Caring for bearded dragon eggs may seem daunting at first but with proper preparation and preventive measures, it’ll be a unique experience for you and your female bearded dragon.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- When do bearded dragons lay eggs?
- How to incubate bearded dragon eggs?
- How to properly care for a gravid bearded dragon.
Beraded Dragon Egg Laying Cycle: What To Expect
Bearded dragons are fascinating reptiles with a complex breeding cycle. Once they reach sexual maturity, female bearded dragons have the ability to lay eggs, which can be both fertile and infertile depending on whether they successfully mated with a male during the breeding season. The breeding process for bearded dragons consists of 3 parts: pregnancy, egg-laying, and hatching.
The formation of eggs inside a bearded dragon lasts for around 4 to 6 weeks. As the pregnancy goes on, you might notice your beardie presenting unusual behaviors. Tiredness, erratic behavior, and more frequent bowel movements are some of the symptoms of pregnancy your female bearded dragon might have.
In the days before the egg-laying, you will be able to feel, and even see, the eggs inside of your beardie. During the pregnancy, your animal will need special care and nourishment. Calcium supplements, vitamins, and extra protein intake are important to make sure the correct nutritional needs during this time are met.
Bearded dragons lay eggs in clutches of 15 to 30, which they later bury in the substrate. They can lay up to 4 clutches during a breeding season. The egg-laying process is exhausting for females and can last up to 48 hours. During egg-laying, your female will present signs of exhaustion. You should provide her with a good diet with increased protein, calcium supplements, and vitamins to help her overcome the physical effort. A dig box in the enclosure is also recommended to provide a place for your beardie to bury her eggs.
Once the eggs are buried in the nest/dig box, the incubation period starts. The embryos inside your bearded dragons’ eggs will be fully developed after around 60 days. After the incubation period, your bearded dragon eggs are ready to hatch. The baby bearded dragons will come out of their eggs at different paces and you mustn’t try to rush or help in the process, as you might accidentally harm them.
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When Do Bearded Dragons Lay Eggs?
On rare occasions, female bearded dragons can start to lay unfertilized eggs as early as 9-10 months of age but the norm is at around 2-4 years of age upon sexual maturity. Starting to lay eggs at a young age can be detrimental to a beardie’s health as this can eat up their calcium reserves while they are still growing and lead to health issues later on (metabolic bone disease, shorter life expectancy). Some female bearded dragons may not even lay eggs in their lifetime.
Although the inner fertile rhythm varies from one lizard to another, most bearded dragons become gravid (able to make and lay eggs) during their first years of sexual maturity, normally between their 2nd and 4th year of age.
The fertility of these eggs will depend on whether or not the female has mated with a male bearded dragon.
How To Tell If Bearded Dragon Eggs Are Fertile
If your bearded dragon has laid eggs and you are not sure whether they are fertile or not, you can begin to tell after the first 2 weeks by using a flashlight to check.
Shining a flashlight against fertile eggs will show thinnish red veins forming inside from the second week of incubation. If the eggs are at a more advanced state of fertilization, you might even see the growing shape of an embryo.
This procedure is called candling, and it’s very commonly used to check for fertilization in bird and lizard eggs. When you candle the eggs, you should keep handling to a minimum, as touching them too much could lead to harming the embryos inside.
If the eggs present a yellowish and dented appearance, they are probably not fertilized but double check by candling using a flashlight. If you see no discernible shape inside, the egg is most likely infertile and should be removed from the tank.
Healthy fertile eggs will swell up to double their size, as the tiny bearded dragon grows inside.
How To Tell When A Bearded Dragon Is Ready To Lay Eggs
A bearded dragon is gravid for about 4 to 6 weeks. As the date for laying its eggs comes closer, you might notice your beardie spending more and more time under the heat lamp, laying still, or sleeping.
The size of your beardie’s belly will increase substantially during pregnancy, and towards the last days before egg-laying, you’ll almost be able to see the eggs from the outside, and you’ll definitely feel them by touching them.
Besides presenting a state of lethargy and basking under the UV lamp, gravid female dragons often have decreased appetites and more frequent bowel movements.
Once your female bearded dragon is ready to lay her eggs, it will start digging her nest in a quiet part of the tank. You should help your pet in the nesting process by providing a box with soft bedding that it can use as a nest.
Many types of reptile substrate, such as dirt or vermiculite, can be used for this as they are easy to handle for your dragon. Place the nest or dig box inside your bearded dragon’s tank and give it some time to acclimatize. Your lizard will lay and bury the eggs when it feels comfortable.
Bearded dragons lay eggs in clutches of 15 to 30 eggs. The laying process is slow and exhausting – it can last up to 48 h- and your beardie will need extra food and calcium to face the challenge that this process means for its body.
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How To Incubate Bearded Dragon Eggs Without An Incubator
Although taking care of a bearded dragon’s eggs without an incubator might look a little challenging at first, it will be easy with a bit of preparation.
You can use your dig box or nest as a place to take care of your beardies’ eggs. You just have to closely control the temperature and humidity to emulate the conditions of an incubator.
