• Beardie Bliss

How To Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Happy

Trying to tell whether or not your reptile is happy can be tricky since they are not very expressive animals. It even gets worse when you have a laidback reptile like a bearded dragon. It can be difficult to read your pet, and in turn, a bit confusing to figure out how to build trust with your lizard companion.


To help, we will show you typical bearded dragon behavior that tells you the pet is happy. Let’s delve in.


8 Signs of a Happy Bearded Dragon


1. Licking You or the Air


In the wild, bearded dragons lick the air to smell their environment, especially when content. It can also be a sign that they want to mate. If your dragon licks you when you pick it up, chances are it is very happy and even likes being around you.


In many cases, your beardie will increase the licking behavior as it becomes more familiar with you and the environment. It can also lick the air to show that it is ready for a bath, an adventure, or wants to eat. Generally, this behavior is a good sign and shows that your pet is happy.


2. Your Beardie Enjoys Being Held


Although bearded dragons don’t mind being held, they will try to get away from someone they are not familiar with or when they are unhappy. However, if your pet relaxes in your hand when you pick it up, it is probably happy. You will know for sure that the pet lizard is comfortable, happy, and feels secure when it crawls onto your shoulder.


In some cases, the reptile will fall asleep in your hand. Nothing says “I feel secure with you” than when your beardie curdles up in your hand and falls asleep, even if it is a brief nap.


3. The Bearded Dragon Looks Healthy with Bright Alert Eyes


Bearded dragons are prey animals, meaning they are always highly alert in their natural environment in the wild. Although there are fewer threats in captivity, these reptiles still maintain their instinct to be highly aware of their surroundings.


A happy beardie will have bright eyes darting back and forth and all over the place almost constantly unless they are asleep. While it may seem as if they are tensed or overly cautious, it is their way of feeling relaxed.

bearded dragon relaxing on green hammock

4. Displaying Normal Beardie Behavior – Basking, Eating, Pooping, and Sleeping


It is normal for a healthy and happy pet bearded dragon to eagerly show up at mealtimes and eat all or most of its food. It shows that they have a healthy appetite and don’t have any issues with digestion. Regular pooping is also a good sign.


These reptiles don’t regulate their body temperature, so it is normal for them to bask in the sunlight in the wild or the basking spot inside their bearded dragon tank. If your pet is basking rather frequently, it is enjoying the process of getting vitamin D. This keeps it healthy and in a good mood.


In addition to these normal behaviors, your pet will maintain a regular wake-sleep cycle, sleeping for around 8 to 12 hours every night. Sluggish behavior, refusing to eat, or sleeping too little might indicate something off. This is particularly the case if their droppings become runny or have an awful smell.


Also, keep an eye out for signs of illness if your pet lizard is hiding away too often. Reptiles, particularly this species of lizard, love to bask. If yours is not doing so, you should be concerned.


5. Your Bearded Dragon is Calm


Bearded dragons are among the calmest and most laidback reptiles. If they show any sign of aggressiveness, it is because they are unhappy with something in their environment or are stressed.


For this reason, if your beardie starts to puff, bob its head, or hiss, it shows the pet is not in a good mood. It is trying to warn you to stay away. It may also be trying to protect itself from something it feels threatened by or stressed about.


On the other hand, a relaxed and calm beardie is generally happy or content with its environment.


6. Closing Its Eyes


As mentioned earlier, bearded dragons are highly alert reptiles because they need to be constantly aware of their surroundings. However, if your beardie closes its eyes when you hold it or pet it, it is a sign that it feels safe and secure around you. It can temporarily let its guard down because it is sure you will protect it from any harm.


7. Your Beardie’s Skin Turns Bright


Bearded dragons might not be very vocally expressive like other household pets, but one of the ways they communicate their moods is through their skin color. You can tell if your pet bearded dragon is happy by merely observing the shade of its skin.


A bright skin color indicates a happy pet. The color might turn a brighter shade of yellow or orange, depending on the natural skin color. If this happens, you can be sure your beardie is in a happy and good mood.


Keep in mind that bright skin color might also occur if your pet is stressed, reacting to the light and temperature in its environment. However, a bright skin color generally indicates happiness in the absence of these factors.


On the other hand, your reptile is in a bad mood if the skin color seems to turn a darker shade. This is especially the case if this behavior is accompanied by puffing, hissing, and rapid head bobbing. At such times, it is best to leave the pet alone or try to remove whatever is causing the negative reaction in its surroundings.


8. Your Beardie Wants to Come Out and Play


Bearded dragons are usually sedentary and gentle reptiles and aren’t what you’d describe as highly active pets. However, they can show signs of high energy when excited and happy.


One of the ways they do this is by standing on their hind limbs and “begging” to come out of their enclosure by scratching the glass walls. This behavior is known as glass surfing.


Generally, only a happy bearded dragon that enjoys outside-tank time will want to come out and play. Conversely, an anxious, stressed, or unhappy beardie will prefer to stay inside its secured enclosure – alone in its solitary life without being bothered by humans.


Commonly Mistaken Behaviors

bearded dragon playing in water tub

It is common for a newbie bearded dragon owner to mistake some behaviors as happy signs. Understanding these behaviors can help you avoid doing things that will inadvertently you’re your pet under stress.


These commonly mistaken behaviors include:

  • Winking the eyes: If your dragon pet continues to blink or wink its eyes, it may have nothing to do with being excited or happy. Instead, it might be a sign of an eye infection. It is best to visit a vet if you observe this behavior.

  • Head bobbing: Not all head bobbing shows that your beardie is happy to see you. A head bob, especially when it happens rapidly, can mean that your pet is ready to mate or is challenging another beardie in its territory.

  • Waving the arms: A beardie waving its arm might appear cute, but that isn’t necessarily an expression of happiness. It could indicate submission or readiness to mate, particularly in females. Thankfully, arm-waving isn’t something bad, so you should not worry about it.

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