Bearded dragons are all unique and they all have very different personalities.
Their individual temperaments and behaviours have led some owners to ask if their bearded dragons can feel emotions and even get depressed?
This is a really great question, and in this post, we will look at if it’s actually possible for a bearded dragon to become depressed, if so what can cause them to become depressed and how to keep your bearded dragon happy.
Let’s first start off by answering the main question and finding out if bearded dragons can indeed get depressed.
So can bearded dragons get depressed? Bearded dragons can actually become depressed. The main reason for this is thought to be a lack of stimulation in captivity as a wild bearded dragon will always have plenty to keep them busy such as looking out for predators and hunting for food.
Can Bearded Dragons Get Depressed? (More Info)
As we mentioned above, bearded dragons can get depressed even though this isn’t something that happens regularly.
The main reason that beardies can get depressed is a lack of stimulation.
This can be broken down into 2 parts, the first is no time or stimulation out of their tank and the second is no stimulation inside the tank. (more detail on this shortly)
There are also other reasons and situations where a bearded dragon may find themselves feeling depressed.
Here are the 4 reasons why a bearded dragon is most likely to feel depressed…
- No Stimulation Outside Of The Tank
- No Stimulation Inside The Tank
- Tank too Small
- Losing Another Bearded Dragon In The Home
On the whole, bearded dragons don’t really get depressed unless they are really deprived of enrichment in their lives.
If you feel that your beardie may be depressed then it will usually be a quick fix to turn this around.
Let’s take a closer look at the 4 most common reason why your bearded dragon could possibly become depressed…
1. Tank Too Small
When a bearded dragon gets depressed it usually boils down to a lack of stimulation or enrichment in one way or another.
If your beardies tank is too small then this can cause them to become bored and ultimately depressed.
Remember that in the wild, bearded dragons like to roam as they hunt for food as keep out of the clutches of predators.
If the tank is too small then ultimately your beardie won’t have the space they need to be both happy and healthy.
Picking the correct sized tank for your bearded dragon is really important.
Here are the tank sizes we recommend for your bearded dragon depending on their age…
Bearded Dragon Tank Size Chart
|Baby Bearded Dragon||Juvenile Bearded Dragon||Adult Bearded Dragon|
As well as picking the correct sized tank, picking a high-quality tank that is good for both you and your beardie is also essential.
You can head over to our recommended tanks page to see the best 3 tanks we handpicked for baby, juvenile and adult bearded dragons…
2. Not Enough Stimulation Inside The Tank
As well as having a tank that is an adequate size for your bearded dragon it’s also essential that you provide them with the correct habitat inside the tank too.
If you leave the tank plain and boring then this too can cause your beardie to become understimulated and possibly depressed.
We are big believers in providing your bearded dragon with a habitat that closely mirrors their natural environment as much as possible.
This includes lots of hides, caves, plants, branches and rocks to climb on.
If your bearded dragon always has a place to explore, climb on and hide in then this will keep them happy and the chances of them becoming bored or even depressed are far less likely.
We have shared a list of our favourite tunnels, hides, caves as well as other tank decors in our recommended tank accessories page and well as the best places to get them from here…
3. Not Enough Stimulation Outside Of The Tank
As well as providing your bearded dragon with stimulation inside of their tank, it’s also important to provide them with stimulation outside of the tank too.
If your beardie is stuck in their tank 24/7 and never comes out of their tank then this could also be a cause of boredom and even depression.
Giving your beardie some playtime each day will provide them with some much needed mental stimulation.
You can even create an ‘enrichment pod’ which is generally a space such as a playpen where you place toys or unusual objects for your bearded dragon to investigate.
You can also let your beardie hunt their own food outside of their tank if you have a safe space for it (such as the enrichment pod)
4. Losing a Bearded Dragon In The Same House
Although we have never experienced this ourselves, many owners have reported their bearded dragon becoming depressed when another bearded dragon in the same house has sadly passed away.
We don’t ever recommend housing more than one bearded dragon in the same tank as this can cause lots of territorial and stress issues.
You can find out more about exactly what to expect when you house more than one bearded dragon in the same tank here…
Having said this, owners that have successfully housed 2 beardies together have noticed that if one beardie passes away then the other one can sometimes become depressed afterwards.
