Recognizing the cause of an angry bearded dragon is an important skill that all owners develop over time. Understanding the reason why they’re mad can help you provide better care and make sure they’re healthy.
But figuring this out isn’t always straightforward. Sometimes it’s obvious, but many times it isn’t!
This guide will help you identify why your bearded dragon is angry, and show you how to calm them down.
Table of Contents
- Signs Of An Angry Bearded Dragon
- Reasons They Might Be Mad
- 1. You’re Handling Them Too Much
- 2. They’re Shedding
- 3. It’s Mating Season
- 4. Their Habitat Isn’t Set Up Properly
- 5. You’re Keeping Them With Other Beardies
- 6. They’re Bothered By Other Animals In Your Home
- 7. You’ve Changed Something In Their Habitat
- 8. There’s Too Much Noise Near Their Enclosure
- 9. It’s Too Warm In Their Enclosure
- 10. They Aren’t Used To Their New Enclosure
- 11. They’re Sick Or Injured
- Wrapping Up
Signs Of An Angry Bearded Dragon
While bearded dragons can’t tell us they’re angry, they sure can show the emotion. Naturally expressive creatures, beardies can display a range of warning signs to let you know that they’re mad or stressed.
Many owners mistake these signs as nothing more than play, but they are the lizard’s only way to communicate dissatisfaction or stress. The first step in providing relief and making things better is to understand when something is wrong.
Here are a few warning signs to look out for:
Expert Tip: It’s worth pointing out that some of these signs don’t mean they’re angry 100% of the time. To help you tell the difference, we’ve linked to each of our corresponding guides in each section.
Puffing up in an attempt to look larger is another outward display of aggression. Typically accompanied by an open-mouth gaze, the bearded dragon will use this behavior as a warning sign. The reptiles might do this because they feel unsafe or against another bearded dragon to show dominance.
If the area around the beard becomes black, your bearded dragon is definitely feeling stressed. Usually only a temporary issue, it can occur suddenly when angry or threatened.
This is a fairly common sight that many owners misread. Glass surfing is when the reptile claws at the glass and darts around the enclosure as if they’re trying to climb out. While this isn’t always the case, sometimes that’s exactly what your beardie is trying to do. They are not feeling safe or comfortable in the enclosure, so they want to get out.
Holding Their Mouth Open
An open-mouth display is one of the possible signs of an angry bearded dragon. Your beardie may hold its mouth open when you or another animal is nearby. It’s a defense mechanism that’s supposed to make the reptile look more threatening to perceived threats.
Fast Head Bobbing
Head bobbing is when the reptile moves its head up and down in quick jerks. This is sometimes a sign of dominance and competition. You usually see it between males around breeding time. But if your lizard views you as a threat to its dominance, it can direct the bobs towards you, too.
Like a snake hissing to ward off invaders, bearded dragons will vocalize when they feel threatened and angry. Along with the sound, you might see an open mouth and a puffed-up beard. If you push them any further, a bite will follow.
Finally, there’s biting. Biting is usually a last-ditch effort from the bearded dragon to get away from you. It’s the ultimate expression of anger and protection against a possible threat. Biting is also a fairly common warning sign to other bearded dragons.
Reasons They Might Be Mad
Learning to read your bearded dragon’s body language and understanding their emotions is only half the battle.
There are several reasons why they could get angry. In most cases, the emotion is a byproduct of stress.
Here are some of the most common issues that will put your bearded dragon in a sour mood.
1. You’re Handling Them Too Much
For the most part, beardies don’t mind being handled. They’re a personable reptile that has no problem cuddling up to you. But like any other living creature, beardies need some alone time, too.
Bearded dragons all have distinct personalities. Some are more welcoming to handling than others. However, even those that enjoy it usually don’t want to be manhandled around the clock.
Most owners will experience some aggression if they try to hold their lizard directly after feeding. These reptiles need to bask to properly digest their food. When you take them out, you’re disrupting that process.
Expert Tip: Overhandling among strangers is another issue. Bearded dragons can start to become reserved or mad around strange faces and over-excited children.
2. They’re Shedding
Shedding is a necessary, albeit uncomfortable, process for many bearded dragons. Some reptiles shed their old skin without any problems. But others will have some trouble, resulting in all-around discomfort.
When this happens, normally calm bearded dragons can become quite stressed (understandably). They’d rather be left alone during this time, so you might see some signs of anger whenever you approach.
There are some things you can do to ease the shedding process. A good diet with increased humidity levels will help to address some of the problems they’re experiencing. Beyond making minor changes, you should just let your beardie get through the shedding cycle on their own.
3. It’s Mating Season
Bearded dragons can be a real nightmare around breeding season. They can’t help it! Hormones within the body start to go a bit crazy, which can result in them getting angry much faster.
Don’t be surprised if you see your beardie becoming aggressive and territorial during this period in time. If you have other beardies nearby, you might see them fighting or competing for dominance.
