The aim of this site is to guide you through all of the areas you will need to know about in order to keep your Rankin's Dragon healthy. You will find everything you need to get started, from setting up a brand new vivarium to providing daily care. We have split the care sheet up in to small sections so that you can find the parts you need easier! Just select them from the menu above to get started.
Rankin's Dragons, also known as Lawson's Dragons, are an exciting lizard species that originate in inland Australia. They are small, attractive and tame enough to be handled regularly. In the wild they are opportunistic hunters, eating many of the live insects, worms and vegetation they encounter. While young they will make use of their claws to scale trees and rocks to catch their prey, but once adult they will rely more on the vegetation that grows at ground level.
They have small colour variations that allow them to blend in to the environment easier and avoid prey, typically greys and tans; When threatened they can darken their beard in to a black streaky pattern and open their mouth to appear more fearsome than they actually are. They have a small amount of natural protection in the form of a harder shell like upper body, which protects them from predatory attacks from above. Underneath they have a softer, scaly belly which can expand to give them plenty of storage reserve.
Despite these hunt and defend qualities, the Dragon has a peaceful and trusting attitude and will rarely bite or scratch a human hand. Although not necessary, they often enjoy being handled outside of the vivarium where they get some time to have a change of scenery. It is known that they can carry Salmonella strains, but providing good hygiene is kept this is not a problem. Common sense routines such as washing hands thoroughly and avoiding food prepartory areas will almost nullify the potential for getting ill from your Dragon. With similar supervision they can also be handled by younger children.
In nature they are a sociable species that have an array of gestures to communicate with each other. These gestures include head bobbing, arm waving, beard darkening and tail curling, which add a cuteness to this small lizard's personality. The Rankin's may be kept with a mate, although despite their sociability, we do not recommend an inexperienced keeper to get two or more for the same vivarium.
When most people think of lizards they tend to picture a reasonably large species such as an Iguana or Bearded Dragon. While Rankin's share many of their characteristics and even have a similar appearance, they do not grow to such large sizes, with 10-12" being a typical adult size. The closest species to the Rankin's in terms of appearance and personality is the Inland Bearded Dragon (P. vitticeps), currently the most common Dragon in the trade.
Rankin's however, are not bred in such successful numbers as the Inland Bearded and you may find that you need to hunt around a bit more to find some. For a pet owner the main reason to choose a Rankin's Dragon over the more common Inland Bearded is the reduced environment space it will require; In all other aspects there is little difference between the two when considering which to purchase.
They have become popular pets over the last 10-15 years due to their unique character and personality, aswell as their overall hardiness. Before purchasing you should be aware of some key points:
The Rankin's natural environment is hot, dry and rocky and this needs to replicated with a vivarium and special heating and lighting equipment. A Dragon can live for many years so it will be a long term commitment. They can carry Salmonella strains so you need to be good with hygiene. The Rankin's will need to be fed on live foods including crickets, locusts, mealworm and waxworm and given chopped vegetables such as leafy greens daily. They will require fresh water supplies, a good cleaning routine and frequent observation for signs of illness.
Typical setup costs involved with owning a Rankin's dragon are:
£100 heating, lighting and timers
£xx decorative features
£20 per month food and cleaning supplies
If you are still certain that you wish to care for one, please read through our guide and remember to buy and setup the vivarium before you purchase your new pet. You do not want to be in the situation where you arrive home to find the heat lamp you just purchased does not work, leaving your pet cold and stressed out while you source another one.