Bearded Dragons aren’t particularly known for running on 2 legs, however, this is a behaviour that they do display when they need to.
This is something that has always fascinated me so I decided to do some research and get to the bottom of this intriguing behaviour.
So why do Bearded Dragons run on 2 legs? Bearded Dragons run on 2 legs because as they hit their top running speed, gravity moves their centre of mass and this forces the Bearded Dragons body into an upright position. Studies show they don’t actually mean to run on 2 legs but are forced to by the laws of physics.
Read on to find out what situations a Bearded Dragon may be forced to run on 2 legs, how fast they can run, if it’s unhealthy for them to run on 2 legs and more!
Why Do Bearded Dragons Run On 2 Legs? (a Closer Look)
For a long time, it was thought that Bearded Dragons ran on their back legs on purpose as a means to make them faster.
In recent years scientists have done a lot of research on this and have found that this simply isn’t the case.
Studies now show that Bearded Dragons run on their back legs because of an evolutionary fault that causes their centre of gravity to shift and pull their body into an upright position when they are running at top speed.
Scientists believe that the fault has occurred because Bearded Dragons and other lizards have developed the ability to manoeuvre very sharply on their back legs as this allows them to change direction very quickly.
This ability to change direction enables Bearded Dragons to escape predators and also catch prey but as a consequence caused a shift of weight to the back legs and this is thought to be the main reason why their body is forced into an upright position and make them run on 2 legs.
The points mentioned can be backed up by the University of Cambridge who did a study where they filmed 16 different species of lizards running on a treadmill. National Geographic also talk about this study in good terms, I’ve highlighted the main points for you above that are relevant to you as an owner.
How Fast Can Bearded Dragons Run On 2 Legs?
If you’re like me then you’ll be really interested to know just how fast a Bearded Dragon can run when they pull up on those 2 back legs.
They actually run at a top speed of 9 miles per hour! This can be backed up by petmd who also state this number as a Bearded Dragons top speed.
There are obviously some variables to this top speed such as
An adult Bearded Dragons should be able to run faster than a baby Dragon but an old Bearded Dragon will struggle to run as fast as they would in their prime which is pretty much common sense. Here’s a post that shows how fast Bearded Dragons grow from babies through to adulthood.
Every Bearded Dragon will have slightly different genetics. This will depend on their parent’s genetics and so on. If a Bearded Dragon has good genetics it should be able to run faster than a Dragon with poor genetics.
Diet will also play a huge part in how fast a Bearded Dragon can run. If a Bearded Dragon is fed a good diet with lots of healthy proteins and the calcium it needs then it will certainly help to increase muscle mass and power and ultimately make them a faster runner.
Lighting is another factor that can affect the speed of a Bearded Dragon. If your Dragon doesn’t have the correct basking lamp set up then they won’t be able to digest food and if the UVB lamp isn’t set up correctly then they won’t be able to process the calcium they need for healthy bones and more.
If you are unsure of how to set up your lighting correctly or you want some more advice then check out this light guide here that shows you everything you need to know as an owner.
What Situations Can Make Bearded Dragons Run On 2 Legs?
There are lots of reasons why Bearded Dragons may feel the need to run on 2 legs in both the wild and captivity.
Some of the reasons may seem obvious while others less so. Let’s take a look at these reasons and see if you could ever encounter them as an owner.
Running On 2 Legs In The Wild
There are 2 main reasons why a Bearded Dragon would run on 2 legs in the wild.
The first is that they are trying to escape from predators. A Bearded Dragons first instinct will be to hide if at all possible but sometimes they will be forced into a position where they simply have to run.
Bearded Dragons can face a wide variety of predators in the wild and these predators are often larger and faster so bearded Dragons don’t really have a good chance of outrunning predators and therefore running is just a short term solution until they spot a hiding place that is out of reach from the larger animal.
Common predators of the Bearded Dragon include
- Various Birds of prey
The second reason why Bearded Dragons would run on 2 legs in the wild is to catch prey.
In the wild food can often become scarce for Bearded dragons just like it can for any animal.
If they spot an insect or something of interest at a distance then the only way to catch and ultimately eat is to chase it.
Depending on fast or far the Bearded Dragon needed to run to catch the prey would then determine if they ended up on their back legs or not as explained earlier in the post.
Other Pets Causing Your Bearded Dragon to Run On 2 Legs
If you own a Bearded Dragon then you are likely to be interested in what situation could lead your Dragon to run on 2 legs in captivity.
One of the main and most common reasons for this behaviour is that they will suddenly be spooked or scared by a household pet.
