|P. vitticeps - detail of head|
Pogona is a genus of reptiles containing eight lizard species, which are often known by the common name bearded dragons. The term "bearded dragon" is most commonly used to describe the central bearded dragon, (Pogona vitticeps). The name "bearded dragon" refers to the "beard" of the lizard, the underside of the throat which turns black if they are stressed or see a potential rival. They are adept climbers, spending time on branches and in bushes and near human habitation. Pogona species bask on rocks and exposed branches in the mornings and afternoons. They are found throughout much of Australia in a wide range of habitats such as deserts, shrublands and Eucalyptus woodlands.
Several species of this genus, especially the central bearded dragon, are often kept as pets or exhibited in zoos due to their hardy nature and easy care in comparison to other exotic reptiles. The bearded dragon is the third most common house hold pet.
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The genus is in the subfamily Agaminae of the family Agamidae. Part of the Lizard family, their characteristics include broad, triangular heads and flattened bodies with spiny scales arranged in rows and clusters. These are found on the throat, which can be expanded when threatened, and at the back of the head. These spiny scales are used to scare off predators, yet they are not very sharp. Bearded dragons display a hand-waving gesture to show submission, and a head-bobbing display to show dominance between dragons. They have the ability to change color during rivalry challenges between males, in response to ambient temperature changes such as turning black to absorb heat, and other stimuli. Males grow up to 40 to 60 cm (16 to 24 in) long, and females up to 30 to 51 cm (12 to 20 in).
Bearded dragons originate from 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 southeastern Northern Territory. They spend most of their time in bushes and trees, and will often bask on rocks. When the climate is too hot they will often burrow underground.
Adult bearded dragons are very territorial. As they grow, they establish social hierarchies in which aggressive and appeasement displays form a normal part of their social interactions. The beard is used for both mating and aggression displays. Both sexes have a beard, but males display more frequently, especially in courtship rituals. Females will, however, display their beard as a sign of aggression also. The beard darkens, sometimes turning jet black and inflates during the display. The bearded dragon may also open its mouth and gape in addition to inflating its beard to appear more intimidating. Head bobbing is another behavior and it can be seen in both females and males; they quickly move their head up and down, often darkening and flaring their beard. They do this to show dominance over smaller males, weaker males, if a male wants to mate with a female or other animals they feel threatened by. Another behavior is arm waving, done by both males and females. Standing on 3 legs the bearded dragon with lift one of its front legs and move it in a circular motion. Arm waving functions as species recognition, and it is a sign of submission. Smaller males will often respond to larger males by arm waving. Females will also arm wave to avoid male aggression, often in response to a male's head bobbing.
Bearded dragons—most commonly, the inland or central bearded dragon—are kept as pets. Introduced as pets to the US during the 1990s, they are a popular exotic species pet even though Australia, from the 1960s onward, has banned the sale of its wildlife to the pet trade  They are a popular species among children because of their friendly and calm nature, and the relative ease of caring for them. Generally speaking, the bearded dragon is a solitary animal. Male bearded dragons are usually housed alone, as they will fight with other males and breed with females. Captive adults reach about 42 to 61 cm (16 to 24 in) from head to tail, weigh 350 to 600 g (10 to 20 oz) and live for about 8 to 12 years with good care.
Captive adult bearded dragon's diet typically consists mostly of leafy greens, vegetables and noncitrus fruits, supplemented regularly with insects however in the wild they will also hunt smaller reptiles if given the opportunities. Juvenile and baby bearded dragon diets consist mainly of insects (juvenile pellets can be bought at shops). A juvenile bearded dragon eats insects three times a day on average. The amount of insects they eat depends on the dragon itself and how much it can eat. A bearded dragon should be allowed to eat as many insects as they can in a ten- to fifteen-minute time span and remaining insects removed from the vivarium. Crickets are the most popular insects fed to bearded dragons, but they can also be fed other insects such as black soldier fly larvae, locusts, superworms, waxworms, silkworms, butterworms, grasshoppers, hornworms, and even some varieties of roaches, such as dubia roaches. Mealworms should be considered a snack for bearded dragons because they contain a lot of fat and can lead to poor health. Young dragons require a significantly greater insect-to-plant matter ratio in their diets than adults.
- Browne-Cooper, Robert; Brian Bush; Brad Maryan; David Robinson (2007). Reptiles and Frogs in the Bush: Southwestern Australia. University of Western Australia Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-920694-74-6.
Pogona minor minor, Abrolhos Bearded Dragon
- Reptiles and Amphibians. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Inlandbeardeddragon.cfm
- Pat J. Pogona vitticeps Central Bearded Dragon. 17 February 2000. Animal Diversity Web.
- Jaeger, Jeremiah. "Bearded Dragons Care Sheet". beardeddragon.org. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- "Hades Dragons". hadesdragons.co.uk. 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "Bearded Dragon Care". Big Al's Pets. December 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
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