Lawson's Dragon

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Species group:

Other common names: Rankin's Dragon; Lesser Bearded Dragon; Dumpy Dragon; Dwarf Bearded Dragon; Black Soil Bearded Dragon; Black-soil Plains Bearded Dragon; Prairie Dragon

Scientific name: Pogona henrylawsoni / Pogona brevis

The basics:
The Lawson's Dragon (also known as "Rankin's Dragon") is an Agamid lizard which is native to Queensland in northeastern Australia. The Lawson's Dragon is similar to the larger Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps), however the Lawson's is smaller - usually less than 10 inches in length. The Lawson's Dragon natural environment is hot, dry and rocky, which must be mimicked in captivity. They are a social species and with supervision can be handled by children, but do not like to be turned upside down and will struggle when are.

Appearance / health:
Lawson's Dragons are reddish to tan or sandy colored to blend with the ground. Older adults are one-colored but younger ones have light and dark brown dorsal blotches and paravertebral lines. Lawson's Dragon lack the "beard" of the more common Bearded Dragon and have shorter limbs and tail.

Behavior / temperament:
Lawson's Dragons are somewhat new to the pet trade, but are well liked as pets because of their flexible diet, hardiness and ease of care, docile temperament, and friendly, curious, and social behavior. They may display aggressiveness by opening their mouths and hissing but they rarely attack or bite their owners.

Because Lawson's Dragon are smaller than the more common Bearded Dragon. An individual can easily be housed in a 20 gallon long aquarium. Known as sun-baskers, these dragons require ample basking spots like logs and large rocks in the cage. Some crevices and hiding places would also be good. Ideal substrate would be paper, sand, or alfalfa pellets. Day temp: 83-86F; night temp: 65-68F; basking temp: 104-112F; humidity: 50-70%; lighting: 12-14 hours, full-spectrum UV required.

Lawson's Dragons are territorial and best kept alone. They can be handled but very gently and supported under the belly. They do not have a firm grip like other reptiles and will hurt themselves if they fall on a hard surface. When threatened, they will flatten out, open their mouths to display their teeth and hiss just before biting. Under proper care, captive dragons can have a life span of from 6 - 8 years.

Lawson's Dragons are omnivores that eat almost anything available. They accept a wide variety of insects (crickets, roaches, grasshoppers, locusts) and worms, as well as leafy greens and chopped vegetables.

Lawson's Dragons are egg-layers, producing an average of 25 eggs at a time. Eggs are buried by the female in moist substrate. The eggs require an incubation period of 50-75 days at 82-85F temperatures.

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