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How to Tell if Your Bearded Dragon is Happy and Likes You

Nicole Cosgrove

Reptiles don’t usually show affection and happiness the same way that other animals kept as pets do. Dogs and cats make it easy to know if they’re happy and if they like you. Your bearded dragon isn’t going to purr or wag its tail to let you know its happy, so how can you tell that your bearded dragon is happy? What are the things that your bearded dragon needs to be happy and healthy? How do you know if your bearded dragon likes you? It’s our responsibility as pet owners to provide our pets the best lives possible, so here’s what you need to know about your bearded dragon’s happiness.

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What Do Bearded Dragons Need to Be Happy?

bearded dragon in rock_TeeFarm_Pixabay
Image Credit: TeeFarm, Pixabay

Obviously, part of the health and happiness of your bearded dragon is going to be directly linked to the environment they live in. Make sure you’re providing your bearded dragon an appropriate enclosure with safe substrate, temperatures, basking areas, hiding places, and food and clean water. A healthy diet with fresh fruits and veggies and proteins like crickets will keep your beardie feeling strong and happy. Other things that bearded dragons need to be happy are an enriching environment and the ability to safely explore outside of their enclosure and routine handling to help them feel safe with you.

Is Your Bearded Dragon Happy?

orange bearded dragon_Rangga A Firmansyah, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Rangga A Firmansyah, Shutterstock

One of the easiest ways to tell if your bearded dragon is happy is to watch for air licking. This is a way for your beardie to “smell” the air, which they will do if they think something they enjoy is happening. This may be when they think they’re going to go exploring or be fed. Showing curiosity or interest in people and objects can also indicate happiness or a low level of stress. If your bearded dragon feels safe and happy, they will spend a lot of time basking or out and about in their enclosure. Unhappy or stressed beardies will make themselves scarce.

How Do You Know if Your Bearded Dragon is Unhappy?

bearded dragon_Gerhard G., Pixabay
Image Credit: Gerhard G., Pixabay

Hissing, puffing, and arm waving are all signs that your beardie is stressed. They may also darken their coloration or spend a lot of time hiding to indicate stress. If your bearded dragon runs from you or something else, or if they freeze in the presence of these people or things, then they are likely scared and stressed. Jumpiness or discomfort when being held or hand fed can indicate your bearded dragon is unhappy. If you notice that you don’t see your bearded dragon out and about very often, it’s a good idea to start investigating causes of stress in the environment, diet, or illness.

Does Your Bearded Dragon Like You?

woman holding a bearded dragon_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Do you notice that your bearded dragon “cuddles” with you? This is a sign that they feel safe in your presence. This isn’t traditional cuddling for companionship like dogs and cats may do, but this cuddling is usually for warmth and a sense of safety and security. If your bearded dragon likes you, you’ll notice them approaching you when they spot you and they will feel safe and secure when being handled. Routinely handling your beardie and taking it on adventures in novel environments will help build the bond between the two of you. You can also hand feed your beardie, especially when feeding special treats, to help increase their association of you with good things.

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In Conclusion

All it takes for you to know if your bearded dragon is happy is to keep a close eye on its behaviors. Even though they can’t talk, your bearded dragon will let you know if they aren’t happy, but the behaviors may be subtle. Providing a safe, happy environment and building the bond between you and your beardie will help improve its happiness. A happy bearded dragon is a healthy bearded dragon!

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Featured Image Credit: Arledas, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.