Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet lizards because they are easy to care for and make great companions. However, one question many people have about bearded dragons is why they puff up.
There can be several reasons for this, and we will discuss seven of them in this blog post. So if you are one of the bearded dragon owners wondering why bearded dragons puff up, read on for some answers.
7 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Puff Up
Here are the top seven reasons why bearded dragons puff up:
1) They Are Scared or Feel Threatened
The most common reason for bearded dragons puffing, especially in the wild, is to make themselves look bigger to ward off predators such as aggressive cats or other threats.
Most bearded dragon breeds puff up when they see a predator or something that scares them.
If your beardie puffs up when you approach it, it is likely because it feels threatened or scared. Try and make yourself seem smaller and less threatening by approaching it from the side or underneath.
Once your beardie starts to calm down, it will usually begin to deflate.
2) They Are Getting Ready to Shed.
Beardies can puff up when they are ready to shed their skin. The bearded lizards will often sense when they are about to shed their skin and will start to increase their water intake.
They will also start to bask more frequently to help loosen their older skin.
Shedding bearded dragons will puff to help loosen the old skin and speed up the shedding process.
If you see your beardie puffing and it has been a while since its last shed, this is probably the reason.
3) They Want to Attract the Opposite Sex.
In mating season, male bearded dragons will often puff up their beards to make themselves look more impressive and attractive to the female bearded dragons.
In addition, males puff up to intimidate other males competing for the same female.
If your bearded dragon is a male and you see it puffing up its beard frequently, it is more than likely because it is trying to attract a mate.
A female bearded dragon may also puff up her beard when ready to lay eggs to make herself look more significant and impressive to the male beardies.
4) It’s Bathtime.
A puffed-up bearded dragon in water is a sure sign that it’s time for a bath. Bearded dragons often puff their beards in the water to help them float and stay afloat.
So if you see your bearded dragon puffed up in the water, it’s probably enjoying a good soak.
However, it is always advisable not to put your beardies, especially baby bearded dragons, in bath water higher than their shoulders. They can easily drown.
5) It Is Meal Time.
Bearded dragons create more room in their stomachs by puffing up when they are about to eat. So if you see your bearded dragon puff when you present it with food, it is getting ready to eat.
Puffing can also be a way for a bearded dragon to intimidate other animals trying to steal its food.
So if you see your beardie puffing up when another animal comes near its food, it is likely trying to scare them off. This territorial behavior is quite natural.
6) They Are Stretching.
It is early in the morning, and you see your beardie friend puffing, don’t worry; it’s probably just stretching.
Bearded dragons often puff up their beards when they wake up from a long sleep or nap to get the blood flowing and stretch their muscles.
You should not be concerned if you see your bearded dragon doing this. Also, remember they are cold-blooded animals, so it is perfectly normal for them to bask in the sun for long periods and stretch by puffing up.
Your baby bearded dragon may also stretch by puffing up to pressurize its ear canal. Again, this behavior is normal, especially in a baby beardie.
7) They’re Just Happy.
Your bearded dragon may be happy and content and decide to puff up its beard. Just like a cat’s tail will twitch when it’s happy, a happy dragon beardie will often puff up its beard when it is content and satisfied.
So if you see your bearded dragon puffing up its beard out of the blue, it’s probably just telling you they are having a quality bonding time with you.
Why Does a Baby Bearded Dragon Puff Up?
Baby bearded dragons puff for most of the same reasons as adults. They, however, often puff up to pressurize their ear canals.
Suppose you see your baby bearded dragon puffing up more often than usual. In that case, it may be a sign of an underlying condition that may need the attention of a reptile vet.
So be sure to keep an eye on how often your baby beardies puff and what could be the possible reasons behind it. If you are ever concerned, always consult with a reptile veterinarian.
They will be able to help you determine if there is anything wrong and how to best care for your baby beardie.
Do All Bearded Dragons Puff When Shedding?
Not all bearded dragons puff when they are shedding. Some will, but others won’t.
If your beardie puffs up when shedding, it is likely because it is trying to loosen its skin so that the shed will come off more easily.
Puffing can also help a bearded dragon get rid of any dead skin that may be left behind after shedding.
Should I Be Concerned If My Bearded Dragon Puffs?
