Bearded Dragon Behaviors Explored

From Body Language to Basking Habits: 15 Bearded Dragon Behaviors Explored

Bearded dragons exhibit a variety of behaviors that can indicate their mood or health. Some common behaviors include:

  • Lethargy
  • Arm waving
  • Basking
  • Beard puffing
  • Brumation (a type of hibernation)

Other behaviors include head bobbing, color changes, glass surfing, digging, and shedding.

Spotting Illness in Bearded Dragons: 6 Common Behaviors to Watch For

Bearded Dragon lizards live in the desert
Credit: Thomas Riddle

The first behavior to be aware of is changes in appetite. A decrease or increase in food consumption can be an indication that something isn’t quite right with your pet.

Secondly, lethargy and sluggishness could mean that something is amiss; if you see your lizard exhibiting less energy than usual then it may be time to seek veterinary assistance.

Thirdly, changes in coloration should also be monitored carefully; if your beardie’s colors become duller or darker than normal then there might be cause for concern.

Fourth on the list is growth rate: if your pet appears to stop growing then it may not be receiving all the nutrients they need from its diet.

Additionally, poor shedding patterns can also indicate underlying issues – if pieces of skin remain attached after molting then this could suggest a health problem.

Lastly, respiratory problems like wheezing or open-mouthed breathing should never be ignored as they can point toward more serious illnesses requiring treatment by a specialist vet.

1. Lethargy

Bearded dragons, as with other lizards, can appear lethargic for a variety of reasons. In some cases, this may be normal behavior due to the animal’s circadian rhythm or seasonal changes in its environment.

However, when it persists over an extended period of time and is accompanied by other signs such as loss of appetite or breathing difficulties, then illness should be suspected.

The cause could range from minor conditions like dehydration to more serious diseases such as metabolic bone disease or even parasite infestations.

In order to diagnose the underlying medical condition causing the lethargy, owners must observe their pet closely and take note of any additional symptoms that develop.

It is also important to ensure that environmental factors are not contributing to the problem; bearded dragon enclosures should always provide temperatures that replicate their natural habitat and they should have access to proper lighting and nutrition.

Finally, regular visits to a reptile veterinarian will help monitor your pet’s health and catch any potential illnesses early on before they become too severe.

2. Diarrhea

Having discussed the signs of lethargy and its potential causes, it is now pertinent to consider another symptom that may signify an underlying illness or condition in a bearded dragon: diarrhea.

Diarrhea can be indicative of many different conditions, some of which are dietary-related while others could point toward more serious health issues.

The most common reason for diarrhea in a bearded dragon is due to diet-related problems.

This includes items such as not providing sufficient water and hydration, overfeeding on insects or other proteins, feeding too frequently, offering low-quality foods (such as mealworms), consuming toxins from plants and substrates (bedding materials) in their enclosure, or simply eating spoiled food.

In addition to dietary indiscretions, parasites may also cause gastroenteritis leading to bouts of diarrhea.

These parasites are often contracted through contact with unclean surfaces or ingesting contaminated food sources like wild insects or improperly washed vegetables.

When treating cases of diarrhea brought about by any one of these reasons listed above the first step should always involve making sure your pet has access to clean drinking water at all times and adjusting their diet accordingly if needed.

In order to prevent instances of diarrhea caused by bad diets or intestinal parasites there are several steps you can take as a responsible owner.

  • Ensure that any insects offered have been gut-loaded prior to feeding them;
  • Feed only high-quality commercially produced foods; provide fresh fruits and veggies daily but make sure they’re properly rinsed off;
  • Avoid adding additional substrate material into your lizard’s habitat unless it is specifically designed for reptile use;
  • Keep their enclosures free from contaminants such as dirt and feces;
  • Regularly inspect wild-caught insects before allowing them inside the terrarium;
  • Consult a vet annually for preventive screenings against illnesses including parasitic infestations;
  • Lastly do not overfeed as this increases stress levels within your pet which makes them more susceptible to contracting diseases/illnesses.

