Bearded Dragon Eggs are a real thing! Bearded dragons have risen in popularity due to their calm demeanor, compact size, and fun appearance. For many bearded dragon owners, bearded dragon eggs and egg-laying will not be top of mind when purchasing their pet. But, if she is female, you may be in for quite a ride!
Dr. Jess explains more of what you need to know before you bring your female beardie home with you.
When Do Bearded Dragons Start Laying Eggs?
Female bearded dragons can lay unfertilized eggs as early as ten months of age, although this is more on the rare side, before they would start mating naturally.
Female bearded dragons that are bred too young can have major health consequences later on in life.
If she lays eggs before she is fully grown, she risks a loss of calcium in her body which can result in having her growth stunted and her lifespan shortened.
Females may not lay any eggs until many years later in life or even at all.
Most female bearded dragons become gravid (ability to make and lay eggs) at 2-4 years old.
Those eggs can be either fertile or infertile, depending on whether she has had access to a reproductively-healthy male bearded dragon, discussed in more details below.
As an impressive side-note, Female bearded dragons can store sperm for up to a year.
So, even if it’s been a while since your beardie was around a male bearded dragon, there is still a chance that you may have baby dragons in the near future!
Instances Where Female Bearded Dragons Lay Eggs:
- After mating with a male
- Without ever mating with a male.
- After storing sperm from a past mating session with a male (storing sperm for up to a year!)
Can a Female Beardie Lay Eggs Without a Male?
Like many birds and reptiles, female bearded dragons can lay eggs in the absence of a male, but these eggs will be infertile.
This is completely normal and chickens are a prime example of an animal that lays infertile eggs regularly.
Unfertilized eggs will not develop and they should be removed from the pet’s enclosure or they will go bad.
How Often Do Bearded Dragons Lay Infertile Eggs?
Some females will lay their clutch over the course of 1-2 days, then rest for a few weeks, and then repeat the process all over again, all of this happening within a few months time frame.
Fertile Bearded Dragon Eggs:
Healthy fertile eggs will double their original size as they swell as the embryo begins to further grow and develop.
So, How Many Eggs Do Bearded Dragons Lay?
A female bearded dragon can lay several clutches (usually 2-4 clutches) of eggs during their mating season, with around 15-30 eggs being the average range you can expect per clutch, but this varies from individual female to individual female.
How Long Does It Take for a Bearded Dragon to Lay Her Eggs?
As mentioned above, it can take her a couple of days for her to finish laying each clutch.
She may choose to rest for a few days to a few weeks, before repeating the process.
It is not uncommon for it to take months for her to stop laying altogether.
How Can I Tell if My Female Bearded Dragon is Gravid?
If your female dragon is gravid, you should be able to see some of the following physical and behavioral changes:
- Sudden weight gain
- Larger belly
- Pinkish tint to urates
- Changes in bowel movements
- Hard marble-like protrusions within the belly
- Becoming less active than usual when close to laying
- Nesting behavior i.e. digging
- May stop eating entirely when close to laying
Your treatment of your beardie should be the same regardless to whether she is laying fertile or infertile eggs.
Once you’ve determined that your dragon is gravid, you should immediately contact your local veterinarian with questions and concerns especially if this is your first time going through this process with a bearded dragon.
If she is indeed gravid, you will want to increase her intake of calcium. More on this below.
Handling Bearded Dragon Eggs:
How to Tell if Eggs are Fertile:
If your bearded dragon has a clutch of eggs and you are unsure of whether they are fertile or not, you can test them through a process called candling – something also done in bird eggs.
Candling is done by putting a 1-2 week old egg at the end of a flashlight and observing what the interior of the egg looks like.
When the flashlight’s light shines through to the interior of the egg, you will likely see one of two things:
- If you see a pink embryo, or what appears to be reddish lines or ‘veins’ inside, then your egg is most likely to have been fertilized.
- If you see a yellowish interior, with no pink or red features inside, it is likely not a fertilized egg.
Why Supplement Calcium to Gravid Female Bearded Dragons?
I mentioned earlier in the article that if you realize that you have a gravid beardie, that you should start to supplement her with calcium. Why do this???
In order for the female to make her eggs, she will need to draw calcium from her own skeletal system.
That’s right – she will take calcium right from her bones and own body!
If this calcium is not replenished in her diet, it will deplete her bones of calcium, predisposing her to weakened bones and teeth, and to osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease, making broken bones so so much bigger of a reality.
On top of an increased risk of broken bones, metabolic bone disease, if not treated correctly can be life-altering or even fatal to a bearded dragon.
Symptoms of Metabolic Bone Disease:
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy or lack of energy
- Paralysis of the body
- Tremors or “the shakes”
- Bone fractures
- Swelling/deformation of the lower jaw is a major sign of this issue
If your dragon does not have enough calcium in her diet while gravid, her eggs might not form a proper hardened shell.
Soft eggs can cause serious health complications.
Calcium-deficient eggs can crack inside the female during laying, leaving her vulnerable to a multitude of internal infections.
Calcium-deficient eggs can also increase the chances that the mother will become egg-bound, unable to pass the eggs herself.
More on egg-bound females a little later in this article.
Supplementing Calcium to a Gravid Female Bearded Dragon:
Most beardie owners find it very easy to supplement their gravid female bearded dragons with calcium.
It is recommended that the owner sprinkle calcium powder on top of live mealworms or crickets and feed the live, store-bought insects to the female, ensuring that the supplement was ingested by the dragon.
