How to Breed Bearded Dragons for Profit
Do You Have the Space and Equipment?
Bearded dragons make excellent pets for the experienced and amateur reptile keeper. They are wonderful creatures, friendly, exciting to watch, and their laid-back personalities make them good pets for children.
Firstly, think about the space you have and what you will do with the young "beardies." Once you have incubated the eggs and they hatch, you may have as many as 40 (or more), babies to either find homes for, or buy new vivariums for. I know it seems like a lovely idea having a large number of baby dragons, but the fact is they grow extremely quickly and will be ready to breed before you know it - and inbreeding is NEVER a road you want to go down.
Try to have a plan about what to do with the babies even before they have hatched. If you have friends, family members or acquaintances who have said they want to buy a pair off you, make sure they mean it - the last thing you want is people backing out and you suddenly having 20 bearded dragons who all need proper feeding, care and attention from you.
When Can You Breed Bearded Dragons?
It is best to wait to until they are at least 18 months of age. If they are any younger, breeding may cause harm to your female, potentially with the result that she can never breed again, or she may even become egg-bound which (in some cases) can result in death or having to be put to sleep/be operated on by a vet.
The Eggs Are Small Enough To Fit On A Teaspoon
What Can I Do?
Actually, as the owner, you can do a lot to help encourage mating behaviour! To encourage them to mate, you can try turning the heating up by just a couple of degrees gradually over a week or so and keeping their light on for longer hours, which will make them think it is breeding season.
You will probably have noticed from keeping them for a long period of time that males, from a very early age, bob their heads to the female. When the male actually wants to breed, this head-bobbing will become much faster and the bobs will be much more noticeable and defined. It always used to give me the giggles when our bearded dragon did the head-bobbing.
Bearded Dragon breeding can be quite daunting and watching the courting can make you want to rescue the poor female, who before long, will be pounced on by the male and her neck will then be bitten to hold her still. This behaviour from the male has been known to actually tear the skin of the female, but as with all animals, what looks vicious to humans, is probably completely acceptable for the animal. Do not interfere, as if you discourage this behaviour they will not breed successfully.
If the male bearded dragon bites your female and you are worried that the wound will become infected, call your local vet and get some advice on what to do next. You can buy some great solutions for cleaning flesh wounds on pet lizards, but nobody could advise you better on which ones are safe than a vet.
Have You Ever Bred Bearded Dragons?
Were You Successful?
What Happens Next?
Over the course of the next few weeks, the female will put on weight and her belly will change shape. Eventually it will look like she has a stomach full of marbles or round pebbles. These lumps are the eggs and when she is a few days off of laying them, she will stop eating and will start scurrying back and forth, digging in the sand in different areas. She will not settle on a spot for maybe a couple of days after she has started this behaviour.
Consequently, the male will need to have some high up branch or cover to hide in, else he get covered in sand. Unlike rodents or other mammals, the male and female do not need to be separated as they are such sociable animals, and the mother will lay her eggs, cover them over and then wander away, leaving them forever. Babies can live in the same vivarium as their parents when they hatch, providing there is enough room.
It is advisable that if you are worried about finding homes or finding space in your own home, you only hatch a small portion of the eggs, as this will prevent stress of unwanted animals in the future.
Usually, the first batch of eggs the female produces will be a yellow-white colour, and infertile. This is perfectly normal, and does not mean that either of your Dragons have fertility issues. However, usually some of the eggs will be white and fertile. Don't be alarmed if not all of the Dragons hatch in one day. It may take up to a week longer for some. Some may be early, too. Once a week has passed you can count all the unhatched eggs as infertile, and dispose of them.
When removing the eggs from the sand, they will be small, covered and fragile and personally, it is recommended using a paintbrush (clean of course), to uncover them, and then VERY softly and carefully remove them one by one with a teaspoon. This will prevent you accidentally breaking them, which is easy to do if you're nervous!
With bearded dragons, retained sperm is a very common and very normal thing, and you will often find that your female dragon lays another batch of eggs as large as the first. If you decide to hatch these as well, proceed as you did with the others. The eggs may be laid as late as four weeks or more after the first batch has been laid. Again, this is perfectly normal, and you shouldn't panic, but if you are worried or sense that the female is not her usual self simply call your vet or even a local reptile store for advice.
How Can I Incubate The Eggs?
You can buy or rent or even hand-make your incubator. If you make one, the cost of it can be as low as $40, although the hatch rate of the eggs is generally lower. And you of course, will have more input for example, checking the humidity of the incubator. If you choose to hand-make your incubator, you should seek advice from reptile shops or aquatic shops, where they will often tell you where to get the materials most cheaply.
Personally, a favourite substrate to put the eggs in is damp - but not wet - vermiculite. Once you have set the eggs in the incubator, you should keep the temperature at a constant, steady 84 degrees Fahrenheit which is around 28 degrees Celsius.
Once incubated, the eggs will take around 72 days to fully form and hatch; reptile eggs often take this long, because they are slower developers, maybe because they are more intricately designed than, for example, a chicken (chicken eggs take just 21 days).
The New Babies
Once the babies have hatched do not move them straight away, allow them to start scurrying around and dry off. Once they look like they are happy enough, remove them carefully and move them to a vivarium - which you should already have set up. Within a couple of days you will find that most of the batch has hatched and it will be time to start feeding them.
The babies will grow extraordinarily fast into large adults, feeding on small pieces of cut fruit and vegetables. Moving on to crickets and locusts once they are big enough. They will enjoy curly kale, grated carrot and other vegetables with high levels of calcium from the first few days of their lives. Crickets are also a favourite since they have such high levels of protein. This writer would also recommend mealworms, dusted with a calcium powder.
Be prepared to find out that breeders across the globe all say one thing the same: there is little, if any money in breeding bearded dragons unless you have rare colour morphs. And the people who do make money from this are doing it on a massive scale, selling to pet shops. You have to buy lots of vivariums of significant sizes. Not all will find homes and by the time they are six months of age they will need the same size vivarium as their parents to be truly happy. If you want to do it regardless, put an advert up long before the eggs hatch, so you know how many homes you will realistically have.