'Bearded Dragon' is the common name for lizards of the genus Pogona, in the family Agamidae. The name is derived from the fact that many members of the genus display a beardlike extension of the throat, usually when feeling threatened or during courtship. All bearded dragons are indigenous to Australia, and are further classified by their native habitat.
There are several recognized species and subspecies of bearded dragon, including Inland or Central Bearded Dragons, Pogona vitticeps; Coastal, Common or Eastern Bearded Dragon, Pogona barbata; Rankins Dragon, also known as Down’s Dragons or Lawson's Dragons, Pogona henrylawsoni or sometimes referred to as Pogona brevis; Dwarf Bearded Dragons, Pogona minor minor; Western Bearded Dragons, Pogona minor minima; Mitchell's Bearded Dragons, Pogona minor mitchelli; Banded or Nullarbor Bearded Dragons, Pogona nullarbor and Small-scaled or Drysdale River Bearded Dragons, Pogona microlepidota. In addition to these species there may be others that have yet to be described.
Inland Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps)
Due to their docile disposition, hardiness, and moderate size, the inland bearded dragon has become one of the most popular lizards in the pet trade. Dragons are one of the most successfully bred animals in herpetoculture. Hatchling size is approximately 3.75 inches and adults can reach nearly two feet.
By far our most extensive work has occurred with Pogona vitticeps, or Inland bearded dragons. Inland bearded dragons hail from central Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales). They inhabit a variety of terrain including desert, scrubland and dry temperate forest. Patterns and colors vary significantly both between and within terrains, which has afforded us the opportunity to selectively breed for specific color morphs. By holding back large numbers of animals each year, we have been able to amass a large and varied stock of potential breeders and now breed for various qualities, including color.
Eastern Bearded Dragons (Pogona barbata)
Eastern bearded dragons, as the name implies, are native to the eastern coast of Australia. As this is also the most densely peopled area, they are also known as common bearded dragons. They are commonly seen perched on walls and in yards and are widespread in populated areas. They are large like Inland bearded dragons, reaching nearly two feet in length.
Rankin's Bearded Dragons (Pogona henrylawsoni)
Rankin's dragons, also known as Down’s or Lawson's dragon, (Pogona henrylawsoni or Pogona brevis) come from central and western Queensland in northeastern Australia. Rankin's dragons are a smaller variety of dragon than P. vitticeps, achieving a maximum length of 10-12 inches, making them the ideal bearded dragon for those with limited space. We have been breeding Rankin's since 1982, and in 1995, we imported new breeding stock of three different bloodlines from Europe to ensure robust offspring.
Some authorities believe that each of the subspecies below is a member of this same species (P. minor). We are not taxonomists and therefore will leave those distinctions to those who are better qualified to make them. Listed below is some of what is known of these three possibly distinct, but very similar dragons:
Mitchell's Bearded Dragons (Pogona minor mitchelli)
Mitchell's bearded dragons were named after Francis John Mitchell, curator of Reptiles from 1956 to 1970 at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide. Mitchell’s bearded dragons live in the arid parts of northwestern Australia in the provinces of Western Australia and parts of the Northern Territory. Within their range, Mitchell's dragons inhabit a great variety of habitats from semi-tropical woodlands to sandy deserts. They are the largest of the Pogona minor subspecies, reaching nearly 18 inches in length.
Dwarf Bearded Dragons (Pogona minor minor)
Very similar in appearance to Mitchell’s bearded dragon, but with a very poorly developed beard. As one observer suggested, it’s more of a five o’clock shadow than a beard. This species has the greatest range of the possible P. minor subspecies, inhabiting most parts of Western Australia, as well as the adjacent parts of the North Territory and South Australia. They are smaller than Mitchell’s bearded dragons, reaching only about 14 inches in length.
Western Bearded Dragons (Pogona minor minima)
Western bearded dragons are also native to the western part of Australia (no kidding), but have a very restricted (and very western) range, inhabiting the Wallabi Group of the Houtman Albrohos Islands located about 200 miles to the north of Perth. Ironically, western bearded dragons are smaller than dwarf bearded dragons, obtaining maximum lengths of around a foot long. Those that distinguish it from the aforementioned subspecies note that it has a longer tail and legs.
Banded Bearded Dragons (Pogona nullarbor)
Banded bearded dragons inhabit a small portion in the south of Western Australia and South Australia not surprisingly called the Nullarbor Plain. The word Nullarbor is derived from Latin and means essentially “treeless.” If this portrait isn’t bleak enough, the Nullarbor Plain is also the world’s largest single piece of limestone. This area is flat, arid and generally barren. Within this barren landscape, the banded bearded dragon is restricted to patchy areas of shrub land. Given the habitat, it should be no surprise that banded bearded dragons are considered rare. Banded bearded dragons often have pales bands on their backs and tails. They obtain a maximum length of about 14 inches.
Small-scaled Bearded Dragons (Pogona microlepidota)
Small-scaled bearded dragons have the narrowest range of any of the described species, inhabiting only a small coastal portion of the Kimberley Plateau in north Western Australia. The small-scaled bearded dragon’s spikes and scales are less pronounced than their relatives, giving them one of their common names. Within their range they are found near the Drysdale River which gives them their other common name. Small-scaled bearded dragons can reach lengths of up to 18 inches.