Baby bearded dragons competing for resources. With this behaviour, one will quickly outgrow the other bringing with it even greater risk of danger for the smaller one. (Mike)
Yes you can keep bearded dragons together, but first let’s have a quick look at why you want to get this right, first time around. Cohabitating in the wrong conditions causes undue stress and result in inequitable use of resources such as heating and UVB. Stress is a health issue in the making and heating and UVB issues, no different. Then there is the physical contact companions must deal with. In many instances some will lose tails, toes, feet, legs, eyes or worse, die from injuries caused by another. Just have a look at all the pictures posted and you will start to see just how many are missing tails and toes. Much of this would have occurred from another bearded dragon.
Katniss and Primrose, brought up together from babies to juveniles. As is common where bearded dragons are kept together, one has outgrown the other. (Haylee)
Housing young bearded dragons together is not necessarily any better than adults in the wrong conditions. One will outgrow the other as it manages to dominate the habitat resources. Humans can not detect all the signals they give to each other, some are subtle. But the growth of one while the other lags behind becomes obvious before long.
This is Primrose, formerly kept with Katniss after attack by fellow cage mate. Broken jaw (could not be mended by vet due to bone density). Damage to eye unknown and bruising clearly evident. (Haylee)
Monitoring the animals together is not sufficient to protect them from harm. It is not possible to monitor pets 24/7 which leaves plenty of opportunity for issues to occur. Even when they are monitored they will be quicker at taking action than anyone can respond to.
There are plenty of stories to go around on how attacks occur. One member described how they took their two bearded dragons into the living room. Each was with a handler and they went opposite sides of the room. No sooner had they relaxed their grip when one raced over to the other and immediately attacked. That is an indication of just how fast they can be when they feel the need to deal with another. Another owner found his bearded dragon in his room mates cage in the morning, the other did not survive the visit. These sort of events are not isolated, just one of the many stories that are repeated again and again. Lessons at the animals expense as one after the other believes their situation will be different.
Bearded dragons with missing toes and tails is ridiculously common, much of the time is from a cage mate and is really quite unnecessary.
Bearded dragons do not live in a pack, they don’t curl up at night with their life long companion, nor do they hang around with their sibling, they are hatched ready to face life without parental care. Us humans however, we do need companionship and a lot of intense parental care as young ones. For us, it can be hard to think of depriving another animal of what we see is so necessary for our survival. Perhaps that will be the driving factor for getting a second bearded dragon, or even a third. Perhaps our reasons will be more about just adoring the animal so much, that one simply isn’t be enough. Whatever the reasons, if you want to keep bearded dragons together, then doing it safely is important for not just their survival, but also their wellbeing.
These four bearded dragons were kept together since hatchlings in a single small housing. Growth rates varied. Everyone of them had their tails bitten by one of the others. Eventually rescued by Tiffany and given separate homes.
What not to do when housing bearded dragons together
- Never house males together. They are territorial and while they may appear friendly towards each other as juveniles, their hormones will kick in as they grow.
- Don’t house different sized bearded dragons together. The smaller may be seen as food and certainly easy to attack.
- Keep them in suitable housing, a large enclosure. Four foot is not sufficient for one or two. As young bearded dragons they are naturally very active, providing a large enclosure will support natural behaviours. If they are mature, then they need to be able to escape or get respite from each other when the need arises.
Environments that may successfully support keeping bearded dragons together
Provide large habitats for keeping bearded dragons together.
There are many examples of bearded dragons living together successfully. Outside of some pet owners, there are many zoos and reptile centres who are successfully keeping bearded dragons together.
You can support the success of keeping them together by:
- Keeping them in a large enclosure.
- Sufficient basking spots for each to bask without competing. Reptiles are capable of identifying the best basking spot, something that to our naked eye we would not see. That extra centimeters in height of one object to another may be something we don’t notice, but a reptile whose very survival is based around its environment, you can bet it does. So multiple basing spots with varying height will allow them to adjust themselves at different heights without competing.
- Ensure there isn’t competition for food or, at least if there is, that feeding time enables all to receive sufficient food and no one is in danger for the duration. Spread the food out allowing them to eat in different spots if needed.
- Provide refuge. Branches, rocks, vegetation, bring it together making nooks and crannies to escape to.