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Bearded Dragon Behaviors & Body Language

Similar to people, bearded dragons will have specific body language that indicates their mood, health, and feeling. This page will go over some of the most common bearded dragon behaviors so you can better understand what your bearded dragon is feeling.


Table of Contents


Reasons for Certain Behavior

Bearded dragons will not mimic other bearded dragons, so their behavior is always genuine. Most bearded dragons will display behavior when there is a female around, when another bearded dragon comes near them, or whenever they are approached by a larger animal or something unknown.


Full List of Bearded Dragon Behavior

Below is the full list of different behaviors that bearded dragons have and what they mean.


Arm Waving
This is when the bearded dragon will stand high on three legs and will raise the remaining leg in the air and wave it in a circular motion.

There are a couple of possible meanings when a bearded dragon waves it's arms. One meaning is species recognition. If a bearded dragon waves at another bearded dragon, it tells the other dragon that he/she is aware of their presence.

Another meaning is submission. A bearded dragon may wave his or her arm whenever they are approached by a larger bearded dragon or whenever a larger animal approaches the dragon.


Bearded Dragon Head Bobbing
Head bobbing is more common in males and it when a bearded dragon will repeatedly raise and lower their head.

Head bobbing is generally used as a sign of dominance between two dragons. Males will head bob at females to show their dominance during breeding. Other times two bearded dragons will head bob at each other as a sign of territorial aggression.

Generally, the faster the head bob the more threatening. If a bearded dragon is head bobbing another dragon quickly, it's generally for territorial reasons. However, if a bearded dragon slowly head bobs another dragon, it can be a sign of submission.


Bearding - Fluffing Their Beard
Both male and females bearded dragons Learn how to determine the sex of your bearded dragon. expand their beards. Generally they will do this as a defensive behavior to make themselves seem bigger. However, it is not unusual for a bearded dragon to stretch their beards from time to time without being provoked.


Bearded Dragon Digging
Digging is when your bearded dragon will begin digging a hole in his or her tank.

One reason bearded dragons can be digging is because they are trying to create a small basking area that is more comfortable. Bearded dragons can sometimes do strange things, but this can sometimes be the reason.

If your bearded dragon is a female, she will begin digging and moving things around in her tank to create a place for her to lay her eggs.

If your bearded dragon is old enough, he or she will dig to go into brumation (semi-hibernation). This makes it easier for them to regulate their temperature when they are sleeping. Many bearded dragon owners suggest placing a small towel in the cage that your bearded dragon can go beneath to help aid in their sleeping.


Lying on Top of Each Other
This may look like your bearded dragons are getting along and are great companions, but it's actually a sign of dominance. In the animal kingdom it is the survival of the fittest, and bearded dragons need UV rays to remain healthy. So the dominate bearded dragon will always try to get as many UV rays as possible.


Bearded Dragon Mouth Open (Gaping)
An open mouth is just what it sounds like. It is basically when your bearded dragon is sitting with his/her mouth open instead of it being closed.

The most common reason for an open mouth is that your bearded dragon is regulating his/her temperature. Unlike people, bearded dragons cannot sweat, therefore to control their body temperature they will open their mouth whenever they reach their ideal body temperature and don't want to get any hotter. Normally the bearded dragons will do this when they are basking under the heat lamp.

Bearded dragons will also have their mouth open if they have a respiratory disease. However, since having an open mouth is common behavior for bearded dragons, it's normally just a sign that they are regulating their heat.


Tail Twitching
This is when your bearded dragon's tail will twitch (similar to a cat's tail). Not every bearded dragon will do this, but if yours does it can be an indicator of your bearded dragon's mood.

Many owners report their dragon's tail will twitch when they are hunting prey (crickets) or if they are stressed with your presence (you're petting them and they don't want to be pet). Sometimes two bearded dragons will twitch their tails during breeding.


Bearded Dragon Signs of Aggression

Bearded dragons are generally not aggressive by nature (which is what makes them such good pets). Generally the worst thing you will see is they will show signs of aggressive behavior, and if you provoke them enough they may try and bite you.

Below are some of the most common signs of aggression in both male and female bearded dragons:

Fluffing Their Beard / Bearding This where the bearded dragon got its name. A bearded dragon will fluff its beard as a threat sign. Obviously it makes the dragon seem bigger and more threatening so it can be seen as a sign of aggression. Sometimes a bearded dragon's beard may turn to a darker or even black color when they are bearding.

Hissing Bearded dragons may also hiss if they feel threatened. Again this is another sign of being uncomfortable or a sign of aggression.

Biting - It is fairly obvious that biting is a sign of aggression. If your bearded dragon tries to bite you when you handle it, you should simply put on a pair of gardening gloves because not handling your bearded dragon will not lower their aggressivenessit will only prevent you from developing a closer bond with your beardie.

Head Bobbing - Bearded dragons will bob their head up and down as a sign of territorial aggression towards one another. Occasionally, they will bob their heads at each other as a sign of communication. For example, one bearded dragon may bob his/her head four or five times fairly quickly, and another bearded dragon may bob his/her head twice more slowly in response as acknowledgement.


Feeding Bearded Dragons
Feeding Bearded Dragons Safe foods to feed bearded dragons and how to keep their diet healthy.
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Sources
http://www.squidoo.com/bearded-dragon-behavior-characteristics
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Inlandbeardeddragon.cfm
http://www.reptilechannel.com/lizards/lizard-care/bearded-dragon-basking.aspx


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