The Basics of Breeding
Things to consider before breeding
Some reptiles require brumation to prepare for breeding season, bearded dragons do not. In fact bearded dragons need no encouragement or input of human skills to encourage them. Placing a male and female in an enclosure and leaving them to mate is all it takes to become a ‘breeder’. Subsequently the bearded dragon is vulnerable to overpopulation as so many pet owner want to go through the ‘experience’.
A single mating can result in 90 odd young. If the experience is something you want to go through then consider hatching only a few of the eggs rather than the entire clutch.
The female is capable of short term sperm storage during a breeding season. If a female becomes gravid during a breeding season and has been with a male at some point within the same season, then the assumption should be that the eggs are fertile. If the female has not been with a male that season, then the eggs will be infertile.
Reaching Sexual Maturity
Sexual maturity is reached anywhere between six to eighteen months with a body size of somewhere around 30cm. Body size is far more relevant to sexual maturity than calendar age.
Courtship and Mating
Courtship commences in spring and ends in summer. The male may display many signs of interest and intent including arm waving, displaying his beard, bobbing, and so forth. The female will give the male signals when she is ready to accept him. The male will grab the females neck with his mouth and insert one of his two hemi-penes into her cloaca. When the female raised her head (almost vertically), it is time for the male to release.
Immediately after laying eggs, the female is receptive to the male again. It is important that the female and male are not housed together to prevent harassment of the female and over breeding.
The first eggs are laid 2-3 weeks after mating. The females abdomen will become enlarged particularly prior to laying. The female is likely to eat less at this point with some completely refusing and basking bouts are likely to increase. After mating, a sand dig box must be provided if it is not already available in the enclosure. Sand is a cue for laying, lack of appropriate natural cues introduces greater risks of issues occurring. The female may make several attempts to dig in the sand prior to digging a final hole and laying eggs in it.
Multiple clutches will be laid from the one mating. This is typically around 3 clutches but some will lay further clutches in the one season. The size of each clutch varies from anywhere around 15 to 30 (give or take a few). The time between laying clutches is also variable.
Temperature for incubation of around 29c will see the eggs hatched between 50-70 days.