Bearded dragons are wonderful pets. If you own a beardy already, you may have thought about adding another one or even venturing into breeding. Here we are going to cover the main things you will need to think about when introducing bearded dragons to one another.
Considerations for introducing bearded dragons to each other:
- Size – bearded dragons for introduction should be of a similar size
- Sex – never introduce 2 or more males
- Age – females should not be introduced to sexually mature males until they are at least two years old
- Temperament – the dragons must not be aggressive by nature
- Disease or illness – the dragons must be healthy
- Habitat – if you are introducing them for cohabitation, their enclosure must meet certain requirements
If these criteria are met, bearded dragons can be introduced and may even live safely together, but this may not always be the best choice for your pets. We are going to cover all the basics of what you need to know below as we break it down into more detail below.
Cautions for Housing Bearded Dragons Together
While we will mostly focus on how you can successfully introduce and house bearded dragons together, there are some negatives to this that you should note before moving ahead any further.
Bearded dragons are not known for their ability to cohabitate together. They are actually very solitary creatures and are not known to desire companionship with other dragons.
The negative aspects that you will want to be wary of before embarking on this process, include:
- Bearded dragons are known to compete for food, basking spots, water and space
- There is not a certain stage of life that is best for introducing bearded dragons. Babies and juveniles can fight for food and space. Beardies that grow at different rates can lead to bullying, stress, and even injury.
- Fighting or aggression is common amongst bearded dragons that hit puberty.
- Injuries can be pretty severe, including damaging limbs or eyes, nipping tails, or even large dragons eating smaller ones.
- Diseases can easily be spread across the tank; if one becomes ill the others in the tank can also become sick very quickly.
- It can be difficult to anticipate when bearded dragons will turn on each other or become aggressive.
Bearded Dragons and Companionship
As humans, we tend to believe that our pets need companions to feel happy. However, this is simply not true for bearded dragons. In the wild, the species rarely interact with each other and tend to be very solitary. Males tend to only interact with females while breeding, in which there is no lifelong connection and they separate after breeding.
While males should never be housed together or even introduced, for the most part, females can cohabitate well. Females can also become aggressive towards each other but are less competitive than their male counterparts. However, if you can house them singularly, this tends to be the safest and best option.
Which Bearded Dragons Can Be Introduced?
One thing you want to be certain of is that you are creating the safest environment for your bearded dragons. There are certain beardies that you simply should not introduce to each other, as it can be very dangerous to do so.
Before you purchase a second pet, you will want to ensure that you are not buying a beardy that will be aggressive or even kill your current pet or vice versa. Speak to the pet shop or breeder about details of the new lizard’s personality before you jump into the purchase.
Never Put a Baby with an Older Pet
You should absolutely NEVER put an older bearded dragon with a baby one. The older bearded dragon will almost certainly bully the younger one, take over the food, and can even eat the younger pet. This can clearly lead to slower growth, injury, or even death for your new pet.
Male Bearded Dragons can be Very Aggressive
Though it may seem like I am drilling this in, it is critical that you do not house two male bearded dragons together! They will become aggressive with each other, fight, and maybe even kill each other. Even those who are put in a tank with a divider can be stressed and exhibit aggression.
Choosing the Best Bearded Dragons for Introduction
Of course, one of the most important things you will need to do is guarantee that you are picking the right sex bearded dragon for your tank. If you are interested in breeding and already own a female bearded dragon, you may want to purchase a male.
However, if you would like to avoid babies, you will want to purchase another female for your tank.
Depending on where you purchase from, the store or breeder you buy your new pet from may be able to tell you the sex. However, to stay safe, you can tell the two genders apart fairly easily and should look over your pet before purchasing. Some ways you can tell the genders apart is by knowing some of the typical characteristics of each sex:
- Males have larger heads, smaller abdominal growth, and darker beards
- Males often have larger pores
- Those bearded dragons that are over six months can be checked for the hemipenile bulges.
- Hold the pet in your hand with the stomach up, bend the tail backward at a 90-degree angle. Be careful not to bend it too far to avoid vertebrae breakage at the base of the tale.
- Two bulges on either side of the tail base mean you have a male, while only one centered bulge or no bulge will be female.
Dragons Must be Similar in Size
Since these pets can become aggressive towards each other, you want them to be similar in size. The smaller pet could be at high risk if you put it with one that is much larger. As mentioned, the bigger more powerful one can starve, injure, or kill the smaller pet. If you do put two pets together that are similar in size, you will still want to monitor them and separate them if they show any signs of aggression.
Introducing Bearded Dragons
Even if you do not plan to house your pet bearded dragons together, you may still want to let them interact at times and so you may still need to introduce them to one another.
As mentioned, introducing two male pets should be avoided and is not beneficial in any way. However, females can get along and introducing opposite sex pets is critical if you hope to breed them.
Quarantine All New Pets
Since diseases can spread quickly between bearded dragons, you want to avoid introducing a new illness to your pet. When you bring a new bearded dragon into your home, you will want to put it through a quarantine period. Quarantining is defined as keeping in isolation or keeping separate from others.
