Have An Angry Bearded Dragon? Find Out What What To Do.
Angry Bearded Dragon
Your bearded dragon is acting aggressive. Do you have an angry bearded dragon on your hands? How do you tell? What are the signs? Should you worry? What can I do to calm my angry bearded dragon down? Why is your beardie angry? Find the answer to these questions and more.
Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Get Angry?
There are many reasons why bearded dragons get angry. Here are the most common.
Bearded dragons love to be held. There are many pictures of them cuddling and snuggling with their owners. Like all things, moderation is key. You can pick them up and take them out for a couple of hours. But they need time to bask and relax. Like people, they need some alone time too. This is a bigger problem with kids who are so excited to show off their pet to anyone that comes to visit. Make sure you hold them in moderation and keep on the lookout for signs of anger.
Wild bearded dragons become sexually mature when they’re between 1 and 2 years old. Mating takes place during the summer months, between September and March in their native Australia. In captivity, many breeders offer a brumation period to the dragons prior to mating, although it’s not always necessary.
Just because you have yours in a tank doesn’t mean their mating instincts go away. Bearded dragons, especially males, get very aggressive during mating season. It is common for the male bearded dragon to bite the female while mating. It is no surprise they get aggressive during this time of year.
Other Household Pets
Imagine something you don’t recognize that is 5 to 10 times bigger at you staring at you from a few feet away.. Makes you anxious right? This is how your bearded dragon feels when they first see your furry pets like your dog or cat. Your bearded dragon is scared and anxious as well. Some bearded dragons go and hide. Others feel threatened and try to defend themselves. They become an aggressive angry bearded dragon to try to intimate them.
Dogs can get along with your bearded dragon. Here is a great article to find out more.
Ever been sunburned? Remember what it felt like. The pain, the irritation, the itchiness as your old damaged skin comes off? It’s not the happiest experience. Now imagine going through that every few months.
That is what your bearded dragon is going through. No wonder they can get a bit angry and irritated. The best way to help shedding along is to give your bearded dragon a bath. Learn how to give your bearded dragon the perfect bath.
Change in Scenery
Change is good. That doesn’t mean we like it. And bearded dragons hate it. Did you recently change something? It could be anything. A new tank? A new hide? Did you move your tank to a different part of the room? This can trigger your beardie to get angry. They hate change and they will tell you.
There is good news. Your bearded dragon will get adjusted to the change. They should calm down in a couple of weeks. If your bearded dragon is still angry, decide if the change is worth having an angry, stressed out dragon.
Feeling Uncomfortable And Aggressive In a New Home
The biggest change of all is a new home. You got your bearded dragon home and want to play with them. All they do is hiss and get mad at everyone.
See it from their perspective. They were taken from their home to a stranger’s house and put in a tank where nothing is familiar. It’s like sending your kids to a new school in the middle of the school times 10. It’s going to take some time to get comfortable.
Give your bearded dragon some time. Try to hand feed them to show them that you are there to love them and care for them. Talk to them in a calm and soft voice. They just need love, let them know that you are there to give it to them. They will be playing and cuddling with you in no time.
Getting Angry With Other Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons are solitary animals. They are very territorial. They will show aggression in the presence of another bearded dragon. Even if you keep them in separate tanks and they can see each other they will show signs of anger.
Never keep more than 1 bearded dragon in the same tank. If you have more than one bearded dragon, keep the tanks in separate rooms. Another option is to stack the tanks so that they don’t see each other.
Angry About Being Near The Window
Some bearded dragons love the window. They can see outside and observe things. Other bearded dragons hate it. Dogs passing by, birds that look like predators flying around. Even the reflection in the window can make them think there is another bearded dragon. These things can trigger your bearded dragon to be angry.
If you put your beardie near a window be close by and see how they react.
Injury, Illness Or Pain
Being sick or in pain is never fun. Sometimes you want to be alone. Since bearded dragons don’t know how to talk they sometimes respond with anger. Touching a body part that causes pain because of injury could cause them to hiss or even bite you. They are not doing it because they hate you, they are using anger to tell you that something is wrong. There are many different illnesses out there. From Metabolic Bone disease (MBD) to impaction. Learn more about the different medical issues a beardie can have and their common signs.
Checking your set-up should be the first thing you always do when you think something is wrong. Temperature, lighting, humidity are key to the health and well-being of your beardie. Having the incorrect setup can be the source of many problems and aggressive action is one of them. Learn everything you need to know in our complete bearded dragon’s guide to have the correct setup.
There’s Too Much Noise Near Their Enclosure
Bearded dragons have very sensitive hearing. If there is too much noise around it can be another cause for an angry bearded dragon. Is the TV too loud? Are the kids running around and yelling? Do you live near a busy street? Is there construction outside? Are the gardeners mowing the lawn? All these things can cause angry behavior.
If you think this can be the cause then try moving their habitat to a quieter area.
How Do I Know if My Bearded Dragon Is Angry?
There are many signs that you can see to know that you have an angry bearded dragon on your hands. We will tell you the most common ones.
In nature, the bigger one usually is the winner. One sign of aggression of animals is to appear as large as possible. The way bearded dragons do this is to puff up their beard. This makes them larger in the hopes of scaring their predators away.
Another sign of an angry bearded dragon is to change the color of their beard also known as “black beard”. Their beard will change from their normal color to a dark black in a matter of seconds.
Fast Head Bobbing
When your bearded dragon is nodding their head up and down quickly they are showing you they are angry. Some owners think this is cute but it is a sign of aggression.
Hiss with Mouth Open
Like snakes, bearded dragons hiss to warn you to stay away. This is usually accompanied by an open month. It is a bit hard to hear in this video but you can definitely tell the bearded dragon is hissing.
