Any new or potential owners will naturally want to know if bearded dragons are aggressive?
Knowing if they have aggressive tendencies in advance or at least in the early stages can help owners to care for their bearded dragons in the best possible way.
In this post, we will take a close look at if bearded dragons are actually aggressive, how to spot an aggressive bearded dragon, and also how to tame your bearded dragon if they ever become aggressive.
So, are bearded dragons aggressive? As a whole, bearded dragons aren’t an aggressive species. However, they can demonstrate aggressive behaviors occasionally if they feel threatened. And if you ignore the warning signs, this may escalate to biting. It’s essential to watch for clues and make adjustments to keep your bearded dragon happy and healthy.
Read On to Learn…
Are Bearded Dragons Aggressive? (More Info)
The peaceful nature of the bearded dragon is one of the reasons they make such ideal pets.
They work well with children because they DON’T react so sharply to every situation.
However, no animal tolerates everything with perfect grace. And, unfortunately, not every beardie’s undergone the best experiences.
Mistreatment and lack of socialization lead to some pretty miserable beardies. When such situations arise, grumpiness takes over, and you end up with a bearded dragon that lets you know – in no uncertain terms – that they are displeased.
Luckily, this doesn’t happen very often. And bearded dragon bites? Their severity depends on how old your beardie is.
Baby beardies don’t manage more than a pinch. But the older lizards – especially when they reach the most impressive sizes – can cause some significant pain. And if a bearded dragon bites a child, it’s possible to draw blood.
How do you prevent all of this from happening? You pay attention to the signs your bearded dragon provides.
Aggression in a beardie doesn’t leap spontaneously to biting. They provide plenty of clues before they go to that stage.
It’s up to YOU to notice and figure out what’s upsetting them. If you do, you’ll have a chance to intervene and restore peace to the realm – no maiden sacrifices needed.
Recommended Reading: Do Bearded Dragons Make Good Pets? (All You Need to Know)
Are Male or Female Bearded Dragons More Aggressive?
One of the biggest causes of bearded dragon aggression is the breeding season.
As dragons start to think about reproduction, hormones gain control over the brain.
This can begin as early as one year of age, though it’s more common to see it around four years. This can lead to slight increases in aggression in both male and female bearded dragons.
So, are male or female bearded dragons more aggressive? Male bearded dragons typically demonstrate more aggression than females. They’ll compete with other males for access to females, but they’ll also attempt to dominate the females they encounter. These aggressive behaviors are often linked to scent as well as sight.
If you have a female bearded dragon, you’re probably already marking her egg-laying behavior on a calendar.
But if you have a male – and ONLY a male – have you noticed changes showing up once a year? Does your beardie start acting differently, seemingly out of the blue?
If you have two males – or two beardies, in general – these signs may get more pronounced, whether you have the lizards in the same tank or not.
There’s a good chance your males are acting up due to the breeding season. Males respond to the hormone changes going on in their bodies.
Even if they have ZERO access to a female, the parietal eye keeps track of the changing light conditions.
Here’s an easy to follow article that explains everything you need to know about the bearded dragon’s‘ third eye’ as an owner…
The brain then receives the information and translates it to the body. Voila! A male beardie that knows it’s time for reproduction. Suddenly, he wants to prove himself the biggest and badest.
It’s not guaranteed to happen, but it’s possible. And if there’s another male within sight, smell, or sound, the chances go up.
Females don’t respond with the same level of aggression – not once they’ve reached sexual maturity. While they’re in the last push of maturing (6-8 months), they can demonstrate aggression with one another – or another male.
But afterward, they find themselves the objects of aggression – not the aggressors. It doesn’t mean you WON’T see it, but it’s not common.
What Are the Signs of An Aggressive Bearded Dragon?
So what are the warning signs of aggression in a bearded dragon? Luckily, beardies have a lengthy list of behaviors for every occasion.
And as long as you pay attention, you’ll start to see signs they’re upset. Some aggressive signs CAN have different meanings. (For instance, they may mean stress or sickness)
However, if you see a warning, you’ll know it’s time to pay attention and watch for further clues.
If you are worried that your beardie is stressed or you want to know more about the signs of stress then head over to this article that shares all you need to know…
When a bearded dragon’s chin turns black or dark in color, they’re bearding. This is how they earned their name.
The darker color helps them seem larger and more intimidating. They do it to warn off predators, but it’s also a sign of aggression.
It’s a common sign when two males confront each other. But if your beardie is upset about something? YOU may be the one they’re challenging.
Check out this post that covers all the different reasons why bearded dragons turn their beard black…
Okay, so a bite is a pretty obvious sign of aggression. And it means you missed the clues that came first.
Bearded dragons DON’T start with bites. Even in the wild, they begin with threat displays to drive off predators or attackers.
A bite is the last resort. If your beardie latched on with teeth, they felt desperate.
