Though bearded dragon glass surfing might seem amusing, it requires your attention. Glass surfing is when your beardie scratches at the glass of his enclosure. This usually means they’re trying to communicate something.
This behavior is abnormal and needs to be approached carefully.
This is one of many stress-related behaviors you might witness in your bearded dragon. As a bearded dragon owner, you’re responsible for finding the cause.
Before looking into why this behavior occurs, let’s ensure we know what glass-surfing bearded dragons look like.
What Is Bearded Dragons Glass Surfing Behavior?
Essentially, glass surfing is a frenetic display of behavior whereby the bearded dragon will try to climb out of its enclosure. This glass dancing is repetitive behavior, and you’ll see him trying to do it repeatedly.
Glass surfing comes from how the behavior is similar to surfers on the ocean. The bearded dragon’s belly will rub on the enclosure wall while they ‘paddle’ with their arms. A glass surfing bearded dragon will stand on its back legs while it does this.
You often see a bearded dragon running the length of its enclosure and then stopping to tank surf.
Now that we know what bearded dragon glass surfing looks like let’s look at the reasons why a bearded dragon does this.
Why Bearded Dragons Glass Surf – 19 Reasons
As previously mentioned, there are many reasons why a bearded dragon is glass surfing. Generally speaking, however, it is usually a sign that something isn’t right and they are stressed.
Here are 19 reasons for bearded dragon glass surfing behavior.
They Can See Their Reflection
Bearded dragons who can see themselves reflected in the tank enclosure glass will think that there is another bearded dragon there. They just don’t realize that it’s a reflection of themselves. This means that they believe there is a playmate – or someone threatening.
You can minimize glass surfing behavior by having background wraps on the sides and back of the enclosure. This will leave just the front with the capability of reflecting.
What’s more, if you try to equalize the room’s brightness and enclosure during the day, there won’t be as much reflection.
They Don’t Understand What Glass Is
Even if a bearded dragon can’t see a reflection in the glass, they might get confused about glass as a material.
Due to its transparent properties, it can be challenging for bearded dragons to understand that glass is there and is a barrier. They might, therefore, be scratching at the glass to try and get through it – either to explore new locations or to look for food.
Ensure that you provide enough space for bearded dragons to hide in their enclosure. Things like tunnels and reptile caves are great for giving your beardie different locations to hide out. Hence, they’re less likely to want to seek new places outside of the enclosure.
Furthermore, since a bearded dragon looking to get out might be on the lookout for food, making sure he’s not hungry is a good plan.
Something Isn’t Right in Their Enclosure or Habitat
There are lots of reasons why a bearded dragon’s habitat might be causing problems for your bearded dragon. It could be that the enclosure isn’t big enough, the lighting isn’t adequate, or that something in it, like décor, is causing them to feel stressed.
It could also be that they can see something in the room that they don’t like or are interested in and want to explore.
Can they, for example, see any other bearded dragon or animal that might be stressing them out?
Whatever it is that’s bothering them, it will be a process of elimination to find out.
First, ensure you’re practicing proper husbandry and that the case is big enough and has adequate lighting for your beardie’s needs. Next, make sure the tank isn’t too hot too. With temperatures above the recommended range, you’ll see increased activity levels.
If you think something outside of the tank is bothering him, place the tank where they can’t see much. Don’t place it near a window where they can see what’s happening outside, for example.
They’re Not Able to Thermoregulate Sufficiently
Beardies need to be able to move from a basking area that’s hot to a cooler spot. Bearded dragon thermoregulation is essential. If they can’t thermoregulate, they might end up scratching at the glass as they search for a cooler area and can’t find one.
Frantic scratching at the glass or digging can be indicators of an enclosure that’s too warm. Bearded dragons rely on external sources to regulate their body temperature. If they can’t cool down, they won’t be happy.
Conversely, if the basking area isn’t warm enough, the glass surfing could be trying to climb high up to be closer to the heat source.
If you suspect thermoregulation is a reason for this behavior, checking your tank temperatures is essential.
The basking area should be between 100 and 115 ° Fahrenheit, while other enclosure areas should be less than 85 ° F.
Your Beardie Is Bored and Wants to Play
Research by Thompson and Thompson in 2003 showed that bearded dragons travel 100 meters a day in the wild. So when they’re in an enclosure, it’s easy to imagine they can get frustrated.
