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How to Tell If a Bearded Dragon Is Happy (10 Signs to Look For)

Nicole Cosgrove

Reptiles are not the most expressive animals around, and for novice owners, it can be difficult to tell whether they are happy or not. Besides all the more obvious signs, like regular eating and sleeping, bearded dragons can be difficult to read, and you may not be aware of the common behaviors of these reptiles.

With any pet, feeling trust and comfort around their owners is key, and it’s important to know what the indicators of these are. There are often no obvious outward signs of happiness to look out for with beardies, so just knowing the signs of typical healthy behavior is great on its own.

In this article, we look at typical behaviors that indicate that your beardie is happy. Let’s get started!

new bearded dragon divider

10 Signs That Your Bearded Dragon Is Happy:

1. They don’t run away

Bearded dragons and most reptiles in general are naturally cautious and solitary animals and are constantly on the lookout for potential predators. It may seem simple, but if you open your beardie’s cage and put your hand in and they don’t run away, it’s a good indicator that they feel comfortable and happy around you. Additionally, happy, content beardies will not run away and hide when you enter the room or attempt to feed them.

leatherback bearded dragon
Image Credit: Ery Azmeer, Shutterstock

2. They are happy to be held

If a beardie does not want to be picked up, they will definitely let you know! If your beardie lets you pick them up with no visible signs of stress or wanting to get away, this is a good sign that they are happy and comfortable in their environment. Moreover, if your beardie relaxes into you and crawls onto your shoulder or even falls asleep, they are most likely a happy reptile!


3. No signs of aggression

Aggressive behavior is one of the first signs of an unhappy and stressed beardie. If your dragon is calm and relaxed and not showing any signs of aggression, like hissing or puffing when you pick them up, this is a good indication that they are happy overall. Beardies will bob their heads and hiss and puff when they are in protection mode or stressed, so a lack of these behaviors is a good sign that they’re happy.

bearded-dragon 2_Arledas_Pixabay
Image Credit: Arledas, Pixabay

4. Exhibiting normal behavior

The normal behavior of your beardie can tell you much about whether they’re happy or not. If your beardie is sleeping normally, coming to eat at mealtimes, eating all their food, having regular bowel movements, and licking you when you pick them up, chances are high that they are a perfectly happy reptile! These are all normal behaviors for beardies, which you’ll soon get to know once you’ve had your reptile for a while. If they are showing signs of lack of eating or sleeping, however, there may be something wrong.


5. They are alert

Beardies in the wild are constantly on the lookout for prey and predators and are highly alert creatures. They are acutely aware of their surroundings, and you’ll notice their bright eyes darting around almost constantly. This is a natural behavior for a beardie, and again, natural behaviors like this usually indicate a content and relaxed beardie.

bearded dragon
Image Credit: blende12, Pixabay

6. Positive body language

Once you get to know them, bearded dragons are actually highly expressive animals! They display many signs of their mood, such as head bobbing, arm-waving, bowing, tail swinging, and yawning. These are all signs of a content and happy beardie. Hissing, rapid head bobbing and a gaping mouth are signs of an angry, generally unhappy beardie. You’ll get to know these expressive signs of body language soon after bringing your beardie home.


7. Their skin turns bright

Bearded dragons will often turn a lighter or brighter shade when they’re happy! If your beardie turns a brighter color, like orange or yellow, it usually means that they are in a good mood. That said, this color change may also be due to other factors, like thermoregulation and changes in light. It can even occur when they are stressed, so it’s good to assess other factors in their environment at the same time. Usually, if no other factors are causing the color change, bright skin is an indicator of happiness!

bearded dragon
Image Credit: Milchdrink, Pixabay

8. Their eyes close

Beardies are highly alert reptiles that need to keep a constant eye on their surroundings. If your beardie closes their eyes when you pick them up, this is a great indicator that they feel safe and secure enough near you that they can close their eyes and relax.


9. Basking often

Bearded dragons love basking, and they’ll spend a large portion of their day near the heat lamp soaking up vitamin D. Not only do they love it, but it’s also a vital part of their health routine. If you notice your beardie hiding away most of the time or not basking much, there is definitely a reason for concern.

bearded dragon basking
Image Credit: Gerhard G., Pixabay

10. They are active

Beardies love exploring, climbing, and digging, and this normal behavior indicates that they are a happy reptile! It’s important to have accessories in their enclosure to encourage this behavior, and caves, tunnels, rocks, water, and digging medium are essential. If you notice your beardie actively exploring their environment, chances are high that they are a happy, content reptile!

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Conclusion

Once you get to know your bearded dragon, it’s fairly easy to tell if they’re happy or if there is something awry. Most of the normal, natural behaviors of these reptiles are enough to tell whether they are happy. If they are basking often, eating well, and alert and healthy-looking, this is usually enough to indicate that they are happy overall. If your beardie is happy when you pick them up and content to sit with you for long periods with their eyes closed, you’ve got a really happy beardie on your hands!


Featured Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, 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.