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The fancy bearded dragon is a generic term for the different species or morphs that differ from the animals found in the wild. It describes unique traits that set fancies apart from those found in Australia’s deserts, German giants, and other varieties without an exact identifiable morph.
Special breeding processes help to create different scale patterns, bigger sizes, and brighter colors. That makes it so that many fancies don’t look like each other.
The first bearded dragons were introduced in the United States in the 1990s. Since then, they have become popular pets in homes worldwide.
What is a Fancy Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are lizards that live in Australia’s desert regions. These animals get their name from the large throat pouch with sharp spines that make it look like a small, trim beard.
The scientific name for the animal is Pogona vitticeps.
Are fancy bearded dragons smaller? Most grow to a size between 12 to 24 inches when measured from the head to the tail. Some can get as big as 30 inches when kept in a large enclosure.
The head is shaped like a triangle. Rows of spiky scales beneath the head can change colors when breeding, becoming darker.
Additional spikes run along the belly of the bearded dragon, supported by a muscular flat body and stout legs. They do not lose their tail when threatened like other lizards.
5 Facts About Fancy Bearded Dragons
- Bearded dragons have a parietal eye. It allows them to sense differences between light and dark environments. This trait lets them detect a predator that comes from above.
- These reptiles can lock their knees. That allows them to sleep while standing.
- The front teeth of fancy bearded dragons will fall out, but the ones that grow on the side are permanent.
- Each time shedding happens, the patterns or colors can change. It’s not unusual to see dragons eating their skin after it sheds.
- Breeders are constantly creating new morphs and color variations of fancy bearded dragons. Some of the newest colors include red, white (zero), and black bearded dragons!
Fancy Bearded Dragon vs. Bearded Dragon
Fancy bearded dragons and standard beardies are the same Pogona Vitticeps species. These animals have the same behavior, look, and size.
The German giant beardie can get significantly bigger, but it is still part of the Pogona vitticeps family.
The reptile’s visual aesthetics distinguishes a fancy vs. a standard bearded dragon. Fancies tend to have different skin melanin content.
That trait allows for different colors and patterns. You can also see various degrees of scalation when comparing a fancy to a standard bearded dragon.
Different Types of Fancy Bearded Dragons
Fancy bearded dragons come in four common varieties (11 total – and growing!). Each one offers unique traits that make them an attractive addition to any home.
These beardies have vivid colors because they’re missing most of the scales and spikes on their backs. This trait makes the skin feel a lot smoother compared to other types of fancy bearded dragons.
This morph has zero scales. That makes their skin feel smoother and have vibrant colors, but they also require additional care. This is because their skin dries out easily and they struggle to shed properly. This means you will have to bathe them on a regular basis.
Although many love the unique look of silkbacks, many reptile experts claim it’s unethical to breed them. Unfortunately, because they lack scales, they are prone to being burned by heat lamps.
With fewer spikes and smaller scales, this morph is made by breeding a recessive leatherback with a codominant leatherback bearded dragon. As a result, they have small scales that tend the cover their head and sides. Fortunately, microscale bearded dragons don’t require any special care.
These bearded dragons have spikes that point sideways or downward instead of the traditional way. These bearded dragons can oftentimes be difficult to distinguish from a normal bearded dragon. It’s also not uncommon for them to have a pinstripe running down their back.
How Fast Do Fancy Bearded Dragons Grow?
The primary way to tell the age of a fancy bearded dragon is to measure its length. When they’re four inches or less, you know that the animal is only about a month old.
It takes about one year to have a full-grown fancy bearded dragon.
If the bearded dragon lives in an enclosure large enough to support its full size, the following table lets you reasonably estimate its age.
|How Big Do Fancy Bearded Dragons Get?||What Age to Expect for Each Size?|
4 Inches or Less
One Month or Less
9 Inches or Less
About Two Months Old
11 Inches or Less
About Three Months Old
Between 9 to 12 Inches
About Four Months Old
Under 16 Inches
About Five Months Old
Between 11 to 18 inches
About 6 Months Old
Up to 20 Inches
About 8 Months Old
Between 16 to 22 Inches
About 12 Months Old
Fancy bearded dragon size options are found in each category at pet stores today.
Can Age Be Determined by Maturity?
An adult fancy bearded dragon becomes mature before their first birthday. This stage is where it’s easier to determine the differences between genders.
If the length measurements don’t seem to add up, try looking to see if you can determine the animal’s gender. When possible, you know that the bearded dragon is at least eight months old.
There isn’t a way to accurately determine age without having information from the animal’s breeder. Some develop fast, while others take a slower approach.
How to Determine the Gender of a Fancy Bearded Dragon?
It makes sense to know if your fancy bearded dragon is a male or a female. How else can it get a proper name?
The most accurate method is to take your reptile to a skilled exotic veterinarian. An annual checkup is always a good idea, and gender is typically noticeable around the animal’s first birthday.
