As a Bearded Dragons owner, It’s important to know both how they see and how well they can see.
There isn’t much information about the eyesight of Bearded Dragons in books or on the internet and the information out there is often scattered and difficult to grasp.
I’ve decided to write this post to bring all the information together so you can finally understand how Bearded Dragons see!
So how do Bearded Dragons see? Bearded Dragons primarily see from the two eyes that are positioned at the sides of their head. This positioning gives them a better range of vision than humans. Bearded Dragons also have a third eye that’s located at the top of their head in the form of a grey spot that only senses changes to light such as shadows.
Read on to find out more about how Bearded Dragons see, how the third eye works, how well they can see in the dark, if a good diet helps your Bearded Dragon to see better and more!
How Do Bearded Dragons See? (A Closer Look)
Bearded Dragons have two eyes located at either side of the skull. The placement of the eyes gives the Bearded Dragon a wider range of vision than us humans.
When the eyes are placed at the front of the skull as it is with humans, the vision is focused straight forward and we have peripheral vision to around the shoulder area at best before we need to move our neck or body change the view.
Because a Bearded Dragons eyes are located at the sides of the skull, this gives them the ability to almost look forwards and over their shoulder at the same time.
Bearded Dragons also have a third eye that is barely visible and comes in the form of a grey spot at the top of the skull (between the eyes).
Not many owners are even aware that their Dragon has a third eye or how it is vital for the survival of a Bearded Dragon.
Let’s now take a look at the ‘third eye’ and how it works.
The Third Eye
The third eye is called the ‘parietal eye’ and it’s so disguised that not many owners even know it’s there.
This eye has a lens and a retina but no iris and has a thinner transparent layer of skin that covers it. They don’t see colours and images out this eye as they would there other two eyes but it is still very useful.
The parietal eye or third eye only sees shadows and changes to the light from above.
This then gives important information about changes in their surroundings.
If you close your eyes and then slowly move your hand right up to your eye, you will notice that even with your eyes closed that everything gets darker.
This is essentially what the third eye of a Bearded Dragon does but much more efficiently.
Although you should always be gentle and considerate when handling your Bearded Dragon, you are fine to pet the top of their head as the third eye is covered by the layer of skin/scale we talked about so it’s well protected.
How important Is It For a Bearded Dragon to See?
A Bearded Dragons slight is vital to them and in the wild, they would struggle to survive without excellent vision from all three of their eyes.
Let’s take a look at the reason why Bearded Dragons need to see well.
In the wild, Bearded Dragons need both good vision and a wide range of vision to spot insects that are scurrying around.
The placement of their eyes makes it easy to see potential prey from a multitude of angles without having to turn around.
This is also important in captivity, if you place live feeders in your Dragons tank then the wide range of vision allows them to catch the insects much easier as most of them will try and hide under rocks, plants and even substrate.
In captivity, this might not seem as important but in the wild, the ability to evade predators is essential.
Without adequate tools to combat predators then any animal won’t last long.
Bearded Dragons can again use their wide range of vision to almost see what is in front of them and behind them at the same time without having to move their neck.
They also have a secret weapon up their sleeve with their ‘third eye’. They actually use this eye to sense when predators are over the top of them by sensing subtle changes to the amount of light above as predators will create shadows as they block out the light from the sun.
This is especially useful if they are basking for example when a bird is flying overhead. The third eye would quickly sense that there is something above them and then they can take the appropriate action.
Finding Their Way Home
There was a study done by 2 scientists, Barbara A. Ellis-Quinn and Carol A. Simony. The study wasn’t with Bearded Dragons directly but was using lizards with parietal eyes or ‘third eyes’.
They found that the lizards actually use their third eye as a form of navigation.
Bearded Dragons and other lizards are very territorial and like to occupy a certain area. If they leave that terratory they can usually find their way back with no problems.
In the experiment, the scientists wanted to know if lizards with a parietal eye was used to guide the lizards home or if they were using other senses to do this.
This is the overview of the test…
1. They caught a number of lizards and released them over 200 metres from home. The lizards found their way back to their territory with no problems as predicted.
2. The scientists then split the lizards into groups where they covered the parietal eye of the first group and left the parietal eye uncovered in the second.
3. The group that didn’t have their parietal eye covered found their way back home with no problems while the group that had the eye covered were disorientated and couldn’t find their way home for over 2 days.
The Result – The result is that lizards with a parietal eye including Bearded Dragons use it for navigation and orientation.
The Time Of Day
Bearded Dragons can also use their parietal eye to judge the time of day and more importantly when it’s going to get dark.
