are the result of generations of domestic breeding. An article in Beardie Bungalow brings up an interesting point in regards to domestication:
“This is also why they make such good pets. A wild beardie would be very hard to care for and would likely not be docile at all. A beardie bred in captivity makes a much better pet!”
27. Bearded dragons are illegal in Hawaii.
In the United States, you can keep a bearded dragon just about anywhere… except Hawaii, where snakes and large lizards are also banned. This might sound strange at first, but the reasoning makes sense. An article in Reader’s Digest about illegal pets quotes Hawaii’s official website:
“Snakes and large lizards have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat,” according to Hawaii.gov. “Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native birds. Large snakes may also kill pets and even humans.”
28. Bearded dragons don’t pee liquid.
Instead, their urine is a chalky white powder called uric acid. Because bearded dragons are native to the desert, their bodies are built to retain water. They don’t want to waste a single drop—even to pee.
29. Bearded dragons can be two-headed.
Hydra or Medusa vibes, anyone? Two-headed bearded dragons are rare, and their chances of survival are pretty low. But they do exist!
What do you think of our list? Is there anything you would add? What surprised you most? Email us at email@example.com with any feedback or questions you have.
Sources & Further Reading: