Why Is Cross Breeding Bad For Bearded Dragons?

bearded dragon fight

We bet lots of the ‘wanna-be’ breeders think cross-breeding bearded dragons is a cool idea. But if you’d ask the experienced ones, they’ll surely reject it in the first place. But why is cross-breeding bad for bearded dragons?

Cross-breeding is bad for bearded dragons because it can lead to genetic health problems, behavioral issues and threatens the preservation of species. Plus, it can reduce a lizard’s lifespan and quality of life.

We guess just these answers are not enough for you as you want to dig a bit deeper. Well, that’s what we’re about to do. All you have to do is keep scrolling.

Key Takeaways

  • Crossbreeding is discouraged mostly due to potential genetic health issues it can cause in bearded dragons.
  • Crossbreeding can lead to the loss of purebred and the extinction of rare species, which is why in some areas it’s legally discouraged.
  • Some breeders try crossbreeding as a part of experiments to get beardies with new or rare morphs.
bearded dragon watching tv
Owner: Jackie Tollefson

Why Is Crossbreeding Bearded Dragons A Bad Idea?

When breeders discourage something? Clearly, when it comes with drawbacks, lots of them. The same goes for crossbreeding. But what makes it such a bad thing? Well, we’ve already given you some hints, but it’s time to talk in a bit more detail. Let’s start with –

1. Genetic Health Concerns

Crossbreeding is the easiest way of combining the genetic materials of bearded dragons of various subspecies or even distinct species. Doing so leads to emerging new genetic variations.

The results come up as a result of these experiments can not only be incompatible conflicting genetic traits. And guess what can pop up next? Health problems. Yes, we’re talking about susceptibility to diseases, structural deformities, and of course, metabolic issues.

And you can easily assume how these can make the reptile’s overall well-being compromised and lead to lead to early mortality.

2. Unknown Outcomes

Let’s call it the worst one – something that breeders don’t even see coming. Actually, when a breeder mixes up different genetic lines through crossbreeding, the results can be totally unpredictable.

It can be anything like undesirable physical traits or unusual behaviors, and you already know about health conditions, as we’ve mentioned a few of them earlier. So, for obvious reasons, breeders find it difficult to foresee or control such events, which not only can reduce the marketability of their lizard but also cut short their lifespan.

3. Loss Of Purebred Traits

Clearly, every species of bearded dragon got some distinct characteristics. But when you’re crossbreeding, it can lead to the birth of offspring that got none of these traits. In another way, you can simply call it the loss of purebred traits. This loss of distinctive features poses a threat to subspecies, hampering research and conservation of these lizards.

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4. Morphology Issues

The hybrid offspring coming from the breeding of two species or subspecies can possibly have the characteristics of both parents and often those are nothing positive. Some of the crossbred might come with improper limb proportions, misaligned jaws, and even tail deformities. With that kind of deformity, it’ll be way tougher for them to hunt, climb, and mate.

5. Ethical Considerations

Popping up moral questions is nothing unusual when animals are intentionally crossed for financial gain or the sake of novelty, and the same goes for bearded dragons as well. Breeding beardies for the sole purpose of satisfying human demands, especially when there is no concern for the animals’ well-being, can be seen as exploitative and callous.

6. Conservation Concerns

The wild is getting destroyed and endangering lots of reptiles, including bearded dragons. But crossbreeding different species of beardies into one another can dilute the genetic diversity.  So, when it comes to the long-term survival and conservation of the species, preserving the genetic diversity of these populations is more of a must.

7. Market Confusion

Crossbreeding is enough to get the pet trade really confused. Some of the breeders will present the hybrid lizards as purebred. This will ultimately lead to causing confusion among buyers, especially the ones who are looking for specific traits associated with certain subspecies.

And the worst part? If the owners find out this misinformation, they might even be less careful about taking care of the pet.

bearded dragon cool pose
Owner: Debbie Kimbrough

8. Reduced Lifespan and Quality of Life

What most breeders hate about crossbreeding is it introduces genetic combinations, which often compromise the reptile’s health. Actually, their health can go so bad that they can end up in chronic health issues as severe as respiratory problems and digestive disorders. And we don’t think we need to explain how these reduce the animals’ overall lifespan and quality of life.

9. Behavioral Instability

Nobody wants a beardie with unfavorable behavioral traits and temperaments. But with crossbreeding, happening something like this is nothing impossible. One of the biggest challenges that comes in there is it makes the caring part too difficult for the pet owners.

The thing is, most of the pet owners are used to a familiar pattern of behavior. But the behavior becomes unstable, it becomes too tough for them to predict the need of the reptiles and provide care accordingly.

Endangering a species is never welcome in law, and the same goes for crossbreeding a species of bearded dragon. Plus, sometimes it goes against ethical concerns as well, especially when the purpose of crossbreeding is not aligned with the conservation of the lizard.

11. Loss of Natural Adaptations

Bearded dragons need specific environments and climates to survive. But when someone is crossbreeding, the offspring might even be lost their ability to adapt to certain surroundings. This will make them struggle more to thrive in captivity. After all, they might not be able to regulate their body temperature, consume the right diet, or respond to environmental cues.

12. Unintended Consequences for Reproduction

Do you know what else is hard to skip with crossbreeding? Unintended reproductive consequences. In crossbred reptiles, not only their fertility rate can go down, but they can face issues like difficulty in mating due to their genetic incompatibilities.

On top of that, these lizards can come up with reproductive abnormalities, and the rate can be quite high. It’s nothing that hard to predict how this will affect the overall reproductive success of the captive breeding programs.

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13. Unpredictable Growth Patterns

Not only the health but growth pattern too can be subject to unpredictability with crossbreeding. Clearly, the growth patterns and sizes of different bearded dragon species are different. But when you’re trying crossbreeding, it can mess with their growth trajectories. Now the question is, what’s the problem there?

