If you’re interested in breeding your bearded dragon female, you need to find out all you can about the process. You also need to understand that as popular as bearded dragons are as pets, you’re probably not going to make much money from breeding yours. In fact, you may well lose money.
Most bearded dragons usually have around 20 eggs per grouping, which are referred to as “clutches” and it’s not uncommon for them to have several clutches of eggs during the laying season producing from 60 to 100 eggs.
You’ll need to put in some investment to breed your dragon. You’ll need a box for her to lay her eggs in that is at least an eight-gallon contain with six or more inches of potting soil or topsoil mixed with some sand.
Dragons can dig as deeply as ten inches to bury their eggs. This box will need a heat lamp. You’ll also need to purchase an incubator for the eggs with its own light setup. There are some incubators made especially for reptile eggs.
Add to that the fact that you will end up feeding perhaps 100 babies or more for at least a couple of months before they are old enough to be sold, and that just one clutch of babies can go through thousands of crickets a month, and you can see how the cost can add up.
If your female lays multiple clutches at one time, you can easily go through up to 4000 crickets in a month, not to mention the fact that you’ll need to devote at least a couple of hours per day to the babies while also caring for the mother. There’s also no guarantee you’ll sell all your babies either, so you’ll need to have a plan for this as well. Check out my article How to Breed Crickets for Bearded Dragons for more information on breeding crickets.
How Many Babies Can a Bearded Dragon Have in a Year?
This really varies between dragon species and even individual females. A female dragon will usually lay three or four clutches of eggs in a year. Each clutch can contain anywhere from 12 to 30 eggs, depending on the individual female.
In addition, a female may lay more than one clutch from one pregnancy, even as many as four, which can add up to 80 eggs in one session. The number depends on several factors, including the age, size and health of the female, and can also vary from one dragon to another.
The manner of laying eggs varies greatly as well. Some dragons only lay during the typical mating cycle, which usually occurs after brumation, the dragon’s form of partial hibernation. Some dragons just keep laying for months.
The process of egg-laying varies greatly in the number of eggs that may be laid, the timing of the laying, and the number of eggs in a clutch that hatch into babies. Some eggs just die during incubation.
Even if you don’t plan to mate your female, she may still lay infertile eggs at times, although not all females do this. If yours does, it’s important to note so that you can raise her nutrient level during this process. You’ll also need to provide a place for her to lay her eggs.
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Stay Pregnant?
Gravid females usually lay their eggs about four to six weeks after mating. It’s important to notice this, as the female will need extra nutrients while she’s carrying eggs. If she’s going to lay infertile eggs, she still needs these extra nutrients to produce the eggs and shells, so it’s very important to notice her behavior to see if she looks as though she’s carrying eggs.
Her body will draw the needed nutrients from her and her bones to do this if she’s not getting enough of them in her food at that time. Insufficient calcium will also cause thin shells on the eggs, which may lead to premature breaking or cracking.
One unusual fact is that female beardies can retain sperm in their bodies for up to a year, fertilizing up to five clutches of eggs from a single mating.
How Many Bearded Dragons Are in a Litter?
You can get anywhere from 12 to 30 eggs in a clutch. On average, a clutch will produce around 20 babies. Not all the eggs may hatch. The incubation period for the eggs averages 60 days.
The temperature and humidity of their enclosure may either lengthen or shorten this period. For instance, if the temperature is too low, the eggs will take longer to hatch and may even die. Humidity that is too high may also delay hatching. Even under good conditions, some eggs just may not make it.
Do Bearded Dragons Have a Breeding Season?
In the wild, the mating season occurs during the summer months, which run between September and March in their native Australia, and they will mate once during this time. Brumation often occurs not long before mating season.
This is the form of semi-hibernation dragons have. In captivity, individuals may or may not brumate. Those that do may not do so every year, and it may happen at odd times. Likewise, your dragon may want to mate at any time of year.
If you happen to have a female that lays infertile eggs every year, there’s nothing you can do to stop or prevent this. Just make sure to have an egg-laying box for her when she wants to lay them. You can discard the eggs after she’s returned to her regular enclosure. She won’t notice, as reptiles don’t incubate their eggs or care for their young.
At What Age Do Bearded Dragons Want to Mate?
Female dragons usually start to lay eggs at full adulthood, which is two years. If they haven’t mated with a male, they will still lay eggs. These eggs, of course, won’t be fertile and won’t produce young. There have been some dragons that start laying eggs at an earlier age, even as young as ten months. However, these eggs won’t develop into young.
Early egg-laying may also pose a health risk for the female. The laying age usually lasts two to four years. The egg-producing process takes a lot of energy and nutrients, so egg-laying usually occurs only for younger, healthy dragons. Older ones should not be bred.
What Do I Do with My Pregnant Bearded Dragon?
A beardie female should be given her supplement of both calcium and Vitamin D twice as often as usual or even daily for at least a couple of weeks before you decide to introduce her to a potential mate. She needs extra stores of both to produce healthy eggs without depleting her own health to a dangerous level. She will also eat more in general.
She and her potential mate should also be checked by your vet to ensure that she’s healthy enough for producing eggs and that the male doesn’t have any health problems. She’ll also need extra supplements for around three weeks after the eggs are laid to replenish her stores and will probably eat more as well. They also will need more water.
Since dragons can lay infertile eggs without a mate, it’s important to be able to tell when she’s carrying eggs. She’ll still need the extra nutrients even if her eggs are infertile. If this is going to occur, it will usually be in spring when the natural light is longer, especially if she’s been through a brumation period.
Just seeing a male displaying interest may stimulate her to lay eggs. Usually, the main sign a female will show before she’s getting ready to actually lay them is a more rounded belly which may look lumpy. You can actually feel the eggs if you carefully feel her belly. She may also gain weight for no reason.
The urates in her feces may also take on a pinkish cast. Once she is preparing to lay the eggs, she may become restless and display scratching and digging behaviors. She may also lose interest in food and in being held or picked up.
Once she is really digging in earnest, you will need to put her in the laying box you’ve prepared. It should have its own heat lamp, or you can move the lamp from her usual enclosure to the laying box. Don’t disturb her during the laying process, even if it takes a couple of days. She’ll usually lay all the eggs she’s carrying at one time, then bury them.
Gently feel her belly after she’s done. If you still feel more eggs, take her to the vet immediately. If she has some eggs she can’t expel, they’ll need to be removed. Other signs of possible egg binding are being very weak or lethargic, straining to lay eggs with no results, or having a swollen belly for some time after she should have laid her eggs.
Once she is done laying, she can return to her usual enclosure. Egg-laying time would be a great time to give her enclosure a thorough cleaning, especially since the whole laying procedure can take as long as a few days.
She’ll need water after laying; a bath will help her rehydrate and clean off any soil clinging to her. She will be tired and may not eat right after laying but should start eating before long. If she doesn’t, contact your vet, as not eating can be a sign of being egg-bound.
If you have counted up the extra work and costs associated with breeding beardies and still want to do this, at least you now have a good idea of the procedures involved. Even if you don’t plan to breed yours, now you won’t be caught off guard by a female that starts laying eggs out of the blue. Caring properly for a gravid female is just another facet of owning a beardie.