Your lizard pet puffing should not be a cause for concern in most cases. Puffing up is a natural ability they use for various purposes, such as thermoregulation, stretching, and mealtime.
However, suppose your bearded dragon starts puffing up more often than usual. In that case, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed by a reptile veterinarian.
When Should You Be Concerned?
Be concerned about your bearded dragon puffing if:
- It is doing so more often than usual: If your bearded dragon starts puffing up more often than usual, it may indicate an underlying health condition.
- It is doing so for more extended periods: If your bearded dragon puffs up and doesn’t deflate after a few minutes, it may be a sign of an issue. Check for stressors in your bearded dragon’s tank, examine the dragon’s beard and entire body for any foreign objects, and take it to the vet if the problem persists.
- Not eating: A loss of appetite is often a sign of illness in bearded dragons. If your dragon stops eating and starts puffing up more frequently, take it to the vet as soon as possible.
- It has difficulty breathing: Bearded dragons exhibiting open-mouth breathing or panting may have trouble getting enough oxygen. This serious condition needs to be treated by a reptile veterinarian immediately.
- Abnormal puffing behavior: If, for instance, your bearded dragon usually puffs up its beard when happy but starts doing so when it is scared or appears uncomfortable, this may be a sign of distress.
Take a look at what could be causing your dragon’s stress and consult with a reptile veterinarian if the problem persists.
When should I take my bearded dragon to the vet?
You should take your bearded dragon to the vet if you notice any of the following:
- It has difficulty breathing
- It stops eating and starts puffing up more frequently
- It appears to be in pain when puffing up
- It has discharge coming from its nose or mouth
- It is puffing up for extended periods
If you are unsure whether or not your beardie needs to see a vet, it is always best to err on the side of caution and make an appointment.
Your reptile veterinarian will be able to give you peace of mind and help your dragon get back to its usual self.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up? FAQs
Why do wild bearded dragons puff up?
Wild bearded dragons puff up for the same reasons as captive ones. They may do it to thermoregulate their body temperature, to scare off predators, or during mating season.
Should I be worried if my bearded dragon puffs up a lot?
If you are a new bearded dragon owner, you may be worried about your dragon’s puffing behavior. In most cases, you don’t need to worry as this is normal behavior for these lizards. However, notice your bearded dragon puffing up more often than usual or for long periods. It may be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed by a reptile veterinarian.
Why does my bearded dragon puff when it sees a lizard of the opposite sex?
Bearded dragons will puff up when they see another lizard of the opposite gender if they are interested in mating. So if your bearded dragon is a male and puffs up when it sees a female, it is likely ready to mate. Males will also puff up their beards and dance in front of females as part of their mating ritual. So if you have a female beardie, she may also puff up her beard and dance when she sees a male that may be interested.
Do All Male Dragons Puff up Their Beards When They Are Ready to Mate?
No, not all male beardies will puff up their beards when they are ready to mate. Some males may do a display called the “head bob” instead. This is where the male bobs his head up and down in front of the female. He may also open his mouth and wave his tongue around. If you are unsure if your male bearded dragon is ready to mate, you can ask your reptile veterinarian for advice.
I Think My Bearded Dragon Is Sick. What Should I Do?
If you think your bearded dragon is sick, it is best to take it to a reptile veterinarian. They can give you a definitive diagnosis and provide the appropriate treatment. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to make your dragon feel more comfortable. First, make sure the temperature in its tank is correct, and it has access to fresh water. You can also offer it food that is easy to digest, such as cooked chicken or hard-boiled eggs.
Why Does My Beard Beardie Puff More in The Cold or Rainy Season?
While there is no specific reason why bearded dragons may puff up more in the cold or rainy season, it is likely due to the temperature change. Bearded dragons are ectotherms, which means that they rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. When the weather outside gets colder, your dragon may start puffing up more frequently to generate heat and keep its body warm. Suppose you are concerned about your bearded dragon’s health in the cold weather. In that case, you can ask your reptile veterinarian for advice on how to best care for it.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up? (Conclusion)
Most of the time, you don’t need to worry if your bearded dragon puffs up its beard. In most cases, this is perfectly normal behavior for these lizards.
However, notice your bearded dragon puffing up more often than usual or for long periods. It may be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian.