• Beardie Bliss

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Glass Surfing

Glass surfing refers to the frantic attempts a bearded dragon makes to climb up the sides of its enclosure. The behavior can be a bit amusing to some pet owners. Yet, it can be worrying for others to watch their precious beardie scratch the glass terrarium endlessly.


Should you be concerned when your bearded dragon is glass surfing? Is your pet trying to tell you something? Is there something off inside its enclosure? These and many more questions are common when you see this behavior for the first couple of times.


Fortunately, this article will explore the various reasons a bearded dragon will engage in glass surfing behavior. Beyond that, we’ll also consider a few practical steps to minimize the behavior.


7 Reasons Your Bearded Dragon is Glass Surfing


Glass surfing happens for several reasons, but the underlying factor in nearly all cases is stress. Something is stressing out your pet if it starts to frantically rub against the sides of its enclosure. Your best bet would be to identify the stressor and eliminate it when possible.


Here are some of the common stressors that could lead to a pet bearded dragon glass surfing.


1. A New Enclosure or Recent Tank Setup Changes


Glass surfing can result from moving your little guy to a new enclosure. Bearded dragons generally prefer stability and predictability, so it can take a while for your pet to get used to its new home. In the meantime, glass surfing is your beardie’s way of letting you know that it doesn’t like change.


Also, your reptile friend can become stressed out if you make recent changes in its environment. You may have added a new piece of furniture, designated a new basking spot, or brought in new decorations. Whatever the change in setup, these creatures of habit will likely react poorly to it.


2. Your Beardie is Reacting to Its Reflection


Think of what it feels like for a reptile to see its reflection in a glass. First of all, these animals don’t even understand what glass is, so it can be very stressful for them to see “another” bearded dragon staring right back at them and even copying their every move.


Combine this apparent ignorance with their territorial tendency, and it is easy to realize why bearded dragons will feel threatened by their reflection.


3. The Enclosure is Too Small


Small enclosures can be very stressful for bearded dragons. In addition to limiting their movements, a cage or tank that’s too small can negatively affect your beardie’s growth rate and size.


A small enclosure or glass terrarium can prevent your pet bearded dragon from doing all the things that are natural to it, such as basking, hiding, climbing, digging, and more. Instead, small tanks and cages can make your pet feel somewhat imprisoned. And scratching the walls is its way of expressing dissatisfaction.


4. Your Pet Wants Out-of-Cage Time


Spending an entire day locked up inside your room is no fun. The same is true for bearded dragons. Although the reptiles are generally laid back, they are still active pets. A common mistake with new owners is to keep their beardies locked up all day, every day! This can quickly lead to boredom, stress, and illness.


Your lizard pet may want to come out of its enclosure and play with you or get in some needed exercise. The only way it can communicate this is by frantically scratching the side of its cage. In addition to scratching the cage wall, your beardie will run around in its cage repeatedly.


If you see this behavior, that’s your cue to give your buddy some out-of-cage time. This is particularly true if you have kept it locked up in its habitat for a long time.

pet bearded dragon face close up

5. Your Bearded Dragon is Hungry


The normal thing for bearded dragons to do when they are hungry in the wild is to search for food. But that’s not the case with beardies in captive conditions. They depend on their owners to provide all their needs, including food.


Unfortunately, your pet might start to feel hungry before feeding time. In this case, its instinct to search for food kicks in, but the one thing in its way is the glass wall! Unsurprisingly, the lizard will scratch the glass in an attempt to get out and look for food.


6. The Temperature is Too Hot or Too Cold


Bearded dragons thrive in heat, but that doesn’t mean they can endure extremely high temperatures. Hot conditions can make your pet very uncomfortable, which happens if you don’t monitor the temperature level or the thermostat or heat lamp in the enclosure stops working, and you didn’t know.


Also, your pet may be unable to thermoregulate if the heat in the enclosure becomes faulty. Temperatures below 65 Fahrenheit can negatively affect your bearded dragon.


It is normal behavior to try to get out of the enclosure during unfavorable conditions. If your pet is frantically trying to escape from its cage, check the temperature of the enclosure. Be sure to provide a temperature gradient in the cage to help your pet access different temperature ranges.


7. Your Beardie Feels Intimidated by Another Pet


Another pet in your household can intimidate your beardie. This can happen if the other pet stares at your lizard through the glass walls or tries to hurt it in any way. It is common for intimidated bearded dragons to start scratching the walls of their enclosure.

cat sitting with bearded dragon on bed

Should You Be Worried If Your Bearded Dragon is Glass Surfing?


Although glass surfing is generally not a sign of a happy bearded dragon, it isn’t something to be overly concerned about. This is especially true if there are no apparent threats to the reptile. Also, the pet is not likely to get hurt or injure itself from glass surfing.


You shouldn’t be worried if the bearded dragon behavior is not accompanied by any sign of lethargy or eating too little. Under normal circumstances, the pet will carry on its normal activities after glass surfing for a while.


However, continuously attempting to climb up its tank can increase your beardie’s stress level. And while your pet won’t likely hurt itself in the process, you should see a vet if you think your beardie may be ill.


In the meantime, you can prevent or at least minimize the glass dancing behavior using the steps outlined below.


How to Stop Glass Surfing

  • Add new décor and rearrange the cage setting as slowly as possible. Introduce items one at a time and let your lizard get used to them before adding another item.

  • Provide opportunities for play, stimulation, and entertainment. This will prevent boredom and all its associated ills.

  • Ensure the tank is always in tip-top condition when it comes to lighting, heating, and humidity. Install a thermostat and hygrometer, and add a couple of thermometers to help you monitor the tank conditions in the cool spot and basking area.

  • Provide a bigger tank for your little buddy. Do not be fooled by its small size, even at a young age; these laidback reptiles can be very active when they want to.

  • Make a new enclosure look like the former tank as much as possible. This will minimize stress.

  • Provide food and water at the right times. Have someone else feed your pet dragon if you aren’t available. Keeping your pet hungry is not healthy in any way.

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