Just to follow up on my last post, here are some facts about Bearded Dragon lizards.
These are members of the scientific family Pogona. All eight species are native to the deserts and dry forests of Australia. Like many lizards, they are quadrupedal with low bodies and broad, triangular heads. Males can grow to two feet in length and females are slightly smaller. The scales are shades of buff, tan and gray, with short spikes along the back, behind the head and under the throat. The spikes can be raised to deter rivals or predators.
Bearded Dragons communicate among themselves in interesting ways. The “beard” under the throat can puff up and turn black, a display to intimidate other Bearded Dragons or to woo females. This behavior is what gives them their name. They also bob their heads to express dominance and slowly wave one paw to show submission.
In their natural habitat, Bearded Dragons are equally comfortable on the ground or climbing rocks and trees. Young feed mostly in insects and switch over to vegetation as they grow older. Due to the arid surroundings, Bearded Dragons are most active at dusk and dawn. They are cold-blooded and must bask or seek shade in order to control their body temperature.
Under Australian law, traffic in wildlife for pets has been forbidden since the 1960s. Nevertheless, Bearded Dragons have become popular pets. They are smaller than other lizards, such as iguanas, and tolerate a lot of handling, especially from children. Indeed, I once knew a teacher who occasionally brought her Bearded Dragon with her to school, much to the delight of the students.
Fortunately, there are enough captive bred lizards to satisfy the demand for pets. Bearded Dragons continue to thrive in the wilds of Australia and no varieties are endangered as of this writing.