A medium to large lizard, males can grow up to 60cm (24″) and females up to 51cm (20″). The species we know as the bearded dragon (more commonly referred to as the beardie) is the inland or central bearded dragon, which is found across central Australia where they live in the arid and subtropical woodlands, scrublands, savannas, shore areas, and into the great interior deserts. Their range extends throughout the interior of the eastern states to the eastern half of South Australia and south eastern Northern Territory.
They are a territorial species, with the males best housed alone; they will attack any other dragon they perceive as being a threat, and lone females will be either bred or beaten up! They can co-exist happily in groups of several females to one male provided that sufficient room and multiple basking sites can be provided. As pets, they appear to thrive best when kept singly.
Beardies need a large vivarium with plenty of floor space, and a varied diet that includes leafy greens as well as insects. As a diurnal species they need a good strong UV, and a basking spot large enough to cover their entire bodies. They grow so enormously quickly that there is no point starting small and buying a larger habitat as they grow; they use the space more as youngsters, and need the larger basking areas as they age and slow down.
The average lifespan is usually quoted as being 8 to 10 years, but with good care it’s not at all unusual for a dragon to reach its early teens. They are a generally robust species with very few health issues – provided they are kept in a suitable fashion! Most illness is caused by poor husbandry, and is simple to avoid.
As a pet lizard the beardie excels – indeed, they usually become part of the family in a very short space of time!