Bearded dragons can experience stress and anxiety due to various factors. Stress can affect their health, behavior, and mood, so it is important to know how to calm them down and make them feel comfortable.
In this post, we will discuss some of the common signs of stress in bearded dragons, the possible causes of stress, and some effective ways to calm them down. We will also provide some links to scholarly research articles that support our arguments.
Signs of Stress in Bearded Dragons
Some common signs of stress in bearded dragons are:
- Darkening of skin or beard (also known as stress marks)
- Hiding or trying to escape
- Not basking
- Flattening of body or puffing up of beard
- Head bobbing or arm waving
- Loss of appetite or weight
- Aggression or biting
- Glass surfing (scratching at the glass walls of the enclosure)
If you notice any of these signs in your bearded dragon, you should try to identify and eliminate the source of stress as soon as possible.
How to Calm a Stressed Bearded Dragon
There are many ways to calm a stressed bearded dragon. Here are some tips that may help:
1. Reduce Handling
If you see any signs of stress in your bearded dragon, it is better to leave him alone for some time.
Handling can be stressful for some bearded dragons, especially if they are not used to it or if they are sick or injured. Only handle your bearded dragon when necessary and do it gently and calmly.
When handling your beardie, instead of forcefully restraining it when he resists your handling, why not try a more playful approach?
You can create a mini-hand treadmill by allowing him to walk or run across your palm, and then smoothly transition him onto your other hand. Repeat this process in a fun and engaging way, as if you are playing a game with him.
This technique not only provides a great workout for beardie but also allows him to feel more in control and less trapped. It’s a win-win situation where your pet can get some exercise, and you can bond with him in an enjoyable way.
So next time your dragon resists your handling, try this hand-treadmill technique instead, and watch him happily trot across your hands!
2. Minimize Sensory Overload
Bearded dragons can get overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, sudden movements, or unfamiliar objects. Try to keep their environment quiet and stable and avoid placing their enclosure near sources of disturbance such as TVs, radios, windows, doors, etc.
3. Get them Used to Your Scent
To help your dragon get rid of stress is by making them used to your scent. Making the beardie comfortable with your existence will help to remove half of the burden.
Bearded dragons can recognize their owners by smell and may feel more comfortable around them. You can place a piece of clothing that has your scent on it near their enclosure or rub your hands with some bedding material before handling them.
4. Give them a Warm Bath
Giving a nice and warm bath help reduce the stress level in bearded dragons.
A warm bath can help relax your bearded dragon’s muscles and soothe their skin. You can fill a shallow tub with lukewarm water (about 85 to 92°F) and gently place your bearded dragon in it for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure their head is above water at all times and dry them off afterwards.
5. Offer Food Daily
Food can be a great way to bond with your bearded dragon and make them feel more secure. You can offer them their favorite treats such as insects, fruits, vegetables, etc., every day and hand-feed them if they accept it.
6. NO Roommates
Bearded dragons are solitary animals that do not like sharing their space with other bearded dragons or other pets. Having another animal in their enclosure can cause territorial disputes, competition for resources, or injuries. You should house your bearded dragon alone in a spacious enclosure that meets their needs.
7. Own Reflection
Did you know that bearded dragons can get stressed out if they see their own reflection in the glass of their tank? That’s right! When they see their reflection, they may mistake it for another bearded dragon and become anxious.
Make sure to keep the glass of their tank clean and free of any reflective materials that could cause them undue stress.
8. Use a Pleasant Tone
Bearded dragons can pick up on tension in your tone and may react accordingly. You should speak softly and kindly to your bearded dragon when you interact with them and avoid yelling or scolding them.
9. Approach from the Sides
Make sure to approach your beardie from the side or front, where they can see you coming. This way, they’ll feel less stressed and more in control of the situation.
It’s important to keep in mind that these creatures have evolved to be wary of predators, and approaching them from above can trigger this instinct. They may perceive you as a threat and react defensively.
10. Don’t Use a Small Tank
Keeping bearded dragons in cramped and small enclosures can lead to stress and anxiety, negatively affecting their physical and mental health.
If you notice your bearded dragon showing signs of stress, such as loss of appetite or excessive hiding, it may be time to consider upgrading their living space. Moving them to a larger cage with ample room to move around and explore can make a world of difference in their demeanor and overall happiness.
Imagine yourself being stuck in a small and dull room with no space to stretch your legs or entertain yourself. It’s no wonder you’d feel stressed and unhappy! The same goes for our bearded dragon friends.
Bearded dragons need a large enclosure to move around freely and showcase their natural behaviors, such as basking under the heat lamp or climbing on a branch.
Read More >> Recommended Bearded Dragon Cages.
11. Don’t Let their Habitat be Boring
Keeping the bearded dragon entertained will keep him healthy and stress-free. Try introducing sticks, stones, or other accessories in your bearded dragon’s cage to keep him entertained. Add spacious basking areas in the cage; moreover, your bearded dragon should have an approach to the water.
Here is a list of accessories and decorations you can use in your bearded dragon enclosure.
Causes of Stress in Bearded Dragons
There are many possible causes of stress in bearded dragons, the most common are mentioned below.
Moving your bearded dragon to a new home or enclosure can cause relocation stress that may last for several days or weeks until they adjust to their new surroundings.
2. Sensory Overload
Exposing your bearded dragon to too much noise, lighting, or activity can overwhelm their senses and make them feel anxious or irritated.
3. Lack of Familiarity
Introducing your bearded dragon to unfamiliar people, animals, or objects can make them feel nervous or threatened until they get used to them.
4. Improper Environment
Providing your bearded dragon with an inadequate enclosure size, substrate, temperature, humidity, or decoration can make them feel uncomfortable or unhappy.
5. Poor Diet
Feeding your bearded dragon with inappropriate food items, quantities, or frequencies can affect their nutrition and digestion and cause health problems or stress.
6. Illness or Injury
Suffering from any physical condition such as parasites, infections, wounds, or deformities can cause pain or discomfort and affect their behavior and mood.
7. Rapid Change in Lighting
The bearded dragon might feel anxious; if the light is fluctuating or the light setting is inappropriate, the difference in lighting will cause agitation in the beardie. Learn more about bearded dragon cage lighting.
8. Tapping on the Tank’s Walls
One of the reasons why your dragon gets exhausted and stressed is the tapping on the glass walls of the terrarium. This is often done by the overly excited kids at your home, who tend to run around the beardie’s cage and tap it to see the bearded dragon moving around. The bearded dragon responds to the taps; however, it gets very stressful for the beardie.
9. Unwelcome Roomies
Housing two bearded dragons together will always make them stressed. Bearded dragons are territorial creatures and like to live alone.
Read More >> Causes of Stress in Bearded Dragons
The bearded dragons are very sensitive creatures and can feel stressed very easily. Keep an open eye for the symptoms that your beardie is exhibiting. Loss of appetite, less movement, and no physical activity indicate stress in the beardie. At the same time, the primary reasons for being stressed can be feeling of threat and danger.
Keep the environment around your dragon as calm and quiet as possible to keep him healthy and happy.