Caring For a Gravid Female Bearded Dragon During Gestation:
There are other ways you can help support your female bearded dragon besides just giving her a nice calcium supplement!
Make sure that she is healthy and comfortable while gestating her eggs!
In addition to a normal healthy diet, you may want to offer extra treats as calories, for your gravid dragon. Even if she is only laying infertile eggs, she will still need the added nutrition to keep her healthy.
How to Tell When a Female Bearded Dragon Will Lay Eggs?
When a gravid female dragon is ready to lay eggs, her behavior will noticeably change. Here are some signs that she may be ready to lay her eggs:
- She may begin to scratch frantically at the corners of the enclosure or will show increased digging behaviors
- Expanded, bloated, or engorged belly or abdomen
- Lack or decrease in appetite
- Irritability or uncomfortableness
- Hyperactivity/Fidgety – increase in movement / running around haphazardly
Once your bearded dragon starts to show signs that she is preparing to lay her eggs, you will likely want to prepare a simple lay box for her to use. More on lay boxes below…
Can You Prevent a Female Bearded Dragon from Laying Infertile Eggs?
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to prevent female bearded dragons from laying an infertile clutch.
If they determine it is time for them to do so, there’s really nothing you can do.
It’s basically the bearded dragon’s version of ovulation or a woman’s menstruation cycle. It’s hard to stop Mother Nature!
How to Build a Lay Box:
A lay box allows the pet owner to help create an adequate environment for the female bearded dragon to lay her eggs successfully.
If adequate conditions aren’t provided the female dragon will not lay her eggs until she finds a good location to do it.
They are also unaware that withholding their eggs can cause them to become egg-bound.
One common option is to find a plastic tub or container with an 8 to 10 gallon capacity and a secure lid which should be filled nearly to the top with at least 7-8 inches of moist, sandy soil that is damp enough to gently clump when squeezed together.
To build a lay box, get enough substrate to form a layer five to six inches deep.
Most female dragons will bury their eggs as they lay them, so make sure to have plenty of substrate in the box for her to use.
Dampen the substrate to the point that it can be clumped together and easier to dig and less likely to collapse in.
Female bearded dragons prefer to tunnel holes to lay their eggs.
Wet sand will give the substrate enough moisture so that it doesn’t cave in on her while she is trying to dig her nest.
Care of the Female Bearded Dragon After Laying Eggs
After the eggs have all been laid and the hole covered up, your pet will be exhausted, as she just went through the equivalent of giving birth!
You must make sure that your female bearded dragon rehydrates because the eggs will pull a lot of fluid from her.
You will also want to ensure that she and regains her energy and her strength after all that hard work.
- Make sure that the dragon has access to and gets plenty of fresh clean water. Also, consider giving her a nice warm bath to rehydrate and rinse off all the sand she was digging in.
- Make sure the female is offered and actually consumes high-quality food during this period, making sure to offer vegetables and greens with high nutrients so that she can regain some of the minerals lost during the creation of her eggs (especially protein and calcium!).
- Remove any infertile eggs from the enclosure so that they do not spoil and cause health issues. If you are unsure, performing the candling procedure described above or contact your local veterinarian for more information on what to do.
- Allow her to bask for at least an hour or two before bedtime.
- Make sure that her enclosure is clean and she has a safe space to rest and recoup.
If your beardie goes too long without food (more than a couple of days), it’s time to see a vet to get an x-ray and to monitor the condition because she may have become egg-bound.
Will Female Bearded Dragons Eat Their Own Eggs?
Female bearded dragons may eat their own eggs when left to decide for themselves.
This should not be too alarming as this is not uncommon in many animal populations.
The problem is solved by removing the infertile eggs from the lay box after laying is completed.
What to Do for an Egg-bound Female Bearded Dragon
A normal gravid female bearded dragon will be fairly alert, bright, and active.
If a female dragon becomes egg-bound, she will very quickly start to act much differently.
She will start to show signs that she is not feeling well and that she is sick, very, very quickly.
If you feel that your bearded dragon has become ill and not feeling well, it is best to contact your vet immediately.
A proactive approach to finding a solution to the egg-bound problem will lead to the most optimum results in this situation.
Your veterinarian can help!
The sooner you and your veterinarian can intervene, the more likely you are to see a positive prognosis.
Veterinary Diagnostic Tools to See If Pet is Egg-Bound:
- Physical Exam (pulse, respiration rate, palpation of body, etc.)
- Ultrasound (sometimes referred to as a sonogram in human medicine)
- Blood work (blood testing to see levels of blood markers)
- Radiographs (also known as x-rays to visualize eggs in abdomen)
When a female is found to be egg bound, your veterinarian will typically recommend a medical treatment that is hormone-based, to try and induce the dragon into passing her eggs in a natural way.
Such hormone-based medications include things such as oxytocin or arginine vasotocin.
If the medication does not work, your veterinarian will likely move on to a surgical procedure as the next option.
Surgery is only performed after other types of attempts have failed.
This is because reptiles in general do not do well under anesthesia and their small size makes surgery difficult and tedious.
Bearded dragon eggs are a common thing to see in a female bearded dragons life.
Whether they are fertile or infertile eggs depends on if there is a lucky gentlemen in the picture.
Either way, there are many things to consider and take action on, to ensure that your female gravid bearded dragon is taken care of during egg laying and beyond.
During any of the process of laying eggs, you have questions, contact your local veterinarian for more information.