You can also gently lift the tail to see if any distinguishable male or female parts are visible. Males have two bumps and a small dimple above the tail vent. When lifting the tail to check, do not raise it above 90 degrees.
Fancies can get injured when their tails are manipulated in unnatural ways. So, remember to be gentle.
Additional Ways to Determine Gender
Some simple tricks can help you reasonably guess the gender of the average fancy bearded dragon. Here are the best options to try.
How Long Do Fancy Bearded Dragons Live?
Fancy bearded dragons typically have a maximum lifespan of 12 to 14 years. This outcome is achievable when the animal is watched closely and kept healthy.
Most animals reach the age of eight when kept in captivity. That is the maximum age for the bearded dragons found in Australia.
Some fancies have been known to live for up to 20 years, but no documented evidence exists beyond forums and online conversations between owners.
Are Fancy Bearded Dragons Good Pets?
A fancy bearded dragon is an excellent first pet for anyone who wants to have reptiles at home. The animals are not hard to maintain and don’t mind being handled.
Fancies come with several different colors and patterns. That means you can choose one that fits your personal tastes.
These reptiles have relatively few health problems when the enclosure is regularly cleaned, and constant temperatures are maintained.
Are Fancy Bearded Dragons Aggressive?
Most fancy bearded dragons are not aggressive. Like any animal, they can demonstrate suggestive behaviors when feeling threatened.
Here are the behaviors to watch for when caring for your reptile.
What Causes Agitation and Aggression for Fancy Bearded Dragons?
Fancy bearded dragons prefer a stable environment. When changes occur, even in the same enclosure, it can cause stress.
Stressful situations can cause these reptiles to react aggressively. It’s the only way to communicate how they feel.
Some adult bearded dragons can develop cancer. The symptoms of this condition can also trigger aggressive behaviors.
Try to resist the urge to redecorate the enclosure or add new elements frequently. If you make a couple of changes each year, that tends to be about what most can handle.
Anything that upsets a fancy bearded dragon’s internal system can cause agitation. The substrate, lighting, temperature, and humidity must remain consistent to support their metabolism.
Health Problems Can Cause Agitation
Five common health problems can cause fancy bearded dragons to appear aggressive or agitated. You might see behaviors even when they’re alone in an enclosure with the following issues.
Fancy Bearded Dragons Can Become Dehydrated
A home enclosure isn’t a natural environment. Fancy bearded dragons require access to water and humidity to meet their physical needs.
The eyes become sunken when fancies aren’t getting enough water. You can also see the skin become wrinkly and folded.
Fresh water should be offered daily. Owners should also check it throughout the day to ensure there is enough.
You can also lightly mist the scales or skin to ensure enough moisture is available.
Fancy Bearded Dragon Care Tips
Caring for beardies starts with the enclosure. A fancy bearded dragon needs lots of space, adequate heat, and appropriate light.
Tank decorations should attempt to replicate the reptile’s natural environment. You can use substrate, sand, or other materials to create a supportive floor.
Young fancies need a 20-gallon enclosure to support their health and growth. Once they become six months old, you’ll need to double their space.
Here are some additional care tips to consider.
- Keep the lights on after the day’s final meal because heat and light encourage metabolism.
- If you feed crickets, ensure they’ve all been eaten. These insects will bite your fancy bearded dragon.
- Don’t let them roam alone outside of the enclosure. They’ll need to return to their heat lamp within a few minutes.
- Shedding can cause the eyes to bulge, but this reaction is normal. Don’t tug at old skin because it can damage the new layer underneath.
- Stubborn skin that doesn’t loosen can be freed by a warm bath that shouldn’t exceed 15 minutes.
- Fall hibernation is normal for fancies. It is a behavior called brumation, and it can cause them to miss meals or sleep for several days.
What Foods Do Fancy Bearded Dragons Like to Eat?
Fancies are omnivores. That means they like to eat a variety of foods. You can give them fresh produce, superworms, and crickets.
When the reptiles are young, they should consume more insect protein than plants. The best ratio is about 80% crickets and superworms to 20% fresh fruits and vegetables.
At the adult stage, fancies need to have that ratio reversed.
Try to use dark, leafy greens more often to limit the sugar content in the diet. When too much fruit is given to fancies, their teeth can rot.
The extra sugar can also cause them to be overweight.
Best Fruits and Vegetables to Use for Feeding
Use collards, dandelion greens, and escarole to provide fresh produce whenever possible. Some lettuce varieties (those with dark colors) are also suitable to try.
Other veggies that fancies like include carrots, squash, and bell peppers.
The fruit options for fancy bearded dragons include most berries, grapes, and melons. Some like to munch on rose petals, zucchini flowers, and dandelion blossoms.
Fruit should be an occasional treat, offered once or twice weekly.
Additional Insect Protein Options for Fancy Bearded Dragons
Crickets and superworms are popular choices for fancies because of their affordability. You can also feed them dubia roaches, phoenix worms, mealworms, and hornworms.
