You may have come across a Rankins Dragon somewhere at a zoo, but you might not remember that their scientific name is actually ‘Pogona rakini. It belongs to a species of Australian agamid lizard. Although it’s native to the continent only, you’ll find the species bred in captivity across the globe. At first glance, you might even think it looks the same as its cousin, the bearded dragon but that isn’t the case because it’s much smaller. The Rankin’s dragon differs from other members of the species because of its size and characteristic traits.
Rankins Dragon Lifespan and Size
A healthy specimen, whether raised in the wild or captivity, can grow to be 10 to 12 inches long. Since these reptiles are much more active than some species, they don’t gain a lot of weight so you’ll find that they can range anywhere between 60 to over a 100 grams depending on how much physical activity they engage in.
Since Rankin’s dragons are only native to Queensland in Australia, their lifespan in a natural habitat is not yet known. On the other hand, since breeders raise and keep them in captivity across the world, their lifespan is determined to be around six to ten years.
It’s most likely that in their natural habitat, Rankins Dragons suffer from a shorter lifespan because of a constant threat of predators. These predators can be larger members of the same species or a much bigger predator. In the wild, there’s also the risk of catching a disease, which also drastically reduces their lifespan.
In captivity, proper care, a healthy diet and lots of love do wonders to turn a Rankin’s dragon into a loving pet. Although they don’t live as long as their inactive reptilian counterparts, owners are sure to enjoy the time that they spend with a Rankins Dragon.
Behavior and Characteristics
Native to Queensland, the Rankin’s dragon has a unique appearance that helps it hide from its predators by blending in with its surroundings. Rankin’s dragons have a color that’s much darker compared to their larger cousins, the bearded dragon. This allows it to camouflage itself among different types of foliage and settings.
While the bearded dragon is more textured but has fewer patterns, the opposite is true for the Rankin’s dragon, which doesn’t have a single color all-over. Instead, it has a varying pattern on its back, which varies from its tail, similar to the bearded dragon. On its back, it has a combination of different colors like brown, green and even grey, but on its tail are simple dual-colored stripes.
Compared to a bearded dragon, the Rankins Dragon has a much slimmer body with a narrower back. It does have the same ‘beard,’ i.e., textured underside, but it’s not as prominent. You may be thinking of them as smaller versions of bearded dragons except there’s one last detail; Rankin’s dragons are far more sociable than their larger cousins.
You’ll find that once they finally know you, they act like and display similar traits as any other house pet. Well, you can’t expect them to play ‘fetch’ like a puppy, but they will enjoy coming out of their tank and being around you quite a lot. They’re also very active, not aggressive and have a loving personality, so you should know that they love when their owners hold them.
Rankin’s dragons are omnivores so to keep them healthy; you need to feed them a proper diet as per their age. In the beginning, babies will only eat small live insects like mealworms and brown crickets. The diet of a young Rankins Dragon mostly consists of insects while only one-fourth of it includes greens. As they grow old, they learn to eat vegetation. Hence, by the time they’re an adult, you’ll find that only one-fourth of their diet consists of insects.
They prefer insects such as black crickets, locusts, and cockroaches but they settle for calciworms, waxworms, and mealworms. Feed them vegetation like bell peppers, courgette, coriander, spring greens, curly kale, leafy salads, clovers, and dandelions.
Even though they prefer dry and somewhat warm environments, Rankin’s dragons still need moisture. Make it a habit of spraying water into their enclosure to provide it with hydration, and placing a shallow bowl of water in it as well.
Rankins Dragon Care
You should keep a Rankins Dragon in a wooden vivarium that’s spacious enough for them to move around in. Wood acts as an excellent insulator so it won’t be a hassle to maintain the temperature inside the enclosure. A glass vivarium releases too much heat so it’ll be inefficient at keeping a Rankin’s dragon at the right temperature. Make sure that the vivarium offers proper ventilation to avoid humidity and prevent accumulation of bacteria.
You’ll need a good heating system because, during the day, these dragons like it hot. To achieve this, you can place a spot bulb near one end of the vivarium and keep it on for at least 10 hours every day. At night, they want it to be cool so you can switch off the spot bulb to lower the temperature and make it darker as well. To provide adequate heat but no light, you should use a ceramic night bulb and regulate the temperature using a thermometer.
Since Rankin’s dragons are very active and have a good appetite, they produce a significant amount of waste. Hence, fecal matter, along with uneaten food should be cleaned out of the vivarium often to prevent infections. Remember to disinfect the vivarium as regularly as you can and change out the decorations. Make sure that you use a reptile safe disinfectant while cleaning. The water bowl should be cleaned out daily to prevent the growth of bacteria.
You’ll also need to add certain supplements to their diet. Nutrients like vitamins and minerals like calcium are essential for reptiles, especially when they’re young. You should dust their food with calcium supplements every day, and if your dragon is still young, you can add vitamin supplements as well.
Overall, Rankin’s dragons are friendly creatures that you’ll enjoy having as a pet, especially if you like reptiles but want your pet to have a loving and active personality. However, since they’re not as popular as bearded dragons, you’ll have to look around quite a lot until you find one.