The Central bearded dragon is a species of lizard with a flattened body, entirely covered by specialized scales. The dragons look rather stout and thorny with large and rounded eyes. The specialized scales form spiny projections, densely covering the flap of their skin. The dragons have orbital crests, running from behind their eyes, covering the face and reaching the tip of the snout. Strong legs are covered with pointed and shingled scales, each leg having 5 clawed digits at the end. Males are larger than females though having more flattened body. When in danger, the guttural pouch of a male dragon becomes notably stronger and darker. Color of the Central bearded dragons usually depends on temperature and locality. They are mainly grey with occasional shades of black, brown, fawn or orange. The area around their eyes and at the side of the head is often yellow in color.
These animals are widely distributed over eastern and central parts of Australia, being found from the southeastern Northern Territory the eastern part of southern Australia. They live in very diverse habitats including desert, dry forests and scrublands. These dragons are semi-arboreal animals, often seen basking on picnic tables, fence posts or fallen branches.
Normally, these animals are diurnal. Nevertheless, after hot days they can be frequently seen out on roads. The Central bearded dragon is an excellent climber, often found perched in bushes as well as on branches of trees and fence posts, spending as much time perching as it does on the ground. They are not social animals, though sometimes they congregate into groups to feed and bask. Gathering in groups, they follow certain hierarchy: when basking, usually the highest-ranking individuals take the sunniest and highest spots and the rest of the group gets lower spots. Females often use their beard for aggression displays while males will display their beard during the mating season as a part of courtship ritual.
The Central bearded dragon is an opportunistic omnivore who is not very choosey about food. The dragon has stomach which is able to accommodate large amount of food. These dragons feed upon small rodents, lizards, insects, spiders well as plants.
These animals have polygynous mating system, where a male mates with more than one female. Breeding takes place in summer - from September to March. Usually, a female excavates a burrow, laying about 24 eggs at a time in one clutch with up to 9 clutches per year. When the eggs are laid, the female buries them and leaves. The babies hatch out after 60-80 days, depending on temperature of the incubation. Hatchlings are 3-4 inches (7.6-10.2 cm) long on average. They are independent from the very beginning of their lives, reaching sexual maturity at the age of 1-2 years.
Captive breeding, pet trading, occasional involvement in scientific research as well as diseases and infections are among major threats to the population of this species. These dragons are not classified as threatened species in the IUCN Red List largely due to the export prohibition of the nation’s wildlife set by the government of Australia.
The total number of Central bearded dragons’ population is unknown, but it’s reported to be common and widespread throughout its range. The species is classified as Least Concern (LC).
Nowadays, these animals are among most popular pet species. Being introduced to the USA as pet species in the 1990-s, they can be found in nearly all big pet stores.