Is your female bearded dragon laying eggs even when you do not have a male bearded dragon? How do you deal with a pregnant bearded dragon? Is it possible for a female bearded dragon to have infertile eggs?
Female bearded dragons can get pregnant or be gravid even without a male bearded dragon. Once they reach sexual maturity, they can produce infertile eggs. This is a normal occurrence especially when they go through pseudo-brumation.
Having a gravid or pregnant bearded dragon can be a delicate situation no matter how normal this behavior is. As the owner, it is your responsibility to facilitate the successful egg-laying of your beardie. Keep on reading to know how you can help your pregnant beardie!
Table of Contents
How Can Female Bearded Dragons Get Pregnant Without A Male?
It may be surprising to see eggs inside the enclosure of your female bearded dragon, when in fact it has not been paired with a male.
You should not fret, as this is normal behavior. Once female bearded dragons reach sexual maturity (1-2 years old) they can lay fertile and infertile eggs.
There are also cases where female beardies reach sexual maturity at 10 months due to captive breeding. Usually, when they reach an adult weight of at least 400g, they can be sexually mature.
This process is called “facultative parthenogenesis.” For a lot of animals, unaided breeding is rare, but in the case of reptiles such as bearded dragons, this occurrence is common.
In general, this is triggered due to a temperature change. In the wild, bearded dragons go into brumation during the colder months.
When the temperature starts to get hot, they go out of brumation mode and this signals their body that they are ready to breed.
In captivity, we can intentionally make our beardies go into brumation, but this is not necessary.
There are a lot of times when we still maintain the same temperature conditions, but our beardies themselves go into brumation even without a temperature change, and this is called pseudo-brumation.
In this case, after the pseudo-brumation of a female bearded dragon, it has the chance to produce infertile eggs.
The transition between being eggless to being a gravid female beardie bears subtle signs, which is why a lot of times, owners are surprised that there are already eggs in the enclosure.
Brumation is a condition where bearded dragons slow down their activity during the colder months. They may refuse food and stay in their hide, but they will also come out to drink water.
How To Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Pregnant
Here are some common behavioral signs that your female bearded dragon is gravid.
Change In Eating Habits
When your bearded dragon is pregnant, you will notice that it is eating more. They do this as their bodies require more nutrients, specifically calcium while producing eggs.
Even if the eggs are infertile, their bodies still require the same nutrients that are needed to produce fertile eggs.
There are also some female beardies that become picky with their food. An example of this is your beardie suddenly declines to eat fruits and vegetables and is more inclined to food that has protein, like feeder insects.
This also happens as they instinctively want to store fat in their bodies to prepare for egg-laying. Keep in mind that during this process, their bodies require more calcium for the forming of eggs.
Thus, what used to be your regular calcium dusting routine for your beardie is no longer enough.
On the second or third week of your female bearded dragon being gravid, the bulk of the eggs inside its body is going to show.
You may think that your beardie is just getting fat, but the added mass is actually the eggs that are soon to be fully formed.
You can physically check your beardie if you suspect that it is gravid. Gently take out your beardie from its enclosure.
You can then press the underbelly to feel the eggs. Make sure to use soft pressure so as not to stress your beardie.
Female bearded dragons can take 4-6 weeks before they lay their infertile eggs. The period is the same when they are bred with a male bearded dragon.
Just as expectant human mothers do, gravid female bearded dragons also do nesting. This is a behavior where they pace around the enclosure and choose an area to dig.
They do this as they are “grooming” that certain area to be the place where they lay their eggs. As touching as this may sound, this is where a problem may arise.
A lot of times, the enclosure is not prepared for egg laying, as we may not be even aware that we have a gravid beardie.
What ends up happening is that our beardies cannot find the right place to lay their eggs. In turn, they become egg-bound.
This means that they are unable to lay their eggs and the eggs are just stuck in their bodies which can also calcify and will make your beardies ill. We will discuss later on how you can prevent this from happening.
