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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 10:38 pm 
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This is a follow on to this thread which I posted back in 2007:

Bearded Dragon Breeding

It got "rediscovered" recently and seemed to generate a fair bit of interest, so I thought it'd be interesting to post up some new photos to show people where their beardies come from and what happens to them before they go to their new homes.



It's probably a good idea to put a couple of links in at this point - for anyone thinking they'd like to give it a go, I strongly recommend you read this page: How much does it cost to breed bearded dragons?. Sadly, breeding beardies - especially non-morphs - is likely to actually cost you money, not to mention the time you'll have to put into it. It's not uncommon for me to spend 5-6 hours per day looking after my reptiles - and that's after I get home from work! In fact, as I write this (it's now 9.34pm), I've just finished dealing with a female who's been laying eggs (see below for photos ), have now managed to answer most of my emails and callbacks, and have just started cooking my evening meal. I actually ended up in work today despite the bank holiday, so my day started at 7am. The beardies also need looking after 365 days a year - unlike my real job, I don't get days off with the beardies.

If you're going to breed beardies, the best advice I can give you is to plan ahead, save well in advance, expect a loss, and - most of all - do it because you have a passion for the animals, not because you're wanting to make money from it. I'm not trying to put people off, just make them aware of what they're committing to when they pair their dragons.


Anyway, enough of that boring stuff - onto the photos!



Beardies come in a variety of colours and patterns - the first thing I need to do is to choose the right beardies to pair together. Sometimes the pairings are for "immediate" babies (ie the good looking ones). Other times they're for "future" babies (ie this clutch may not look so stunning, but gives me better genetic options for the next generation):

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Then you pair them and let them do their thing 8)

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Females lay after around 4 weeks - they'll put on a lot of weight, most noticeably around their abdomen:

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I now use a dedicated laying box for females. It's equipped with damp sand to allow tunnelling, and a basking light. Females will generally lay the first day they go in, but some need several days in here before they get their tunnel just right - you might as well make it comfy for them!

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The females dig a tunnel, lay their eggs and bury them. Then I dig them up. Virtually all of my girls lay in this corner of the box, although a few take a left turn and lay in the lower corner. Females generally always go the same way, clutch after clutch, so I wonder whether it might be left and right handedness which determines which direction they dig in...? :idea:

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A healthy clutch of eggs should be white and plump, like these:

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Take care when uncovering the eggs as they can be fragile. Try not to turn them, even at this early stage. I then move them into perlite. I prefer perlite to vermiculite as it shows up any stains better:

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The tubs are then labelled. This tub contains 16 of the reasons why I've not eaten since lunchtime. The mum is Phoenix, the date they were laid is today (31st May), and this box contains 16 eggs, out of a total clutch of 24:

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The eggs then go into the incubator, set to 84-86f. Incubation typically lasts 8 weeks - these eggs should be hatching late July/early August:

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You can see whether the eggs are fertile or not by candling them after a week or two - fertile eggs will show a network of veins spreading through them. This egg is two weeks old:

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I don't necessarily recommend candling eggs though - they are very fragile and easily damaged. You must be very careful to make sure they aren't rotated as this can kill them. This eggs is 7 weeks old - a week from hatching - and the dragon is just about fully formed:

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When it's time to hatch the baby makes a hole in the egg and puts its head through. It'll then sleep for a day or so to recover strength, before making the final push for freedom. Hatching from the egg is probably the hardest thing a dragon will ever do. This baby is a Translucent, which gives it the ultra-dark head:

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Babies go back in the incubator for a day or two to allow them to reabsorb their egg sac, then they are moved to their first rearing tub. This baby is a day-old leatherback:

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For the first few days of their lives the babies won't eat, and will do little except sleep and bask:

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For the first couple of weeks of their lives, babies live in 5s, according to the order in which they hatched. At two weeks, I generally put the entire clutch into a 50l RUB and go through and regroup them into 4s or 5s by size. This enables me to put the larger babies together, to minimise dominance issues:

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This is also the point where I give each hatchling a unique colour-coded number. This is painted onto their right leg and their tail. This allows me to identify each individual baby, to keep track of their appetites, behaviour, favourite foods etc. It also allows people to purchase specific babies. At this stage, I'll already be noting the codes of babies that I'm interested in keeping:

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I use two types of setup for hatchlings. These tubs are around 18" x 12" and are deep enough that babies can't jump out. Babies can stay in these tubs for the first 6 weeks of life:

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The alternative are these tubs, around 24" x 15". They have mesh tops so the babies can't get out. These will do for around 8 weeks:

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At 6-8 weeks the babies typically move into vivariums - these are 36" x 12":

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By now I'll be starting to look through the babies in more detail, to decide on grades for them, and to decide which are worth growing on for a bit longer. The first of the babies go on sale at 6-8 weeks, and any that are earmarked as potential holdbacks are moved into separate setups:

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Babies to be grown on typically go into 50l RUBs with mesh lids:

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The setup is kept simple - a basking rock and a water dish, with (at present) paper as a substrate:

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Feeding and cleaning is what takes up most of the time - the babies are all cleaned daily, and are fed several times a day. We're fortunate enough to be able to grow a lot of our own food - it's fresher and more nutritious than the hydroponically-grown greens available in supermarkets. What we can't (or don't) grow, we buy from a supermarket:

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This photo's actually "borrowed" from the Uromastyx section of the new website (more Uro-related content coming soon - it's just a gallery for the time being :wink: ), but hopefully gives an idea of what food preparation involves. Now multiply this by all of the adults and babies and you get an idea of how much times it takes just to prepare greens, let alone livefood!

