Bearded dragons are easy, interesting, and mysterious pets to care for, and if you’re a new pet owner, then you really can’t wait to unravel these mysteries.
Now, one of the questions that could pop up is if male bearded dragons can lay eggs, and it is quite easy to understand because female bearded dragons can store sperm in their reproductive system for a year.
Does this mean the roles have been reversed? If it has, can a male bearded dragon lay eggs?
If you’re as intrigued as I am, then let’s dive straight into knowing more about bearded dragons and their reproductive system!
What age do bearded dragons lay eggs: Sexual Maturity in Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons become sexually mature between 2-4 years of age, but it’s not uncommon to find beardies younger than a year of age producing eggs.
This is because the egg-laying process depends solely on their size and not so much on age. If your dragon has reached an appropriate size and she’s between 9-10 months old, then don’t be surprised to find out she’s laying eggs. However, the normal time is when they are 2 years old.
Can a Male Bearded dragon lay eggs? Are roles being reversed?
Although it can be quite confusing to learn that female bearded dragons can store sperm in their reproductive system, that could make you wonder; what does this mean for a male beardie?
I’ll clear this up real quick: male bearded dragons don’t lay eggs. Female beardies do the eggs laying and you’re in luck for a baby beardie if you have one of those.
Can a Bearded Dragon lay eggs without mating? Can they lay eggs without a male?
Bearded dragons can lay eggs without mating. Think about chickens or birds that lay eggs without a male. The only thing is that the eggs will be infertile.
So, this means your bearded dragon can start laying infertile eggs once she’s of breeding age without going through the mating process.
How to tell if a bearded dragon is gravid?
What does the word gravid mean? Gravid is when a bearded dragon can produce eggs. Simply put, it means she’s pregnant, in which case there are some signs to look out for:
- Weakness. Your beardie may appear physically weak. This is because producing the eggs is taking a toll on her physical and mental health.
- Inability to eat. Another thing that comes with a gravid beardie is the withdrawal from eating like she used to. But not all dragons are the same, so your beardie might be eating more than usual or lose the urge to eat.
- Weight Gain. You might notice your beardie has added weight and also see the outline of eggs in the abdominal area. However, no matter how tempting it can be, don’t massage the eggs, as that can lead to a rupture and could cause problems for your pet.
- Behavior changes. During this period, your beardie might act differently than she used to. For instance, she might be a little more irritated or dig through the substrate to find the exact spot to lay her eggs.
- Basks a lot. Another thing is that a gravid bearded dragon spends more time under the heat lamp compared to normal days when she isn’t pregnant.
How to take care of a gravid female bearded dragon?
During your bearded dragon’s pregnancy, you’ll want to support her by giving her calcium. Bearded dragons draw calcium from their bones to produce eggs, and if there’s no way to get the calcium back, it leads to hypocalcemia—a decrease in calcium in the body—which shows up as broken bones, bone weakening, paralysis, or lumps in the bones.
Another issue that arises with calcium deficiency is that it could lead to the bearded dragon being egg-bound. A lack of calcium in the bones leads to fragile eggshells, which affect both the baby dragon and the mother.
For one, without a good shell, the baby can’t be protected, and if the shells aren’t hardened, it could lead to broken eggs in the reproductive tract, thus preventing other eggs from coming out. The inability to get the eggs out is called being egg-bound and that is a life-threatening condition.
To prevent all these from happening, their meals should always be sprinkled with calcium powder.
How to know if a bearded dragon is ready to lay eggs?
A solid way of knowing if she’s ready to lay eggs is when she paces back and forth in the tank or claws at the terrarium so she can get out and find somewhere to lay her eggs.
At that point, she might show signs of being irritated or uncomfortable because not laying those eggs could lead to problems.
Let me explain: In the wild, bearded dragons dig up the sand to lay and bury their eggs, and if you’re using a substrate that isn’t sand (for safety purposes), know that this is difficult for a bearded dragon, and what you must do at that moment is provide a comfortable place for her to lay the eggs.
