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Bearded Dragons are a medium-sized lizard that generally grows to be 13-24 inches in length, including their tail.  They are named for their beard which is an expandable dewlap with spiky scales. They have a broad triangular head, round bodies, stout legs, and robust tails. Their coloration depends on the soil in the region in which they live.

Dragons are native to only Australia. They live in subtropical woodlands, scrublands, savannas, shore areas, and into the great desert regions of the country.  They are not very finicky eaters due to the scarcity of food in their area. Their stomachs are flexible to accommodate large quantities of plant matter, insects, spiders, and an occasional small rodent or lizard.

Adult bearded dragons are very territorial. As they grow, they establish social hierarchies in which aggressive and appeasement displays form a normal part of their interactions. Both male and female have beards, however the males display more frequently especially in courtship rituals. Females display their beard as a sign of aggression. Males will head bob up and down as a sign of dominance to both smaller males and to potential female mates.

Although bearded dragons are only found in Australia, they are now a popular pet in the United States. It is believed that the “founder stock” of captive bred bearded dragons found outside of Australia today, were smuggled out of the country between 1974 and 1990.

The bearded dragon at SciWorks was a donation in the summer of 2010.  “Willis” is used primarily for our Animal Encounters and programming for summer camps.