Bearded dragons are native to the arid regions of Australia, primarily in the central and eastern parts of the country. They are found in various habitats, including deserts, woodlands, and scrublands.
In the wild, bearded dragons are often found basking on rocks or other elevated surfaces to regulate their body temperature, an important part of their behavior and physiology. However, their docile temperament and interesting behaviors have become popular as pets worldwide.
Bearded Dragon Habitats in the Wild
In the wild, bearded dragons are found in various habitats across central and eastern Australia, where some of the different habitats where bearded dragons can be found.
Hot and dry weather conditions characterize deserts. Daytime temperatures in the desert can reach a little over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing. Bearded dragons have adapted to these extreme temperatures and can regulate their body temperature by basking in the sun or seeking shade.
The vegetation in the desert is sparse and consists mainly of low-growing plants and shrubs. Bearded dragons in the wild eat various desert plants, such as cactus pads, flowers, and seeds. Bearded dragons bask on rocks, logs, and other structures in the desert to regulate their body temperature. They may also use these structures for shelter and protection from predators.
Bearded dragons in the desert dig shallow burrows in the sand to shelter and escape the sun’s heat. These burrows can be as deep as several feet and provide a cool and humid environment for the dragons to rest. They face a variety of predators in this habitat, including birds of prey, snakes, and other reptiles. To avoid detection, they may flatten their bodies against the ground or run in short bursts to escape.
Woodlands are characterized by mild to warm temperatures and moderate humidity levels. Bearded dragons in woodlands have adapted to a milder and more variable climate than those in the desert. Trees and shrubs in woodlands provide shelter and shade for bearded dragons. In the wild, bearded dragons in woodlands eat a variety of vegetation, including flowers, fruits, and leaves.
Bearded dragons in woodlands may use rocks, logs, and other structures for basking and shelter. Unlike the desert habitat, woodlands may offer more vertical structures for climbing and perching. They may also dig burrows for shelter and to escape from predators. These burrows may be shallow or deep, providing a cool and humid environment for the dragons to rest.
Like in the desert, bearded dragons in woodlands face a variety of predators, including birds of prey, snakes, and other reptiles. However, woodlands may provide more hiding spots for bearded dragons to avoid detection.
Scrublands are characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Bearded dragons in scrublands have adapted to a harsh, semi-arid environment. Scrublands have low-growing shrubs, grasses, and small trees, which provide shelter and food for bearded dragons. In the wild, bearded dragons in scrublands eat a variety of vegetation, including flowers, fruits, and leaves.
Bearded dragons in scrublands may use rocks, logs, and other structures for basking and shelter. These structures may be scattered throughout the scrubland and provide a vantage point for the dragons to watch for predators.
The Behaviors of Bearded Dragons in the Wild
Bearded dragons spend much of their day in the sun to regulate their body temperature. They are diurnal and need to bask to maintain their body temperature around 95°F so they can digest their food and carry out other metabolic functions.
In the wild, bearded dragons bask on rocks, tree trunks, and other elevated surfaces exposed to direct sunlight. They may also dig shallow burrows in the ground to escape the heat during the hottest part of the day.
Bearded dragons may also adjust their position to bask more or less depending on their temperature needs, and they may turn their bodies to expose different parts to the sun. They are experts at regulating their body temperature by basking and seeking shade as needed, which is essential to their survival in their natural habitat.
Bearded dragons are:
- Opportunistic omnivores in the wild.
- Meaning they eat various foods, including insects.
- Small animals.
They use a combination of hunting and foraging techniques to obtain their food.
When hunting, bearded dragons will use their keen eyesight to spot potential prey, such as insects, small rodents, and other reptiles. They stalk their prey slowly and stealthily until they are close enough to pounce. Bearded dragons have powerful legs and quickly sprint short distances to catch their prey.
Bearded dragons also use their sense of smell to locate food, particularly plant material. They will forage for vegetation such as flowers, leaves, and fruits, using their sharp teeth to slice and consume food.
As mentioned, in the wild, bearded dragons are known to dig shallow burrows in the ground to escape the sun’s heat. These caves also serve as a place to hide from predators and to sleep at night.
To dig, bearded dragons use their front legs to scrape and loosen the soil and their hind legs to push it out of the way. They may also use their snouts to push and move the dirt around. Bearded dragons have strong, sharp claws that help them to dig through the hard-packed soil.
Bearded dragons are also capable of digging deeper burrows if they need to. They will dig deeper to escape extreme heat, such as during a bushfire or heatwave, or to lay their eggs. In these cases, they may dig a burrow several feet deep.
Bearded dragons are generally solitary animals in the wild, although they may occasionally be found basking in groups in areas with abundant food and suitable basking sites.
Males can be territorial and may display dominance towards other males during mating season. They communicate through various behaviors, including head bobbing, arm waving, and puffing out their throat (known as “bearding”). These displays are used to assert dominance or indicate submission and may also be used during courtship rituals.
Despite being solitary, bearded dragons do have some social behaviors. For example, females may form loose groups during the breeding season, with several females sharing a single male. They may also engage in “jousting” behavior, standing on their hind legs and pushing against each other to establish dominance.