• Beardie Bliss

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Hold His Mouth Open?

Updated: Aug 17, 2021




Why Does My Bearded Dragon Hold His Mouth Open? Great question! Let's jump in:


Anyone who is a bearded dragon owner notices that dragons often open their mouths and keep them open for a long time. Here in this article, we have listed some reasons as to why the dragons keep their mouth open. It is quite common for Bearded Dragons to hold their mouths open. This is also called "Gaping." Gaping is usually nothing to be worried about.



So why do dragons gape? The most standard reason why dragons leave their mouths open is to regulate their temperature. Dragons do not sweat and hence when they open their mouth they reach their ideal temperature and stop themselves from getting hotter. Dragons often have their mouths open when they are basking.



Gaping can occur for a few different reasons:



To Regulate Body Temperature


Gaping is very common when bearded dragons are basking. When beards are basking and have reached their optimum body temperature of 95-110 degrees, they will hold their mouths open to regulate their body temp. Gaping allows excess heat to dissipate. This is quite similar to human sweating and is very normal. Bearded dragons are smart reptiles and they display brilliant behaviors that help them solve various problems. Even though gaping is normal in most scenarios, you should still make sure you are offering the correct temperature to your dragon. If their habitat is too warm then it can make it tough for them to regulate their body temperature and hence you must offer a cool spot to them that will let them cool down once they have reached their ideal temperature.



To Stretch Their Beard


Bearded Dragons may open their mouths to stretch/puff up their beard. This helps beardies shed their skin. This behavior is usually followed by shedding. Beard stretching does not always take place prior to shedding. At times, the dragon may just stretch its beard because it feels like so.



To Show Aggression


A less common reason Bearded Dragons may puff up their beard as a defense mechanism and show dominance. This sign of aggression is usually accompanied by head bobbing, hissing, and a black, puffed-up beard. This can happen when a bearded dragon is placed in the same terrarium as another beardie. Bearded Dragons prefer to be alone. This can also happen if your dragon feels threatened by another animal in the home such as a dog or cat.



Overall, gaping is common and usually nothing to be worried about. However, if gaping is accompanied by labored breathing, aggressive behavior, or other signs of stress it could point to a bigger issue. As always, if concerned about the health of your beardie it's important to reach out to a certified veterinarian.



They Need A Cool Spot With The Basking Area


Your dragon needs a cool spot to regulate its temperature. It is just as vital as the basking spot. If the temperature is not ideal then the dragon must be gaping because he or she cannot leave the basking temperature for a cool spot when it needs a cooler environment.



Keeping Their Mouth Open Because Of Another Dragon


If you have multiple bearded dragons in the same habitat then it can cause some problems. Bearded dragons are solitary animals and if they are sharing their habitat with another bearded dragon then it can result in the display of powers. One dragon will become dominant and will open his or her mouth to showcase its aggression and display how tough and mean it is. This is a common reaction from bearded dragons that are sharing a living space. If you are housing multiple bearded dragons together then you must split them as soon as you can or else you will notice a lot of this behavior.



The less aggressive dragon will eventually become extremely stressed, he or she will lose their appetite and since the dominant bearded dragon will mostly not allow them to bask, it will affect their health as well. Sometimes, if dragons do not get along, you may have to move them to different rooms, not just different habitats so they cannot see each other and stop fighting for dominance. However, if you cannot afford to buy two different tanks then you may have to give one dragon away. Housing two dragons that are fighting is not a good option. It may feel cruel but it is actually a kind thing to do since you cannot keep a dominant dragon with another dragon in the same tank as it will ruin both their healths.



Other Animals Causing Aggression


Gaping can be common if there are different pets like dogs and cats in your house. Bearded dragons can show aggression towards them by opening their mouth. If a dragon is uncomfortable with a bigger pet at home then he or she will be scared and intimated but some bearded dragons can feel aggressive as well. If your dragon opens its mouth in an angry way towards your other pets once in a while then it should not be a cause for concern since your pet may have acted in a weird way to make your dragon feel uncomfortable. But if this happens regularly and every time your dog enters your room then you will have to take some action since so much stress is not good for a bearded dragon.



If your bearded dragon opens his or her mouth every time your other pet enters your room then you must stop your pets from entering your dragon's room. It can be difficult especially if the dragon is housed in a common room. You can also move your dragon to another room where your dog or cat may rarely visit. It can be difficult moving a dragon's tank especially if it is big and may not fit in another room but you have to do whatever you can do to make your pets feel comfortable. The important thing is to do what will make all your pets feel safe and happy.



Children's Toys and Small Objects


It may seem weird but small things and children's toys like socks can make your dragon act aggressively. Your dragon can mistake a tiny toy for a predator and hence he or she will act aggressively while keeping its mouth open to display its behavior. You may notice other behaviors as well such as a hissing sound. Sometimes your dragon can also find new accessories threatening.



Clothing and toys can be moved quickly and hence they will not cause a problem for a long time but if an accessory is placed in one spot for a long time then it can be troublesome. If you feel your dragon constantly opens its mouth and looks in one direction then consider moving ornaments away and notice their behavior.



Placing The Habitat Near A Window


Placing the habitat near a window can be amazing for your dragon. They will be stimulated by the outside environment. They will see clouds moving and trees rustling which will emulate their wild habitat. However, depending on your location, it can be a scary world and you may end up noticing your bearded dragon getting angry towards something they see outside their window. Your dragon can feel threatened by birds and cats and they can act aggressively with their open mouth. If this happens rarely then you have nothing to feel worried about but if you see this behavior every day then you must move the tank away from your window.



Keeping An Open Mouth in Mating Season


There are some times in the year where your dragon will feel hormonal and will showcase aggressive behavior. They can keep an open mouth and showcase aggressive behavior for no reason at all. If you try to handle them in such situations then they can get aggressive towards you as well. They can become territorial and aggressive when pets or people come near their habitat. This is their natural behavior and you cannot do anything about it. Once their hormones are settled, they will automatically go back to normal.



Respiratory Infection


Mostly when a dragon has his or her mouth open for a long time it is because it is trying to regulate its body temperature. But there is a tiny chance that it has a respiratory infection. If a dragon has an infection it is mostly due to the tank's humidity. They enjoy low humidity in their natural habitat and hence if the tank has high humidity then it causes problems. You can monitor the tank's humidity by using a hygrometer. This way you will be able to check the tank's humidity at all times.



If the tank's humidity is more than 40 percent for a lot of time then it may not be perfect for your dragon. You must know everything about what can increase the tank's humidity such as a bark as decor may enhance the humidity because it holds moisture. If you are unable to maintain a low humidity level in the tank then you should remove everything except the water bowl that holds moisture. You can place a small water bowl in the tank if you have humidity issues. All the water sources and bowls must be kept away from the basking bulb and other heat sources as that will increase the level of humidity as well.



Usually maintaining a low humidity level is simple but it heavily depends on your home and location. If you find it difficult to maintain a low level of humidity even after implementing all the steps then you should consider buying a dehumidifier. If you believe your dragon has an infection then you should get him or her checked by a vet.



Conclusion


We hope we have answered your question as to why dragons keep their mouths open. We have addressed all kinds of situations and how you can approach them. Usually, a dragon will leave its mouth open to regulate its temperature, hence it is vital to ensure the tank has the correct temperature. There are many other scenarios where the dragon can showcase such behavior and hence knowing about them will help you make a wise decision about what you can do. If you are worried about your dragon then it is always wise to get them checked by a Vet.

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