3. Panting

Panting is an abnormal behavior in bearded dragons that can signify illness. It typically occurs when a dragon is overheated, stressed, or ill.

The table below outlines some common causes for panting in Bearded Dragons:

OverheatingOpen mouth breathing labored respiration & rapid movement of gular flap muscles located near the jawlineMove your dragon to a cooler environment, increase ventilation within its enclosure, or provide more shade with plants/trees in its living space.
StressRapid movements along with open-mouth breathing and wide eyesReduce environmental stressors like excessive handling, loud noises, and other pets. Making sure they have plenty of hiding places and enrichment items such as logs, rocks, and branches also helps reduce stress levels.
IllnessLethargic behavior coupled with the increased respiratory rate (panting)Take your dragon to the vet immediately if you suspect any health issue related to panting in order to receive appropriate treatment.\|

If you notice any of these behaviors in your beardie then it’s important to act quickly and take steps toward rectifying the situation.

4. Stunted Movements Or Difficulty Walking

bearded dragon
Credit: Red Hill Regenerators Group

Stunted movements or difficulty walking in bearded dragons can be indicative of illness. Several possible causes should be considered, such as metabolic bone disease, Vitamin A deficiency, and various infectious diseases.

Metabolic bone disease is a disorder caused by a calcium deficiency that results in weak bones and poor muscle coordination.

Symptoms include softening of the jawbone, impaired movement, and twitching muscles. Treatment involves correcting the diet to ensure adequate nutrition and supplementation with vitamins and minerals if necessary.

Vitamin A deficiency can also cause stunting of movement or difficulty walking in bearded dragons.

This condition occurs when the animal does not get enough vitamin A from their food sources.

Common symptoms include changes in skin coloration, decreased appetite, lethargy, swelling of eyes and limbs, vision problems, and inability to walk normally. Treatment includes giving an injectable form of vitamin A at regular intervals until levels are restored to normal ranges or providing foods rich in this nutrient on an ongoing basis.

Various infectious diseases may also lead to reduced mobility or difficulty walking in bearded dragons.

These illnesses typically involve bacteria or viruses that infect internal organs such as the lungs or digestive system which can then affect other areas including joints and muscles throughout the body causing paralysis or immobility.

5. Vomiting

Vomiting is an uncomfortable symptom that can be a sign of illness in bearded dragons.

It may appear as regurgitation, where the dragon brings up food previously eaten and undigested, or as projectile vomiting, which involves the ejection of bile or other fluids from the mouth along with food particles.

A few potential causes for this behavior include infections, parasites, impaction due to poor diet, kidney failure, and overfeeding.

Infections are one possible cause of vomiting in bearded dragons.

These could come from bacterial organisms like Salmonella or E. coli; viral illnesses such as adenoviruses; fungal diseases like Aspergillosis; and even parasites like coccidia or roundworms.

All these things can lead to gastrointestinal distress and nausea that results in vomiting. Treatment will depend on what type of infection is present but usually involves antibiotics to clear it up.

Impaction caused by consuming too much substrate material (such as sand) while eating their prey items can also cause your dragon to vomit.

Bearded dragons typically eat small insects and worms which they find in their natural environment so if they are kept on substrates not found there you should make sure your pet isn’t ingesting any large amounts when hunting for its meal.

In addition, improper diets high in calcium can result in impaction leading to vomiting as well since too much calcium binds together with phosphorous making it difficult for them to digest properly.

Kidney failure may also cause vomiting although this is less common than dietary issues being the culprits behind stomach upset in reptiles.

6. Eye Bulging

Eye bulging in a bearded dragon can be an indication of illness, and should not be taken lightly.

It is important to identify the cause of this behavior as quickly as possible so that it can be treated effectively before any long-term problems arise.

In some cases, eye bulging may occur due to environmental stressors or other physical ailments such as dehydration or infection; however, there are also several medical conditions that could lead to this symptom.

To better understand the causes behind a bearded dragon’s eye-bulging, one must first look at what constitutes normal behavior for them.