Ideally, this quarantine period will keep your new dragon from spreading any diseases or parasites to your existing pet. You should not allow the two pets to interact with each other and should keep them completely separate.
The quarantine period should be for at least three to six months, or longer if you notice any issues or have an established collection of dragons already.
Designing a Quarantine Enclosure
When you quarantine your new pet, you will want to provide it with its basic requirements. The enclosure should be as hygienic as possible and should have easy access to cleaning and disinfecting regularly. You will want to use newspaper and brown butcher paper as substrates and limit the amount of added furniture or decorations.
During this time, it is best that you handle your new pet with medical latex gloves. There are chances that your new bearded dragon has zoonotic diseases, and you will want to lower the risks of these spreading by handling your pets carefully. Even if you purchase two new dragons at once, you should quarantine them separately.
Routine Inspections Are Necessary
You should inspect your pet before, during, and after this quarantine period. If you are well versed in raising these lizards, you may be able to do a visual inspection yourself to look for signs of health issues.
However, it is always a good idea to entrust an expert who can help you diagnose any difficult to see problems that may be causing underlying health problems.
During the time in quarantine, you should often inspect your new pet for signs of overall health. Your beardy should display:
- Good appetite
- Normal function and movement
- Normal, healthy appearance of skin
that are free of external parasites.
- You can keep the dragon on paper towels to catch droppings, which can then be taken to the vet for a more thorough screening for internal parasites or other health concerns.
Once the quarantine period is up, you will want to ensure that your pet is meeting all visible signs of health. They should be eating well, in good condition, shedding normally, defaecating normally, and steadily increasing weight or growing if they are adolescents.
If you have quarantined them for the appropriate amount of time and see no noticeable health concerns, they are ready to be introduced.
Introducing Female Bearded Dragons
Introducing your female bearded dragons can be a simple process as they tend to get along better than their male counterparts. A great way to start is to have yourself and another individual hold the pets and introduce them slowly. This can be done at a distance, and you should never force them on each other.
We will talk further about housing the pets together, but you should never jump into putting them into an enclosure together. You should give them ample room to get to know each other and examine each other. During this time, you should always be monitoring them to ensure that they are interacting appropriately. At the first sign of aggression, you should separate the two pets and try again at a later date.
Since bearded dragons do not need to socialize, there is no real reason to introduce your pets unless you hope to house them together later on. However, some owners simply want to introduce their pets, and there is nothing wrong with this as long as they do not get aggressive.
Housing Bearded Dragons Together
Letting your pet live alone is usually the best option as they tend to avoid socialization anyway and do not need companionship. However, it is not unheard of for bearded dragons to live together peacefully and some owners even keep groups of a few beardies together.
The biggest thing you will need to ensure is that you are housing the correct dragons together and providing them with the appropriate habitat.
Who to House Together?
As mentioned, some bearded dragons live together more effectively than others; some simple rules to follow are:
- Only house males and females together if you hope to breed them. The males will harass the females and try to breed, and this may also lead to stress or injury.
- Make sure each dragon in the enclosure is similar in size and age for safety purposes.
- House two or three females together in enclosures with ample space for each.
- You can add one male to groups of females for breeding or housing with little concern.
- Always remove a pet if aggressive tendencies begin to show.
Designing the Best Cohabitation Enclosure
Each adult bearded dragon needs at least forty to fifty-five gallons to itself. This is the bare minimum you should offer, and at times even this space can feel limited to your pet.
Ideally, for two adult bearded dragons, you should own at least a 125-gallon tank. Babies could be housed in a smaller tank, but you will need to upgrade the size as they grow.
There can be some difficulty when it comes to finding a large tank that can fit your bearded dragon and their accessories. Many avid bearded dragon owners and breeders have custom tanks made to fit their needs. You can find stores that offer tanks of this size but having them shipped can be a challenge and pricey as well.
You should take a few extra steps to guarantee that your bearded dragon is being provided with the best habitat possible. Ideally, you will keep them as separate as you can, giving them individual supplies for their personal needs. For example, some things you want to take into consideration are:
- Each bearded dragon should be provided with at least fifty gallons of its own space.
- You will want to have an abundance of areas for your pets to hide. If aggressive behaviors are shown, it is common for one lizard to avoid or hide from the other, so you should make this as easy as possible for them.
- Each pet needs a separate basking spot to enjoy so that competition is not evoked. Often, bearded dragons will show superiority by the height of their basking spot. Also, if you see one dragon on top of the other in the basking area, this is not a sign of affection but rather, the one on top is asserting dominance. Having two distinct areas is key. You will want to vary them in height, location, etc. to guarantee that your lizards use them appropriately.
- You will want to offer two or three food areas, depending on how many are in your tank, so that they can eat separately. Food is a common cause for aggression, so avoiding mealtime disputes is key to proper cohabitation.
Monitoring Cohabitated Dragons
It is important that you keep your bearded dragons monitored while they live together. Of course, once they are established, this does not have to be constant monitoring, but you should still note any changes in attitude. Even two females can become aggressive towards each other randomly at any point and may need to be separated.