What to do for an egg-bound bearded dragon
Being egg-bound is a life-threatening condition that can lead to internal infections and, in severe cases, death. This happens when an egg cracks in the reproductive tract, thus preventing other eggs from coming through. It’s an extremely painful process for a bearded dragon, but how do you know when your pet is egg-bound?
A normal gravid female bearded dragon looks active and bright, while an egg-bound bearded dragon would act slow, tired, or lose its appetite for food. Besides, if it’s been way past time for your dragon to lay but she isn’t doing that, then contact the vet immediately for a diagnosis.
Your best bet is to always monitor your dragon during this period so you can take the appropriate measures in dealing with any issue that arises
How to know if the eggs are fertile or not?
If your dragon has been with a male before the period of laying eggs—we’re talking about close to a year—then the eggs are fertile. However, if you’re too curious to wait around or can’t even keep track of the date, then there’s a process known as candling.
Candling is when you point the rays of a flashlight at a 1-2 week old egg just to see what’s inside.
If you’re doing that, then here’s what to look out for to know if the eggs are fertile or infertile:
- If you can see a pink embryo or reddish veins in the eggs, then you have a fertile egg.
- If there’s only a yellowish interior; no red veins, then that’s an infertile egg that you need to toss out to prevent them from eating it.
How long does it take and how many eggs per mating season?
It takes a couple of days for a bearded dragon to lay her eggs because, per mating season, your pet could be laying close to 15-30 eggs in a clutch, and the good thing about this is that your beardie could have up to 2-3 clutches.
But if it’s been way past that period, then she’s probably egg-bound in which case refer to the guidelines above to know what to do in such situations.
Providing a lay box for a bearded dragon?
Has your female dragon been clawing at the terrarium or making attempts to get out? Then it’s time to provide them with a lay or dig box.
Requirements for a lay box:
- Size: Make sure the dig box is large and cozy enough for your bearded dragon to feel comfortable in. It could be an eight-gallon plastic container that has a secure lid on top but factoring in her size is also important.
- Substrate: Fill the plastic container with 6 inches of sand substrate. There is a wide range of substrate choices to pick from such as coconut fiber, wet sand, and vermiculite. Then add warm water, but just a little of that as what we’re aiming for is damp soil, not a soaked one. To know if you got this right, try squeezing the sand… does it form into clumps whenever you try to squeeze it? If it does, then that’s exactly what we’re aiming for.
- Temperature: You’ll also be needing a reptile humidifier and hygrometer for temperature. The humidity should be between 70-75%. If the soil isn’t humid enough, then misting the soil with warm water is another option. Just avoid spraying the eggs as that could lead to birth defects or even stillbirths. Our target is the soil. The heat in the enclosure should also be measured to be about 80-86°F.
Finally, if your bearded dragon’s eggs are fertile and she’s done laying, ensure that the eggs are placed 2-3 cm apart from each other and left in an incubator to hatch. Between 50 and 75 days, the baby dragons will be fully hatched. Before then, you might notice their heads pop out, but don’t do anything to disrupt the process, as they will get it done themselves when the time is right.
Warning: Never leave a bearded dragon alone with its eggs in the enclosure because they don’t care about them and might even attempt to eat them!
After-Care for a Bearded Dragon
Since your dragon has lost quite a lot of nutrients during the period of laying her eggs, you need to provide it with a nutritious diet to get it back on its feet.
- Provide them with a warm bath or water. You can either have them drink water to replenish their energy or run them a warm bath. After all, they might try drinking from that water.
- Leafy greens and insects to recuperate faster. Greens act as a supplement to the water they don’t drink, so make sure they eat lots of vegetables. Remember to also sprinkle calcium powder on their food to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) and get them back to their normal selves.
Lastly, if your dragon stopped eating during their gravid period, now is the time to provide them with excess.
Although male dragons don’t lay eggs, the egg-laying process can be emotional yet terrifying for you as an owner because no one gave you a template for that part of raising a beardie, but now you have one.
If you currently have a female bearded dragon, it’s never too early to be prepared with what they would need later on. If anything, it makes things easier for you.
Get a good dig or lay box; provide them with calcium; don’t handle them too much, but show lots of care and support for them, and start by incorporating calcium into their diet now to prevent them from being egg-bound.