Being in a small enclosure for days can create boredom. Glass surfing could signify that they just want to explore a little further.
Use the opportunity to take your bearded dragon out of his enclosure and get some exercise. Allow him to explore further afield with your supervision. You could even give him a bath in a large tub!
Like most of us, bearded dragons can get a little ‘hangry.’ So when your bearded dragon is glass surfing, it could be a sign that he is looking for you so that you can give him food.
When your bearded dragon glass surfs, rule out hunger. You might find the behavior stops when you give your pet something to eat.
Ensure you keep a good feeding schedule according to your beardie’s needs. For example, baby bearded dragons will need a different feeding schedule and type of food compared to juvenile bearded dragons and adult bearded dragons.
They Been to The Toilet and Want You to Clean It
Many bearded dragon owners note that their dragons’ glass surf after going to the toilet. But, of course, this could be because they’re trying to get you to clean it up!
Check their enclosure for feces if you notice your bearded dragon scratching and glass surfing. If there is some, clean it up right away.
They Are Looking for A Mate
Suppose you’ve checked over your bearded dragon’s enclosure, and everything’s fine. In that case, glass surfing could be due to breeding behaviors and hormones. When it’s breeding season, your beardie might be trying to seek a mate and so will try to escape his enclosure.
These breeding behaviors typically start one month after brumation has ended in early springtime.
You can confirm this is breeding behavior if your bearded dragon has a black beard. Other signs of bearded dragon breeding behavior are:
- Head bobbing
- Running around
- Lashing tail
- Puffing of the body
- Tilting the body sideways to appear larger
- Lunging at hands in the tank
- Attacking things in the tank
Due to a carefully controlled environment, captive bearded dragons can brumate (and therefore breed) at any time of year.
There is no quick fix if this is the cause; riding it out may be your only option. However, you could try to reduce the lighting to trick your pet into thinking it is not the right time of year to breed.
A Female Bearded Dragon Is Getting Ready to Lay Eggs
If your bearded dragon is a female, there’s always a chance that she will try to lay eggs. This usually happens when your beardie is two years old but can happen from 18 months.
Egg laying usually happens once a year. Bearded dragons don’t need to mate to lay eggs. There might even be as many as six clutches per year.
When female bearded dragons mate, they will lay eggs around four to six weeks later. Interestingly, though, females can store sperm for as long as 12 months and so don’t need to mate again to fertilize a new set of eggs!
If the glass surfing is seen alongside digging, this might indicate a female about to lay eggs. You might also notice weight gain, lethargy, a loss of appetite, and excrement changes.
If the glass surfing is due to a gravid female, you’ll need to take care of her accordingly. This means providing adequate calcium supplementation as their calcium needs are higher during this time.
There is no way of preventing egg-laying behavior; it’s just another thing you’ll have to ride out.
The Tank Is Too Small
Younger bearded dragons need a tank that’s around 20 gallons. When they grow, you can use a tank that’s 75 gallons. An adult bearded dragon, however, will need a tank that’s 125 gallons or larger.
If your baby bearded dragon has outgrown his enclosure, you might see glass scratching or other stress-related behaviors. Ongoing stress is a risk factor in other bearded dragon health problems. Being emotionally healthy is just as important as being physically fit.
Ensuring your bearded dragon has a spacious enclosure will mean he’s happy and healthy. It is hard to judge because the glass tank should change as your beardie grows. If it’s too big at first, a baby bearded dragon won’t be able to find its food.
Though we’ve talked in gallons, floor space is crucial. So, for example, it is better to have a more extended tank than a deeper one.
The Tank Has Been Rearranged
If you’ve moved things around in your beardie’s tank before the glass surfing started, it could be that your bearded dragon doesn’t like it. When objects move from their usual spot, your bearded dragon may feel threatened or upset.
If you suspect this new behavior could be due to a rearranged tank, then the best way to stop glass surfing is by changing it back to how it was. If it works, then you’ll know that was the cause.
You Have More than One Bearded Dragon in The Enclosure
If you’ve got a huge tank, it might be tempting to have more than one bearded dragon living in it. However, this is a bad idea.
Keeping more than one bearded dragon in an enclosure is never recommended because it is stressful for them.
If you do have two in the same tank, this might be why you notice the glass surfing.
