Bearded dragons are a very interactive, social species and their natural behaviors are quite interesting to watch. They have an impressive range of gestures that they use for communication, some of which they’re willing to share with us! What sort of behavior do they demonstrate? What do you, their caregiver, have to look out for?
The Head Bob – Rockin’ in the Free World or SOMETHING ELSE?
Sometimes you may notice your bearded dragon bobbing his or her head; if your dragon is female and bobbing her head, it isn’t as pronounced as the male’s movement. Go ahead, bob at your dragon – does he or she bob back? Watch closely – they may be trying to communicate!
This is also a dominance display. What does that mean? It means your bearded dragon is saying that he or she is da boss, and da boss demands respect.
Do the Waaaaave!
Once in a while, your dragon may raise one arm in the air and hold it there, or they may move it slowly in a circle. This is your dragon’s way of showing submission; they are essentially doing what Wayne & Gaurth in Wayne’s World did to Alice Cooper: “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”
Dragons will sometimes wave at you after they’ve been fed. Maybe, just maybe, they’re saying “thanks!”
Is your dragon opening his mouth really wide? Are you not entirely sure what this is for? Chances are, they’re trying to cool down. Keep an eye on a dragon that’s doing this, as it could mean that there’s a ventilation problem in your dragon’s vivarium.
Magical Color-Change Time
If your dragon’s coloring becomes darker than usual, he or she is probably stressed out or just feeling rowdy (as in angry). If they’re super pale, they’re cold or stressed at the other end of the spectrum!
You’re Looking a Little Puffy, L’il Man
When your dragon’s “beard”, the spines under his neck, puff out, and he tries to look bigger than he actually is, don’t worry. He’s bluffing. If, however, this is accompanied by tensing of the body and them being up on their legs, they aren’t bluffing, leave ‘em alone! He may do this if he’s feeling intimidated or if he wants to prove that he’s totally the alpha male, guys, totally, you believe him, right? Right?
In order for your bearded dragon to get used to you, you have to handle him often – preferably every day! These calm animals will grow to trust you as long as you keep up the contact.
Try hand-feeding your bearded dragon every so often! Don’t do it all the time, as these otherwise lazy lizards will then find more ways to become lazier, and you don’t want that. Maybe once every couple of weeks, offer them something to nibble out of your hand.
Brumation: Sort of Like Hibernation, But Not Really
Sometimes, your beardie will decide that it doesn’t want to eat much and will instead prefer to do a lot of sleeping – this is normal, and this particular cycle is called Brumation. You don’t want to feed your beardies live food at this time, offer greens instead and lower the amount of time your light is on gradually until it’s only on around 7-9 hours every day. You will also want to slowly reduce the temperature until it’s in the 60s Fahrenheit, to mimic Australian winters. This cycle normally happens between December and February, so when it’s over you can adjust lighting and temperatures until they’re back to normal and begin feeding live prey and the usual variety all over again.
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