When new bearded dragon owners become more proficient at caring for their beloved pets, they usually seek to widen their knowledge and experience with these cute, small lizards. Often times, when that happens, they consider inbreeding bearded dragons. But is this REALLY a smart move?
Inbreeding bearded dragons is not recommended. The hatchlings are likely to be unhealthy and/or have genetic disorders due to inbreeding. As with any species, inbreeding is not ethical but most importantly, it just works against genetic diversity in captive reptiles.
It’s been a lot of debate on the topic on the internet in the last couple of years, and it seems to me like most owners still don’t have a clear understanding on inbreeding bearded dragons. Hopefully, I will shade some light on how safe it is for bearded dragons to mate with their siblings, plus the possible bad outcomes of doing so.
Can You Inbreed Bearded Dragons?
The reptile genes are generally very strong when compared to human genes or other mammals, including animals. For example, mammalians will tolerate a fair bit of reproductive inbreeding before you really have to pay the consequences.
The fear of unwanted, harmful results from inbreeding reptiles is generally exaggerated. Remember that many reptile populations are tightly inbred already. However, you should NEVER inbreed a morph for more than the minimum number of generations. Consider starting outbreeding sooner than later.
One last thing I’d like to mention is that you have to make sure that the parents have no obvious faults. Remember that recessive genes – bad or good – will never go away, they are just not displayed often enough to create a problem. If you, however, identify any obvious faults in one of the parents you need to remove it from the breeding program.
In conclusion, while inbreeding is highly practiced in the reptile world, I personally believe this is unethical and too risky to try with bearded dragons. The bottom line is that there’s a lot of inbreeding of bearded dragons at this point in time in the US marketplace, which can further increase the risk of cancer in bearded dragons, as well as unhealthy offspring.
To gain more knowledge on the topic, I highly recommend that you reach out to Reputable Bearded Dragon Breeders and ask for their opinion. You will soon realize that most reputable, trustworthy bearded dragon breeders only breed 100% healthy dragons in order to diversify the bloodlines and produce healthy offspring.
Inbreeding Is TOO Risky
I get that people choose – or at least consider – to inbreed bearded dragons because they want to keep amplify all the same characteristic over and over again, but that’s something only professionals manage to do the right way.
If any undesirable health issues are found in reptiles [by professionals], they will remove the animal from the breeding program, but identifying deformities in their genes is a process that requires a lot of work and time, which is why amateurs should stay away from it.
Discovering these perfect animals is an extremely long, painful, and pricey process with lots of failures along the way. Additionally, remember that new blood is required to ensure the resulting animal has a healthy, strong immune system that will allow him to live long enough and reproduce.
Having your bearded dragon mate with its siblings and siblings only is dangerous from a number of reasons. Always remember that interbreeding means all the animals are pretty much the same, so if sickness affects one of them, means they are all susceptible and will most probably perish.
Reptile Inbreeding Facts
Now take a look at some reptile inbreeding cold facts. This includes not only bearded dragons but also snakes and other popular reptile pets.
- Inbreeding happens in the wild as well, but giving the fact that you can find as many as hundreds or even thousands of individuals in a given geographical range the negative impact on the species is minimal.
- Depression or other health issues are more common in reptiles that mate with their siblings.
- New and attractive color morphs and patterns can indeed be produced through inbreeding but all these come at a cost.
- Sever physical deformities are most likely to happen as a result of inbreeding [lack of eyes, exposed internal organs exposed outside the body], as well as invisible effects that are usually discovered later in life.
It’s also important to be aware of one important aspect. Inbreeding is very profitable for most reptile breeders. Inbreeding can provide them with very rare, cute,extremely unique and beautiful morphs, which may be a reason for which breeders refuse to admit that inbreeding is not as safe and normal as it may seem.
Ask Yourself These Questions FIRST
I challenge you to ask yourself these questions before attempting inbreeding or before jumping on to conclusions and say inbreeding is just alright just because there are so many people doing it.
- Plenty of people say it’s completely safe to inbreed bearded dragons, but why would you do it if it’s not necessary?
- Are you willing to take the risks knowing that your baby bearded dragons may present malformations [one eye, missing leg, etc] due to inbreeding?
- If you really want to breed bearded dragons – regardless of your purpose for doing so – can’t you just adopt another one and play this card safe?
- With so many colors available, why not try to shoot for something different rather than do what everyone is trying to do?
- How do you feel about having to put him out of misery in case you end up with serious health issues, malformations that can lead to huge pain in bearded dragons?
Use common sense, have an open mind, and try to be objective.
Inbreeding may work just fine for many generations of bearded dragons, but it could also result in serious health issues and malformations within the first generation.
I’m really not saying that inbreeding is the worst possible thing you could do since there are plenty of people successfully inbreeding reptiles – including bearded dragons – in the US, but it is certainly not recommended.
Reptile genes are different than mammalian genes, which is the main reason so many people choose to inbreed reptiles, but it doesn’t make it ethical or 100% safe.
In conclusion, interbreeding is a gamble and I need you to be aware of that before trying to inbreed your dragons. Are you really willing to take that risk or just adopt another dragon and play it safe?