Bearded Dragon Mouth Opens All Time. What is wrong?
Your bearded dragon has their mouth open and it looks strange. Is it normal? Is something wrong? Are they sick? Find out all the answers here.
Keeping Their Mouth Open to Regulate Temperature
The ideal internal body temperature for a bearded dragon lizard is 35 degrees centigrade (35°C). That is about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. (95°F). Bearded dragons are cold blooded animals. They can not regulate their body temperature using their metabolism. Read more about warm-blooded vs cold-blooded. When their body temperature is t0o high, they keep their mouth open to lower it.
This is the same when a car overheats. When a car overheats the first thing you should do is open the hood of the car to let the engine cool.
The technical term for this is “gaping”. Opening their mouth allows the hot air to escape and the cool air to come in. This helps them get to their ideal temperature. It is the bearded dragon version of sweating when we are hot. It is completely normal and a sign of a healthy beardie.
Similarly, when a bearded dragon is too cold they will lay under their basking light to heat up. Your lighting must be set up correctly. Learn more about how to set up the correct lighting.
Here is a video that shows a bearded dragon gaping.
All humans yawn. So do most vertebrate animals. This includes bearded dragons. There are many theories of why we yawn. The most popular theory is to increase oxygen to the brain and help regulate temperature.
It has been scientifically proven that we yawn more when temperatures are cooler.
There are 3 main reasons why bearded dragons stretch. The first reason is the same reason why you stretch. When muscles have not moved in a long time stretching helps loosen and realign the muscles. This is why we instinctively stretch when we wake up in the morning.
The second reason is something we don’t relate to. Opening their mouth and stretching helps with shedding. Stretching out their mouth and beard helps loosen the hold skin. This helps get rid of their old skin. Check out this video of a beardie doing this.
That last reason bearded dragons stretch is that it is a form of pandiculation. Pandiculation is when a set of muscles contract, slowly stretch out, and then contract again. It is relaxing for them and prepares them to move. This is common in other animals as well. Cats or dogs can pandiculate as often as 40-50 times a day.
Keeping Mouth Open Due to Aggression
Bearded dragons are calm and loving animals. They can get aggressive if they feel threatened, scared, or angry. One of the signs of aggression for a beardie is to have their mouth open. Having their mouth open will not be the only thing you see.
If your bearded dragon keeping their mouth open and doing the other things listed below then it is a sign of aggression:
- Fast head bobbing
- Puffed up beard
- Black beard
- Tall stance
Below are a few videos of aggressive bearded dragon behavior.
Why would your bearded dragon be acting this way? Here are a few reasons.
They’re Responding To Another Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are solitary animals. They are also very territorial. If there is another bearded dragon in the same tank this could be the reason for the aggression. Sometimes they don’t even have to be the same tank. If you have them in separate tanks but they can see each other this could cause aggressive actions as well.
Other Pets Causing Aggression
If you own other animals like a dog or a cat this could be a reason. Your bearded dragon sees them as a threat and will try to act aggressively. Dogs and cats are bigger than bearded dragons so this is a natural reaction.
Their Own Reflection
A bearded dragon can see their reflection and think it is another bearded dragon. If you go to YouTube.com and search for “bearded dragon mirror” you will see great examples of this.
Their Third Eye
Yes! Bearded dragons have a third eye. One of the main purposes is to detect predators. The 3rd eye can’t see images but can see shadows. They use it to detect their natural predators from overhead like birds of prey. You should pick up your bearded dragon from the side instead of from above for this reason.
Placing The Tank Near The Window
Placing your tank near a window does provide a great view for your bearded dragon. It can also stress your bearded dragon out. Animals like cats and birds can make a bearded dragon scared. This can result in aggressive behavior that includes having an open mouth.
Open-mouth breathing is usually a sign of respiratory disease in other types of herps, and is an especially dangerous sign in snakes, however it can be normal in some lizards, including bearded dragons.
This is one of the least likely reasons that your bearded dragon has their mouth open. But it is the biggest concern for beardie owners. Look for other signs of a respiratory infection like:
- heavy breathing
- wheezing and crackling with each breath.
- mucus around the nose and mouth
Another factor in respiratory infection is an incorrect tank set up. The biggest culprit is humidity.
Respiratory infections happen when humidity is 40% or higher. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity to check that it is at the right level. Other things to check for include.
- Incorrect temperatures
- No ventilation
- Bad diet
If you believe that your bearded dragon has a respiratory infection take them to the vet immediately.
Bearded dragons having their mouth open with no other signs is normal and the sign of a healthy dragon. If the bearded dragon open mouth is accompanied with other signs then it requires further investigation.