Rankin's Dragons are often overlooked in favour of their Bearded Dragon relatives which are more common and well known (check out our Bearded Dragon guide if you're interested). In nature, they inhabit the arid, rocky regions of Australia. They are very similar to Bearded Dragons but are a dwarf species, fully grown at 10-12", and have slightly different colouration and a more rounded head shape. They are still a very docile species that are active during the day and are easy to handle.

How to house a heat Rankin's

Rankin's Dragons require a large environment of at least 4 x 2 x 2ft though larger is better to encourage more activity. This should provide them with a good heat gradient, with temperatures of 40-42C at one end and around 25C at the other end. During the night these temperatures can drop to as low as 15C. Heat can be provided through a basking bulb or a ceramic bulb, but a day and night cycle is also needed, so a bulb that gives light off as well is preferred. Any heat source will need to be thermostatically controlled to ensure the safety of your pet. 

How to light Rankin's

Rankin's Dragons also need a UVB bulb which replicates the UV rays from the sun and allows them to absorb calcium efficiently to keep their bones healthy. This is an essential piece of their equipment along with the heat source, and without these bulbs a Rankins Dragon would suffer from very poor health. Use Arcadia's 12% T5, and make sure the basking spot is 30-45cm away. This bulb will be used in a 12-hour cycle and will need replacing every 12 months to ensure it is still effective - this may change depending on the brand.

What to feed Rankin's

Rankin's Dragons eat live food, as well as a good selection of vegetation for a varied diet. As babies, their diet is highly protein-based and around 80% of it should be live food such as crickets, locust and cockroaches. They will have a small amount of veg as well at this age, but as they grow and reach adulthood this changes to being a higher amount of vegetation, and less live food. 

An adult Rankins Dragon will only need live food offering 3 times a week, compared to a baby having live food feedings each day. All feeding should incorporate a good calcium powder, and vitamin powder such as Nutrobal in the relevant supplement regime to make sure your dragon gets everything required in its diet.

Providing live food as well as giving adequate nutrition also provides an opportunity for exercise when placed in the tank without tweezer feeding, and this is much more beneficial to the dragon as it ensures it doesn't become lazy and inactive. 

The right decor for Rankin's

Other additions ensure good activity and mental stimulation like branches, logs, rocks and vegetation, which can be altered every now and then, making it interesting to your pet. A good hiding opportunity will ensure your dragon feels safer, although they are confident lizards and diurnally active, so should be on show more often than not.

The right substrate for Rankin's

Use a sand-based mixture such as ProReps Beardie Life or Lucky Reptiles Desert Bedding, which will look and feel more natural to the dragon as well as providing digging opportunity, particularly in laying females. With all the correct lighting, heating and supplements, it is completely safe to use such substrates. The rock texture and added slate and stones will also enable the dragon to naturally wear its sharp claws.

Species profile

  • Scientific name - Pogona henrylawsonii
  • Adult Expected Size - 25-30 cm
  • Habitat - arid, rocky regions of Australia. Terrestrial living.
  • Required Enclosure Size - 4x2x2ft
  • UV Lighting - 4-6 UVI (12% T5 bulb - 30-45cm away)
  • Expected Lifespan - 10-15 years
  • Temperature Gradient - 25 - 42C
  • Humidity Levels - 30-40%
  • Feeding - Omnivorous - live food such as crickets, locust, cockroaches, beetle grubs, morio worms, as well as vegetation and occasional mice pinky.
  • Handling - Very docile species, usually easily tamed and handled.