Well, this way, the lizard can be too small or too big, making it difficult for the pet owners to predict the required size of their enclosure. Plus, getting too big make it difficult for them to move and hunt.

Why Some Breeders Try Crossbreeding?

Okay, we know that crossbreeding is no good idea. But still, there are lots of breeders going for it. Now the question is, why? Well, if we’re not wrong, it’s for the following reasons.

1. Variety Of Colors And Patterns

If you’re asking for the most common reasons for crossbreeding bearded dragons, we’d it’s nothing but creating new color and pattern combinations, or what you probably know as “morphs”. After all, crossing two morphs can produce offspring with a beautiful and rare or desirable coloration or pattern.

2. Hybrid Vigor (Heterosis)

It’s true that in lots of cases, the health of a crossbred becomes compromised right after birth. But happening the opposite of that is nothing impossible either. In fact, some lizards come with enhanced vigor and growth rates, along with good reproductive capabilities. Some of these qualities are even better than their purebred counterparts.

3. Potential Health Improvements

One of the best things about intentional cross-breeding it has the ability to diversify the gene pool, lowering the risk of some inherited diseases. So, if there are known genetic health issues in any specific line or breed, crossbreeding might come in handy.

By the way, long-term inbreeding within a small gene pool can take the risk of health issues to the peak. But the good news is the dangers of inbreeding can be reduced via cross-breeding. And like a cherry on top, it can add new genes to the population.

bearded dragon in small plastic pool bowl
Owner: Justine Lenz

4. Adaptive Traits

Rare, though, but it’s possible that hybrid bearded dragons might inherit both parents’ adaptive characteristics. For example, one of the parent beardies is good at tolerating cooler temperatures, and the other one is more tolerant of warmer temperatures. If things go right, their offspring might have a broader tolerance range.

5. Research And Understanding

Well, this one doesn’t for breeders but scientists. After all, cross-breeding is a great way to know and understand more about a species’ genetics, biology, and inheritance patterns. And guess what? This can specifically be beneficial for the breeders.

6. Experimentation

Some breeders find cross-breeding interesting simply out of a desire to experiment. They mostly want to see what kind of morphs crossbreeding can produce, and sometimes it’s about seeing how big the reptile can become.

7. Market Demand

Thinking from a commercial perspective, beardies with rare morphs can be of higher price and there’s a high demand for them. But for getting offspring like that, the crossbreeding process should be under strict supervision.

8. Improving Temperament

Bearded dragons are usually known as docile animals. So, some breeders believe it might be possible to enhance certain behavioral traits of beardies by crossbreeding, making them more relaxed or sociable.

9. Size And Build

Beardies are known as comparatively compact size. So, crossbreeding might be able to enhance their size and build, which might give them an extra advantage in survival. After all,  larger reptiles look more intimidating to predators.

See also  At Which Age To Stop Breeding Your Bearded Dragon?

How To Know That Your Bearded Dragon Is Breedable?

Whether you’re going for regular breeding or crossbreeding, there are certain aspects that you need to look into first. Yes, we’re talking about aspects that identify whether a bearded dragon is good enough for breeding or not. So, before you put your mind to breeding, check out beardie’s –

1. Age

When it comes to female bearded dragons, they become mature enough for breeding around the age of 18 to 24 months old. Putting up her for breeding before that can pose health risks, and even can kill her.

But the age part is a bit different for the male beardies. They become sexually mature by the age of 12 to 15 months. But it’s wiser to wait a bit longer for them to become a bit older and fully mature.

2. Physical Size And Health

Being matured by age is not enough if the beardie’s size and health don’t support the process of breeding. So, make sure that the lizard you’re planning to put up for breeding is healthy enough to keep up with the stress of breeding. Plus, monitor if there’s any sign of parasite infestation or any kind of other illness.

3. Reproductive Signs

Female bearded dragons that are preparing to reproduce might show a visible bulge at the base of their tails. This is a sign of them developing follicles (pre-eggs). If you get lucky, you might even see the outlines of eggs through their abdomen.

On the other hand, the base of the tail of an adult male beardie has two hemipenal bulges. Head bobbing, circling, and nuzzling are all actions that might indicate sexual attraction.

bearded dragon resting on a decor
Owner: Brooklyn Kowbel

4. Behavior

When it’s time to reproduce, bearded dragons display a few telltale signs. Male ones may begin making threatening gestures such as bobbing their heads, waving their arms, and stamping their feet.

On the contrary, female beardies may wave their arms in a demonstration of surrender. By the way, a female beardie who is interested in a male may lay flat so that he might mount her. But if she’s not interested, you’ll see her puffing up and hissing.

5. Seasonality

In the wild, beardies normally count spring as their mating time. Though captive ones do not always stick to that timing, knowing the right time might get you an idea about the time by when they’re ready mate.

6. Brumation

Have you heard about brumation? It’s more of a hibernation-like state that beardies go through. They do that mostly in the colder months. Some of the breeders believe that after brumation, breeding becomes more successful compared to the regular times.

7. Veterinary Consultation

As a final piece of the puzzle, don’t forget to get your beardie dragons checked up by a vet before you start trying to breed them. The veterinarian can surely get you a clear picture of your dragon’s overall well-being, age, and potential for reproduction.

Before We Go…

Breeding is always welcome but we can’t say the same thing about crossbreeding. But if you still want to take the risk and go for it, give it a shot. Just make sure that you’re ready for the health issues of the offspring.

The best thing you can do is get the finest vet. And if you need any help with that, our blog – “Where Can I Take My Bearded Dragon To The Vet?” can surely help you out

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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