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I have gotten this question often and it’s a fair one; is a bearded dragon a lizard? In this article, I have outlined the basic classification of bearded dragons and why they are considered lizards, as well as what sets them apart from other lizard species. I will also discuss how to care for lizards such as bearded dragons, including recommendations for proper habitat, food, and enrichment.

Is a bearded dragon a lizard

Bearded dragons are a type of lizard that is native to Australia and only got spread to other parts of the world in the 80s. They were introduced to the US in the 90s and has since gained popularity as exotic pet. While they are lizards, there are some key differences that set them apart from other lizard species.

Ancestors of Bearded Dragons and the History of lizards

Lizards are a type of reptile closely associated with snakes. Many lizard species have legs and resemble the ancient reptiles of the dinosaur era. Ancestors of lizards were roaming the earth some 200 million years ago, some millions of years before there was evidence of humans roaming the earth.

Are bearded dragons related to dinosaurs?

Bearded dragons are not direct descendants of dinosaurs. Bearded dragons branched out of reptilian trunk some 250 million years ago, long before the brach would lead to dinosaurs and birds. Rather, bearded dragons are classified as lepidosaurs, which is a type of lizard that includes iguanas, chameleons, and other four-legged lizards. The earliest known ancestors of bearded dragons date back to approximately 40 million years ago.

While bearded dragons are not classified as dinosaurs, they do share a common ancestor with them. Bearded dragons fall under the classification of squamates, which is the largest lizard taxon.

Classification of Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are classified as reptiles because they have a scaly skin, lay eggs, and are cold-blooded. They are also part of the suborder Lacertilia, which contains lizards that have moveable eyelids and external ear openings.

What sets bearded dragons apart from other lizards?

There are a few things that set bearded dragons apart from other lizards.

  • Spine: One key difference is that bearded dragons have spines on their throat that they can inflate to make themselves look bigger.
  • Beard: They also have a beard of spines around their chin, which is where they get their name.
  • Size: Bearded dragons are also on the larger side, typically growing to around 24 inches long. This makes them one of the largest lizards in their family.
  • Habitat: Unlike other lizards, bearded dragons prefer dry environments with plenty of rocks and vegetation for hiding and basking under the sun. They are semi-arboreal and are also excellent climbers.

In order to care for a bearded dragon, it is important to provide them with an appropriate habitat that includes the right temperature and humidity, as well as ample space for climbing and basking. Bearded dragons require a diet that is high in protein and calcium, so it is important to feed them insects such as crickets and mealworms.

Enrichment is also important for bearded dragons, as it helps to keep them active and stimulated. Some enrichment ideas include providing hiding places, offering a variety of textures to explore, and offering food items in different ways (such as hiding them in shredded paper).

Is a bearded dragon a lizard or a gecko?

Bearded dragons are lizards that are part of the suborder Lacertilia but are not geckos. They are closely related to iguanas, chameleons, and other four-legged lizards.

Is the bearded dragon a gecko?

No, bearded dragons are not classified as geckos. They are a type of lizard and share some key differences from other lizards, such as their spikes and size.

Gecko vs Bearded Dragons

  • Bearded dragons are much longer in size – up to 24 ft in males and up to 19 ft in females while Geckos grow to only about 7 inches to10 inches.
  • Bearded dragons also have spikes on their back, tail, and head which geckos lack.
  • Geckos are also known to make chirping vocalizations while bearded dragons are silent animals.
  • Another key difference is that geckos can climb smooth surfaces such as glass due to the specialized setae on their toes while bearded dragons cannot.
  • Lastly, geckos are nocturnal animals while bearded dragons are diurnal. This means that geckos are most active at night while bearded dragons are most active during the day.
  • Weight: Bearded dragons are heavier than geckos.

FAQs

Q: What did the bearded dragon evolve from?

A: Bearded dragons evolved from Permian era, some 250 to 300 million years ago from a subclass Lepidosauria. Lepidosauria is the ancestor of all modern snakes and lizards. are believed to have evolved from ancient ancestors that lived 40 million years ago. It is theorized that they share a common ancestor with dinosaurs, though bearded dragons are not classified as dinosaurs themselves.

Q: Are bearded dragons related to alligators

A: No, bearded dragons are not related to alligators. Alligators are part of the order Crocodilia while bearded dragons are part of the suborder Lacertilia.

Q: Are bearded dragons related to iguanas?

A: Yes, bearded dragons are closely related to iguanas. They are both part of the suborder Lacertilia and share many similarities, such as their size and appearance.

Q: Do bearded dragons have teeth?

A: Yes, bearded dragons do have teeth. They have sharp, curved teeth that are ideally suited for tearing meat.

Q: What is the difference between a male and female bearded dragon?

A: Male and female bearded dragons can be distinguished by their physical appearance. Male bearded dragons generally tend to be larger than females and have larger spikes on their head, back, and tail. Female bearded dragons also tend to have smaller spikes, but it is important to note that there may be some overlap in size between male and female dragons of the same age group.

Q: When did bearded dragons first appear?

A: Bearded dragons first appeared in the Permian period, some 250 to 300 million years ago.

Q: What is the natural habitat of a bearded dragon?

A: Bearded dragons are found in a variety of habitats, such as deserts, woodlands, and grasslands. They typically prefer areas with plenty of sunlight and rocks or logs to basking on.

Q: What do bearded dragons eat?

A: Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means that they will eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of a variety of items, such as insects, rodents, fruits, and vegetables.

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