Bearded dragons can stand for multiple reasons. They could be reaching for food. Stand to stretch. Some even pose. Another reason to stand tall is to appear bigger as a form of aggression. This is the same reason why bearded dragons puff up. There are many reasons why bearded dragons stand. Make sure this action is combined with other signs to confirm your bearded dragon is angry.
Glass surfing is when it looks like your bearded dragon is trying to climb out of the tank from the sides. They call it glass surfing because it looks like a surfer paddling out to catch a wave. Many owners think this is cute and don’t understand that this is something to worry about. Your bearded dragon is doing this because they don’t feel safe and are trying to escape.
Not only is this a sign of an angry dragon but your bearded dragon can hurt themselves if you don’t find a way to solve the issue. Find out all about glass surfing and how to stop it.
Biting is the universal form of anger. From your four-legged furry friends to even kids, biting is an act of anger. Who best to show this than the late great animal lover Steve Irwin.
How Do You Calm an Aggressive Bearded Dragon?
You have an angry bearded dragon. How do you calm them down? Here are some tips.
Don’t give up. Keep trying to hold your bearded dragon. Even if they are angry each time, don’t give up. Eventually, they will realize that you don’t mean any harm. Try to get close to them and pet them during feeding time. They will associate good food with you and will begin to trust you. We are talking about weeks and weeks of repeated attempts. We find that some owners give up too soon.
Cover the tank and leave your dragon alone to calm down.
You want to remove as many of the things that could cause stimulation. Think about the tactic people use to calm down when they are angry. They close their eyes and count to 10. This is the bearded dragon version.
Provide Your Bearded Dragon With a Quiet Environment
Sound is one of the most overlooked ways to calm down a bearded dragon. Remove as much sound as possible. Quiet lets your bearded dragon know they are safe.
Get Them Used to Your Smell
As a person who had to introduce their kids to many family pets, I can say this has worked for me. Get a used article of clothing and put it in the tank. You are trying to get your bearded dragon used to your scent. This helps the bearded dragon learn that your scent. That your scent is not threatening and not something to fear.
Approach Your Dragon from a Submissive Safe Position A Few Minutes A Day
The key to this approach is always approaching from the front and underneath. All bearded dragon predators attack from above. They even have a “third eye” that helps them detect movement from above. You want to approach your bearded dragon from a submissive position so they know you are safe and not a threat.
Talk To Them In A Soft Tone
Like when people talk to a baby, they use a soft tone. As mentioned before, bearded dragons are sensitive to sound. You are trying to calm your bearded dragon down. Use a soft and friendly tone to ease their concerns.
A Warm Bath
Nothing is more relaxing than a warm bath. The same is true for beardies. This is another way to try to get your bearded dragon to associate good things with you.
Be A Detective
If you have a bearded dragon that is constantly angry you have to try to find a pattern. Every time you see your beardie get angry, take a log and try to find a pattern. Below are a few questions you should ask yourself.
- What was going on around at the time?
- What sort of scents may have been present? Any scents that a human nose could detect?
- Who was around?
- Was it indoors or outdoors?
- Was it in the tank
- Where in the tank did it happen?
- Were there any other pets around?
- Was there a reflective surface near the bearded dragon?
- Were there noises while it was happening?
- What was above the bearded dragon at the time?
- What was the temperature? Humidity? Lighting?
Like with people anger can often be masking feelings of stress or fear. In most cases having an angry bearded dragon will pass within a few days or weeks, rarely – few months. The key is to try to find out why your bearded dragon is acting that way and find the solution.
If You Want To Learn More
Benn, A. L., McLelland, D. J. and Whittaker, A. L. (2019) A Review of Welfare Assessment Methods in Reptiles, and Preliminary Application of the Welfare Quality® Protocol to the Pygmy Blue-Tongue Skink, Tiliqua adelaidensis, Using Animal-Based Measures. Animals (Basel). 9(1): 27.
Brown, D. BVSc, BSc (2012) A Guide to Australian Dragons in Captivity. Reptile Publications. QLD Australia
Gans, C., and Crews, D. (1992) Hormones, Brain, and Behavior. Bibliovault OAI Repository, the University of Chicago Press
Klaphake, E. DVM, DACZM, DABVP (Avian Practice), DABVP (Reptile & Amphibian Practice) (UD) Femoral Gland Biology and Possible Medical Concerns in the Green Iguana, Iguana iguana.
Lock, B. A. (2006) Chapter 13 – Behavioral and Morphologic Adaptations. Ed: Mader, D. R. Reptile Medicine and Surgery 2nd Ed. W.B. Saunders. Pages 163-179
Lock, B. (2018) Aggression in Captive Reptiles. Veterinary Partner
Norris, D. O., & Lopez, K. H. (2011) Hormones and Reproduction of Vertebrates Vol. 3. Reptiles. San Diego, CA: Elsevier Academic Press Inc
Do Bearded Dragons Bite Hurt?
It depends on the age of the dragon. Babies (hatchlings to 5 months old) to juveniles (5 months to 18 months old) don’t have a strong jaw or large teeth. So it won’t feel like anything.
A bite from an older dragon will hurt and can break the skin. You might need a band-aid but it is nothing serious.
The thing to be concerned about is salmonella. Bearded dragons carry salmonella bacteria. You can get salmonella poisoning from a bearded dragon bite. Make sure to clean the area with antibacterial soap very well.
Can a Bearded Dragon Kill a Human?
It is a little known fact that bearded dragon’s are actually venomous. Yes, venom. The good thing is that the venom has no harmful effects on humans. You will be fine and will not die from a bearded dragon bit.
Find everything you need to know about owning a dragon in our Ultimate Bearded Dragons Guide.