This is also thought to be true for bearded dragons that are housed in separate tanks but are in contact with each other.
As we said, we haven’t experienced this ourselves but lots of other owners have reported this so it’s worth pointing this out if you own more than one bearded dragon.
Do Wild Bearded Dragons Get Depressed?
It would be extremely unlikely that a bearded dragon in the wild would ever get depressed.
This is due to the fact that wild bearded dragons have so much to do each day just to stay alive and they really would have time to even think about being depressed.
Most of their day would be spent hunting for food, finding places to bask in the sun and keeping an eye out for predators.
Wild bearded dragons are often forced to burrow in holes to avoid the midday sun and predators alike and all this activity needs repeating on a daily basis.
When you consider how different the life of a wild beardie is to that of a captive beardie, they live a pretty hectic life that’s full of danger and uncertainty, mixed in with a lot of hard work.
All of this results in little to no chance of a bearded dragon in the wild becoming bored or depressed at any point.
Do All Bearded Dragons Get Depressed?
If you suspect that your bearded dragon is getting depressed then you probably want to know if this is something that all captive beardies go through? Or if it’s rare?
To answer this question with total honesty, no, not all captive bearded dragons will get depressed and this is something that happens rarely and only if they need more enrichment and mental stimulation.
For the most part, if your beardie is offered a good size tank with a natural-looking habitat with lots of accessories and daily mental stimulation out of the tank then boredom and depression isn’t something that you will even need to worry about.
If you suspect that your beardie is depressed then offering them all of the above should quickly resolve the issue.
We will talk about quick, easy and fun methods to keep your bearded dragon stimulated shortly but first, let’s take a look at the signs of a depressed bearded dragon…
What Are The Signs Of a Depressed Bearded Dragon?
If your bearded dragon is depressed then they will likely show signs that would be similar to a human that is depressed.
These signs can include…
- Lack of appetite
- Not interested in drinking
- Weight Loss
It’s really important at this point to understand that just because your beardie is showing one or more of these signs it doesn’t at all mean that they are definitely depressed.
This is because these symptoms can be signs of many other illnesses and even natural occurrences such as brumation and shedding.
In fact, the experts at PetMD talk about ‘tell-tale’ signs that your lizard is sick and named…
- Lack of appetite
- Fewer droppings
- Weight Loss
So this means that for a wide variety of illnesses your bearded dragon could display one or more of these symptoms.
We would always recommend going to see your local vet if you notice that your beardie is not behaving normally and displaying one or more of these symptoms.
You should always be vigilant and try to look at the logical reason why your bearded dragon is behaving this way and make a decision as to what the cause of the behaviour is from there.
Is It Unhealthy For My Bearded Dragon to Be Depressed?
If you suspect that your bearded dragon isn’t happy and is depressed, it can be quite a worry and you will obviously want to know if this is unhealthy for your beardie moving forward.
The answer to this question is yes, if your bearded dragon is depressed in the long term then it’s really not good for their health as this can lead to stress as well as the other factors we mentioned previously such as weight loss.
It is certainly something that you want to sort out and get to the bottom of as soon as possible if for nothing more than you want your beardie to live both a happy and healthy life.
As we have mentioned a couple of times previously in the post, if you provide your dragon with the simple things they need such as a large tank, and lots of stimulation both inside and outside of the tank then boredom and depression should never be a problem.
How Can I Stop My Bearded Dragon Being Depressed?
As well as the factors we have mentioned previously, its important that you provide your bearded dragon with as much enrichment from toys and activities as possible whilst they are in captivity.
Here are some simple and fun ideas that can keep your bearded dragon stimulated…
- Hunt for their own food
- Laser pen (let your beardie chase the laser)
- Hammock (beardies love chilling on these)
- Play with a small ball
- Take them for a walk
- A mirror in their tank (to see their reflection)
- Cat toys
- Look out of the window
- Have a cuddle
- Take insects inside a ball (let them try and get the insects out of the ball)
If you want to find out more about which laser pen, hammock, ball, mirror and all the other toys we recommend then head over to our recommended toys page where we share all our handpicked favourites…
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