Zero bearded dragons are a rare and beautiful morph of bearded dragons that have no color or pattern on their scales. They are also known as leucistic bearded dragons, meaning they lack pigmentation in their skin, eyes, and nails. Zero bearded dragons are highly sought after by reptile enthusiasts and breeders alike, but they are not easy to produce or care for. In this blog post, we will answer some common questions about zero bearded dragons and provide a step-by-step guide on how to breed them successfully.
What are zero bearded dragons?
Zero bearded dragons are a type of bearded dragon that have no color or pattern on their scales. They are also known as leucistic bearded dragons, meaning they lack pigmentation in their skin, eyes, and nails. Zero bearded dragons are not albino, as they do not have red eyes. Instead, they have black or dark brown eyes that contrast with their white body.
Zero bearded dragons are a relatively new morph of bearded dragons that were first produced in 2012 by Fire and Ice Dragons, a reputable breeder in the US. They were created by crossing two different morphs of bearded dragons: hypo (short for hypomelanistic) and trans (short for translucent). Hypo bearded dragons have reduced black pigment in their scales, resulting in lighter colors and clearer patterns. Trans bearded dragons have transparent scales that allow light to pass through them, resulting in a bluish tint and visible veins.
By crossing these two morphs, Fire and Ice Dragons were able to produce a new morph that had no pigment at all: zero. However, producing zero bearded dragons is not as simple as breeding two hypo trans parents together. Zero bearded dragons are a recessive trait, meaning both parents must carry the gene for zero in order to produce a zero offspring. If only one parent carries the gene, the offspring will not be zero but het zero (short for heterozygous), meaning they carry the gene but do not express it.
Therefore, to produce zero bearded dragons, you need to breed two het zero parents together, or a het zero parent with a visual zero parent. The chances of producing a zero offspring from these pairings are 25% and 50%, respectively. Alternatively, you can breed two visual zero parents together, which will result in 100% zero offspring. However, this is not recommended as it can lead to genetic problems due to inbreeding.
How to breed zero bearded dragons?
Breeding zero bearded dragons is not very different from breeding any other type of bearded dragon. However, there are some specific steps and considerations you need to take into account before you start your breeding project.
Step 1: Select healthy and mature breeding pairs
The first step in breeding zero bearded dragons is to select healthy and mature breeding pairs that carry the gene for zero. As mentioned above, you need to breed two het zero parents together, or a het zero parent with a visual zero parent. You can also breed two visual zero parents together, but this is not advised due to the risk of inbreeding.
To select healthy breeding pairs, you need to look for some signs of good health and condition in your potential breeders. These include:
- A healthy weight and body condition
- A clean and shiny coat of scales
- A bright and alert demeanor
- A good appetite and digestion
- No signs of illness or injury
- No signs of parasites or infections
To select mature breeding pairs, you need to make sure your potential breeders are at least 18 months old (preferably 24 months) before you attempt to breed them. This is because bearded dragons are not sexually mature until they reach this age, and breeding them too young can cause health problems for both the parents and the offspring.
You also need to make sure your potential breeders are compatible with each other in terms of size and temperament. Ideally, you want your male and female to be similar in size (or slightly smaller for the male) so that they can mate easily and safely without injuring each other. You also want your male and female to have similar personalities (or slightly more dominant for the male) so that they can get along well and avoid fighting or stress.
Step 2: Create an ideal environment for breeding
The second step in breeding zero bearded dragons is to create an ideal environment for breeding that will stimulate their natural instincts and behaviors. This includes providing them with adequate space, temperature control, humidity levels, lighting cycles, substrate, hiding places, basking areas, water sources, and enrichment items.
Space: You need to provide your breeding pair with enough space to move around freely and comfortably without feeling cramped or crowded. A minimum enclosure size of 4 x 4 feet is recommended for a pair of adult bearded dragons.
Temperature: You need to provide your breeding pair with a temperature gradient that mimics their natural habitat in Australia. This means having a warm basking area with temperatures up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and no lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night. You also need to have a cooler area with temperatures around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and no lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Humidity: You need to provide your breeding pair with moderate humidity levels between 40-60% that will keep them hydrated and healthy without causing respiratory problems or fungal infections. You can achieve this by misting their enclosure daily with water or using a humidifier.
Lighting: You need to provide your breeding pair with access to ultraviolet light (UVB) for 10-12 hours per day that will help them synthesize vitamin D3 and calcium for their bones and eggs. You can use a fluorescent tube or compact bulb that emits UVB rays at a distance of 12-18 inches from your bearded dragons.
Substrate: You need to provide your breeding pair with a suitable substrate that will allow them to dig burrows for laying eggs and hiding from predators. You can use sand or soil as long as it is clean and free from chemicals or sharp objects.
