What Are the Characteristics of Bearded Dragons in the Wild?

Marjorie McAtee

Bearded dragons in the wild are generally found in the Australian outback, where they are considered a native species. During their three-to-five-year lifespan in the wild, these reptiles sleep at night and spend most of their daylight hours warming themselves in the sun. They typically reach their adult length of 24 inches (61 centimeters) at about 18 months of age. Bearded dragons in the wild usually come together in small groups to mate during the spring, after which they typically go their separate ways, with the female abandoning her eggs once she has laid them. Other than during this mating gathering period, bearded dragons are known for fiercely guarding their own territories.

Bearded dragons in the wild feed on insects, plants, and small reptiles.
Bearded dragons in the wild feed on insects, plants, and small reptiles.

There are several species of bearded dragons, all from the genus pogona. These lizards are normally brown or yellowish, though they have been known to develop red and orange hues. They may be black if they are ill. The bearded dragon has been observed to be capable of slight changes in color, as they may make themselves somewhat darker or somewhat lighter. Bearded dragons in the wild may change their colors to help cool or warm themselves, to show submission to another of the species, or to express desire to mate.

Bearded dragons have the ability to puff out and darken their beards at will.
Bearded dragons have the ability to puff out and darken their beards at will.

Bearded dragons in the wild typically feed on plants, insects, spiders, smaller reptiles, and small mammals. These reptiles are cold blooded, and much of their behavior in the wild is related to regulating body temperature. They can often be seen sunning themselves during the day, but they may retreat into the shade or burrow underground if they feel overheated.

Bearded dragons may also ride out cold temperatures by burrowing under the ground. They have been known to undergo a hibernation-like state known as brumation during the winter months. Brumation can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Some specimens may simply become lethargic for a period of weeks or months. Others may stop eating and begin sleeping more than usual, and still others may sleep without waking for the entire brumation period.

These lizards will typically run on their hind legs to escape predators and threats. They are believed to run much more slowly on only two legs, but experts believe that this means of regulating speed also helps to regulate the reptile's body temperature, allowing it to run further before it becomes obliged to stop and cool itself. Bearded dragons in the wild may also attempt to protect themselves by inflating their spiky beards to make themselves look larger and more threatening.

Body language is considered an important means of communication for bearded dragons in the wild. These lizards are known to expand their beards and nod their heads to show dominance over an territorial intruder. They may wave their front legs to show submissiveness or a desire to mate. Conflicts between bearded dragons in the wild are generally resolved without serious harm to either lizard.

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