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Breeding bearded dragons can be an expensive and time-consuming process. The typical female bearded dragon lays 20 to 30 eggs per clutch, and may lay up to three clutches, spaced three to four weeks apart, every time she is bred, since females of this species are usually capable of retaining sperm. The juvenile lizards usually can't be sold until they are at least six to eight weeks old, so breeding bearded dragons usually means looking after multiple clutches of varying ages at one time. Breeding these lizards generally requires both a male and a female bearded dragon of breeding age, which should ideally be kept in separate cages except during the act of mating itself. Once laid, the bearded dragon eggs usually need to be incubated for anywhere from 60 to 100 days.
A breeding pair of the pet lizards commonly known as bearded dragons should generally be about 18 months of age. The female should usually weigh at least 14.1 ounces (400 grams) and the male should be large enough to mount her. Some specimens, especially males, have been known to display mating behaviors and even mate before they reach full maturity. It is, however, considered best for the health of the lizards and the viability of their eggs if they are allowed to mature fully before breeding.
Two mature adults of opposite sexes can typically be placed in the same cage for breeding purposes. Once mating has occurred, the female should be removed back to her own cage. Housing the two lizards together can cause the male to become excessively aggressive towards the female as he attempts to mate constantly, and the female can sustain permanent harm.
Males will generally bob their heads and wave their forelegs at the female to express a desire to mate. Their beards will typically turn dark or black. The male will usually mount the female by holding her down and grasping the back of her neck firmly in his jaws. If the female becomes gravid, or pregnant with eggs, she will generally experience a significant increase in appetite, and can gain between 2.5 and 3.5 ounces (70 to 100 grams) of weight.
Bearded dragons typically bury their eggs in damp sand. Those interested in breeding bearded dragons are generally advised to provide a container about 2 feet (61 centimeters) wide and 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) deep, filled with damp sand. The female will generally dig a hole and bury her eggs here when she is ready. Signs of imminent laying include frantic behavior and a loss of appetite on the female's part.
Once the eggs have been laid, they will typically need to be removed to an incubator. The eggs will need to be incubated in a humid environment, at a temperature of about 84 degrees Fahrenheit (28.9 Celsius). Most incubators incorporate a dampened substrate such as vermiculite.
Keeping the eggs both warm and moist is considered essential to breeding bearded dragons successfully, since most reptile eggs require some level of humidity for proper development. Newly hatched juveniles should generally be housed in small groups, and will usually need to be fed two or three times per day.
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