5 Reasons Why Bearded Dragon Holding Its Mouth Open

Have you ever seen a bearded dragon holding its mouth open?

It’s an interesting behavior to witness and it can leave us wondering what it means.

Why do bearded dragons hold their mouths open? Let’s find out!

The reason why bearded dragons hold their mouths open for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is to regulate their body temperature, while another is, to stretch their beard as a defense mechanism in threatening situations to appear larger than the enemy.

However, if a bearded dragon holds its mouth open all the time, it could be a sign of respiratory infection.

Besides these possible explanations, researchers have also found several other explanations that may shed light on why bearded dragons are likely to be exhibiting this curious behavior.

Keep reading to discover why your reptile friend might be exhibiting such odd behavior.

1. They’re Regulating Their Temperature

Due to their habitat, bearded dragons need to cool down quickly when they get too hot. To do so, they pump air over their tongues to release extra heat. Plus, it can eliminate any bacteria or parasites living in their throats.

However, gapping should not be confused with panting, which is more commonly observed in other lizards like chameleons. Panting usually indicates stress or illness instead of excessive heat.

If you notice your beardie panting instead of gapping, then you should contact a vet for advice immediately.

2. They’re Stretching Their Beard

The bearded dragon can also open its mouth as a way to stretch out its beard. Bearded dragons often puff up their beard to appear larger than their opponents. They may also do this to attract a mate, assert dominance, or scare away predators.

Bearded dragons may also perform this same action when they’re feeling relaxed and contented.

This behavior is not intended as a threat, but rather a way to release some energy and relieve boredom while basking in the sun. Yawing may also keep their jaws lubricated and flexible.

Whether they’re expressing aggression or relaxation, bearded dragons hold their mouths open for a variety of reasons which serve different purposes depending on what situation they’re facing.

3. It’s A Sign of Aggression

Bearded dragons can hold their mouths open as a sign of aggression. The purpose of this is to make them appear bigger and more intimidating in order to avoid fighting for territory.

They are also displaying their power and strength through this technique. In some cases, the behavior may be related to stress or fear.

It’s important to note that opening the mouth can sometimes indicate other issues such as respiratory infections, parasites, dehydration, or even malnutrition.

So before assuming it’s aggressive behavior, check with a vet just in case there’s an underlying medical issue at play.

With proper care and attention, your little friend will soon get back to being happy and healthy again!

4. They’Re Responding To Another Bearded Dragon

Source: istockphoto+libin jose

It is common for bearded dragons to hold their mouth open when responding to another bearded dragon nearby. In both genders, this behavior is observed, but males tend to do so more often. It may indicate that the two dragons are competing for food or territory.

The one with the bigger jaw will usually win out!

It’s also possible they are displaying dominance by attempting to intimidate each other.

If you provide your pet with enough space, light, heat, and stimulation, you can likely prevent aggressive displays like this in the future!

5. They Have A Respiratory Infection

Bearded dragons often hold their mouths open when they have a respiratory infection. This behavior is known as “gaping” and it’s one of the most common signs that a dragon has an infection.

If left untreated, respiratory infections can become very severe and even life-threatening in extreme cases.

Whenever you notice your beardie is gaping, contact an experienced veterinarian right away. The vet can give you advice on how to treat the condition and provide medications if necessary.

With prompt medical attention, your dragon should make a full recovery and return to its normal activities soon enough!


When it comes to bearded dragons, being able to understand their behavior and body language is key. Studying your pet’s behavior requires lots of patience and observation.

Understanding why your bearded dragon holds its mouth open isn’t always easy but with enough attention and care from us humans – anything is possible!