Basking is an essential practice for both a happy and healthy bearded dragon.

It can be worrying if your bearded dragon isn’t basking as often as they once did or if they even aren’t basking at all.

In this post, we will cover the 10 reasons that could be stopping your bearded dragon from wanting to bask.

So, why isn’t my bearded dragon basking? The 10 reasons why your bearded dragon isn’t basking are:

  • Incorrect basking temperatures
  • Brumation
  • New to the home
  • Intimidation from other pets
  • Intimidation from other bearded dragons
  • Loud noises
  • Illness
  • Shedding 
  • Depression
  • Impaction

Read On to Learn…

Why Isn’t My Bearded Dragon Basking? (More Info)

Basking is a fundamental activity for bearded dragons and without sufficient basking time, they would struggle to perform vital bodily functions such as digesting food.

This, in turn, can cause a number of serious health issues such as impaction.

If you notice your beardie isn’t basking as they normally would, it’s important to get to the route cause of the problem as soon as possible.

The easiest way to do this is to use a process of elimination to eventually leave you with the sole cause of the issue.

Let’s now take a deeper look at the 9 reasons why your bearded dragon might not be wanting to bask… 

1. Incorrect Basking Temperatures

One of the most common reasons why bearded dragons refuse to bask is due to incorrect basking temperatures.

As previously mentioned, beardies need high temperatures in order to digest their food, however, if the basking temperatures are too high then it can cause your beardie to overheat and need to stay in the cool side of the tank.

It’s also common for the cool side of the tank to not have the correct temperature gradient when compared to the basking area. 

This means that the whole tank will effectively become like an oven and you will usually see your dragon hiding to take refuge.

Here’s a table that shares a guide of the recommended temperatures for a bearded dragon…

Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide

Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide
Basking Area 95°-100°F
Cool Spot 75°-80°F
Night 70°-75°F

As well as using a thermostat to keep the tank to the required temperature, we also recommend using a handheld digital thermometer.

This will allow you to independently check the temperature in various areas of the tank and see if the thermostat readings are correct.

Simply using a thermostat isn’t recommended as you can’t be sure that the readings are correct over time.

The digital thermometer we recommend you use is the ‘ZooMed Repti Temp’.

You can check it out over at Amazon below…

Zoo Med ReptiTemp Digital Infrared Thermometer, 6 x 1.3 x 6 inches
  • Great for Monitoring Basking Areas, Thermal Gradients, Incubation, and Hibernation Temperatures.
  • Temperature measurement Range -28° to 230°F (-33° to 110°C)

Last update on 2021-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Brumation

If you find that your bearded dragon isn’t want to bask as they usually would then it could be a sign that they are beginning a period of brumation.

If you are unsure what brumation is, then it’s basically the reptile equivalent of hibernation.

Most beardies will go into a period of brumation during the winter months in captivity as they would in the wild.

This means that they will naturally seek to sleep in a safe place for a number of weeks without the need to bask or eat.

There are many signs that can help you to indicate if your beardie is preparing to brumate.

The tell-tale signs of brumation in bearded dragons are:

  • Eating less
  • More frequent sleep
  • Earlier bedtime
  • Frequent hiding
  • Pooping less
  • Basking less
  • Slow or sluggish movement
  • Increased burrowing

Some of these signs can be related to illnesses so it’s essential to not simply assume that brumation is the reason for less frequent basking.

However, the more of these signs you can identify along with the time of year (moving towards winter) would point towards potential brumation.

Here’s our full brumation article that covers all you need to know as an owner in a step by step guide…

3. New to The Home

If your bearded dragon is new to the home then you can expect them to bask less in most cases.

If you are bringing a baby beardie to a new home for the first time or you are rehoming a beardie then there is a big chance that they will be feeling scared and unsure about their new surroundings.

New owners and pets can be intimidating and can even be perceived as predators in certain circumstances to a small and vulnerable beardie.

This can make your new bearded dragon feel like they need to hide and stay safe even when they know they really should be absorbing heat from the basking bulb.

You should allow your new dragon time to settle in and provide at least one good quality hiding place that they can fit there full body into.

Here’s a great hide that we often recommend for bearded dragons as it’s natural-looking, large enough for beardie to fit inside and feel safe…

Exo Terra Reptile Cave, Medium
  • Provides secure hiding place
  • Natural look integrates in any type of terrarium

Last update on 2021-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You should also avoid overhandling and too much interaction in the first week or so as this can cause unwanted stress.

Obviously, a little handling is ok but the excitement of a new pet can lead to overhandling and cause more stress and uncertainty in your dragon.

After the first week or so they will usually settle down and begin to understand that you mean them no harm and begin to get used to their new environment.

4. Intimidation From Other Pets

Intimidation from other pets is another strong possibly why a bearded dragon may choose not to bask.

If you have other pets in your hame, especially cats and dogs then they can cause lots of stress for bearded dragons.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t own cats, dogs and beardies, but it does mean that you need to be aware that larger animals can cause stress to bearded dragons on occasion.

To a bearded dragon, larger animals such as cats and dogs can easily be perceived as predators and it can take a long time for them to feel comfortable and safe around them.

Even if your beardie builds some trust with your other pets, situations such as a large dog barking at a stranger at the door can easily scare your dragon and force them to hide and therefore not bask until they feel safe again.

There are lots of scenarios where pets get on great with beardies and others where they don’t, so keeping an eye on this is key.

Here’s a great post that covers if bearded dragons and dogs can actually play together? Or if you should avoid this at all costs?

5. Intimidation From Other Bearded Dragons

If you house more than one beardie in your tank then you could easily find one of the beardie refusing to bask.