As the sun begins to set and the sky becomes darker, the parietal eye or ‘third eye’ will pick up on the subtle changes in light and realise that nighttime is setting in.
This is very important for Bearded Dragons to understand the day-night cycle of the sun as they aren’t nocturnal.
It’s also important for you to give them regular bedtimes in captivity where you turn the lights off at the same time every night.
This is the main reason why you should never keep any of the lights on in your Bearded Dragons tank at night because your Dragons third eye will notice the light and get confused thinking it’s midday.
Can Bearded Dragons See In Colour?
The spectrum of colour that a Bearded Dragon can see is highly increased compared to that of a human.
The reason for this is that humans use 3 cones that are found at the back of the eye that are responsible for detecting light.
Bearded Dragons and some other lizards, however, use 4 cones so they can see far more colour than us humans.
When doing my research I found it hard to find any concrete evidence as to how many more colours this extra cone allows them to see but after gathering all the reports from scientists, it’s somewhere in the millions.
Something that I found interesting is that the use of this extra cone allows Bearded Dragons to see UV light.
Can Bearded Dragons See In The Dark?
Bearded Dragons don’t actually see in the dark very well. This is because they are ‘diurnal’ which means they are active throughout the day and sleep at night as opposed to ‘nocturnal’ which means they sleep through the day and are active through the night.
Any animal that is nocturnal will be able to see better in the dark and while it’s not really needed for Bearded Dragons as they will be sleeping.
The third eye can still work in the dark, however, the changes in light will be very subtle and it will be much more effective during the day.
Bearded Dragons actually need a certain amount of sleep each day to keep them healthy. Here’s a guide that details exactly how much sleep you need to give your Bearded Dragons each day.
How Far Can Bearded Dragons See?
It’s hard to give an actual statistic on just how far a Bearded Dragon can see.
All I can say is that for my experience and research they can see very well and as far as they need to in order to hunt insects and keep safe from predators.
Some owners report their Bearded Dragon spotting aeroplanes in the sky and watching them intently until they are completely out of sight.
I’m more than sure that Bearded Dragons can see from one end of a living room to the other with no problems at all and if you placed a worm or other insect on the floor at one end of the room you Dragon would easily see it, recognise what it was and chase after it from the other end of the room.
Having said this, Bearded Dragons are known to have pretty poor preception when it comes to judging objects and distances.
For example, when climbing they can often misjudge distances and as a consequence miss the branch they are trying to move towards.
If you want to know more about how Bearded Dragons climb, what objects they can climb in your home and why you need to always watch for them climbing outdoors then take a look at this guide to Bearded Dragon climbing.
How Can You Help Your Bearded Dragons See Better?
As an owner, you also need to play your part in helping your Bearded Dragon keep their eyes healthy and in good condition.
Here’s what you can do as an owner to keep your Dragons eyes healthy.
Diet is probably an obvious one but you need to supply your Bearded Dragons with a balanced diet that contains protein from insects and vitamin from vegetation to aid in overall health including the eyes.
The number of insects and vegetation you need to feed them will vary depending on their age.
Below is a chart that shows the % of protein and vegetation both baby and adult Bearded Dragons need in their diet as a rule of thumb.
You also need to provide your Dragon with the correct calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin supplements. Here’s a guide that shares the recommended supplements for a Bearded Dragons to keep them healthy.
Lighting is so important for Bearded Dragons. Without the correct basking temperatures, they won’t be able to digest their food and therefore won’t be able to use any of the nutrients they’ve consumed through their food or supplementation.
UVB lighting is also essential as they need this for many reasons including the absorption of vitamin D3.
Without both a balanced diet and high-quality lighting then they will struggle with their health and their eyes and likely to suffer as a result.
If you’re not sure how to set up the lighting in your Bearded Dragons tank then take a look at this complete lighting guide.
What Other Senses Do Bearded Dragons Use?
One of the most overlooked senses that a Bearded Dragons uses to keep safe among other things is its tongue.
Bearded Dragons lick just about everything in order to understand more about their surroundings.
They use this licking behaviour to test the temperature of objects and check the scent of their owners as well as realising their position in the social hierarchy or the group.
Here’s a post that details exactly why Bearded Dragons lick and why it’s vital to their safety.
How many eyes do Bearded Dragons have? Bearded Dragons actually have 3 eyes. They have 2 eyes that are located at the sides of the skull and they also have a third eye called the ‘parietal eye’ that is located at the top of the skull and is in the form of a grey spot covered by a thin layer of skin.
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