Some protein options should be treated like fruit and given twice per week. That’s because the following options have higher fat content.
Does My Fancy Bearded Dragon Need Supplements?
Fancy bearded dragons need extra calcium and vitamin D to maximize their health. Their diet doesn’t provide enough of these nutrients to support essential bone growth or ongoing needs.
Liquid and powder supplements are available to supply extra calcium.
Using a full-spectrum heat lamp for your beardie will naturally generate the vitamin D it needs. You can also find supplements that mix calcium and this necessary vitamin.
Some bearded dragons may also benefit from having a multivitamin administered. You’ll need a product that offers beta carotene instead of vitamin A.
How to Clean the Habitat Safely?
When you see waste in the substrate or flooring material, you should remove it immediately. Fancies can track this material in their food and water.
Reptile carpets should be cleaned weekly with appropriate soap or detergent. Scrub the surfaces monthly with an enclosure-safe product.
Commercial cleaners should be avoided whenever possible.
Substrate materials need to be replaced every 4-6 weeks to ensure a safe and supportive environment is available.
Do Fancy Bearded Dragons Like to Be Held?
Fancy bearded dragons tend to be solitary animals. Some like to interact with their people, but not always.
Most like to have their head or chin scratched. A few will let you hold them and gently massage their cheeks.
You might see signs of aggression the first few times you try to pick up a fancy bearded dragon. If this issue occurs, set them down and try again later.
How to Socialize a Fancy Bearded Dragon?
There is a right and a wrong way to start socializing fancies. These reptiles prefer to remain alone, but they can be trained to accept attention from humans.
The goal is to avoid overwhelming the fancy bearded dragon. You can start handling them when they are a hatchling by taking the right approach.
|How to Handle a Fancy Bearded Dragon?||How Not to Handle a Fancy Bearded Dragon?|
Lift the animal gently. Although beardies are sturdy lizards, they can still be injured when the pickup process is a bit rough.
Don’t pick up a fancy bearded dragon until they’re about six inches long. You can briefly touch them until they reach this size.
Support the body weight by keeping the entire animal supported. This step ensures that the handling process won’t cause fear or agitation.
Avoid staring at your beardie while trying to pick it up. This behavior could signal a challenge that might lead to unwanted aggressive outcomes.
Work in a controlled setting. Try to socialize with a fancy bearded dragon in a closed room with no loud noises.
Do not restrain or grip a fancy bearded dragon unless it is necessary to protect the reptile. Let your hand and arm serve as a platform.
Handling sessions should be brief. Anything more than 15 minutes is probably too long, although each animal is different.
Other animals pose a threat to lizards, including dogs and cats. Keep pets out of the room when socializing until they become familiar.
Wash your hands after touching your beardie to prevent inadvertent bacteria transfers.
Don’t lift a fancy by the tail. Any injury is typically permanent and puts unwanted pressure on the spinal cord.
How Often Should I Hold a Fancy Bearded Dragon?
If your fancy bearded dragon appears happy and healthy, it is usually okay to have regular holding sessions and interactions.
This activity reinforces your relationship. It will keep the stress levels lower.
Excessive handling can be agitating. Try to limit your social activities to one 15-minute session per day.
Many fancies thrive when they get a day or two away without any interactions.
How Much Is a Fancy Bearded Dragon?
The fancy bearded dragon price has several variables to consider.
A baby fancy bearded dragon may be slightly cheaper than an adult because of the associated care expenses. Both options are an affordable way to bring a reptile home.
The biggest cost of caring for this animal involves its enclosure. If you want the fancy bearded dragon to reach its full size, it will need a 120-gallon tank.
It helps to include heat rocks and lamps to maintain a consistent temperature. These animals prefer daytime temps of 95°F (35°C).
The average fancy bearded dragon is priced between $80 to $100. That’s about twice the price of a standard beardie. Younger ones could be 10% to 25% less, and where you live also impacts the final cost.
Rare morphs, such as the Zero, can sell for close to $1,000. It costs the most because it is a very rare mutation.
Zeroes lack any colors or patterns, making the skin appear nearly white.
How to Find a Fancy Bearded Dragon for Sale?
Most pet stores offer fancy bearded dragons for sale in their reptile section. Since space is limited, you may find several of them together in a small enclosure.
This issue can cause growth limitations for older fancies. You might want to see if you can determine the gender before completing your transaction.
You can also find breeders selling specific fancy bearded dragons online and locally.
Is a Fancy Bearded Dragon the Right Choice for Me?
Fancy bearded dragons include every species and morph that offers uniqueness and rarity. Although they’re like the reptiles found in Australia’s wild deserts, they’re selectively bred to produce specific traits.
Even though you can find patterns that look like giraffe spots or zebra stripes, the ownership costs stand out for those who love reptiles.
Fancies can keep you company for a decade or more if there is an appropriate enclosure and excellent care provided. That makes them an essential addition to any family.