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Hopefully that's been interesting and gives a bit of insight into my crazy little world - the general principles are the same as in the 2007 thread, but the details have changed a bit over the last few years. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:13 am 
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Great post Andy!
What ratio of males to females are you getting? I use the lower temp of 83F and get around 25% or slightly less females - have you noticed any higher rate with an incubation temp of 86F ?
For those of you reading this and wondering about doing it with one or two pairs, I also breed dragons but on a smaller scale and can confirm everything Andy says - even with only one or two pairs you will write off 4~5 months of your time whilst raising only 3 clutches of babies. It really is not something to enter into lightly even though it is a very rewarding part of owning dragons :) .

Rick

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Beardies from an Australian point of view.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:13 pm 
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Great post Andy! Thanks for this!

Rick - according to this the temp shouldn't make much difference? viewtopic.php?f=9&t=200

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Bearded Dragon: Fiona
R.I.P Shrek and Stumpy - you are sadly missed.

For articles and useful information about how to care for Bearded Dragons visit the main site: http://www.mybeardeddragons.co.uk


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:05 pm 
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... however there is nothing like practical experience and as I use the lower temp always it should be interesting to see if Andy does get any big variance with the higher temps other than a slightly faster incubation time :)

Rick

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:48 pm 
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To be honest I've not noticed any real difference in sex ratios - most of the clutches are around 50:50 (by that I mean in the region of ~60:40 either way, on average). That's been tested across a range of temperatures from 83-86f. Believe me, if I could find a temperature to give me more females, I'd go for it!!

You have to remember though that chance plays a huge part in all of this - I recently had a clutch of leatherback x tangerines (50:50 per egg whether it's leatherback or not, the same as male/female) where I ended up with 19 leatherbacks from a clutch of 24 (massive leatherback bias). Earlier this year I hatched out around 60 babies from Leatherbacks het Hypo x Trans het Hypo, and got 2/60 Hypo Leatherback (statistically I should have been seeing 1/8), so it goes both ways.

What sort of sample size are you talking about when you say that you're seeing around 25% females?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:21 am 
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Around 6 clutches over the last couple of seasons with a total of around 110 babies - not large but I've seen a fairly consistent ratio. I'll have to see what some of the guys over here have been getting - it would be interesting to get a study done to see if/how far the international beardies have drifted from the Australian norm. :D

Rick

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:40 pm 
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I loved reading this post it was really interesting and sounds really rewarding. I didn't realise the babies were so small! They looked so adorable! :o

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:13 pm 
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GREAT POSTS PPL TY.. I WAS WONDERING DOES IT MATTER WHERE U PLACE THE SAND IN THE VIV? FOR HER TO LAY.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:50 pm 
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Answered on your other post! :lol:

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Bearded Dragon: Fiona
R.I.P Shrek and Stumpy - you are sadly missed.

For articles and useful information about how to care for Bearded Dragons visit the main site: http://www.mybeardeddragons.co.uk


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:46 am 
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Thanks guys.. eddie. :D


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:18 pm 
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HI ppl well my female layed tonight over 20 from what i could see without disturbing her. MY problem is I wasnt ready for the clutch as I have NO water heater yet-get it tomorrow. AS the homemade incubator ready apart rom the water heater!!!. I was wondering if i could close the tub over in the viv and leave for the night?. HELP PLS...


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:22 pm 
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That should work - but what temp does your viv drop to at night? You may need to insulate it a little to keep the temps up over night.

Rick

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:29 pm 
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THANKS for the quick reply rick. when i come down in the morning at this time of year my temp sits just under the 70 mark before the lights come on for the day.. YE was thinking of putting a blanket over the viv for the night. just to i get too the shop tomorrow for the heater.. rick my neighbour gave me a heater for the night but only says 150W and is for a pond.. have u any idea how much heat that would give off and will it do for the incubator?. incubator is a cool box one i made from the net or on here cant remember the now... thanks rick.. HELP ME PLS... :shock: :?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:22 pm 
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HELP!!!!!...my dragon is laying eggs!!!!!...what should i do??...i would like to hatch them if at all possible???

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Andy


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:26 pm 
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Why have you bred hur if your not prepared???
do you have a incubater,spare tanks,heating etc

Danny


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