Bearded Dragons have many curious behaviours, one such behaviour is their ability to flatten out their body. This can often leave owners with no clue as to why they do this or what the potential triggers are.
As a Bearded Dragon enthusiast myself, this is something that has always fascinated me so I decided it was time to research this behaviour and find out exactly why Bearded Dragons flatten out their body.
So why do Bearded Dragons flatten out? Bearded Dragons have the ability to flatten their body for a number of reasons. Here are the 3 common situations where you are likely to find them displaying this behaviour
- Increase body temperature
- Response to fear
Read on to take a closer look at each of these 3 situations, what triggers each situation and if flattening out the stomach is unhealthy for your Bearded Dragon?
1. Bearded Dragons Flatten Out to Increase Temperature
The most common reasons for a Bearded Dragon to flatten its body is to regulate and ultimately increase its body temperature.
Bearded Dragons are ‘exothermic’ which means they rely on external heat sources to keep their body temperature optimal and allow them to operate important bodily functions such as food digestion.
If a Bearded Dragon can’t raise its body temperature to the desired level then it will struggle to digest food which can lead to all sorts of complications such as gut rot where the food will basically rot in an undigested form in the Dragons stomach. This is backed up by animals.mom.me who also talk about this as a major factor in why Bearded Dragons flatten out.
A Bearded Dragon will also become slow and sluggish without the correct exposure to a good quality heat source throughout the day.
These reasons alone will often force your Bearded Dragon to display some fascinating and unique behaviours such as flattening out their body to ensure they have the best opportunity to be at their optimal temperature and stay healthy.
Let’s take a look at some situations that can cause your Bearded Dragon to flatten out its body due to low temperature.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Flatten Out On a Morning?
It’s very common for Bearded Dragons to flatten out their body first thing on a morning.
This is because throughout the night they have been sleeping through lower temperatures of what should be between 70°-75°F.
When they wake up, It’s then important for them to reach their optimal temperature relatively fast so it can move around freely and operate those bodily functions we talked about earlier.
Bearded Dragons have 2 main ways of reaching their optimal temperature faster, the first is flattening out their body and the second is turning their beard and body darker or even black.
If you want to know all the reasons why Bearded Dragons turn their beards black then take a look at this post right here.
If you notice that your Dragon is flattening out its body and turning darker first thing on a morning then this is perfectly normal as long as after 1-2 hours then go back to their normal colour and they have also gone back to their normal shape.
When they do this they are basically using the tools that nature has given them to make the best of the given situation.
If your Dragon is flattening out and staying a darker colour for longer periods then this could potentially be a problem with your tank temperatures.
Let’s take a look at tank temperatures and see if this is why your Bearded Dragon is flattening out its stomach.
Flattening Body Due to Incorrect Tank Temperature
If your Bearded Dragon is flattening out its body throughout the day at random times whilst in their tank then there is a chance that the temperature is incorrect.
Another tell-tail sign that the tank temperature is low is if your Dragon is also turning its beard or even its whole body black too. This may not always be the case but it’s certainly something to look out for.
Take a look at this chart below and use it as a guide to providing your Bearded Dragon with the correct temperatures they need. If you are in doubt you should always consult your vet.
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
If you want to know more about the correct temperatures required in a Bearded Dragons tank then take a look at this post that shares all you need to know as an owner.
As an owner, you really need to do your part to ensure the temperatures are on point at all times.
Using a contactless digital thermometer is the only real way to ensure that you have the correct temperatures in the tank as old fashioned dial thermometers are often inaccurate and leave your tank temperatures way off.
You also need to use a good quality thermostat that regulates the temperature and at all times without you having to adjust any dials.
Here’s a post I’ve written that shares the most reliable and best digital thermometers and thermostats so you always know your Bearded Dragon has the correct tank temperature.
Flattening Body Due to Outside Temperature
Taking your Bearded Dragon outside for a wander in the garden has many great health benefits such as much needed exercise and mental stimulation.
There are also lots of things to be wary of. One of which is causing your Dragon to flatten their body to absorb more heat if the temperature is too cold.
You should always use common sense when taking your Dragon outside. If you live in a cold country or it’s the middle of winter then it’s probably not going to be a good idea, however, if it’s summer or even springtime then it should be fine in most countries.
If you notice your Dragon flattening out straight away then you will need to assess the temperature and then make a decision about taking them back inside because there’s a strong possibility they are too cold and not enjoying being outside at that moment.
Other times your Dragon may be fine to begin with and then start to flatten out their body after a period of time, again, this is when you need to assess the temperature and don’t leave them like this for more 15 minutes or so.
This is because if your Dragon starts to feel too cold they will often start to look for warm areas and this could mean them wandering off and them to getting lost in the garden.
It’s a good idea to use a leash when taking your Dragon outside (at least for the first few times) and also to train your Bearded Dragon to come calling when you call them.
This always raises a few eyebrows but Bearded Dragons are much smarter them they are given credit for and it’s quite possible to train them to come running when their name is called,
This is especially important in the garden when they have the potential to get lost as it gives you peace of mind.
Here’s a post that explains step by step 5 ways that you can train your Bearded Dragon.