This is generally because bearded dragons are territorial and the more dominant figure will take command of prized locations such as the basking spot.

This means that more submissive bearded dragons won’t be allowed to bask and will be forced to stay away at the cooler end of the tank.

We would never recommend housing more than one bearded dragon in the same tank as there are just too many potential issues that can occur.

There are many behaviours that can indicate if territorial battles are present.

Here are some of the most common territorial and social behaviours to look out for with bearded dragons:

  • Stacking (when a bearded dragon lays on top of another)
  • Arm waving
  • Head bobbing
  • Beard flaring
  • Hissing

It may also come as a surprise to know that you can house your beardies in two separate tanks and still get most of the same issues if they are close together and can still see each other.

This is something to keep an eye out for and if you notice problems you should try to either move your beardies where they can’t see each other or to separate rooms altogether.

6. Loud Noises

Loud noises can also be an issue for bearded dragons and if they are unsure what is cause the noise they will retreat to hiding spots and refuse to bask until they feel safe.

Here’s a list of noises and sounds that can cause a bearded dragon to feel intimidated:

  • Music
  • TV
  • Hoovers
  • Hairdryers
  • Pets barking

Always try and limit the volume of your TV or music if you house your bearded dragon in the same room as your TV and sound system.

Ideally, you should house your dragon in a room without loud music and even TV, although we understand this is difficult so just keeping the volume down is advised.

7. Illness

If your bearded dragon isn’t basking then it would be wise to make the appropriate checks to see if they are ill.

Often beardies will be lethargic and stay in one spot if they are ill and they have a natural tendency to hide away.

Beardies can feel ill for a number of reasons including parasites and mouth rot. 

It can be hard to determine if a bearded dragon is ill although there a certain signs to look out for.

Here common signs of an ill bearded dragon:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargic
  • Constant hiding
  • Not pooping
  • Diarrhoea 

If you suspect that your beardie is ill then we would highly recommend seeking the advice of your vet as soon as possible as leaving issues for long periods can lead to serious health problems in the long run.

8. Shedding

An often-overlooked reason why bearded dragon will bask less often is due to shedding.

Shedding can be a difficult process for beardies as they shed in patches over a number of days, rather than in one piece like snakes do.

The frequency a bearded dragon sheds depends on its age and rate of growth.

This means that shedding can make your dragon sore, itchy and extremely moody.

If you notice your bearded dragon hiding instead of basking when they are shedding then there’s a good chance that they are having a tough time.

There are lots you can do as an owner to help your dragon through the shedding process.

Here’s a full easy to follow guide that covers all you need to know about shedding beardies and how you can easily help them through the process…

9. Depression

There’s also a chance that your beardie could be suffering from a lack of stimulation and therefore becoming depressed.

When a beardie is feeling a lack of stimulation they are known to become lethargic and retreat to hiding spots and bask less frequently.

The 3 main reasons why your bearded dragon can become depressed are:

  • Lack of stimulation (in the tank)
  • Lack of stimulation (outside of the tank)
  • The tank is too small

It’s hugely important that you provide your beardie with a habitat that closely resembles their natural one as much as possible.

This means filling their tank with lots of rocks, plants and hiding places to make them feel at home and stimulated.

If the tank is bare and plain this simply won’t provide enough enrichment and can lead to a lack of stimulation.

Here’s a post where we list our favourite tank decor and the best places to get it from…

You also need to provide lots of enrichment outside of the tank too. This helps with bonding and is a great way for you to spend time with your dragon.

Check out this post where we list the 17 best toys and activities to give your bearded dragon all the enrichment they need…

Last but not least, keeping your beardie in a tank that’s large enough for them is also essential to keep them happy.

If the tank is too small then this can have a negative effect and make them feel like they are trapped.

Here’s a guide that shows the recommended tank sizes depending on the age of your bearded dragon…

Bearded Dragon Tank Size Chart

Baby Bearded DragonJuvenile Bearded DragonAdult Bearded Dragon
20-40/g50-75/g75/120/g

10. Impaction

One of the more serious reasons on this list why your bearded dragon might not be basking is ‘impaction’.

Impaction is where a hard mass creates a blockage within the digestive system and prevents food from being digested.

This could be foreign objects such as pebbles, sand and other substances that block the system.

If a bearded dragon is suffering from impaction they generally won’t feel like eating and won’t be able to poop either. 

Even though time under the basking lamp will in theory help to digest and clear the blockage (depending on what it is) the pain of the impaction can lead the beardie to want to hide instead of moving around.

In untreated, impaction can become serious and even fatal for bearded dragons.

Here’s an in-depth post that covers the signs, causes and treatments for impaction…

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Not Basking Or Eating?

While there are several reasons why your bearded dragon might not be basking there are also a number of reasons that can cause them to refuse to eat as well.

So, what are the reasons why my bearded dragon isn’t eating or basking? The reasons your bearded dragon isn’t eating or basking are:

  • Impaction
  • Illness
  • Brumation
  • Stress 
  • Shedding

We have already talked about all of these reasons as they can be common causes of a reduction in basking.

They can also be the cause of a lack of appetite too, which means understanding the tell-tale signs of each situation can help get to the route cause and help to stop misdiagnosis.

What Should I Do If My Bearded Dragons Continues to Not Bask?

Most of the time, when a bearded dragon isn’t basking it will be a quick fix once you understand the route cause.

However, if this isn’t the case then you really have no other option but to take your beardie to the vets.

Bearded dragons need to bask in order to be healthy and if they aren’t doing this fundamental activity for prolonged periods then there’s obviously something not right.

The best thing is to take your dragon to the vets and let them take a look to see if there’s an issue.

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