The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Bearded dragons shouldn’t be calm, right?
I mean, their name implies that they have long necks, mystical wings, and they breathe fire into the night. But that’s probably because we’re familiar with the wrong type of dragons.
Bearded dragons are exceptionally calm. They only have that name because their scaly skin looks like that of a dragon, but they don’t share the fantasy animal’s hot temper.
Okay, but why are bearded dragons so calm?
If you raised pets before, you’d know that no animal stays calm all the time. Dogs are the opposite of quiet, and the word doesn’t even belong in the cats’ dictionary.
Beardies, on the other hand, are almost always calm, and here’s why.
Bearded dragons are calm because they socialize with humans from a young age, getting them used to the presence of a warm-blooded fellow close by. Wild beardies aren’t that calm; only pet ones are.
However, beardies are generally friendly animals. Not all lizards are friendly. The blue-tongued skinks, for example, are known for biting their owners sometimes. A beardie would never try to hurt you unless you threw a vase at it or something.
If you’re asking why bearded dragons are calm, chances are, you don’t know enough about them. They’re scientifically known as pogonas, but their other name is much more endearing.
These fellas are omnivorous, which means they eat both meat and plants. They’re moderately sized, only growing up to 22 inches maximum.
You may wonder why beardies have scales since they’re house pets. Well, nature didn’t intend it that way. The natural habitat of beardies is deserts, so they need the scales to prevent water loss. The hard skin also protects the lizards from injuries when they encounter sharp stones.
Beardies have that nickname because their chin looks like a beard. They come in a variety of colors, ranging from white and green to orange and yellow.
A beardie living in your house will definitely be calmer than a beardie living its life out in the Australian Outback. Don’t you think? It’s hard for a beardie to be quiet when it’s being chased by a wolf or something, so I’m not really blaming the beardie here.
Not all bearded dragons have the same calm attitude. It depends on their upbringing and surrounding conditions. In all cases, the beardie won’t blow fire into the air or scratch you, but it might show hostile behavior. It may also attempt to bite you like some lizards do when they’re annoyed.
All animals have survival instincts, and they’re on their highest out in the wild. Bearded dragons that live in the wild will constantly be at the risk of being preyed on. So, you’ll find them used to defend themselves by hissing, flaring their beards, and flattening their bodies to look bigger.
Pet beardies won’t show these acts, and they’re substantially calmer than their fellows out in the desert.
“All what you said is good, but why is my beardie aggressive?”
I know that’s probably what you’re thinking. Well, unless you took your beardie out of the wild, it should be calm. If it’s aggressive, that’s likely because of one of these reasons.
You shouldn’t leave any beardie hungry—or any animal for that matter. All living organisms feel hunger, and most of them feel irritated when they’re not being fed. That includes me and your beardie.
Adult bearded dragons should feed once every two days or so, but younger ones may need food more frequently. When you forget to feed them or delay it for any reason, you can expect some aggressive behavior.
All animals show signs of aggression when they’re afraid. If you have a cat, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Visits to vets are the closest thing to nightmares.
Bearded dragons have eyes on the sides of their heads, so they have a broader field vision than humans. However, their depth perception isn’t good. That means they can’t estimate how far objects around them are. As a result, the beardies will repeatedly hit things they think are further, and they’ll be afraid of objects that they think are closer.
That’s why you should move gently and without any sudden movements. Try not to handle your beardie from the back because it’ll be afraid when it can’t see you. On top of that, if you have a cat or a dog, make sure they don’t scare the beardie.
When your beardie is afraid, you’ll find it showing aggressive behavior like hissing or flattening its back to look larger. These are self-defense acts, and chances are, the beardie won’t attempt to harm you.
Bearded dragons are perfectly capable of adapting in the wild. They can thrive pretty much anywhere as long as there are water and food sources available. The same can’t be said about houses, though.
Your beardie may take some time adapting to your house, especially if it was brought up somewhere in the open. It’s not uncommon for beardies to be aggressive in the first few days after you adopt them.
They should take three or four days until they’re totally okay with their new home.
If you want your bearded dragon to get accustomed to your smell, you can place something of yours in its cage. Your scent will constantly be around it, so it’ll be familiar with it.
It’s worth mentioning that bearded dragons may get aggressive when you do as little as changing something in their cage. If anything changes around them, there’s a chance they’ll react negatively.
Bearded dragons are calm because they socialize from a young age. When your beardie isn’t socializing enough, it may start showing aggressive behavior.
To avoid that, you can make sure to interact with your beardie every day. If it stays alone for weeks, it’ll get used to it, and it’ll start showing aggression when someone comes up.