It’s also worth mentioning that your Bearded Dragon can also flatten out to look bigger towards predators so a low outside temperature might not be the reason for this behaviour when they are outside.
We will talk about this in more detail shortly but it’s something you need to consider.
What Helps a Bearded Dragons Increase Their Temperature When Flattening Out?
Bearded Dragons will often look for warm objects or places that give off heat in order to help them increase their body temperature.
To help them do this they can lick certain a variety of objects in their surroundings as this helps them to establish the temperature of each object.
If you want to know more about how Bearded Dragons use the licking behaviour then check out this post right here for some fascinating facts.
Then they will either lay on top of the area or object with their body flat or they will simply get close to the area that is giving off the heat.
Let’s take a look at some common places and objects that a Bearded Dragon would use to be able to generate a small amount of heat as they flatten out their body.
- Basking rock
- Owner/Family member
- Warm chair
- Fence posts
- Paving stones
As an owner, you will be giving off body heat that your Dragon can absorb if they really need to and areas such as garden paving stones can hold a good amount of heat if the sun has been shining on them for a few hours.
Bearded Dragons can become very resourceful when they need to and they will often find a way to absorb heat in a variety of situations and surroundings.
2. Bearded Dragons Can Flatten out As a Fear Response
When a Bearded Dragon feels threatened or intimidated there are many ways that it can respond to the situation.
Most of the time a Bearded Dragon will run and hide if it is confronted by a bigger animal but sometimes that just isn’t possible so Bearded Dragons have other tricks or behaviours up their sleeves in order to thwart would-be predators.
The most common of these behaviours is to puff up their beard and turn it black in order to make them look bigger and nastier to any predator that is thinking of attacking them.
Here’s a great article that shows all the reasons why Bearded Dragons puff up their beard.
Another behaviour that is often used in conjunction with the ones mentioned above is to flatten out the stomach.
This technique works in much the same way as the first two as it makes the Dragon look larger and this can often be enough to detur a predator from attacking.
Bearded Dragons can often mistake harmless situations as threatening confrontations.
Here are some common reasons for a Bearded Dagon to flatten out its body through fear.
Cats and dogs can be intimidating to Bearded Dragons as they are much larger and realistically can pose a threat. It’s a good idea to try and get your Dragon and pets comfortable with each other so all the family can live in harmony.
I’ve written a post here that shares how bearded Dragons and dogs can play together and the potential dangers to watch out for.
If your Dragons is showing signs of fear every time another pet is coming into the room then you should make an extra effort to ensure your Dragons tank is full of good places to hide and this will help them feel safe and will usually help to settle down.
Here’s a post that lists my top hides, tunnels and more so you can build a great quality habitat for your Dragon.
If you don’t have time to read through the post, then you can take a look at this hide that we love over on Amazon…
New owners can be scary to Bearded Dragons especially if they are babies.
It’s always a good idea to try and bond with your Dragon as much as possible and help them feel comfortable in their new surroundings by creating a habitat that replicates their natural habitat as much as possible. Here I show you the best decor to create a great looking habitat.
Toys & Ornaments
It’s easy for a Dragon to mistake a children’s toy or an ornament as a potential predator.
If you have children and they leave either a doll or an action figure near your Dragon this can easily force them into defence mode as they just don’t know what it is.
The obvious thing to do is simply move the toy and the situation is over. If you have recently bought a new ornament or similar you could get the same situation but this is obviously going to be a permanent fixture in the room.
My advice here would be to see if your Dragon settles down and realises this is nothing to worry about, if not then you may want to consider moving the ornament as this can heighten stress levels over a long period of time.
Placed By The Window
Birds and cats can be scary for Bearded Dragons when seen from outside the window. Don’t forget these are natural predators for Beardies and they would be correct to show some level of fear.
If you have your Dragons tank next to the window and you are seeing this behaviour consistently then it might be worth moving the tank to see if the behaviour stops.
3. Is Illness Causing Your Bearded Dragon to Flatten Out?
Bearded Dragons don’t just have to flatten out their body then they are trying to increase their temperature or make themselves look bigger to potential predators.
They can actually flatten out their body when they are feeling ill too.
Although this is far less common than the first two reasons we have mentioned, it’s still something you need to consider.
If a Bearded Dragon is feeling sick and not eating, the lack of food in their stomach can make the stomach look much flatter than it normally would and feeling ill often means that they will lay still in one position.
Laying flat on the floor can also be the result of a calcium imbalance. You will need to assess the situation and If you notice other signs that your Dragon looks unwell then you should consult your vet for a thorough examination.
Vet bills can be costly as we all know, This is why I decided to do some research and find the best options for health insurance for your Bearded Dragon. If you want to know the best policies in the Us and Uk then take a look at this post here.
Why Do Bearded Dragons puff Out Their Body? The main reason why a Bearded Dragon puffs up its body is to look larger and more aggressive to would-be predators. They are also known to puff up in order to look more attractive and dominant to the opposite sex.
Here’s a great guide to all the 7 reasons why Bearded Dragons puff up if you want to know more.
Why do Bearded Dragons turn black? The main reason why Bearded Dragon turns black is to regulate body temperature. When they turn their beard and body black it’s much easier for them to absorb heat.
The 8 reasons why Bearded Dragon turn their beards black are here in this complete guide.
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