Bearded dragons naturally have slightly protruding eyes; they typically appear slightly rounded and somewhat sunken into their sockets when resting or sleeping.

When these reptiles become active or alert, however, their eyes will often pop outwards from their sockets—this is considered normal behavior.

If a beardie’s eyes remain protuberant even after the activity has died down and/or if accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy and decreased appetite, then something else might be amiss.

A vet visit is necessary to determine whether additional treatment is needed beyond providing proper care such as hydration and nutrition replenishment.

5 Cute Bearded Dragon Behaviors And What They Mean

Bearded Dragon
Credit: Emma Andersson

Bearded dragons aren’t just cold-blooded animals that don’t care about anything other than food. They can be very affectionate and attentive to their owners if given proper attention and care – sometimes even making silly faces or body movements as part of communicating with us humans!

From head bobbing to arm waving and everything in between, understanding why your beardie does certain actions will help you become closer friends with them.

Plus, it’ll give you insight into how they’re feeling at any given time – something that not many people realize is possible.

1. Head Bobbing

“If you’ve ever owned a bearded dragon, chances are you’ve caught them head-bobbing. It’s like they’re grooving to the beat of an unheard song!

As the old adage goes: ‘Actions speak louder than words’, and your beardie is no exception.

Head bobbing is their way of communicating with other dragons or humans in their environment – so pay attention!

Head bobbing can be used as a sign of respect towards dominant members of its species and people alike.

If your beardie is intently looking at you while slowly nodding its head, it may just be trying to show that it respects and trusts you.

So make sure to give lots of love and affirmation back when you see this behavior from them.

On the flip side, head bobbing can also mean that your dragon feels threatened in some way.

When done rapidly and combined with gaping (opening mouth widely), these behaviors usually indicate fear or aggression.

Make sure that if your pet isn’t feeling safe, then do what needs to be done to ensure they feel secure.”

2. Digging

Moving on from head bobbing, another important behavior to be aware of is digging.

Bearded dragons often dig in their enclosure for a variety of reasons – some more harmless than others.

First off, bearded dragons might just be bored.

They aren’t the most active lizards out there, but they require mental stimulation as much as any other pet. Digging can be a sign that your dragon needs something else to do; try providing them with new toys or activities if this seems like what’s going on.

Another possibility is that they’re trying to get away from something that’s bothering them – temperature-related stress being the most common cause here.

Make sure they have plenty of ways to cool down, such as basking spots near water bowls or misting systems inside their enclosure.

Providing ample space and enrichment opportunities also helps keep boredom at bay – plus, having an area where they can feel safe will go a long way towards helping them stay content and relaxed.

3. Glass Surfing

Glass surfing is an adorable behavior that a lot of bearded dragons display, and it’s definitely one of my favorite behaviors to watch.

It looks like they’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry.

This behavior has always intrigued me because I never quite understood what was going through my beardie’s head whenever he did this.

However, after some research, I learned that this type of behavior usually means your pet wants attention from you – which explains why mine would often do it right after I walk into the room.

Additionally, experts believe that your dragon may also be trying to show off its strength by demonstrating how well it can climb on vertical surfaces.

Whatever their reasons may be for performing such antics, it sure makes for a delightful sight every time.

So next time you see your pet climbing up and down a window or tank wall, don’t worry; chances are they’re just being playful.

4. Tail Is Up

Now that we’ve discussed glass surfing, let’s move on to talking about the tail being up.

This is a cute behavior your bearded dragon may do and it usually means he or she is feeling content and safe in his/her environment.

Here are five common ways you may observe when their tail is held high:

  • They’ll feel more relaxed while they soak in the heat from their basking spot
  • When out of the tank, they’ll extend their tails as a way of greeting you
  • As an expression of comfort, they’ll often curl around something with their tails raised
  • It can be seen during courtship rituals between two dragons
  • If playing with another small animal or toy, their tail will stay up for quite some time

5. Waving

Bearded dragons often wave their arms or hands to show submission. This behavior is commonly referred to as “beard waving” and is seen most frequently in males. It’s a sign of respect, affection, happiness, or acknowledgment towards another dragon or its owner.