Slow Down In Activity
A gravid bearded dragon will also have a significant change in activity. Besides doing digging behavior, it may refuse to play with its toys and also reject your advances to bond.
During this time, they may stay inside the hide or just spend a lot of time in their basking spot. They may also experience discomfort during this time, so it is best to not bother them as much except for feeding them.
Pregnant beardies can also take long naps in their basking spot. Thus, you have to keep an eye on them so that they do not overheat.
A single clutch of eggs can be around 20 eggs. Bearded dragons can lay up to 4-5 clutches of infertile eggs in a year.
How To Care For A Pregnant Bearded Dragon?
Here are the different ways how to lessen the stress and aid the laying of eggs for your pregnant bearded dragon.
Provide Food That Is Rich In Calcium
We discussed earlier that a gravid beardie requires more calcium for the production of eggs. This is because the body uses the calcium in the body for the eggs to properly form.
When there is a lack of calcium, the outer layer of the eggs will not be fully formed resulting in egg binding.
Therefore, you need to give food to your beardie that is rich in calcium. You can add another day for calcium-dusted food to your feeding schedule.
Usually, the food of beardies is dusted with calcium powder once or twice a week. For a pregnant beardie, you can do this three times a week.
You can also feed your beardie the following:
- turnip greens
- dandelion leaves
- collard green leaves
Maintain The Temperature And Humidity Of The Enclosure
For a lot of owners who had a gravid beardie, they did not change the humidity and temperature of the enclosure, yet their beardies were able to lay eggs successfully.
On the other hand, it is good to note that the optimal temperature during this time should be around 85 F while the humidity is 70%.
In order to check the humidity level of the enclosure, you can use a hygrometer like this one. As for the temperature, you can use a terrarium thermometer.
We highly recommend getting a temperature gun as it is more accurate and you can check the temperature in any part of the tank within a second. We always use this one!
Put A Dig Box Or Lay Box Inside The Enclosure
We mentioned earlier that your pregnant beardie will do a lot of digging to find and cultivate the perfect place to lay her eggs.
There are many times when it will keep pacing the enclosure or even scratch at the glass as it cannot find a suitable place to lay its eggs.
Consequently, your beardie may bind its eggs. We do not want this to happen as this is dangerous to its health. A good solution to prevent egg binding is to put a lay bin or dig box inside the enclosure.
This is just a box or a bin that has a diggable substrate that can also retain a bit of moisture. Your beardie will enjoy digging the substrate and this is also where it will create a burrow to lay its eggs.
Tip: If you need a detailed guide on how to create a dig box for your bearded dragon, you can follow the steps in this article.
What Happens To A Bearded Dragon That Is Egg Bound?
Egg binding is a condition where a female bearded dragon is unable to lay its eggs. The eggs stay inside the body and have a high risk to be calcified.
This happens when your beardie is gravid for too long. This can be past the 6th-week mark or 45-47 days with no sign of eggs inside the enclosure.
Some causes can be poor nutrition, the incorrect temperature of the enclosure or there was no suitable place to lay eggs.
Your bearded dragon will become ill if the eggs are left in its system. Some symptoms include:
- Inability to move
- Lack of appetite
- Cloaca is swollen
In this case, you need to go to your vet so that the eggs can be removed. In some instances, the vet can administer hormones to your beardie for it to naturally lay the bound eggs.
However, in severe cases, it may require surgery.
There is no need to worry if you discover that you have a gravid bearded dragon.
If it was not accidentally bred by the breeder, nor was it exposed to a male bearded dragon, then your female beardie is just pregnant with infertile eggs.
With proper nutrition and the provision of a lay bin, your beardie will be calm and ready to lay its eggs in due time.
- How Often Can You Handle A Leopard Gecko? - May 16, 2023
- Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Not Eating & How To Change That - May 16, 2023
- Can Female Chameleons Have Babies Without A Male? - May 16, 2023