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You’ve bought your first bearded dragon – congrats! Due to their easy care and quirky personalities, bearded dragons are some of the best reptiles you can buy. But, bearded dragons are susceptible to specific ailments that can affect their health.
Most ailments are treated with dietary changes and water supplementation. Although, major health problems may require veterinary attention.
That’s why getting acquainted with the different body parts of a bearded dragon is essential. It will provide you with the knowledge you need to take care of your bearded dragon while preventing severe health problems.
So, let’s get into bearded dragon anatomy and the different body parts of a bearded dragon!
Bearded Dragon Anatomy
When keeping a bearded dragon, it’s important to know its body parts and how they function to keep it healthy and happy. Bearded dragons are native to Australia, where their desert habitat has given them specific anatomical adaptations.
This article will introduce you to the different body parts of a bearded dragon and why they evolved in this way. You can utilize your knowledge of bearded dragon anatomy when monitoring your pet. This will help you spot any problems before they become severe or even fatal.
Body Parts of a Bearded Dragon
Most lizards have eyes along their side, which means they can see in almost any direction without moving their head. Yet, bearded dragon eyes don’t focus on sharp detail. Instead, they focus on movement and changes in color (they’re also better at seeing blue than red).
Moreover, this helps them spot insects while avoiding becoming prey themselves. Also, bearded dragons have excellent night vision and can even detect ultraviolet light. This unique ability helps them find hiding insects (since many insects become active after dark).
Also, note that a bearded dragon’s pupils usually have extra slits, called nocturnal slits. This helps adjust its depth perception when hunting at night. This is one example of how reptiles can adapt over time, even if they only live in captivity.
Another interesting aspect of bearded dragon anatomy is their third eye—otherwise known as the parietal eye. This unique organ above their heads allows them to sense heat signatures. While you may not be able to see it, know that your bearded dragon is receiving information from this organ. This gives them an advantage over other reptiles that only use sight or sound.
Moreover, the third eye helps with thermoregulation — a critical part of surviving in a desert environment. This helps them regulate circadian rhythms, so they know when to sleep and when to stay active.
Finally, make sure you check your beardie’s eyes to look for discharge, irritation, and growths. These abnormalities could indicate anything from an infection to vision problems.
As always, take your pet to a vet if you notice anything unusual!
Those spiky scales along your bearded dragon’s neck are called lateral fringes. The lateral fringes are a critical aspect of bearded dragon anatomy and serve two primary purposes. The first is to make your pet look more intimidating to scare off predators.
The second purpose is to help with thermoregulation. Bearded dragons can change how much blood flows through their bodies by opening or closing their scales. That means if they want to warm up in cold weather or cool down in warmer weather, they can do so by contracting and expanding their lateral fringes!
Also, know that bearded dragons have more than one set of fringes. Some are running across their shoulders, too. These tend to be smaller than those on their necks, but they play a similar role in regulating body temperature.
Keep an eye out for any cuts or abrasions or rotted-looking scales. This could indicate your bearded dragon is suffering from scale rot or other infections.
These are specialized scales under your bearded dragon’s chin and along its belly. They help regulate body temperature in several ways. First, they expand to make your pet look bigger and more intimidating when it wants to scare off predators.
Second, gular pouches help with thermoregulation by moving blood closer to or farther from a bearded dragon’s heart. Of course, this is circumstantial. Thus, if you see something small moving around inside your beardie’s pouch, don’t worry. It’s completely normal!
Third, bearded dragons use their pouch to store food and water. You may have noticed that your pet gulps down whole crickets rather than chew them. Without a gular pouch, it would be much more challenging and take longer for these giant bugs to pass through a bearded dragon’s digestive tract.
Finally, if your bearded dragon is acting sickly, keep an eye out for any fluid loss in its pouch. Though usually filled with water, a dry pouch might mean trouble. It could be a sign of dehydration, so be sure to give your beardie plenty of vegetables!
Bearded dragons, being native to Australia, have to endure the extreme heat. To do so, they have developed several unique adaptations, including evaporative cooling. Evaporative cooling occurs when a bearded dragon sweats through its skin to cool itself down. Thus, this anatomical feature comes in handy with sudden temperature shifts.
Often, sweat collects around a bearded dragon’s vent and lowers its internal temperature. However, if you see white crusty material around your bearded dragon’s vent area, that could be scale rot, mouth rot, or another kind of infection.
One way to help prevent infections in bearded dragons is to make sure their environment stays at a reasonable temperature. This should be between 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit. It would be best if you also cleaned their enclosures every week or so.
Pro Tip: It’s also advisable to give adequate supplementation to your beardie. If your beardie isn’t already on a probiotic, you’re putting your bearded dragon at risk of contracting parasites and disease. Be sure to check out our detailed guide on the best antibiotics and probiotics!
You’ll notice that bearded dragons have distinct plates covering their bodies. These are scales, and they’re made out of keratin (the same thing human fingernails are made of).
Scales offer some protection for your pet and provide texture to help keep it from slipping around on surfaces like rocks or branches. However, if you notice any redness, swelling, or cuts on your bearded dragon’s body, make sure to check with your vet right away.
Nose, Ear, Legs
Like other reptiles, bearded dragons have several unique features that help them survive. They have two nostrils at their nose to help with breathing and picking up scents from surrounding objects.
Also, since bearded dragons are cold-blooded, they rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. That means that even though you might be comfortable wearing shorts in 80-degree weather, your bearded dragon won’t be! But don’t worry—there are ways to keep dragons warm by using basking bulbs.
Moreover, bearded dragons have ears located right behind their eyes. This is another way for them to monitor their environment.
Another exciting aspect of bearded dragon anatomy is their legs. They can move by pushing off with their back legs while also pulling themselves forward with their front legs.
Nature has gifted bearded dragons with an interesting-looking mouth and fascinating tongue. They have two fangs at their upper jaw that can bite, hold onto prey, or defend themselves from predators.
Additionally, bearded dragons have sticky tongues that allow them to catch prey. It’s like a chameleon and how they capture their prey, but on a smaller scale.
The Complex Anatomy of Bearded Dragons
Several other body parts make up your bearded dragon’s anatomy. It’s interesting because many of these complex features allow them to survive in the wild. Yet, captive bearded dragons also share these features.
It’s important to understand the different body parts of a bearded dragon to help you better care for it! Therefore, you should pat yourself on the back to educate yourself on how to better care for your reptile!
If you found this article useful, be sure to check out our comprehensive bearded dragon guide! It covers vital topics such as common health issues, diet, lighting, and much more!