What Does It Mean When a Bearded Dragon Licks You?
If you have ever been licked by your Bearded Dragon, you may be confused (Click here for my favorite guide to decode Bearded Dragons). For that reason, I will explain the real reason why they are doing this.
What does it mean when a bearded dragon licks you? It typically means he is using his tongue to check you out. He uses his tongue to smell and get a feel for his surrounding environment. In reality, he is not really licking you, he is flicking his tongue to gather microscopic particles.
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Now that you know why they are licking you, let me go on to explain the weird science of their tongues, other things they lick to lick, why some people misunderstand its true meaning and much more. Keep reading…
What do mean, he is not really licking you?
If you have been freaked out, wondering why your Beardie is licking you, don’t be, I have the reasons why he is doing this. The good news is, he is not planning on eating you. And, no, he doesn’t fancy you 😉
This is why, it’s Not really Licking
Firstly, it may seem like your Beardie is licking you like you are a strawberry lollypop, but in reality, it is not really licking. What? Let me explain.
The reality is, it’s more of a way for your Beardie to smell and get a feel for its surroundings. And, unfortunately, this includes your physical body.
Look at the “flick a da wris’!”
Ever heard of that rap song, “Look at da flick a da wris’!”, well, this is kinda similar, ha! Your Beardie is actually flicking its tongue to take in its surroundings.
The “Weird” Science of a Beadies Tongue
Maybe this fact of “not really licking” is a bit too much to digest, right? Well, good news. I am going to explain this in a more scientific way, to make you understand it more.
When your Beardie flicks his tongue, there are really small (micro size) particles that collect on its tongue. Its tongue is then pushed into an upper part of its mouth.
The Jacobson’s Organ
This upper part is actually connected to an important sensor, its called the Jacobson’s (or vomeronasal) Organ. This organ is critical because it decodes this information from its tongue into an understanding of its surroundings. All of this is done in milliseconds, so its way too fast to see in action.
The connection between their tongue & the environment
Maybe you are wondering why they are so curious about their environment. Or, wondering what is the desire to keep licking and understanding its environment. Let me help to explain.
Understand this, in captivity Bearded Dragons (Click here to see how smart a Bearded Dragon is) are far from their natural habitat. Which is typically deserts or even woodlands.
Therefore, they are always curious to see what’s around them. Wouldn’t you if you just arrived in a strange, unknown town?
You will notice this behavior of licking, is even more prominent in Baby Beardies. They will be licking and decoding their environment on a regular basis.
Other Reasons why they do this
Apart from their familiarity with their environment, they use their tongues to work out temperature. You know, how hot or cold is this item or place. You with me?
And, in addition to this, they will always be curious to understand the texture of an item. Their tongue will tell them how rough or smooth an item is for example.
What do Bearded Dragons like to lick?
Apart from licking on you. You may find that your Beardie will like to lick on other members of your family.
Items in their habitat
Apart from people, they also like to lick on items. Especially items in their habitat. This may be if you recently added some item such as a hideaway spot or a basking area, for instance.
You may also notice that they lick food items. This is not really because they can’t wait to eat it. It is more of a pre-requisite to eating it. To get an idea of its smell, texture, etc. The human equivalent of this is smelling something before you eat it, have you ever done that?
Misconceptions of “Fear Licking”
There is a myth in circulation that Beardies lick in this manner due to fear. I am not sure where this rumor came from. But the reality is, its not correct.
As you have read here, they are licking for familiarization with their environment, understanding textures, etc. Not, due to fear.
The reason why his Tongue is sticking out
Have you ever noticed your Beardie just sitting there with its tongue hanging out? I am not talking about licking, just hanging out. If yes, you may be curious or concerned. Let me help to explain why this is happening.
Essentially there are 3 main reasons for this:
Let me unpack each of these potential issues, for your understanding.
If you see your Beardie with its tongue out, sitting in its enclosure. The chances are its hot. Especially if he is panting at the same time. If this is the case you need to check the temperature in the enclosure.
Especially in the basking area. This is a common area to overlook. If you see the temperature is over 110F, you definitely have an issue here.
Aggression & Stress
If its tongue is out and he is also making weird sounds. Especially if he is also puffing his beard. The chances are he is getting aggressive. He is likely trying to fend off a perceived predator. Or, feels stressed by something.
But, what could be stressing him? Good question, it could be as simple as new people, that he is not familiar with. Another animal (your pet cat maybe?).
In this section, I will answer some related questions to Bearded Dragons. If you feel there are some questions that are not covered, feel free to drop a comment below.
Q: Why is my beardie licking his lips?
If you have noticed that your Beardie is licking his lips and looking rampant. There is a good reason for this. The chances are, he is feeling thirsty.
This could be an indication that you are not providing enough water for him. However, providing water for your Beardie is not that straight forward. Why?
Simple, they will not just drink from a bowl of still water. They prefer water that simulates their natural habitat. Basically, flowing like rainwater.
The best way to simulate this is to use a dropper, for the short term. But on a longer-term basis, you should consider a water dispenser (Click here to see this great dispenser on Amazon).
Q: Why do bearded dragons flatten out?
If you have ever seen a Bearded Dragon flatten his stomach, you may be confused, and, wondering why this is happening. There are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, this could be a defensive mechanism. If he feels threatened, he will flatten his stomach. Why? Because he feels that, in this state, he feels bigger and more of a challenge to his predator.
The objective, in this instance, is to avoid confrontation. He is hoping that his enlarged physical appearance will make his predator think twice and leave him be.
Not Feeling Great
Another reason for this could be due to illness. Hopefully, it’s not because of this. But if he feels ill or lacks energy, he may do this. The best thing is to check in with your vet to check on him if you think this could be the case.
Keeping His Body Temperature Regulated
This behavior of flattening its stomach can also be a ploy to regulate its body temperature. If you see your Beardie sprawled out on your basking rock, then the chances are this is the case.
Lizards are cold-blooded (Click here to see what color a Bearded Dragon blood is), so they have to switch between hot and cool climates to keep their temperature at the optimum level.