1. Remove your lizard from the nest.
Bearded dragons don’t look after their eggs, so it’s better if you put back your beardie in their original or a separate enclosure. It is also not uncommon for beardies to eat their own eggs, so putting your beardie in its cage is also a way to prevent it from eating them.
2. Clean the bedding.
Cleaning the bedding will prevent the appearance of mold and bacteria. Remove any broken eggs to avoid rotting and make sure the substrate is moist and clean.
3. Keep the temperature high.
Bearded dragon eggs require a temperature of 80-85˚F. An overhead lamp or an under-tank heater will help you to maintain this temperature during the whole incubation period. Make sure you wipe away any condensation, as it can cause mold to appear on the eggs.
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Your eggs might take around 60 days to hatch. You should under no circumstances, try to force or help the baby dragons come out of their eggs, even if they look fully formed and healthy. Breaking through their eggshell might take some time and if you try to help them, you might damage their umbilical cord. Baby bearded dragons will start coming out of their eggs at different paces, and it will take a few days until all the eggs have hatched.
How To Care For Your Bearded Dragon During The Egg Laying Process
Egg laying is an exhausting physical process so your bearded dragon will need special care at this time. Egg-laying has an impact on your beardie’s present and future health so it must get proper care before, during, and after the egg-laying process.
To help it cope with the physical stress of egg-laying, you should provide your beardie with supplementary calcium. Eggs are made of calcium, which the body takes from the calcium reserves in the body of your pet. If your pet does not get enough calcium, her reserves will deplete and your beardie might start suffering from hypocalcemia.
Hypocalcemia results in more fragile bones and teeth. If not treated in time it can also lead to metabolic bone disease, the weakening and malformation of the bones, and osteoporosis, a deterioration of the bone tissue. Both these illnesses are very common in reptiles and can cause several complications for your beardie’s health.
A calcium deficiency will also lead to softer and thinner eggs, which can crack during the laying process, resulting in the death of the embryo. It is also a serious complication for the mother, as its body may not be able to reabsorb the broken egg naturally.
Besides adding calcium to your pet’s daily meals, make sure you offer your pregnant beardie a higher caloric and protein intake, as it will need more energy than usual to get through this period.
After the eggs have been laid, your beardie might still need a little help to physically recover from the effort. Make sure that your lizard has access to fresh water and consider bathing her after she is calm and has buried the eggs. Finally, check that the tank is clean and that no broken or infertile eggs are still inside.
When to see a vet?
If your beardie is showing all the signs of pregnancy but does not lay eggs after 30-45 days, your female might be egg-bound and should visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. This condition is called dystocia and it’s not uncommon in bearded dragons. If your pet presents dystocia, it means that it’s not able to deliver the eggs naturally.
The eggs might need to be removed surgically and keeping the eggs inside for too long is a serious risk for your pet’s life, as it might lead to sepsis.
If you can take your beardie during the early stages of dystocia, surgical intervention can be replaced by hormonal treatments that are less aggressive on your pet’s body.
Dystocia is common in reptiles and can have many causes, some of which refer to an inadequate nest site, lack of proper lighting, malnutrition, or dehydration.
Caring for bearded dragon eggs starts with caring for your female bearded dragon long before they are actually gravid. Make sure your beardie gets the proper care with a nutritional diet and the correct supplements, especially calcium so it is physically prepared for the grueling process of reproduction. Making sure your female bearded dragon is healthy will ensure it lays healthy eggs. A comfortable enclosure with a dig box or nest at the correct temperatures is also required to help with the incubation process, making sure the eggs develop correctly.
Can Female Bearded Dragons Lay Eggs Without A Male?
Yes. Female bearded dragons can lay eggs without a male. Like mammals, reptiles also ovulate. The egg formation and laying process in bearded dragons is mirrored in female menstruation for mammals. While women bleed their non fertilized ovules, non fertilized ovules in bearded dragons will result in the laying of infertile eggs.
If a female bearded dragon has not mated, the eggs she will lay will be infertile. The eggs will be similar to regular eggs but present a slightly yellow color and a more fragile appearance. Unfertilized eggs should be removed from the tank before they rot.
However, female bearded dragons do have the ability to store sperm for up to 12 months inside their reproductive system. So, if you are not sure whether your female bearded dragon was around a male for the last few months, you should candle the eggs with the help of a flashlight to determine whether they are fertile or not.
How Many Eggs Do Bearded Dragons Lay?
Bearded dragon’s eggs are laid in clutches of 15-30 eggs, depending on the female. Female bearded dragons can lay up to 4 clutches during their breeding seasons, although most of them will lay 2 to 3 clutches.
The egg-laying process is long and very physically consuming for females. Female bearded dragons can lay eggs for more than two days, making it a very intense experience for their bodies. After laying her first clutch of eggs, the female will recover for a few days before laying the next.
During her laying phase, your beardie will need special care and attention, as she is going through one of the most vulnerable moments of her life.
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