You heard about the 3rd eye. Is it real? What is it? What do bearded dragons use it for? We will answer all your questions here.
What is a Third Eye (AKA Parietal Eye, Solar Eye)?
The third eye is an eye that is located at the top of the head of the bearded dragon between the eyes. This eye can sense light but does have a lens and a retina. It can not see images but only shadows. Even though it can’t see images it has important functions.
How Do I Find My Bearded Dragon’s Third Eye?
If you look at the top of your bearded dragon’s head you should see a discolored spot near the middle. This dot is actually a transparent scale that protects the eye. Below are some pictures of the third eye (also known as the parietal eye) as a reference.
Why Is The Third Eye Important to Bearded Dragons?
The third eye (Parietal Eye) has many important functions even though it can’t actually see images.
Bearded dragons use the 3rd eye for navigation. There have been experiments to prove this. Reptiles transported from their territory and allowed to see where they were traveling. Some of the reptiles had their 3rd eye covered. Those that had it covered were not able to get back to their territory. Those that didn’t were able to return back without a problem.
Protection From Predators
Didn’t you wish you had eyes in the back of your head sometimes? Bearded dragons do with the parietal eye. This is great since one of the bearded dragon’s natural predators are birds of prey. This includes the Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora). The third eye helps them see when something is flying over them so they can get to safety.
Hormones and Body Regulation
Like us, bearded dragons release hormones that help them sleep. The third eye is sensitive to light. This helps the bearded dragon’s body know when it is night time. At night time the body will release hormones that regulate their sleep cycle. The third eye is connected to the pineal body. The pineal body is active in triggering hormone production and thermoregulation.
How Does Having A Third Eye Change How I Care From My Bearded Dragon?
Knowing about the third eye is great. Why should you care? It matters because it requires you to change how you take care of your beardie.
Pick Up Your Bearded Dragon From the Side
The third eye only sees shadows and with it sees shadows it triggers your bearded dragon to run and hide. You should never approach your bearded dragon from overhead. This will stress your beardie out. You should always approach your bearded dragon from the site away from the parietal eye.
You should buy a tank with a door that opens from the front rather than from the top. This will help you provide a more stress-free life from your beardie.
Keep It Dark At Night
Bearded dragons need darkest at night. If you have a light on at night the third eye will detect it and think it is still daytime. This stops the release of hormones that help bearded dragons regulate sleep. Make sure that there is no light at night.
Make Sure Your Lighting Is Setup Right
Lighting is crucial to the life of a bearded dragon. The third eye is another reason that you have to make sure that your lighting is correct. The health of your bearded dragon is dependent on it.
Get Automated Times for Your Lights
We can’t be home at the same time every day to turn the lights on and off for our beardies. Invest in some automated timers for the lights in your tank. That way you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Your bearded dragon will thank you and it is one less thing to worry about.
Do Other Animals Have A Third Eye?
Can I Pet My Beardie’s Third Eye?
Yes, a transparent scale protects the third eye. You can pet over it without it getting damaged or hurting our beardie.
Can My Bearded Dragon See in the Dark?
No. Bearded dragons are active during the day so their eyes do not see in the dark.
Want to Learn More?
There have been many studies about the third eye (parietal eye). Read more from the references below.
Firth, B., Mauldin, R., & Ralph, C. (1988) The Role of the Pineal Complex in Behavioral Thermoregulation in the Collared Lizard Crotaphytus collaris under Seminatural Conditions. Physiological Zoology, 61(2), 176-185
Foà, A., Basaglia, F., Beltrami, G., Carnacina, M., Moretto, M., and Bertolucci, C. (2009) Orientation of lizards in a Morris water-maze: roles of the sun compass and the parietal eye. Journal of Experimental Biology. 212: 2918-2924
Stebbins, R. C., and Eakin, R. M. (1958) The role of the “third eye” in reptilian behavior. American Museum Novitates 1870:1-40
Tosini, G. (1997) The pineal complex of reptiles: Physiological and behavioral roles. Ethology Ecology & Evolution – Ethology Ecology and Evolution. 9(4)
Tosini, G., & Menaker, M. (1998) Multioscillatory circadian organization in a vertebrate, iguana iguana. Journal of Neuroscience, 18(3): 1105-1114
Sawnee Animal Clinic. Cumming. Georgia, USA
Eakin, R. M (1973). The Third Eye. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Dodt, Eberhard (1973). “The Parietal Eye (Pineal and Parietal Organs) of Lower Vertebrates”. Visual Centers in the Brain. Handbook of Sensory Physiology. 7 / 3 / 3 B. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. pp. 113–140. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-65495-4_4. ISBN 9783642654978.
Benoit, Julien; Abdala, Fernando; Manger, Paul R.; Rubidge, Bruce S. (2016-03-17). “The Sixth Sense in Mammalian Forerunners: Variability of the Parietal Foramen and the Evolution of the Pineal Eye in South African Permo-Triassic Eutheriodont Therapsids”. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 61 (4): 777–789. doi:10.4202/app.00219.2015. ISSN 0567-7920.
Emerling, Christopher A. (2017-03-01). “Archelosaurian Color Vision, Parietal Eye Loss, and the Crocodylian Nocturnal Bottleneck”. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 34 (3): 666–676. doi:10.1093/molbev/msw265. ISSN 1537-1719. PMID 27940498.
Xiong, Wei-Hong; Solessio, Eduardo C.; Yau, King-Wai (1998). “An unusual cGMP pathway underlying depolarizing light response of the vertebrate parietal-eye photoreceptor”. Nature Neuroscience. 1 (5): 359–65. doi:10.1038/1570. PMID 10196524. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
Smith, Krister T.; Bhullar, Bhart-Anjan S.; Köhler, Gunther; Habersetzer, Jörg (2 April 2018). “The Only Known Jawed Vertebrate with Four Eyes and the Bauplan of the Pineal Complex”. Current Biology. 28 (7): 1101–1107.e2. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.02.021. ISSN 0960-9822. PMID 29614279.
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