If you intend breeding bearded dragons, I recommend acquiring your stock from different places. This will give you a better chance that they are unrelated and will strengthen the gene pool of their babies.
NEVER breed related dragons (inbreeding), this will weaken the genetic strain of the babies, make them more susceptible to illness and likely to cause deformities Always wait until your bearded dragons are at least 18 to 24 months old or at least have your female approximate 375g and in good health. They are capable of breeding earlier but this can be disastrous to your girl.
These are the MINIMUMS, your female should be in top physical health for her age and size. If you are overly attached to your dragons I do not recommend breeding them as serious injury and even death are a fairly common occurrence.
Diet for Breeding
Prior to breeding and continuing through the season your female will need a special diet in order to minimize the physical stress on her body. The Eggs will take priority even if she has to draw the nutrients and minerals from her own bones and reserves. For this reason you should alter her diet to 50% greens and 50% protein(bugs), calcium dust daily.
DO NOT feed pinkies it’s an old way of adding weight to a dragon. It’s DANGEROUS! A safer alternative is to feed a few super worms daily or even every other day, this will put the weight on almost the same as pinkies without the risks.
It is not necessary to burmate your dragons prior to breeding, they have no set breeding season that needs triggered. If however you get a reluctant male that just won’t do it a short burmation period should kick his hormones in. But the chances of successful breeding is greater after burmation.
I introduce my females to my males enclosure, there’s really no set reason for this it just works better for me. Put them together for 1 week, separate for 1 week, back together for another week and separate for GOOD. During their time together you’re going to see a lot of displaying and what looks like fighting. You are likely to see a lot beard darkening, head bobbing, arm waving, and biting. When mating, it’s normal for the male to bite the back of the female’s head to pin her down. This is normal and as long as no serious injuries happen don’t worry about it. This is the ONLY time your dragons should even see each other, beyond this they should each have their OWN enclosure.
Gestation is 20-30 days. Re-fertilization from retained sperm can occur in 20-30 day intervals for up to 1 year from 1 breeding. At about 10 days you may be able to feel little marble bumps in her stomach(doing this in a bath helps). When she gets close to lay time she may go off food for several days, become restless, pace and dig constantly. This is the time, if you haven’t already, move her to a lay box.
There are several ways to help a female lay her eggs, some use a container in the beardies regular viv, we us a separate enclosure from her regular tank.
- A large Rubbermaid tub works well.
- Cut a hole in about 1/2 of the lid for a clamp light to fit through.
- Dump a 50lb bag of dirt in(no chemicals) moisten the dirt but not muddy.
- Pile the dirt on the opposite end of the light about 12-18 inches deep.
- Put the lid on, point the light at the mound and add your girl.
Laying can take anywhere from a few minutes to several days. She should dig a hole, back into it, deposit her eggs and bury the hole. Leave her in there during the whole process. She does not need to eat or drink at this time. She doesn’t need any special lighting or her cage.
If she is in there for several days you may want to take her out long enough to give her a bath, at the same time check the dirt and make sure it’s still moist.
After she lays do not disturb her until she is done burying the eggs. At this point take her out and put her in a bath while you carefully excavate the eggs. DO NOT turn the eggs, leave them in the same position they were laid and carefully transfer them to the egg containers.
The best thing I have found for eggs are plastic shoe containers with clear lids. Drill 1 hole in the center of the lid the size of a pen tip. Fill them 2/3 way with perlite or vermiculite. I prefer perlite because it looks cleaner.
Moisten with warm water and let it sit. Add a little at a time until you can pinch and get just a drop of water out when you squeeze it. Let it out and make depressions in the substrate with your finger and add the eggs gently set the lid on and place in the incubator. I don’t snap my lids down at this point I just rest them on there, it makes it easier if I need to get into them later. You need to snap them down before they start hatching.
I’ve heard all kinds of crazy “improvised” incubator ideas. Save yourself the headaches and just spend the money on a ready made incubator – still air model (no fan).
I put my eggs in the containers and set it at 83 degrees and use a decent thermometer, not the cheap one that comes with it. Incubation should take approximately 60 days at this temp. I don’t measure the humidity, but let the eggs tell you what to do.
There should be condensation up the sides of the containers to the substrate line but not above, and not on the top. If there is you need to vent some off by propping the lid up for a little bit. Eggs should be plump and dry, if they are wet your humidity is to high and you need to vent some off, if they are dimpled the humidity is to low you need to add a LITTLE bit of water at a time directly to the substrate. DO NOT mist the eggs, there is a delicate air exchange that goes on through the shell of the egg. Misting them will block the pores and suffocate the developing baby.
A couple days before hatching the eggs may begin to sweat and dimple at the same time, this is normal. You will probably get a few that will come out a day or two early, the majority will hatch at about the same time and then a few may come out a couple days later. DO NOT help them out of the egg, some will come out pretty quick after they slice through the egg, some hang out in the egg for awhile. “Helping” will do more damage than good and if one or two die in the egg there is a reason for it. Once they are out of the egg leave them in the incubator for 24-48 hours or until their egg sack absorbs and they are up and moving around ok.
At this point you can move them to their cages.
You will need several 20 gallon tanks or equivalent Rubbermaid containers. NO more than 5 babies per tank, the fewer the better, or you may end up with nips(babies will eat toes and tails of siblings)
Lighting requirements are the same as adults, heat and uvb. Temps are a bit higher aim for 110-115 basking surface and 85 cool end. DO NOT use any form of loose substrate. Babies are very prone to impaction so stick with paper towel, newspaper, shelf liner, etc. (something easy to clean or change completely) They usually wont eat for a few days to a week, this is normal. They are living off of their egg sacks. I start offering bugs 3-5 time a day as many as they will eat in 15 minutes once in their out of the egg box. No larger than the space between their eyes. Each baby can consume 100 plus crickets per day, they add up FAST. I start offering finely chopped salad with calcium D powder on day three starting the day they go into their containers from the egg box.
I start giving them warm bath soaks everyday starting with the second day in the tank.
If you are going to sell the babies the minimum is 6 weeks and 6 inches.