Bearded Dragon Body Language: Quirks, Traits, Behavior, Personality & More

Trying to understand what your bearded dragon is trying to tell you? Let's find out

Do you ever look at your bearded dragon and wonder if he’s trying to tell you something? You’re not alone. As reptile enthusiasts, we often find ourselves captivated by the mysterious and intricate world our beloved reptiles, specifically their body language.

While they may not speak in words, these remarkable creatures have their own unique ways of expressing themselves through subtle cues and behaviors.

Today, we will explore the fascinating world of bearded dragon body language and explore the traits and signals they use to communicate.

Bearded Dragon SpeciesBrief About Bearded Dragons

Family: Agamidae

Class: Reptilia

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Length: 16-24 inches

Weight: 0.5-1.5 pounds

Energy Level: Low to moderate

Personality: Docile, curious, friendly, and relatively easy to handle

Temperament: Generally calm and non-aggressive

Intelligence: Intelligent reptiles that can respond to commands

History of the Bearded Dragon

Before we go any further exploring the traits and unique behavior of bearded dragons, let’s take a brief journey through their history and how they became popular pets.

History of the Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons, scientifically known as Pogona, are native to Australia, specifically in the arid, rocky, and semi-desert regions of Queensland and New South Wales.

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They are well-adapted to living in warm climates and can be found in various habitats, such as rocky outcroppings, trees, and even on top of fences. These fascinating creatures are estimated to have first been discovered millions of years ago during the Cretaceous Period.

The popularity of bearded dragons as pets began to rise in the United States in the 1990s. Even though Australia had banned the exports of its wildlife as pets in the 1960s, the popularity of bearded dragons as pets persisted and grew. The first bearded dragons in the United States were introduced from Australia, where they had been bred as pets since the 1970s. Since then, they have become increasingly popular in the United States, both as pets and as show animals.

Bearded dragons come in various color “morphs,” which are not found in the wild but have been selectively bred in captivity. The diverse range of colorations and the friendly nature of bearded dragons have made them attractive pets for reptile enthusiasts.

Bearded Dragon Body Languages

Bearded Dragon Body Language: Quirks, Traits, Behavior, Personality & More

While humans have their own intricate system of nonverbal communication, these remarkable reptiles have their own unique repertoire of gestures, postures, and expressions that allow them to express their thoughts, emotions, and intentions. Let’s discuss them in detail:

1. The Beardie Beard Puff

Have you ever seen your beardie sporting a mysterious black beard, like they’re impersonating Gandalf from LOTR?
This is usually their way of saying, “Hey, I’m feeling threatened!” They puff out their throats, darken the area, and give you their best puffing Gandalf impression. It could be due to a new environment, seeing their reflection, or that annoying cricket that just won’t leave them alone.

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2. Beardie Arm Waving – “Hey!”

If your beardie starts doing the royal wave, it’s not them practicing for an imaginary parade. Arm waving in beardie language is a submissive gesture. It’s their way of saying, “I see you and you’re the boss!” Mostly seen in younger beardies, it broadcasts friendliness. It can also be a sign of recognition between two beardies.

3. Head Bobbing – “Do You See My Authority?”

When your beardie plays rock music with their head, it’s not them trying to dance to their favorite tune. Head bobbing can be an indication of asserting dominance. The faster the bobbing, the stronger the message.

4. Tail Curling – “I’m on High Alert!”

If your bearded dragon’s tail curls upwards, congratulations! You’ve got an on-guard dragon. This is usually seen when they are basking but are staying actively alert for potential predators or threats.

5. The Look of Love – Beardie Style

Ever seen your beardie’s eyes bulging out like they are making desperate attempts to star in a real-life Japanese Anime? Relax, it’s them just trying to get a better look at the world or to stretch the skin when they are preparing to shed. It can also sometimes be a sign of them falling head over heels—with their image in the mirror!

6. The Scary Beardie Stance

Does your beardie sometimes pancake flat and gape its mouth open while under the basking lamp? It’s a beardie’s way of thermoregulation to increase body surface area and maximize heat absorption. They are not morphing into a scary creature.

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7. The Digger

If your beardie starts auditioning for a treasure hunting movie by digging around, they are just exhibiting a natural behavior—especially in females preparing to lay eggs, or when they are ready for brumation (reptile form of hibernation). Ensure they have a safe digging spot to minimize stress.