Introducing Male and Female Bearded Dragons
Once you know the sex of your bearded dragon, you can decide if you want to introduce the opposite gender for breeding. You should never house a male and female dragon together past six months of age unless you plan to breed them. However, puberty is a hormonal time for every species, and separating by sex is often the safest route for your pets.
After puberty, your male bearded dragon will become very pushy with females and is pretty much only focused on breeding. You will find that he is often chasing her, biting her, causing stress, harassing, and more. You should avoid housing a male and female bearded dragon together permanently, and they should only be housed during breeding time.
When to Mate Your Bearded Dragons?
It is important that you educate yourself on the breeding process if you hope to mate or even raise baby beardies. Female and male dragons reach maturity at different ages. Males can often start breeding at 18 months, and females should generally be 2 years or older.
Introduction for Breeding
If you are intending on breeding your dragons, I highly recommend seeing a specialist or veterinarian beforehand. However, here is a small introduction just to give you an idea of what to expect.
You do not want to spring breeding on your dragons, so you should introduce them and judge their temperaments together first.
It is important that in the weeks and months leading up to breeding you provide both pets with quality nutrition. You will want to make sure that your female pet is in good condition to breed and as healthy as possible. Most breeders offer calcium supplements daily to their females for weeks before they plan to mate them. This has shown to be beneficial to the eggs and later the babies.
Additionally, prior to breading, your bearded dragons should undergo a process called brumation. This a period of decreased activity induced by shorter lighting periods and decreased temperature.
During brumation, you should provide 10 hours of light and 14 hours of darkness and the ideal temperature should be 80 degrees Fahrenheit in daylight hours and 60 during the night. This brumation period should last around 2 to 3 months and you shouldn’t be surprised if your beardies eat and bask less during this time.
- You will want to keep the pets in separate tanks during brumation until you are ready for them to mate and then only introduce them for short periods of time.
- You will want to introduce them in an enclosed area or a safe space where they can interact first.
- If they do not mate the first time, you introduce them, put them back into their individual tanks, give them an adequate break, and try again the next day.
The Mating Process
Many are concerned when it comes to bearded dragons mating because it is a pretty aggressive process. If you have a tank housing more than one female, this may be a better option for introducing the male. When more females are present, the male tends to be less aggressive towards any one female, and the fighting is less extensive.
If you plan to only introduce the male for a short period, you should see if the female appears receptive. During this time, he will bite her on the neck and lay on top of her to mate. You may see an aggressive head bobbing, arm-waving, nipping, biting, and other rough behavior. This is normal for mating but should be monitored.
Many have found that their male bearded dragons reach an excessive level of aggression. If you are ever in fear of your female dragon’s life or feel that it is getting out of hand, you should separate them immediately. You will never want to put one of your pets in danger, nevertheless, some aggression is to be expected.
The Egg Laying Process
Once mating is complete, you will want to remove the male bearded dragon from the tank or area. Your female dragon will want privacy to prepare her nest and lay her eggs. She will dig a hole for her nest and will not lay eggs until a suitable burrow has been created.
You will want to provide an appropriate substrate for digging and try to offer the best burrow space possible. Your female can end up with egg binding if this not available. This area of the substrate should be at least eight inches deep.
A proper substrate for digging and egg-laying is a mix of potting soil and sand. You will want the material to be loose enough for digging but not so loose that it caves with her as she digs. Many breeders make a hole in the substrate, and their female will use it to complete her burrow. You can expect that your dragon will lay between 15 and 50 eggs, depending on her age and condition.
Storing Your Dragon’s Eggs
- Carefully uncover your bearded dragon eggs
- Place them in a plastic container with a lid and air holes
- Do not rotate or change the orientation of these eggs while you are moving them
- Provide enough vermiculite to cover the eggs two-thirds. This should be mixed with water at a 4:1 ratio.
It is important that you remove the eggs to keep them safe from your female dragons. This is also why it is important to remove the male as he can bother the female while she is laying her eggs and then be aggressive or even kill the eggs.
Incubating Your Eggs
For a better chance of success of your bearded dragon eggs, you will want to purchase a commercial incubator. Styrofoam options are inexpensive and work well for these purposes. You will want to set the temperature inside of the incubator between 83 and 86 degrees.
Control the temperatures around your incubator and ensure that they stay lower. This is to keep your eggs at a temp that is appropriate and leads to quality growth. You can help maintain the humidity levels by placing a dish of water within the egg container. It usually takes sixty to seventy days for your eggs to hatch.
Introducing Baby Bearded Dragons
Your baby bearded dragons should cohabitate well when they first hatch out and will focus mainly on eating and growing. However, they should be monitored closely as they can become aggressive over time. They will, from a very early age, demonstrate dominance.
If you are able to separate your baby bearded dragons, you should do this as soon as possible. From early on they can begin nipping or biting at each other, they can often confuse tails and feet for food. If you cannot separate them early on, you will have to once a size difference is notable.
Similarly, sized babies can stay together for long as they are not large enough to overpower each other. However, large babies should be moved into their own tank where they can grow without becoming hostile towards each other. Dividing the babies by size can help them grow without fighting for food or survival.