A lot of Bearded Dragon owners provide a hide in their Dragons tanks but are these hides actually necessary? Or are they simply a fashion accessory?
This is a question that every owner really needs to know the answer to. With that being said, I’ve gone ahead and researched this topic fully with information from experts as well as using my own experiences to give you all the answers you need.
So do Bearded Dragons need a hide? Bearded Dragons need a hide in their tank to help them feel safe if they encounter any mildly stressful or intimidating situations. Also, Bearded Dragons often feel safer at night time and during brumation if they have a hide to sleep in.
Read on to find out more about why hides are important, what you should look for in a good hide, what position in the tank the hide should be placed, my top recommendations and more!
Why Is Having a Hide Important?
In the wild. Bearded Dragons would be under constant threat from predators such as birds and coyotes.
For this reason, they would need to find suitable hiding places that would allow them to keep out of the clutches of such predators.
In captivity, the need for a hide may not seem as important but there are several situations that your Bearded Dragon can face each day where a hide would still be vital to them. We briefly touched on a couple of these reasons above but now let’s take a closer look at why it’s vital that you provide your Bearded Dragon with a hide in captivity.
Hiding From Other Pets
If you have other pets in your home such as dogs or cats, then there’s a good chance that your Bearded Dragon could see them as a predator or at least finds them a little intimidating from time to time.
For this reason, you should always provide your Dragon with a hide so they can have the opportunity to retreat if they feel unsure or scared when your cat or dog is in the room.
Your Bearded Dragon and other pets may have a great relationship and be totally comfortable with each other which is great, however, you should always provide a hide as some dogs can get giddy or bark loudly and this can easily scare your Dragon and having a hide just allows them a place to retreat until they can assess the situation.
If you want to know how you can introduce your Bearded Dragon to your dog and get them playing together then take a look at this post that details everything you need to know.
Sleeping In The Hide
As we mentioned briefly at the top of this post, a lot of Bearded Dragons love to sleep in their hide as opposed to in the open.
This comes down to personal preference and how safe they feel in their tank at night times.
Remember in the wild a Bearded Dragon would be an easy target for predators if they slept in the open and they wouldn’t be able to sleep with confidence that they would be alive in the morning.
This is an instinct that doesn’t leave them when they live in captivity. Most Bearded Dragons will like to sleep in a hide to give them peace of mind that no predator can come and attack them during the night.
The same can be said during brumation. When a Bearded Dragon is going through brumation, which is basically the reptile equivalent of hibernation, they need to find a spot that they can feel safe and this is usually in a hide.
Bearded Dragons that don’t have a hide when they are about to start brumation can often be found excessively digging to create a safe sleeping place.
It’s also worth noting that Bearded Dragon can dig more many other reasons and if you want to find out all you need to know about digging as an owner then take a look at this post that is dedicated to digging.
Here’s a fantastic post that covers all aspects of Bearded Dragon brumation so you can fully understand all the signs and how to help your Dragon during the brumation period.
Did You Know?
Bearded Dragons ideally need between 8-12 hours of sleep per day! Having ‘lights out’ at the same time every night will help to emulate how the sun rises and sets in the wild.
Baby Bearded Dragons
Hides are actually essential for baby Bearded Dragons. When a baby Dragon is brought home for the first time it’s an exciting time for the owner but it can be a time of nerves and uncertainty for the baby.
There’s so much for them to take in and adapt to that it’s a difficult time for them until they settle in.
Even you as their owner could be perceived as a predator and having a hide is vital to reduce stress levels and allow them to settle in at their own pace.
Moving The Tank/Change Of Scenery
Similar to how a baby Bearded Dragons need a hide to help them settle, this can also be relevant to adults too.
Bearded Dragons can get uncomfortable with the slightest of changes such as moving the tank to the other end of the room, changing the wallpaper, changing the curtains or even a new ornament.
When changes like this happen the first place Bearded Dragons often like to go is in their hide until they have assessed any changes that have been made and then come out at their own pace.
Reduce Minimize Stress
When a Bearded Dragon doesn’t have a hide it can cause them stress in both the short term and the long term.
This is because they can feel exposed in those situations where they feel unsure or intimidated and their first thought will always be to retreat to a safe place and if they are denied this opportunity it can increase their stress levels.
It’s important to provide a hide so they don’t build up stress levels as this can cause problems such as loss of appetite which in turn can cause other health problems.