Want to know how likely a bearded dragon is to bite? Or if it would hurt? Then head over to this article that reveals all…
Bearded dragons use head-bobbing to communicate dominance – most of the time. And it’s more common in males than females.
The two face one another and raise and lower their heads. The faster the head-bobbing, the more threatening that particular beardie is attempting to be. If they’re slow, they’re admitting submission.
During the breeding season, males will bob at females to indicate their dominance.
And two males will bob to one another over territorial displays. While still considered aggressive, it’s a quieter form.
Here’s a great article that explains bearded dragon head bobbing in full…
Similar to cats, bearded dragons hiss to demonstrate their displeasure. Hissing happens when they feel uncomfortable and threatened by something.
It’s an aggressive behavior designed to frighten whatever they’re hissing at. If you hear a hiss, you need to look at WHERE the hiss gets directed.
Again you can learn why your beardie is likely to hiss in our new guide right here…
Now and then, when you glimpse bearding, you’ll also see your bearded dragon stretch their mouth open WIDE.
It looks like you can see all the way down to their stomach. And you might even hear a hiss at the same time.
The aim is to make themselves look bigger (and it works!), and it’s an aggressive scare tactic they use against predators.
Beardies with an open mouth want to intimidate and express their displeasure. And you should pay attention! An open mouth is primed to bite!
Obviously, staring can get challenging to notice. Reptiles aren’t known for their frequent blinking behaviors.
But a beardie that feels threatened by something will zero in on it. You should pay attention and see what’s caught their attention.
Then you may be able to step in before they move down the road and get truly upset.
What Can Cause Bearded Dragons to Become Aggressive?
What happens when you DO see signs of aggression in your bearded dragon?
What could cause such a calm and easy-going lizard to turn stressed and aggressive? Unfortunately, there are plenty of different things that can flip the switch. And some of them are easier to deal with (or prevent) than others.
So, what can make a bearded dragon become aggressive? Here are the situations that can make a bearded dragon become aggressive:
- Changes in environment
- Enclosure problem
Let’s take a closer look at the situations that can cause a bearded dragon to become aggressive:
While it isn’t the most common cause of aggression in bearded dragons, the period before brumation may cause some beardies to change their normally-sedate behavior.
Of course, this depends on whether your beardie goes into this hibernation phase or not (not every bearded dragon does).
But if you’ve noticed aggressive signs paired with a decreased appetite, lengthier naps, and a lower activity pattern, there’s a good chance this is the cause.
Go ahead and prepare the enclosure for the impending brumation period. Lower the basking temperature to 80F (26.6C) and the cooler side to 70F (21.1C).
Stop your regular handling sessions, and don’t force any food your beardie doesn’t want. When your beardie wakes on the other side, odds are they’ll have an improved mood.
Recommended Reading: The Complete Guide to Bearded Dragon Brumation
Changes In Environment
“A change is a good thing.” Well, except with bearded dragons. If you make too many changes to their environment, it becomes stressful for them.
And they can react with aggression. The angry behaviors are the only way they know to tell you they HATE what you’ve done.
You shouldn’t move decor around the enclosure (or add new items) more frequently than ONCE every few months.
Wild bearded dragons remain solitary. They come together for breeding purposes, but otherwise, they set up – and guard – individual territories.
They don’t want to hang out in groups. So when you place pairs (or MORE!) of beardies together, you create an environment for bullying and aggression to develop.
This is especially true for two males or when you mix age groups. Someone in the pair decides they need to be the alpha, and they dominate everyone else.
It leads to aggressive tendencies. It’s essential to keep your beardies separated – and more than a few inches. If two males can SEE each other, they’ll beard and head-bob continuously.
If you haven’t paid attention to the way you set up your bearded dragon enclosure, you’re going to see aggressive tendencies.
Beardies have strict needs for temperature, humidity, lighting, and substrate. If something goes wrong in any of those things, you’ll upset their internal system.
And once they feel bad, they’ll turn angry. It’s important to double- and triple-check everything BEFORE you bring a beardie into the house.
That’s much better than waiting until you’re coping with aggression.
When you feel pain, discomfort, or illness, you start to feel off. The same happens with bearded dragons.
If they don’t understand what’s going on, they may become aggressive as a protective instinct.
They don’t want to appear weak to potential predators, but they feel AWFUL.
You should pay attention to ANYTHING out of the ordinary:
- Do their urates look normal?
- Are they eating the same amounts?
- Have you picked up on any tender spots?
If you do not see any other reason for the aggression, schedule an appointment with your vet.
“Hangry” isn’t just for humans. If you haven’t been feeding the proper amounts for your beardie’s age or size, those aggressive tendencies could be nothing more than a demand for nutrients.
And how would you feel if someone denied you proper food? Look at your daily cricket and salad amounts and make sure you haven’t been skimping.
Recommended Reading: How Often to Feed a Bearded Dragon (All Ages)
Accidents happen. You’re always careful when you handle your bearded dragon, but sometimes you slip, a sudden noise happens, or a piece of the enclosure comes loose.