What you may not know is, bearded dragons are highly affectionate. I know their bearded attire doesn’t give that impression, but they are. The more they interact with you, the calmer they get.
Make sure you interact with it daily, and you won’t see any hostile behavior.
Now, we’ve established that bearded dragons are calm towards humans and possibly dogs and cats. Does that mean they’re calm towards their own kind too?
You know how you’re sometimes exceptionally good with your friends, but you go home to fight with your siblings? They may have taken your charger, clothes, or maybe slept on your bed.
That’s precisely what happens with bearded dragons. They’re aggressive towards other beardies when they’re protecting their territory. No beardie wants to watch its place taken by another one, so you may see some aggressive acts when introducing a new fellow to the tank.
Some beardies also fight when males are competing for female attention. In some cases, the male will attack the female that doesn’t submit to him.
Anyway, beardies can show aggression towards their own kind. Try to gauge your pet’s reaction before introducing a new fellow to the cage.
Cats and dogs can handle themselves. If the beardie decides to puff up or show aggression, your cat will probably put it back in its place—literally and figuratively. As for dogs, they’ll either ignore it or decide to chase the beardie.
That’s more than I can say about kids, though—particularly babies. They won’t be familiar with beardies, so they may get horrified if your beardie decides to turn its beard black. That begs the question: are bearded dragons calm towards children?
Well, mostly, yes. Unless your baby decides to throw the beardie out of the window, it’ll keep showing respect.
Beardies are pretty friendly with humans regardless of their size. They may even warm up to your little one and cuddle with them.
Besides, beardies don’t need special care when handling as most lizards do. If the baby holds them a bit roughly, they likely won’t show a reaction. That said, it’s always better to stay close by and watch their interactions—at least until they get used to each other.
There are telltale signs that your beardie is starting to lose its calm. It’ll either flare its beard, turn it black, or start digging out of nowhere. Here’s a brief overview of each sign.
Beardies commonly flare their beards up as a defense mechanism. It’s a typical behavior among both genders, and they only do it when they feel a threat close by.
Your pet beardie won’t do this unless something new is introduced to its cage. Or if your other pet is terrorizing it. It’s essential to look for the reason for this behavior because it means your beardie isn’t feeling safe.
It’s worth noting that some beardies do this when they’re protecting their territory from another beardie. So, it’s not always out of fear from you.
It’s common among beardies to turn their beards black when they’re threatened. There are other reasons, such as sickness, but fear is the most common. Males are also more likely to show this behavior.
If you see your beardie doing this while bobbing its head, it likely feels threatened by something. You can start looking around for reasons. If you have a pet, it may be the reason, or a new beardie in the tank.
In all cases, a black beard is a sign your beardie is losing its calm demeanor.
Bearded dragons commonly start digging when they want to lay eggs. However, it’s not always for that purpose. If there’s no chance your beardie is laying eggs anytime soon, the behavior will luckily be a result of stress.
The first defense mechanism beardies think of when they’re stressed is escaping. They start digging as a way to distract themselves and convince themselves they’re looking for shelter or for someplace to hide.
Try to look for the reason for your beardie’s stress when you see that kind of behavior.
Since you’ve gotten that far into the article, here are some bonus facts about bearded dragons!
- Australia is pretty strict when it comes to exporting animals, so most beardies in the US now are actually bred morphs.
- Beardies can wave their tiny arms, and they use it as a form of communication with other beardies. You likely won’t see this behavior if your beardie lives alone.
- In most European countries, bearded dragons are the most common pets, gaining their place right after cats and dogs.
- Some of them are translucent, with completely see-through skin
- Contrary to common belief, bearded dragons do produce venom. It’s just not harmful to humans, and it’s pretty mild. It only affects insects, which are the primary prey for beardies.
- Some rare beardies are capable of changing their sex upon incubation.
- Beardies don’t pee. Instead, they produce a white powder that often comes out with their poop.
- They’re illegal in Hawaii as a way of protecting the state’s ecosystem.
- They sometimes sleep standing, locking their legs for stability.
- If beardies drop their tails as most lizards do, they can’t grow them back.
- They have side-eyes, which means their depth perception is bad. They don’t know the real distance between them and the surrounding objects.
Well, without further ado, bearded dragons are calm because they socialize with humans a lot from a young age. Beardies that come from the wild aren’t as calm. Still, even calm beardies can show aggressive behavior when they’re threatened.
Make sure to let your kid know how to handle the beardie and keep your dog away. It should be fine this way.