Rankins Dragons

Pogona henrylawsoni

Rankins Dragon Care

The Rankins Dragon (also known as the dumpy dragon, Lawson’s dragon, black soil dragon, or dwarf bearded dragon) is native to Queensland in northeast Australia. They are considerably smaller than the closely related bearded dragon, only reaching an average size of 20 to 30 cm including tail. Care is broadly similar, although they have a reputation for being far more tolerant of cohabitation; in our experience they tend to be shy, fussy feeders more similar to geckos in temperament. They are very different from their larger cousins!


Rankins dragons are active lizards so should be given a vivarium large enough to meet their needs, which means a minimum size of 120 x 60 x 60cm (4 x 2 x 2ft), although larger is always better.

Rankins Dragons require a temperature range of up to 45°C (113°F) in the basking area, down to approximately 30°C (86°F) in the cooler area. This will provide the dragons with a temperature gradient across the vivarium, allowing them to choose the most suitable temperature at all times. At night the temperature should drop to 26°C (78°F) at the warmest part of the vivarium.

It is very important to know what the temperature is, so check regularly with an accurate thermometer. Ideally use two maximum/minimum thermometers per vivarium (one at each end of the vivarium), or you can use an in/out, max/min thermometer and place one sensor at each end. Do not guess or take temperature by hand (if it feels warm or cold), this is not accurate enough.

Rankins dragons require a good quality UV light to help use calcium from their diet and prevent metabolic bone disease. We recommend using a 10-12% T5 UVB. UV lights should be mounted directly above the dragons, at a maximum of 12 inches above the main area. It is recommended to replace UV lights every 6-12 months (depending on brand of lamp) due to a decline in UV output.

Basking lights in white are vital to both provide the vivarium’s hot spot, but also stimulate the dragon to behave normally. A simple 12 hour light cycle is ideal for a Rankins dragon.

It is important to provide your dragon with fresh water every day, in a shallow bowl to help the dragon and crickets climb out of the water. Although Rankins dragons are from arid regions of Australia they are prone to dehydration. To prevent this, it is important to spray your dragon with water as this is how they would normally drink in the wild. Rankins dragons require a few branches and rocks to climb on, and appreciate plenty of cover to hide in.

Rankins dragons are omnivorous, so require a mixed diet of insects and salad. Leafy salads, such as rocket, watercress, dandelions and mixed salads are readily available and easy to use. Try to offer variety to keep a balanced diet. Salads should be offered every day. They will also eat crickets, locusts, mealworms, and wax worms which should always be dusted with a good multivitamin/multimineral or calcium powder. Insects should only be offered to Rankins dragons every other day as this encourages them to eat more of their salad. A young Rankins dragon should be fed 80% insects and 20% salad. From 1 year of age this changes to 20% insects and 80% salad.



Animal Information

Common Name: Rankins Dragon

Scientific Name: Pogona henrylawsonii

Location: Northeast Australia

Habitat (wild): Arid woodland edge, scrub, rocky desert

Captive environment: Tropical desert vivarium

Preferred temperature range: daytime hot spot of 45ºC under the basking light, background ambient of 35ºC, cool end of 25ºC. Temperature can drop to 25ºC at night.

UVB Lighting: 10% or 12% UVB strip lamp – 12 -14 hours a day 

Ferguson Zone: Zone 3

Substrate: Soil/sand based

Lifespan: 8 to 10 years.