The most common pets for Bearded Dragons are spooked or scared by are
Bearded Dragons can quite easily see these larger animals as predators and if they aren’t accustomed to their presence then just catching a glimpse of them can cause a Bearded Dragon to basically run for their life.
Having said this, it is quite possible to have cats and dogs living in harmony with Bearded Dragon but it does take some time and patience to allow them to become comfortable with each other.
Here I’ve written a post that shares how you can have Bearded Dragons and dogs playing with each other in harmony and also the potential dangers you need to look out for.
Sometimes even if your Bearded Dragon and other pets are totally comfortable with each other, there is still a chance that your Dragon can get a little scared or spooked from time to time.
Imagine if your dog hears a knock at the door and jumps up barking, this can quite easily force your Dragon to feel intimidated and acting by instinct run as fast as it can towards a hiding place.
I think it’s always a good idea to have your Bearded Dragon and other pets comfortable with each other but you should treat the situation with respect and never leave them alone.
Predators In The Garden
Taking your Bearded Dragon outside in the garden is something that I would recommend if at all possible as it is full of positives such as
- Mental Stimulation
- Bonding with you the owner
Talking your Dragon into the garden does also come with some risks too, notably the potential risk of predators.
How hight the risk is will depend on the country you live in but it’s always something you should be aware of.
If your Bearded Dragon sees a bird swoop into a tree or a cat jump onto a fence then it can easily fear for its life and decide that running is the best option to escape.
I’ve written a post that here shares all you need to know about the dangers of letting your Bearded Dragon outside and how to do it safely.
Something that I always recommend you do when you take your Dragon out in the garden is to keep them on a ‘Bearded Dragon leash’ so you don’t have to worry about them running away if they get spooked and getting lost. I recommend you at least use a leash to begin with until your Dragon is comfortable with the surroundings in the garden.
Another option that I recommend is to learn your Bearded Dragon to come running to you when you call their name.
This is important because even if at any point your Dragon runs away in the home or garden you can simply call their name and they will come running to you.
You might think this is impossible but it’s actually quite easy to train a Bearded Dragon to do this with simple and consistent training. I’ve written a post here that explains how you can train your Bearded Dragon to respond to your name in simple steps.
Fear Of a Family Member
It’s actually quite common for a Bearded Dragon to be fearful of a family member and this can lead them to run away on 2 legs.
This will usually happen for 2 main reasons. The first is that the Bearded Dragon is a baby and is unsure or it’s surroundings and still very skittish around humans.
Baby Bearded Dragons will need some time to adapt to a new home and to new owners. There is a couple of things you can do in order to help them settle in quicker like getting the correct sized tank and having the right tank decor that will allow them to feel safe and also replicates their natural habitat.
Although when they won’t be in their tank when they are running on their back legs, having the correct tank size and decor will help them to settle much quicker in the home.
Here’s a post that shows the correct tank size you need for baby, juvenile and adult Bearded Dragons and the best tanks to choose.
If you are unsure of what decor will create a habitat that looks and feel like your Bearded Dragons natural habitat that here’s a post that will guide you and show you my recommended items.
The Second reasons why family members can force Bearded Dragons to run on 2 legs is due to younger children in the family getting excited or giddy.
It can be a very exciting time when you have a Bearded Dragon in the home and younger children often love spending time with this new family pet.
It’s great that children love Bearded Dragons and pets in general, however, this excitement can sometimes spill over into pure giddiness and this can then scare your Bearded Dragon even if they are an adult.
It’s certainly worth training young children and visitors to try and keep calm around your Bearded Dragon and this way they will have better interactions and a healthier bond if your Dragon is confident and comfortable with the situation.
Television Scaring Your Bearded Dragon
While most Bearded Dragon won’t even take a second look at a television, others can get quite easily scared or intimidated by it and this can lead them to run away or those 2 back legs.
If the television is quiet and all of a sudden there is an action see n in a movie then the sudden increase of sound can scare your Dragon.
It’s also worth mentioning that if any animals appear on the screen this can also cause a Bearded Dragon to instinctively run for a hiding spot.
unless your Dragon is comfortable with the surroundings then it’s probably best to keep the television off. I’ve written a great post here that details why letting your Bearded Dragon run around the house is a good idea and also highlights the dangers you need to look out for.
Why do Bearded Dragons run back and forth? Bearded Dragons usually run back and forth in their tank as a way to express that they are stressed about a certain situation. This behaviour is more commonly known as ‘glass surfing’.
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