Bearded lizards, also referred to as bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), are hardy, easy-to-care-for captives that thrive in the hands of dedicated keepers. Sometimes, keepers decide that they want more pet reptiles, and wonder if a new pet can be kept in the same habitat. Generally, keeping multiple animals in the same habitat is an unnecessary complication that can cause stress, illness or even provide you with an up-close demonstration of the food chain. Nevertheless, there are a few circumstances when your bearded lizard will tolerate a roommate.
Other Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons spend most of their time alone in the wild. That said, many keepers house bearded dragons in groups, either for breeding purposes or to raise groups of juveniles. It is important that the bearded lizards are all approximately the same size and are well fed; animals may nip the digits and tail tips of smaller cage mates. Though adult females usually tolerate each other, adult males will fight, so they shouldn't be kept in the same cage. Cage hygiene is critically important when bearded lizards are kept together, as parasites, particularly those with a direct life cycle like hook worms, can quickly build up and cause illness in dirty cages.
Other Species From the Same Niche
When attempting to maintain a mixed-species enclosure, it is important that all of the inhabitants are from the same, or similar, habitats. Bearded dragons hail from the hot and dry interior deserts of Australia, so any potential cohabitants will need to originate in this type of habitat. Animals housed together will need to be similar in size so that neither preys on the other. Some zoos keep mixed species exhibits, consisting of bearded dragons, shingleback lizards (Tiliqua rugosa), and blue tongue skinks (Tiliqua sp.), which are all from the Australian interior.
Tortoises are interesting considerations for mixed species exhibits. As most are strict herbivores, tortoises won't normally predate upon cage mates. Since they are well protected, they don't have to worry about being eaten by the animals they are housed with either. In these instances, the caging needs to be large enough for the tortoises and bearded dragons to have enough space, and the habitat preferences of both species must match. Dry-climate species such as leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis) and spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) are good choices. The Lincoln Park Zoo keeps Russian tortoises (Testudo horsfieldii) with bearded dragons, and reports good results from the arrangement.
One strategy for keeping lizards with your pet bearded dragon is to include nocturnal lizards, which won't be active at the same time as the diurnal bearded dragon. By spreading out the activity patterns of the cohabitants, interactions will be limited which will increase success. The nocturnal lizards should be desert dwellers, well suited to the same conditions that your bearded lizard requires. There are a number of nocturnal geckos that share habitats with bearded lizards in the wild, notably five different Diplodactylus species and smooth knob tailed geckos (Nephrurus levis).
- Woodland Park Zoo: Inland Bearded Dragon
- Lincoln Park Zoo: Bearded Dragon / Russian Tortoise
- University of Texas: Comparative Ecology of Twelve Species of Nocturnal Lizards (Gekkonidae) in the Western Australia Desert
- LLLreptile.com: Tips For Raising Baby Bearded Dragons in Captivity
- Beardeddragons.co.za: Bearded Dragon Worms
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images