Common Behavior For Bearded Dragons

List of Behaviors

This section of our website discusses all of the common behaviors that Bearded Dragons display. Overall, some of these behaviors are perfectly normal while others might be a warning that something is wrong.

Arm Waving

When a Bearded Dragon waves one of its arms in a circular motion, it is known as a submissive behavior. Usually, a Bearded Dragon will arm wave to another Bearded Dragon. While this is happening, the Bearded Dragon that is arm waving is saying, "I am aware of your presence, but I am not a threat to you".

Bearded Dragon arm waving

Beard Flaring

When a Bearded Dragon feels threatened, it will enter a defensive stance and puff out the area of skin under its mouth in an attempt to look scary and large (as seen in the image below). Long story short, this stance means that the reptile is warning you to back off and that it's ready to defend itself if needed.

Bearded Dragon beard flaring

Black Bearding

A black beard usually means one of two things, dominance or stress. However, the two kind of go together. For instance, if a Bearded Dragon sees another Bearded Dragon, then it is usually an attempt to display dominance (if you also see head bobbing), but it could also mean stress since Bearded Dragons do not get along with their own kind and often get stressed out when around each other. In summary, if you only have one Bearded Dragon, then it is most likely stress related.

Bearded Dragon black beard

Brumation

Basically, you can think of brumation as a Bearded Dragon's version of hibernation. To be more specific, brumation is what Bearded Dragons do in the winter to survive colder temperatures and lack of food. When a Bearded Dragon starts to brumate, he or she will hide somewhere and sleep for quite some time. In addition, the reptile may act sluggish and have a lack of appetite. With that said, it is important to note that the duration of brumation will vary for each Bearded Dragon. For example, some Bearded Dragons might only sleep for a few weeks while others might sleep for months if not longer. Also, brumation is unlikely for Bearded Dragons less than a year old. Furthermore, it is extremely important to make sure that your Bearded Dragon is not ill before assuming it may be brumating. Visit our health page for more information regarding health. Last but not least, you should leave the reptile's lights on their normal schedule and offer fresh greens daily in case your Bearded Dragon decides to come out from brumation.

Bearded Dragon sleeping

Digging

A Bearded Dragon might dig for a few reasons. First, the reptile may simply want to find a comfortable spot to lay down. Second, the reptile might be stressed out (if it is digging non-stop, it might be trying to escape or hide from its environment). Finally, if your reptile is a gravid female, then it might be ready to lay eggs. To conclude, digging can be a normal behavior as well as a negative behavior.

Bearded Dragon digging

Eye Bulging

When a Bearded Dragon is about to shed its head, it might bulge its eyes out as seen in the image below. Overall, this behavior is normal, but it should not last more than a minute or so. If your Bearded Dragon has "bugged out eyes" for a very long period of time, then something else might be wrong with it and I would suggest a vet visit.

Bearded Dragon eye bulging

Gaping

While basking, a Bearded Dragon might hold its mouth open. In brief, this is a normal behavior. In fact, this is how they regulate their body temperature. On a side note, this might be a sign to double check that the basking temperature is not too hot. Also, an open mouth should only be a concern if your reptile is showing signs of a respiratory infection.

Bearded Dragon gaping

Glass Surfing

Glass surfing is a term used in the Bearded Dragon community to describe what these reptiles do when they try to escape their enclosure; when a Bearded Dragon glass surfs, it will scratch at the glass or lean up against it and try to climb out. Furthermore, the reptile will pace back and forth until it figures out a way to get out. Overall, glass surfing could simply mean that the reptile wants out. However, more often than not, it means that the Bearded Dragon is stressed out and wants to escape its environment.

Bearded Dragon glass surfing

Head Bobbing

Both male and female Bearded Dragons are capable of head bobbing; head bobbing is exactly how it sounds, moving the head up and down. Usually, this type of behavior is commonly seen in male Bearded Dragons. In summary, a Bearded Dragon will head bob to another Bearded Dragon in attempt to display dominance.

Hissing

If a Bearded Dragon feels threatened, then it might make a hissing noise while display other defensive behaviors such as beard flaring.

Licking

Bearded Dragons have a habit of licking objects that are around them. In other words, they stick their tongue out and touch something with it. When they do this, it's how they get a better sense of their environment. In summary, this is a normal behavior and the reptile is just curious about the object or thing that it's licking.

Stacking

If you have more than one Bearded Dragon in a single enclosure (which I do not recommend), then you might notice that the Bearded Dragons lay on top of one another from time to time. In short, this is also a dominant behavior. Unfortunately, most beardie owners assume this is a friendly and cute behavior which is not the case.

Shedding

For a Bearded Dragon, shedding is a normal and healthy process. Long story short, shedding just means that they are growing. While shedding, your reptile might have gray or white skin in the area that is about to shed. Keep in mind, Bearded Dragons usually shed different parts of their body at different times. In other words, they do not shed their entire body all at once.

Tail Twitching

A Bearded Dragon may twitch its tail (like a cat) while preparing for a fight with another Bearded Dragon. However, this behavior might also be seen if the Bearded Dragon is focused on a task, such as hunting for food. In summary, this type of behavior is rarely seen, but it does happen.

Yawning

Yes, Bearded Dragons do yawn; when a Bearded Dragon yawns, it will open its mouth wide for a brief moment before closing it completely.

Bearded Dragon yawning