Are Bearded Dragons Social (or Weird Introverts?)
Maybe you’re thinking about keeping bearded dragon lizards as pets (Click here to see why I feel that this guide is mandatory for Bearded Dragon owners). Should you get one or multiple lizards? Do bearded dragons enjoy being social? Or are they introverted loners? Let’s find out.
So, are bearded dragons social lizards? The average bearded dragon is at least semi-social. They use various physical behaviors to communicate, including head bobbing, arm waving and beard flaring. Baby bearded dragons often participate in stacking, wherein one dragon will get on top of the other and another will get on top of that one.
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This weird stacking happens most often during basking and when several baby dragons are in the same enclosure. In general, most dragons are less social with each other and more social with humans and other pets.
Many people like to buy more than one pet at a time, but it’s always important to know whether the pet in question gets along with others of its kind or with another species.
Bearded Dragons Weird Social Behaviors?
Head bobbing is one of the social behaviors displayed by bearded dragons. The lizard will bob its head up and down in rapid succession. This is usually done in the presence of another bearded dragon.
The head bobbing serves as a warning to the other lizard to stay out of its territory. In the case of two males, it can lead to a dual with the winner becoming dominant.
Young bearded dragons often display arm waving. It’s an amusing type of behavior characterized by the dragon waving one arm above its head, almost like it’s saying hello or good-bye. In fact, it is a behavior where the dragon is indicating to another dragon that it is friendly and doesn’t wish to start a fight.
Bearded dragons are, of course, known for their beards, and one of their most distinctive behaviors is beard flaring. This happens when the dragon feels truly threatened.
It will raise its chin and flare out its beard while possibly also producing a hissing sound. The beard flaring makes the dragon look larger and more threatening to anything in its vicinity.
Another interesting social behavior of bearded dragons is known as stacking. This is mostly exhibited by baby dragons when kept in large numbers within a limited space. When one dragon lays in a prime basking spot, another dragon will come over and lay on top of that one.
Then another one may come over and get on top of the second dragon. Although this can be a harmless behavior, it can also be dangerous if there are too many dragons in the stack. The bottom dragon may have difficulty breathing. When keeping many dragons in the same space, it’s important to provide plenty of room for each dragon to find a basking spot.
A rule of thumb is that many dragons are less social with other dragons and more likely to be social with humans and other pets if introduced early enough. Dragons highly enjoy mental stimulation and may follow you around the house to see what you’re doing.
They may also form vague bonds with dogs or cats and enjoy playing simple games with them. Like all lizards, they like to bask for long periods of time, which is similar to how cats nap a lot during the day. Despite this apparently introverted behavior, most dragons are still social in their own way.
What Happens if you Mix Them With Another Species?
In the wild, bearded dragons are largely solitary. They don’t really mix with each other or with other species. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep them together in captivity. As previously mentioned, dragons tend to be territorial with each other, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get along.
It’s always important to introduce them early. When it comes to mixing them with other species, the first step is to make sure that all species come from the same type of habitat.
For example, bearded dragons come from a dry, hot climate, so you wouldn’t want to put them with an iguana, which enjoys high humidity. It’s also important that the lizards are around the same size with neither species being prey to the other.
In zoos, blue-tongued skinks and shingleback lizards might be housed with bearded dragons as all three species come from the dry Australian interior.
Another option is to pair them with another species of reptile. Tortoises can be a good choice as they are totally herbivores, and they have natural protection in their shell to avoid being attacked by other animals.
Again, the habitat should match, so make sure to get a dry climate tortoise to go with your bearded dragon. It’s also important that the enclosure be large enough to allow both reptiles plenty of space.
One more possibility is to pair the bearded dragon with a nocturnal lizard. Bearded dragons are diurnal, so they won’t be active at the same time as a nocturnal lizard such as a gecko.
What Happens if you Put Two Males Together?
As previously mentioned, bearded dragons normally live alone in the wild. The reason for this is that they have very strong territorial instincts, and this especially applies to the male dragons. You can typically mix female dragons or even a male and a female if you’re not worried about reproduction, but male dragons typically will not get along.
They will likely have fierce displays and even fights to establish their territory. If one dragon is much bigger than the other, it’s very possible for the smaller one to be killed in such a fight. Bearded dragons are more likely to get along with other species than they are with each other.
If you end up housing two dragons together, make sure to keep an eye on them. If they’re fighting or keeping the other from getting food, then you will need to separate them.
Will a Bearded Dragon Attack a Human?
The short answer is yes, but only if they’re extremely scared or angry. In general, bearded dragons are more bark than bite. They’ll posture and hiss, but won’t necessarily attack. Biting is a last resort for a bearded dragon, and it’s almost always for an extreme defensive reason.
To reduce the risk of being attacked by a bearded dragon, make sure to pay attention to its behavior. If it starts acting defensive when you attempt to touch it or handle your Bearded Dragon, then you should back off. Persisting in trying to touch or handle it when it’s mad could result in a bite. Bearded dragons also don’t necessarily like new animals or humans that it doesn’t know. It may act scared or defensive in that situation as well.
Why do Some Bearded Dragons Scratch Walls? In short, if your bearded dragon is scratching at the walls of its enclosure, it’s probably bored. As previously mentioned, bearded dragons enjoy a lot of mental stimulation.
If it’s put in a small cage without a lot of interesting things, it will eventually get bored and scratch. Dragons like to have a lot of furniture, including things to climb, things to get under, places to bask and places to cool down.
This is one reason why many owners let their dragons out to roam around the house for a bit. They tend to be very interested in what’s going on around them and what you’re doing. They may also want to exercise if there’s not enough room in the cage to run around.
What Causes Bearded Dragons to Get Stressed? All animals can experience stress, and bearded dragons are no exception. The following is a list of situations that might cause your bearded dragon to feel stressed:
- Not enough food
- Too many people around it
- A lot of loud or constant noise
- Small spaces
- Extreme temperatures
- Too much motion (i.e. when you’re handling them, don’t bounce them around)
- Other bearded dragons in the same enclosure
If you think your dragon might be stressed, take a look at its physical signs. They might puff up, have a dark chin, wide eyes or even start shaking in severe circumstances.
How Intelligent are Bearded Dragons?
It’s only in recent years that scientists have started to test the intelligence of reptiles. The early results show that they are indeed quite smart. Many bearded dragon (Click here to see why a Baby Bearded Dragon may not eat) owners compare the intelligence of their pets to that of a house-cat.
Dragons do show a strong propensity to learn things, including their names in some cases. Like a cat, one of the biggest obstacles to training is motivation.
However, bearded dragons do like to eat and can often be motivated by food. If using food to train your dragon, be careful not to overfeed them or feed them anything that they can’t eat.
You should never feed them processed foods, raw meat or captured insects. Worms should only be fed to dragons in moderation as they are very fatty and can cause the dragon to gain too much weight.