Bearded Dragon Mannerisms
Author: Kris Walker Date Posted: 8 May 2020
What is your Beardie trying to communicate with you? What is your Beardie trying to communicate with you?
Bearded dragons are a popular reptile companion in Australia due to their size, friendliness and gentle attitudes. These gentle lizards don’t actually have a beard! Instead, they are named due to their ability to puff up the skin under their jaw when feeling threatened. Bearded dragons can be easy to take care of, but they need the right living environment, food and care to truly thrive.
Bearded Dragons enjoy basking in sunshine or under a heat lamp. Basking helps your Beardie gather heat and UVB, which helps him to create vitamin D3, in order to metabolise calcium.
Your Bearded Dragon can flare and even darken in colour the area around their neck and throat. This display can mean he isn’t feeling well, is portraying dominance (especially during mating season) or feels threatened.
In the wild, this behavior can ward off potential predators and helps keep bearded dragons safe from his enemies.
Brumation is the reptile’s version of hibernation. Your bearded dragon may mimic the behaviour of wild reptiles, who as the cooler months approach and food might become scarce may brumate by burying himself, not eating and not moving as much as normal.
While your bearded dragon will brumate during the usual hibernation periods of autumn and winter, it is different from typical hibernation in that their metabolisms do not shut down completely, they only slow it down. It is important that your pet beardie stays hydrated during his brumation. If your beardie is indeed brumating, he may hide and nap more frequently, move slowly, and exhibit a poor appetite.
If brumation occurs out of season - during spring or summer - or he is less than 1 year old, this can be cause for concern and a trip to the vet is recommended. An unhealthy beardie may not survive a brumation and it is important to make sure your pet is strong enough to get through this rest cycle.
Gradual body colour changes can be a normal sign of growth for your beardie, and are typically not a cause for concern. If the colour change is quite sudden, this can be an indication that your friend is stressed or unwell.
Your beardie basking in the sun may gradually darken, turning black to soak in more warmth.
Is your beardie bored? Glass surfing - that is, running back and forth in their enclosures on their hind legs, trying to run up the sides. While it can initially look amusing, glass surfing is a sure sign that your pet is either bored, stressed or his enclosure is too small. Consider glass surfing a red flag and something to remedy for your friend as soon as possible.
Adding new enriching decorations, such as things to climb or hide in, or a larger enclosure can help your beardie cope with the stress he is feeling.
If your beardie suddenly appears to start nodding ‘Yes!’, this is his head bob, the beardie’s way of showing they have asserted dominance. For example, your eldest Beardie may do this to your younger Beardies to show who’s boss.
Additionally, jerky head bobs may be used if your beardie is trying to court a female, while slow, short head bobs can be your beardies’ way of greeting one another (or even you)!
Faster head bobbing typically indicates a warning, threat or dominance, while short, slower bobs indicate a submission or acknowledgement.
In a similar vein to the head bob, young beardies might wave to their enclosure mates to signal “hey guys, I’m only little, please don’t hurt me!” Some Beardies may also do this to their humans if they feel intimidated by you, or if you are still getting to know each other. Female beardies may also wave back at males who have given them a head bob during their mating ritual.
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