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Common Bearded Dragon Behaviors

Bearded Dragons exhibit several types of behaviors through body language. As a Bearded Dragon owner, it is important to understand all the different behaviors that a Bearded Dragon may display.

Defense

There are a few things that a Bearded Dragon might do if it feels the need to defend itself. First, it will make itself appear larger by flattening its stomach and puffing out its beard. Second, it will open its mouth and it may even make a hissing noise. Third, it may decide to bite. Last but not least, the Bearded Dragon may flee as a last resort.

Head Bobbing

Head bobbing is considered a dominant behavior for Bearded Dragons. A Bearded Dragon will bob its head up and down to display dominance over another Bearded Dragon. For example, if a male sees another male, then a territorial dispute may occur which will involve head bobbing and fighting. The faster the head bobbing, the more threatening the Bearded Dragon may appear. As another example, if a male sees a female Bearded Dragon, then head bobbing may be used to display dominance along with a desire to mate. Overall, head bobbing is commonly seen in males, but female Bearded Dragons are also capable of head bobbing for similiar reasons (dominance).

Arm Waving

Arm waving is considered a submissive behavior for Bearded Dragons. Often, arm waving is a response to head bobbing (or simply seeing another Bearded Dragon). For example, if one Bearded Dragon is head bobbing, then the other Bearded Dragon may submit by arm waving. In short, when a Bearded Dragon waves one of its arms in a circular motion, the reptile is saying, “I am aware of your presence and I am not a threat to you.”

Glass Surfing

Glass surfing is a term used to describe what a Bearded Dragon does when it wants out of its enclosure. To clarify, if a Bearded Dragon is constantly pacing back and forth while scratching (or jumping) at the walls of its enclosure, then this is known as glass surfing. Usually, glass surfing means that your Bearded Dragon is stressed out and something is bothering it (such as seeing another Bearded Dragon). However, glass surfing does not always mean stress. Instead, it could simply mean that a Bearded Dragon wants to come out to explore. In conclusion, if your Bearded Dragon is glass surfing, then make sure nothing is causing it to be stressed out.

Brumation

Brumation is a Bearded Dragon’s version of hibernation. In the wild, an adult Bearded Dragon will brumate during winter to survive colder temperatures and lack of food. In captivity, Bearded Dragons do not have much of a reason to brumate. However, it is still possible. When a Bearded Dragon decides to brumate, it may sleep for weeks or even months. Ultimately, brumation is a normal and instinctive behavior for a Bearded Dragon but you should always make sure that your Bearded Dragon is not sick before assuming that it is brumating.

Shedding

As a Bearded Dragons gets older, it will shed its skin. At a young age, Bearded Dragons shed often and they slow down on shedding when they get older. When a Bearded Dragon is ready to shed, its skin (scales) may appear dull in color or white and grey. In summary, shedding is a normal process but it could be a stressful time for a Bearded Dragon.

Licking

Bearded Dragons lick their surroundings often, they lick things around them to get a better idea of what that thing may be. In a way, you can think about it as if a human picked up an oject to get a better look at it.

Gaping

While basking, a Bearded Dragon may open its mouth. An open mouth while basking is known as gaping. In brief, this is how a Bearded Dragon regulates its body temperature.

Stacking

When a Bearded Dragon lays on top of another, this is known as stacking. You’ll often see this when multiple Bearded Dragons are housed in a single enclosure (which we do not recommend). New owners assume Bearded Dragons are friendly with each other, but they are not. Instead, Bearded Dragons are very territorial and stacking is considered a dominant behavior. In conclusion, the Bearded Dragon on top is the dominant Bearded Dragon and is taking up the best basking spot.

Digging

Bearded Dragons enjoy digging since they are burrowers. If a Bearded Dragon is digging non-stop, then it may be trying to dig a hole in attempt to hide or sleep somewhere. In addition, if a female Bearded Dragon is digging endlessly, then she may have eggs to lay. Overall, digging is a natural behavior.

Tail Twitching

A Bearded Dragon may twitch its tail (like a cat) while preparing for a fight with another Bearded Dragon. It is unclear what does tail twitching mean exactly, although if a Bearded Dragon often shows this type of behavior before a territorial dispute, then it must be communicating something bad.