Another great but often overlooked reason for including a hide in your Bearded Dragons tank is that they actually may just want to chill in the hide.
There doesn’t always have to be a reason that involves them feeling intimidated, stressed or scared as sometimes it’s simply nice to just give your Dragon a place for them to chill and relax.
Some Bearded Dragons love to relax on branches while others will rest on hammocks but there’s also a large portion of Dragons that will enjoy spending any time away from the basking area relaxing under a hide or cave.
Bearded Dragons do upto 90% of their growing in the first 12 months of their life!
What Should You Look For In a Good Hide?
Now you know the reasons why your Bearded Dragon needs a hide even in captivity, it’s also important to understand what you should look for in an effective hide that will make your Dragon feel safe and be fit for purpose no matter what they choose to use it for.
The Hide Must Be Big Enough
A big mistake that I often see is owners that have hides that are way too small for their Dragon.
The hide should cover your Dragons full body so they feel sheltered and safe from any danger.
Some owners purchase a hide for their Bearded Dragons when they are a baby but as they grow older the hide becomes too small to give them the protection they are looking for so it’s important you upgrade the size of the hide as your Bearded Dragon reaches adulthood.
Natural Looking Hides Are Best
I’m a big advocate of making the whole tank decor look and feel as close to a Bearded Dragons natural habitat as possible and this includes installing a hide that looks and feels natural.
In the wild, they would hide under rocks or even branches to keep safe from predators and that’s why I’m not really a big fan of using ice cream tubs or she boxes to create DIY hides.
Don’t get me wrong, these DIY hides will work and if you can’t spare the extra expense for a natural-looking hide or don’t have access to some rocks that you can arrange then this is certainly better than not having a hide at all.
I would personally only use this DIY method as a last resort as it doesn’t provide that authentic look and feel of your Dragons natural habitat and I have always believed that Bearded Dragons feel more at home, comfortable and confident in a habitat that feels natural down to the last detail.
My Top Recommendations For Hides
Rather than you having to look for hours to try and find suitable hides for your Bearded Dragon, I’ve put together a list of 4 great options depending on what you want the habitat to look like.
If you want to know the cheapest and best place to get any of these hides then go to this blog post where I list my favourite tank decor and where to get it from.
The first hide I would recommend is the Magnaturals hideaway as it looks natural and comes in different sizes so you can easily get one big enough for adult Bearded Dragons.
I would also recommend getting a tunnel hide as Bearded Dragons often love these and they are a great addition to the traditional hide. The Zoo Med full cork tunnel is a good option because if you have a small tank or you don’t have much space, you can actually cut it down to the desired length you require.
If you are looking for a hide that makes a statement, simply looks awesome and still provides your Bearded Dragon with the shelter it requires then I would recommend going for either the Exo Terra Skull Hideaway or the Exo Terra Crocodile Skull Hideaway.
Either of these options simply looks awesome if you are wanting to create a great looking habitat and they are actually really cheap compared to other options.
Here are some images of all the hides I’ve just mentioned. Remember that I share the cheapest place to get these hides and other tank decor in this post here.
What Side Of The Tank Should You Place The Hide
Ok, so you’ve got a good quality, great look and hide but where should you actually place it in the tank? And is it really important?
First of all, Yes, it’s actually important where you place the hide if you want your Dragon to get the most out of it.
You should actually place the hide in the cool side of the tank so that your Bearded Dragon can have somewhere to retreat when they are not basking that will allow them to cool down if needed.
Not all Bearded Dragons will want to do this but when a Bearded Dragon has been basing and has reached their optimal temperature they will often move to the cool side of the tank so they don’t get too hot and having decor such as plants and hides in this side of the tank is a great idea.
The second reason is that most Bearded Dragons will want to sleep in their hide. Although the temperature in the tank will even out after a while, the temperature in the cool side will be more comfortable for sleeping to begin with so they will gravitate towards that area and therefore it’s a good idea to have the hide in that side of the tank.
Don’t forget you can also have multiple hides and place them in multiple areas of the tank but if you just have the one then I would always place it in the cool side of the tank.
Is it normal for Bearded Dragons to hide? It’s natural for a Bearded Dragon to hide because in the wild they would have to hide from predators through the day and also at night while sleeping. Bearded Dragons would also need to hide from predators during a period of brumation.
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