8. The Poop Habit

Ever wonder why they choose to poop in their swimming water every. single. time? Turns out, they prefer to do their ‘business’ in water to stay clean. The rascals!

9. The Shedding Diva

It’s important to note that a bearded dragon’s behavior might alter when they’re shedding – they could become a bit irritable or anxious. So, they could benefit from a stress-free space and maybe a bit of a bath to ease the shedding process.

Now, shedding doesn’t happen overnight. You might notice that your dragon start to turn a bit dull before they begin to shed:

  • Flakey: First, their old skin will dry up and start to peel off.
  • Partial Shedding: Unlike some other reptiles, bearded dragons shed in pieces. It’s an aesthetic choice—they believe that patience is a virtue!
  • Glow Up: Younger dragons will shed more frequently as they grow. Those baby scales simply can’t keep up with their diva growth spurt.

When your beardie starts their makeover, it’s essential to keep them comfortable. Try the following:

  • Spa Treatment: Ensure they have plenty of hydration to help ease the shedding process2. A gentle misting or a shallow bath could be the spa treatment they need.
  • No Forced Makeover: Avoid the temptation to peel off loose skin for them.
  • Balanced Diet: Nutritious food can help the shedding process1. Even a diva needs a well-rounded diet!
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10. The Winter is Over and I’m Not a Morning Person

Post brumation, don’t be surprised if your beardie is a little less enthusiastic about its cricket feast. Just like us humans after a long period of rest, bearded dragons may experience some changes in their appetite and behavior following brumation:

  • Sluggishness: Don’t be alarmed if your dragon is a bit lethargic and moves around less after brumation. Their metabolism takes time to ramp up again, much like our own awakening from a deep, satisfying sleep.
  • Diminished Appetite: A reduced appetite after brumation2 is normal. Beardie breakfast might look lonely and remain untouched, but don’t worry – their appetite will pick up as their body gets back into the groove of things.
  • Personality Shifts: Your usually spunky and vibrant beardie may be a bit moodier as they adapt post-brumation. Patience, understanding, and love are essential during this phase.

Bearded Dragon Personalities

Bearded Dragon Body Language: Quirks, Traits, Behavior, Personality & More

Saying a bearded dragon has ‘personality’ might sound like an overstretch—until you have a beardie friend in your life.

  • Chillax Masters: Most bearded dragons have a laid-back personality. This leisured disposition makes handling them a breeze. As long as they have ample food, a warm habitat, and engaging stimuli, they’re as content as a mermaid in the sea.
  • Individualistic Dragons: No two dragons are alike. You can have a beardie that’s a morning person—so to speak—with plenty of enthusiasm for morning cricket hunting. Conversely, another might just give you the ‘bug off’ gaze till it’s past noon. Some prefer handling, others run through their Shakespearean solitudes, preferring not to be disturbed.

Bearded Dragon Temperaments

While beardies overall have an easy-going temperament, there are certain behaviors to pay attention to:

  • Territorial Tendencies: While beardies are usually solitary and prefer to have their territory to themselves, the sight of another dragon or their own reflection can trigger their territorial temperament. Suddenly your cool lizard turns into a Black-Bearded Bad Boy. Head bobbing and black-bearding might follow.
  • Snuggle Buddies: Beardies can become very attached and comfortable with their human housemates, even showing excitement on arriving home or hearing your voice. Your cuddle sessions on the couch could turn into a beardie siesta quickly!
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Bearded Dragon Quirks

Oh, they’ve got personality, and they’ve got quirks. Here are a few:

  • The Great Glass Surfers: If your dragon moves up and down the glass enclosure like an aspiring surf pro, they’re “glass surfing.” It’s their way of communicating restlessness or a desire to explore.
  • Brumation Nation: It’s not uncommon for your beardies to mimic “Game of Thrones” and go ‘Winter is coming’ on you. They slow down, eat less, and sleep more—usually in the colder months. It’s their version of hibernation, called brumation.
  • Discovery Channel at Home: If you see them gaping their mouth open, it’s likely they are regulating their body temperature, a process similar to dogs panting.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, living with a beardie is like embarking on a captivating adventure filled with endless surprises and delightful moments. It’s like having a miniature dragon by your side, radiating warmth and charm with every scaly step.

Their endearing quirks and unique personality traits make each interaction a joyous experience. From their curious nature and playful antics to their gentle demeanor, they have a way of capturing your heart and forging a special bond. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

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