Bearded Dragon is the common name for Pogona vitticeps. This cold-blooded reptile is native to eastern continental Australia, but most of the Pogona in pet stores are now captive bred. The name Bearded Dragon comes from the beard of adult males, and the Australian word for this type of lizard. Their color ranges from the “normal” sandy colored tans and beiges to reds, oranges, and golds. Most of the species of Bearded Dragons grow to almost the same size. They all have triangular heads, which are very broad as well. Their bodies look to be slightly flattened, with their sides extruding with small spines. When fully grown, the average Bearded Dragon will reach about 20 inches in total length, head to tail. The males are usually a bit longer then the females, but conversely, the females tend to be slightly heavier.
Bearded Dragons in the wild will often stand up on their hind legs to run from danger. This is actually slower than running on all fours, and might be a form of temperature control. The animals produce heat while running and being cold blooded; have no good way to regulate their body temperature. Running on their hind legs puts their body farther away from the hot ground and improves airflow around them. This should allow them to run farther before having to stop. Bearded dragons, especially the young ones are semi-arboreal, and spend much time in trees in the wild. Even the adults like to climb. Perching and basking under the sun is the favorite daytime activity of bearded dragons. They are diurnal reptile which means they are active in daytime. They need the high temperature to raise and warm up their body.
They have a limited ability to change their color. In the wild, this is also used to hide and to regulate body temperature. Lighter colors reflect more light away from the body. This can also be used to show an emotional state, and when ill or injured they often have black back and pale yellow legs. Despite this, the animals will attempt to hide illness until it becomes serious, possibly as a survival mechanism.
If you are considering keeping a Bearded Dragon as a pet then make sure you check out our Bearded Dragon Vivarium article.