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Bearded dragons belong to the lizard family in the genus Pogona and are native to Australia. The name “bearded dragon” doesn't refer to just one type of lizard. Eight different types of bearded dragons exist, and they are similar in size and shape but have their own distinct characteristics. Five types of bearded dragons are named for the region of Australia where they are found: Eastern bearded dragons, Central bearded dragons, Western bearded dragons, Nullarbor bearded dragons and Drysdale River bearded dragons. The other three types of bearded dragons are dwarf bearded dragons, Mitchell's bearded dragons, and Rankin's bearded dragons.
The Eastern bearded dragon is the largest of the eight species — growing as long as 24 inches (61 cm) — and was the first to be discovered. Eastern bearded dragons are commonly found in the dry, wooded areas of Eastern Australia. They are active during the day and like to climb in trees. An Eastern bearded dragons normally is gray or black in color on the body with a brighter hue on the forehead. Its throat is lined with black spikes that resemble a beard.
The Central bearded dragon, also called the inland bearded dragon, is found in the dry forest and rocky desert areas of Central Australia. It is the most common of the eight types of bearded dragons and is the type most often used as a pet. Central bearded dragons are docile and the friendliest among the species. They are found in a wide range of colors, including browns, reds, orange and white. These animals a variety of insects, such as grasshoppers and crickets, as well as vegetation, which becomes a greater part of their diet after they become sexually mature.
Western bearded dragons are a large species that is found in the dry, wooded areas of Western Australia. The Western bearded dragon is sometimes classified as a subspecies of the Pogona genus. The species is omnivorous, consuming both vegetation and insects. Western bearded dragons have a longer tail than the other species.
The Nullarbor bearded dragon is named for its geographical range because it is primarily found on the Nullarbor Plain in Australia. This type of bearded dragon has the smallest geographical range of the eight species. The Nullarbor bearded dragon is easily identified by the large, white stripes on its back and banding on the tail. It also has spines on its side.
The Drysdale River bearded dragon is also called the small-scaled bearded dragon because that is the main characteristic that distinguishes it from other bearded dragon species. It is found in the woodland and coastal region near the Drysdale River and nearby areas of Australia. The Drysdale River bearded dragon is a small species that eats mostly insects. This species also has noticeably fewer spikes on its back and throat than other types of bearded dragons.
The dwarf bearded dragon is so named because it grows to a length of only about 10 (25.4 cm). It normally is found in the woodland and desert regions of Western Australia. Dwarf bearded dragons are omnivores that consume both insects and vegetation. They have shorter legs and tails than the other species. Dwarf bearded dragons have small heads and dark-colored bodies.
Mitchell's bearded dragons are a small species of lizard found in the woodlands and desert areas of Northwestern Australia. They have large, conical spikes on their heads that are not seen in other species of bearded dragons. Mitchell's bearded dragons eat both plant matter and insects.
Rankin's bearded dragons, also called Lawson's bearded dragons, are commonly found in the dry, rocky areas of Queensland, Australia. These bearded dragons have the distinct characteristic of a very small beard. They normally are a light beige color with dark stripes under the chin and on the tail and a light stripe over the eye area. Rankin's bearded dragons average 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length. They consume a diet of insects and plants.