Bearded dragons glass surf when stressed, and if you have two or more bearded dragons in one tank, this is likely the cause. Bearded dragons are solitary creatures – they don’t need or want companions.
When two beardies are together, they will fight over territory, and one will likely come off worse than the other. So they’d stay away from other bearded dragons in their natural habitat unless they’re mating.
There is nothing you can do other than have separate tanks. It’s also best that they can’t see another bearded dragon, too – even if they are in different spaces.
You’ve Bought a New Enclosure
As mentioned above, bearded dragons require different-sized enclosures as they grow. Though giving them more space is best, they will probably take a short time adjusting to their new enclosure.
While they’re adjusting, you might witness glass surfing.
Usually, glass surfing stops once your bearded dragon has got used to their new home and set up. So, it’s simply a case of riding it out.
Other Family Pets Are Intimidating
If you have other animals at home, you might find your bearded dragon is scared of them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog, cat, or another bearded dragon, your bearded dragon, could simply feel intimidated.
If you suspect other pets are to blame for glass surfing, make your bearded dragon a special place in your home where other pets cannot go to see if this helps stop glass surfing.
They Have Parasites
Sometimes, a bearded dragon will glass surf due to parasites. Parasites can cause a bearded dragon to feel uncomfortable or itchy; glass scratching on its hind legs can help them feel more comfortable.
If you suspect parasites are at play, make sure you get them treated. You might find that the behavior of scratching the glass stops.
Sometimes, though uncommonly, a bearded dragon may glass surf because he’s unwell. If, for example, he has a respiratory infection, he could start glass surfing to try and clear mucus.
If you have health concerns, check with a certified veterinary professional to ensure your dragon scratching at the glass is because of this or for another reason.
Bearded dragons have been known to glass surf when shedding. This behavior helps them to remove their old skin.
As with many other of our reasons, you’ll just need to ride it out. There’s no natural way of speeding up the shedding process. It’s simply a case of ensuring your bearded dragon’s environment is perfect in terms of temperature and humidity.
They Have a Calcium Deficiency
Bearded dragons have been known to glass surf due to being calcium deficient and trying to source more calcium-rich food.
Ensure you give your bearded dragon calcium and vitamin D supplements so that they have enough calcium to be healthy. Vitamin D is needed alongside calcium unless you have a mercury UVB bulb.
They Have a Neurological Disorder
Neurological disorders can make your bearded dragon behave differently. However, this wouldn’t be the only bizarre behavior you would notice.
If you suspect a neurological disorder is behind your bearded dragon’s glass dancing, take him to a vet immediately to be assessed.
Why It’s Important to Stop Glass Surfing
Glass surfing can injure a bearded dragon. If they happen to fall over while they’re doing it, they can get hurt. So here are some reasons why stopping them from doing it is vital.
They Can Injure Themselves
Glass surfing can cause injuries. Cuts, breaks and paralysis can all happen when a bearded dragon is glass surfing.
They Can Get Stuck
Believe it or not, a glass surfing bearded dragon can get stuck on its back legs and not know how to get down! This can be both uncomfortable and stressful.
They Can Get Stressed
We’ve already mentioned how glass surfing might happen because of stress, but it’s also true that glass dancing can cause stress too. As we know, stress isn’t good for bearded dragons, and we should do everything in our power as owners to ensure a stress-free life.
Final Thoughts on Bearded Dragon Glass Surfing
As we’ve seen, there are many reasons for bearded dragons to glass surf. Unfortunately, even though we’ve gone through 19 reasons, because there are so many, it can be hard to know why your dragon is glass surfing.
Glass surfing can also be called glass dancing and looks like a bearded dragon scratching at the glass of their enclosure walls.
Trial and error is the only way to determine the reason for scratching behavior. Seeing your bearded dragon scratching at the glass doesn’t necessarily mean he is stressed and something is wrong. It could simply be boredom.
However, it’s essential to rule out worrisome reasons like illness and stress to help your bearded dragon be in optimal health and be happy.
To summarize, ensure your bearded dragon has an enclosure that is the right size, temperature, and humidity. Ensure their reflection isn’t bothering them and they have appropriate lighting.
Make sure he can’t see or hear other household pets, including any other bearded dragon. Finally, check to see if it’s something as simple as hunger or him having pooed and wanting you to clean it.
As always, check with a specialist vet or exotic pet store if you’re unsure.