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Bearded Dragon Eggs Hatching
The Hatchlings start to Emerge
Bearded dragon eggs incubate from anything between 50 and 100 days - in fact some have even gone over this. The process of checking the incubator daily to make sure the temperature and humidity is right continues with each day expecting and hoping to see eggs collapsing and the heads of hatchlings emerging.
As you go past the 50 days it is not uncommon to start worrying that the eggs are never going to hatch!
It was, therefore, very exciting on day 72 to look inside the incubator and see collapsed and collapsing eggs with three little heads emerging.
Hatching is a slow, strenous business for the baby bearded dragons, but three hours later the hatchlings could clearly be seen coming out of the eggs. There are clearly 5 eggs (pictured above right) which are now starting to hatch with the tell tale signs of the eggs collapsing.
Picture top first sign eggs were hatching
Picture below: 3 hours later
14 hours later, the next morning, five babies had fully hatched, and were lying quietly in the incubator. Some people move the hatchlings as soon as they emerge from the egg, but I prefer to leave them until they they have fully absorbed the yolk sac unless they are really active and disturbing the unhatched eggs. A couple of hours later I checked to find the little ones all over the incubator looking almost ready to be moved! The next step was to put them into their vivariums.
The next evening I went to check the remaining eggs - and found another nine had hatched and were already running around! One unfortunately was deformed, with no back feet and a crooked mouth, but it was scampering around just as fast as all of the rest. (I kept Stumpy, the deformed baby, but didn't think he would survive long as the external signs of deformity suggested there were internal problems as well. He didn't grow as fast as the others and never reached full size. But in the end he lived for nearly 5 years).
Pictured to the right and below are some of the newly hatched bearded dragons in one of my new vivarium.
They are a mixture of colours - some already showing hints of orange on them. They are a mischievious bunch - scrambing on top of one another. Great fun to watch!
In all it was about 24 hours and when they started running around the incubator, that I very carefully removed them and put them in a container to move to the incubator. It was then I found that I had seven little babies in all! The picture to the right shows them just after I got them out of the incubator.
Bearded Dragon Hatchlings start Eating
The babies didn't seem bothered with eating for the first 3 or 4 days, which is quite normal. But then they showed a lot of interest in a tub of crickets placed outside the vivarium, so I put some in (dusted with calcium dust). All the hatchlings got very excited!
It was fun to watch - their hunting techniques weren't too good at first, and some lunged for a cricket and missed, but they soon got the hang of it and were chomping away. One baby got a bit of a fright and ran away from a cricket which looked like it was chasing him, but he soon realised that was the wrong way round, and turned hunter! They all seemed to feed well.
Two week old Hatchlings
At this age they are very sociable, and like to sit in groups together. They climb all over each other. Some are darker, some lighter, some already with a greeny gold tinge. Apart from the one without back feet it isn't possible to tell them apart too well at this stage.
They are eating crickets as well as kale and are definitely little eating and pooping machines! It's very hard work keeping the vivariums clean and I was forever changing the kitchen roll they had as substrate. The colours of the hatchlings are getting brighter, but each individual seemed to change daily so apart from Stumpy, the deformed hatchling, it was impossible to tell them apart!
Second Clutch hatches
On Christmas day I recieved an extra present when the second clutch that Fiona had laid started to hatch. This was almost exactly 4 weeks after the first. My work then doubled, and so did the cost of feeding all 37 hatchlings - I was buying crickets in bulk!
Fiona had laid 42 eggs in all. 5 didn't hatch (although I left them in the incubator for a while to give them a good chance. It is tempting to try and open the unhatched eggs in case there is a live baby inside, but it is a very difficult thing to do as you can easily harm the tiny bearded dragon cutting the egg open. Any hatchlings which are taken out of their eggs do not normally survive in any event - if they haven't the strength to escape the egg themselves, they haven't got what it takes to thrive.
But I was pleased with my 37 hatchlings, and they started to go to their new homes at 8 weeks old.
Vivarium Set Up for Bearded Dragon Hatchlings
Hatchlings should ideally be housed just 5 to each vivarium otherwise tails and toes get nipped - not necessarily on purpose, but a tail disappearing behind a rock can look like a cricket or something to be chased.
Vivariums should be on the small side and have sparse decoration - just somewhere to climb. A fairly clear vivarium makes it easier for the hatchlings to learn and practice the skill of catching crickets. Crickets which are uneaten should be removed at night otherwise they can bite the tender parts of the hatchlings. It's not unheard of for crickets to bite a hatchling so much that it dies. I made a big mistake in my first hatchling vivariums as I used cork for them to climb on - the crickets hid in this, so I was forever shaking it out to find them all.
The substrate should be kitchen towel which can be changed as necessary.
I removed all the babies to clean out their vivarium regularly, which also gave me the opportunity to handle them. By the time they went to their new homes the hatchlings were used to being held.