How Big Should A 5 Month Old Bearded Dragon Be Bearded Dragons – Why One Is Enough

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Bearded Dragons – Why One Is Enough

In 2006 we bought two bearded dragons. We had thoroughly researched their care and vivarium and equipment requirements, but had missed any information on whether bearded dragons should be kept singly or in pairs or groups. Many of the books we referred to were written by breeders who talked about their stallions with a range of beards. So we went into it a bit blind, with little knowledge and made the decision to get a pair.

Knowing we wanted a male and a female, the breeder we contacted had two eggs from two separate pairs of breaded dragons hatching around the same time. He accurately selected one from each group that would hopefully be male and female (although he pointed out that he had done his best to sex them, but it could be wrong – a warning you should expect from any experienced breeder ). The two young hatchlings were gathered in a separate vivarium, so they had been together since they were less than a week old.

The bearded dragons, named Shrek and Fiona, came to us at 5 weeks of age and were immediately put into a 5 foot vivarium where they seemed very happy. They interacted well, although at times they seemed to treat each other as pieces of furniture – one lying on top of the other with seeming indifference as to whether they were sitting on the other’s head! Even though I had prepared my son that if it turned out to be two males they would have to be separated, as they matured Fiona started waving and Shrek started nodding. They were definitely male and female.

We continued to read about bearded dragons and that’s when we found information about the dangers of keeping a male and a female together. Mating was not so much a possibility, but a certainty! And the warnings were there that they could mate too early causing the female to have problems with spawning and that the male, once started, would keep mating with the female making her life miserable.

Well, fair enough, they did mate, but not until they were a year old and both fully grown. So we considered ourselves very lucky. Seeing the eggs laid, watching them in the incubator and waiting for the hatchlings to emerge was something that gave us great joy. We had two clutches from that first mating – a total of 37 babies were born, and in 2008 the market was not yet flooded with many beards, so we managed to sell them all to good homes and made enough to cover the cost of feeding the chicks and buying the sets for them. I was worried at the time about what would happen next, but Shrek and Fiona settled down and the next pairing didn’t happen for another 18 months. Again, I chalked it up to another success. While I advised other people not to get two bearded dragons, I smugly thought that it had worked for us – probably because they had only been together for a few days.

When the eggs hatched this time and the chicks grew up, it was much harder to sell the babies – the price had dropped through the floor, and although we made enough to cover the food, and we would have made a loss if we had not already the equipment to grow them. We ended up keeping the last ones from newborn to 4 months old just because it was so hard to find new homes for them.

After that, Shrek and Fiona don’t spawn again and I wondered why seeing as there were so many warnings about overbreeding. I began to carefully observe their behavior. I noticed that Shrek would indeed start banging his head and showing that he was feeling rather lively, but Fiona – although much smaller (Shrek was a 700g giant!) made her displeasure clear. They circled each other, and then Fiona blasted him with arrows, making him back away. Then she would find refuge somewhere where mating was impossible – in the hammock, draped over a rock or branch. Shrek would give up and leave and have a face. Then they would go back to being their fellow travelers again. Fiona was obviously a boss.

In late 2011 Shrek developed tumors and passed away in the spring of 2012. Having had the same partner for her entire life, we were worried about how Fiona would behave, even if she would come out. Even though Shrek was destroyed by the vet, we left him to die in the vivarium with Fiona – the anesthesia they use doesn’t work instantly on reptiles. The vet agreed that taking him home to die was the best thing, as most animals, however, react better when they realize their companion has died, rather than simply disappeared. But as there isn’t much research into bearded dragon behavior, he couldn’t comment on what the lasting effect would be on Fiona.

So what happened? Well, Fiona didn’t ride a moped. He didn’t stop eating. She began to look the best she had ever looked in her entire life with gorgeous colors. She became more active in the vivarium, more active when running around the house. Curious, and though it’s hard to tell, she seemed happy. She was definitely more relaxed.

I can only conclude that in their years together she has tolerated Shrek’s presence, but she is actually happier alone without him. This surprised us!

In the wild, bearded dragons live alone – male and female will only meet to mate. Although we tend to humanize our pets and think that, like us, they will be unhappy living a lonely life in their homes, it seems from our experience that they prefer to live as they would in their natural environment. Single.

On the forum and website I advise people to never buy a pair of bearded dragons as there is a chance of getting two males (that can’t be kept together) or a male and a female from the same clutch which would result in siblings breeding she is very big. Coupled with this, even females cannot guarantee that they will not fight. Since it’s almost impossible to have sex with a bearded dragon until you’re an adult—and even then even the pros can be wrong—you really don’t know what you’re going to get if you buy bearded dragons together.

But now I think it’s a mistake to keep two as in our experience one is obviously happier on its own. The problem is that we tend to think that animals have the same emotions as we do, but bearded dragons aren’t human—or even like some other pets.

Not much research has been done on the behavior of bearded dragons, and scientists and reptilian creatures are learning more and more every day. They live longer in captivity, the more we learn about them and the more we keep them as close to the wild as possible. If you’re considering getting a bearded dragon, don’t get more than one – except that there’s a good chance you’ll end up separating them, which means you either have to have the space and money for another large vivarium, or part with it who has become part of your family.

It’s sad to think that Fiona might have been trying to tell us something for years, and we just weren’t listening. We should respect the way they live in the wild and not force a mate on them

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