Hiding places: You need to provide your breeding pair with hiding places such as rocks or logs that will give them a sense of security and privacy when they want to rest or escape from stress.
Basking areas: You need to provide your breeding pair with basking areas such as rocks or branches that will allow them to thermoregulate their body temperature by exposing themselves to heat sources such as lamps or sunlight.
Water sources: You need to provide your breeding pair with access to fresh water at all times that will keep them hydrated and healthy. You can use a shallow dish or bowl that is large enough for them to drink from but not deep enough for them to drown in.
Enrichment items: You need to provide your breeding pair with enrichment items such as sticks or branches that will stimulate their natural behaviors such as climbing or hiding.
Step 3: Choose the right diet for breeding
The third step in breeding zero bearded dragons is to choose the right diet for breeding that will provide them with enough nutrition and energy for mating and egg production. This includes providing them with a balanced diet of insects, vegetables, fruits,
Insects: You need to provide your breeding pair with insects such as crickets, roaches,
worms, or locusts that will provide them with protein and fat for muscle growth
and egg development. You should feed your adult bearded dragons insects every
other day (or every day during mating season) at a rate of 2-3 insects per inch
of body length.
Vegetables: You need to provide your breeding pair with vegetables such as kale,
collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, or bok choy that will provide them with vitamins and minerals for immune system support and egg shell formation.
You should feed your adult bearded dragons vegetables every day at a rate of 80% of their diet.
Fruits: You need to provide your breeding pair with fruits such as apples, bananas,
berries, or melons that will provide them with carbohydrates and water for energy
and hydration. You should feed your adult bearded dragons fruits occasionally (once or twice a week) at a rate of 20% of their diet.
Supplements: You need to provide your breeding pair with supplements such as calcium powder, vitamin D3 powder, or multivitamin powder that will enhance their nutrition and prevent deficiencies or diseases. You should dust your insects and vegetables with calcium powder every other feeding, vitamin D3 powder once a week, and multivitamin powder once a month.
Step 4: Monitor and maintain health during breeding
The fourth step in breeding zero bearded dragons is to monitor and maintain health during breeding that will ensure their well-being and prevent complications or infections.
This includes checking their weight, body condition, appetite, digestion, skin, eyes, nails, mouth, vent, and behavior regularly and taking action if you notice any signs of illness or injury.
Weight: You need to weigh your breeding pair regularly (once a week) and keep track of their weight changes. You should expect some weight gain during mating season due to increased food intake and egg production.
Step 5: Incubate and hatch the eggs
The fifth and final step in breeding zero bearded dragons is to incubate and hatch the eggs. This is a crucial stage that requires careful attention and preparation. Here are some tips on how to successfully incubate and hatch zero bearded dragon eggs:
- Prepare an incubator: You will need a reliable incubator that can maintain a constant temperature and humidity for the eggs. You can buy a commercial reptile incubator or make your own using a plastic container, a thermostat, a heat source, and a hygrometer. The ideal temperature range for zero bearded dragon eggs is between 80°F and 85°F, and the ideal humidity range is between 70% and 80%.
- Prepare an incubation medium: You will need a moist substrate that can hold the eggs and provide them with oxygen and moisture. You can use vermiculite, perlite, or hatchrite as your incubation medium. You should moisten the substrate with water until it feels damp but not wet. You can test the moisture level by squeezing a handful of the substrate and seeing if it holds its shape without dripping water.
- Transfer the eggs to the incubator: Once you have collected the eggs from the female’s nest, you should gently transfer them to the incubator without rotating or shaking them. You should place them in small depressions in the substrate, leaving some space between them. You should also label each egg with the date of laying and the parents’ names.
- Monitor the eggs: You should check on the eggs daily and make sure they are healthy and developing well. You should look for signs of mold, fungus, dehydration, or collapse. If you notice any problems, you should remove the affected eggs and treat them with an antifungal spray or a damp paper towel. You should also monitor the temperature and humidity of the incubator and adjust them as needed.
- Wait for the hatchlings: The incubation period for zero bearded dragon eggs can vary from 50 to 90 days, depending on the temperature and genetics of the parents. You will know that the eggs are ready to hatch when they start to dimple or dent. The hatchlings will use their egg tooth to cut through the shell and emerge from the egg. You should leave them in the incubator until they have fully absorbed their yolk sacs and shed their skin.
- Move the hatchlings to their enclosure: Once the hatchlings are ready, you should gently move them to their enclosure. You should provide them with a warm basking spot, a cool hiding spot, a water dish, and a UVB light. You should also offer them small insects dusted with calcium and multivitamin powder daily. You should keep them separate from their parents and siblings until they are at least six months old.