Males are the biggest offenders around the mating season. But even females will get a bit short-tempered as they mature.
There’s nothing you can do here. You just have to wait it out. Your beardie will calm down soon enough!
4. Their Habitat Isn’t Set Up Properly
A bearded dragon is happiest when it’s in a natural habitat setup that mimics the environment in Australia. If the enclosure is slightly off in any way, these reptiles will know!
Incorrect setups are quite common with new beardie owners. We recommend doing some research if anger persists. It might be something as simple as being able to see its reflection that’s causing a problem.
In most cases, something missing in their habitat is what results in an angry bearded dragon. Do you have a hiding box to give the bearded dragon shelter? Is the lighting schedule correct? Those small details make all the difference.
5. You’re Keeping Them With Other Beardies
It’s not uncommon to see several bearded dragons together at the pet store. While multiple reptiles can co-exist, it’s not the ideal situation.
In the wild, beardies are solitary creatures. They usually don’t live in packs.
When you keep groups in captivity, you’re forcing a social hierarchy on them. Unless you have a massive cage, the most dominant reptile is always going to get the best basking spot or first dibs on the food.
Anger and stress is more likely when you have two or males in the same enclosure. However, groupings of one male and two females can be a problem, too. If you keep several lizards together, you must keep an eye on them to keep aggression to a minimum.
6. They’re Bothered By Other Animals In Your Home
Have a cat or dog in the house? In the eyes of your bearded dragon, your other pets are huge predators just waiting to take them out!
Many beardies develop a strong fear of other pets. So, they start to get defensive and angry.
Expert Tip: More dominant bearded dragons may show no signs of fear at all! Instead, they will think that your pet is encroaching on their territory anytime they approach the glass. They will often show signs of dominance in an attempt to intimidate the intruding pet.
7. You’ve Changed Something In Their Habitat
Bearded dragons like familiarity. Once they get settled into their new home, they want it to stay the way it is.
If you suddenly make a drastic change to the habitat, your beardie could start to feel stressed and angry. As you can see, it doesn’t take much to throw a bearded dragon off.
Something as simple as changing a dish or enclosure ornament can cause trouble. Even new sights around the habitat will cause some undue stress. If you move them to a new home entirely, it could take several weeks for them to get settled in!
Luckily, this anger usually subsides as the lizard gets more comfortable.
8. There’s Too Much Noise Near Their Enclosure
Most don’t realize it, but bearded dragons are very sensitive to sound. Jarring noises will easily scare the reptile, resulting in some anger. Loud bangs or high-volume televisions disrupt the lizard’s ability to relax.
Like humans, beardies don’t like to be disturbed! So, do your best to keep noise levels normal.
Expert Tip: It’s not just the noise that’s the problem. Vibrations can be irritating, too. They can feel intense vibrations in their feet, which is not the most comfortable experience.
9. It’s Too Warm In Their Enclosure
We all know someone who gets a bit angsty in the heat. Bearded dragons are the same way. While they come from warm climates in the wild, these reptiles do have their limits!
Beardies need a meticulously planned temperature gradient. Ideal temperatures in the basking spot should be between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. On the cool side, they prefer 75 to 80 degrees.
If temperatures rise beyond these acceptable ranges, you’re going to end up with quite an angry bearded dragon!
Temperatures can rise pretty quickly in the summertime. This is true even in the air-conditioned climate of your home. Make sure that you’re using thermometers to keep track of the temperature gradient at all times.
10. They Aren’t Used To Their New Enclosure
Don’t be surprised if you witness some angry behaviors when you first bring your beardie home. You’re putting them in a brand-new enclosure they aren’t used to. As we said earlier, bearded dragons don’t like change.
These reptiles need time to settle. They have to get used to seeing you and living in this new habitat you created.
The adjustment period can vary wildly based on your lizard’s personality. For some, it only takes a few days before they calm down. For others, it can take weeks! Just be patient.
11. They’re Sick Or Injured
Illness and physical injury can also make your bearded dragon mad. No animal likes to be in pain.
Oftentimes, beardies will seem fine at first. But the moment you pick them up, they might lash out and try to bite you because of the pain they are feeling.
There’s no shortage of potential health problems that affect bearded dragons. Your reptile could be suffering from internal problems like impaction, stomach pains, or even metabolic bone disease.
Expert Tip: The issue could even be something minor like a scrape or broken claw. Whatever the case may be, take the anger as a cry for help! If the issue is serious, visit your vet to address it.
As you can see, once you know why your bearded dragon is angry it becomes rather straightforward to calm them down.
These reptiles are very transparent and are doing their best to tell you what’s wrong. All you need to do is listen.
If you have any other tricks for calming an angry bearded dragon that you think we should hear about, feel free to send them over. We love learning what other experienced owners are doing!