WavingSubmissive Behavior
Respectful greetingAcknowledges the presence of another dragon
HappinessDemonstrates contentment with its environment
AffectionShows appreciation for the care it receives

This body language can also be used when they feel threatened by other animals, such as cats and dogs who may come too close.

In this situation, it signals that they are not interested in confrontation and are trying to defuse the situation peacefully.

The beard will puff up more than usual while doing so as a way to make themselves appear bigger and therefore more intimidating.

Spotting Aggressive Behaviors in Bearded Dragons: 4 Red Flags to Watch For

Keep reading to learn more about the four aggressive bearded dragon behaviors you need to watch out for.

1. Biting

When it comes to your bearded dragon, one of the most important behaviors you need to look out for is biting.

Firstly, a simple way to tell if your bearded dragon is becoming aggressive is by observing its body language.

If they are flaring their beard or puffing up their throat area then this could be a sign they’re feeling threatened.

Other signs include hissing, growling, or lunging at objects or people around them. If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s best to remove yourself from the situation until they calm down.

Another thing to watch out for when dealing with an aggressive bearded dragon is changes in eating habits.

They may start refusing food or become more eager for meals than usual – both of which can be indicative of heightened aggression levels.

To remedy this behavior make sure you provide your dragon with plenty of space and time alone so it has time to relax and de-stress before handling again.

2. Hissing

Bearded dragons will often hiss when they feel threatened or scared. This could happen if another animal is in their territory, or if there’s too much handling while they’re trying to eat or sleep.

Hissing is also common when introducing new items into their environments such as decorations or toys. In these cases, it’s usually just a warning so it should stop once the novelty has worn off.

If the behavior continues for more than a few minutes after being introduced to something new, then it might be a sign of aggression from territoriality rather than fear.

In either case, it’s best to remove whatever item seemed to trigger the response and wait until your beardie calms down before attempting reintroduction again.

3. Pancaking

Pancaking is another aggressive behavior that bearded dragon owners should be aware of.

This occurs when the lizard flattens itself and spreads out against a surface, such as a floor or a wall.

Pancaking can also occur when two dragons are competing for dominance, in which case they will both lay flat on the ground facing each other while trying to intimidate one another with their size.

The most common cause of pancaking is stress from environmental changes; if something has changed in your beardie’s environment it can trigger this reaction.

The best way to prevent this behavior is to ensure that you provide your dragon with a stable and comfortable environment, free from any sudden changes or environmental stresses.

Make sure your tank temperature remains consistent throughout the day and night, use low-wattage lights or timers so there aren’t any abrupt shifts in lighting intensity, and keep up with regular cleanings so there isn’t an accumulation of bacteria or waste build-up that could make them uncomfortable.

Besides, try not to handle your beardie too much – when you do pick them up, do it carefully and never grab them abruptly as this may startle them into displaying aggression like pancaking.

4. Beard Puffing

Beard puffing is a behavior exhibited by bearded dragons that can indicate aggression. If you notice your dragon doing this, it’s likely they’re feeling threatened or is trying to assert dominance.

When the beard starts to darken, and little puffs of air come out from their mouth and throat, they’re showing their displeasure with something going on around them.

If you notice your dragon displaying this behavior, it’s important to take note of what was happening at the time – did someone new walk into the room?

Was there loud noise? Are other animals in the vicinity?

Once you understand why they may be scared or mad, remove whatever stimuli could be causing them distress.

As long as these external factors are taken away, your dragon should calm down quickly and return to normal activity.


To maintain a happy and healthy bearded dragon, you will need to understand your pet’s behavior.

These 15 behaviors explored can help you better understand your bearded dragon’s needs and provide the appropriate environment and care to meet them.

By observing and interpreting your bearded dragon’s behavior, you can develop a stronger bond with your pet and provide the best possible care for their physical and emotional well-being.