The injury to your beardie isn’t significant, but that little lizard mind processed and remembers the incident.
They don’t HATE you, but they also aren’t your biggest fan at the moment. So, yes, you’re going to see aggression.
You need to give a few days for things to cool down, and then you can go back to the friendly relationship you had in the past.
Not every bearded dragon gets the same happy life. Some come to you as babies from crowded breeders.
Others come from situations where they never received handling. And, unfortunately, some bearded dragons suffer from neglect and mistreatment.
It’s sad, but when you see aggression in these beardies, it’s not a reflection of YOUR set-up or treatment; it’s a reflection of their past.
You’ll need to give them time to acclimate to their new environment and your presence.
And it may take longer to work through everything. You’ll need plenty of patience and understanding to work through their aggression.
Are Bearded Dragons Aggressive While Shedding?
Shedding can be an uncomfortable and challenging time for bearded dragons.
They don’t shed in in one piece like most snakes do and thus shed in patches over a number of days.
This makes owners wonder if the shedding process can cause bearded dragons to become aggressive?
So, does shedding cause aggression? In some bearded dragons, shedding can lead to aggressive behaviors. You may see them showing signs of aggression for the days leading up to and throughout the shedding process. It’s best to hold off on handling them during this time. Marking their shedding times on a calendar will help.
Shedding’s another potential cause of bearded dragon aggression. Any time they feel uncomfortable, they’re going to let you know.
You can help by making sure you never miss their regular baths or offering swim times. If their scales stay hydrated, it will make the shedding process go smoother.
Are Bearded Dragons Aggressive Toward Other Pets?
People enjoy keeping bearded dragons because they tolerate sharing households with other pets.
You’ll often hear stories and see pictures of beardies with cats and dogs. But those furry pets ARE larger than a bearded dragon.
And canines and felines don’t always respect the rules about beardie enclosures (or quiet). So is it possible for aggression to break out when there are other animals in the house?
You can see bearding and head-bobbing when other household pets are around. Bearded dragons may feel threatened – even by animals they know and share space with.
A sudden shadow in the room is enough to startle them and send them into a defensive mode.
And if you have a pet that continually circles the enclosure (without your knowledge), the beardie will adopt an aggressive posture as a result.
It’s essential to keep tabs on EVERYONE in the household. This may mean closing the door to the room where the bearded dragon enclosure is kept.
You want to make sure everyone in the family feels comfortable. And that sometimes means keeping curious dogs and cats away from your bearded dragon.
How Do You Tame an Aggressive Bearded Dragon?
Once you have an aggressive bearded dragon on your hands, you want to calm things down.
One of the best things you can do – particularly if the aggression is new – is leave your beardie alone for a day or two.
(Obviously, feed them and keep the cage clean, but don’t handle them) They may need nothing more than a chance to calm down.
However, if you want to focus on what’s going wrong, you can do some additional work. And it starts with some investigation.
Try asking yourself these questions:
- What happened when you saw the aggression?
- What were you wearing? (Black often provokes aggression in beardies!)
- Were there any scents around? (Especially new perfumes/colognes)
- Who was in the room?
- Were you inside or outside?
- Was the beardie inside or outside the enclosure?
- Were other pets in the room?
- Did you go near a mirror or other reflective surface?
You may find an answer to the aggression in your questions. Remember, beardies DON’T like change. And if you wore a new smell or had someone different with you, that may have caused the upset.
To work on taming an aggressive beardie, though, you need patience. And you need to remember that YOU’RE the bigger of the two of you. That big, bad bearded dragon is trying to intimidate you.
And while a bite may not be comfortable (and probably startled you), you shouldn’t let fear stand in the way. But you also don’t want to come across as overbearing. It’s a careful balance.
Go back to your handling steps. Move slowly and gently. Keep your voice soft at all times.
Head over to this article that shares all you need to know about handling your bearded dragon correctly…
DON’T resort to wearing gloves if you can help it. Most beardies object to gloves (it makes your hands more intimidating), and you may end up causing MORE aggression. Plus, it’s a change, and you know how beardies feel about change.
If you’re dealing with a male bearded dragon displaying breeding aggression, cut down on the amount of light you offer – in the enclosure AND room.
This will communicate through the third eye and back off the hormone stimulation. It’s a quick trick and MUCH more manageable than dealing with an angry lizard.
And, of course, snacks go a long way. When you see an open mouth, it takes little effort to drop a yummy treat in there. You can always use tongs to extend the distance between your fingers and those teeth.
This will remind your beardie that you’re associated with POSITIVE things – not a further need for aggression. And it’ll get you back on track with those handling sessions.
Aggression in bearded dragons isn’t common. So when you see signs appear, it’s essential to pay attention to what might have prompted the behavior. If you can find the cause, you can make adjustments.
Give your beardie a little time to settle down, and odds are things will return to normal. Before long, they’ll be back to their usual, peaceful selves.
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