Bearded dragons are known for displaying unique and unusual behaviours and hissing is one of those behaviours.
But why do bearded dragons hiss? And is hissing a behaviour that you should be worried about?
In this post, we will take a deeper look at the 13 common reasons that can cause your bearded dragon to hiss as well as simple techniques use can use to calm down a hissing bearded dragon.
So why do bearded dragons hiss? Bearded dragons hiss either as a warning or as an aggressive display. Here are the 13 common situations that can cause your bearded dragon to hiss:
- Over Handling
- Mating Season
- Incorrect Tank Temperature
- No Hiding Places
- Injury Or Illness
- Seeing Their Own Reflection
- Being Disturbed Whilst Eating
- New Home
- New Surroundings
- Other Bearded Dragons
- Other Pets In The Home
Read On to Discover…
Why Do Bearded Dragons Hiss? (More Info)
Bearded dragons often display a variety of both unique and fascinating behaviours but it can sometimes be hard to understand why these behaviours are being used and in what context.
One such behaviour is hissing as this behaviour is rarely used by bearded dragons and therefore it’s one of the least understood.
It’s safe to say that when a bearded dragon hisses it’s for a negative reason and means that they aren’t happy about something.
Bearded dragons will usually hiss as a warning to stay away or as an aggressive display.
Either way, if your bearded dragon hisses at you or in general it’s a good idea to back off until you can assess the situation and try and make a judgement to what could be causing them to hiss.
There are 13 common reasons and situations where bearded dragons might feel the need to hiss.
Let’s take a closer look at all of those reasons now…
1. Over Handling
Bearded dragons can get fed up if they are being constantly handled and this can cause them to hiss at you to let you know they want to be left alone.
This can be a problem if a bearded dragon is new to a home and is experiencing a lot of extra attention.
Over handling can also occur when friends and family visit and mishandling can sometimes be a problem too.
Even though it’s great to give your beardie lots of love and attention, it’s important to realise that there needs to be a balance and they need their own space too.
When friends and family come over to visit, it’s a good idea to show them the correct way to handle your beardie and to also limit the handling time too.
Having a good balance and allowing your bearded dragon to have their own space should prevent any hissing behaviour through over handling.
2. Mating Season
Bearded dragons can also hiss and become aggressive during the mating season.
This behaviour is usually displayed by males in the mating season as opposed to females as they are trying to show their dominance.
Bearded dragons that are usually calm and placed can become uncharacteristically aggressive over this period and hissing is one of the behaviours regularly displayed.
This is perfectly natural and there really is nothing you can do if the mating season is to blame.
Bearded dragons can become itchy and sore whilst shedding and this, in turn, can cause them to have far less patience and even become snappy and angry.
You might sometimes see your bearded dragon hissing during the shedding process as they often want to be left alone if they are finding the process difficult.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t help your beardie shed and in fact, there are many different things you can do to help the shedding process much easier and smoother.
Head over to our ultimate shedding guide that shares all you need to know about shedding as well as a full list of things you can do to help your beardie shed smoothly…
4. New home
When a bearded dragon arrives at a new home with new owners it’s really not easy for them.
The fact that everything is new and there are lots of strange people that could be perceived as predators can be scary.
By instinct, bearded dragons will become defensive and this can often lead them to hiss in order to try and defend themselves in their new environment.
This is usually accompanied by other tell-tale signs such as hiding, beard flaring and so on.
The main thing is to allow your bearded dragon lots of hiding places and time on their own to begin with as this will allow your new beardie the time to adjust that they need.
5. Change Of Scenery
A chance of scenery is very similar to bringing a bearded dragon home for the first time.
Beardies don’t like a lot of change all at once and if you move them to another room or even decorate the room they are living in then this can cause them to feel uneasy for a while.
All the uncertainty can be accompanied by a lot more hiding and sometimes by some hissing
The hissing can be aimed at you, your pets or even new objects in their environment in extreme circumstances if your bearded dragon is really uncomfortable.
Again, the best thing to do is make changes over a period of time if possible and also give your beardie time to adjust while providing lots of places to hide as this helps them to feel safe until they feel comfortable again.
6. Other Bearded Dragons
If you keep other bearded dragons in your home then there is a strong chance that you will experience them hissing at each other at some point.
We don’t ever recommend that you house bearded dragons together in the same tank and you can find out why in our informative guide here…
Sometimes bearded dragons may hiss at each other if they can see each other at the opposite side of the room.
If you suspect one of your beardies is becoming territorial and displaying behaviours such as hissing then it’s a good idea to separate them to different rooms or at least to areas of the room where they can’t see each other.
Bearded dragons can become extremely territorial and this can cause them a lot of stress. In the short term, it’s not something to worry about but this stress over a long period really isn’t good for their health.
7. Other Household Pets
It’s not just other bearded dragons that cause your beardie to become territorial, stressed or aggressive as other pets in your home can cause this kind of behaviour too.
If you have large animals such as cats and dogs then it’s quite common for your beardie to see them as a predator or at least intimidating.
This can cause your bearded dragon to act defensive and hiss as a warning and to protect themselves.
It’s always best to introduce animals in the same room as your dragon slowly even when your beardie is in their tank so they can feel more comfortable over a course of time and never leave your bearded dragon and any other pet in your home unattended when they are out of the tank.
8. No Hiding Places
Bearded dragons love to feel safe and have a place to hide if they feel threatened or uncomfortable.
Having multiple places to hide in their tank can give your beardie time to assess what is going on and to see if there is any danger around them.
Without these simple hides and caves to retreat to, a bearded dragon can quickly become stressed and they can resort to hissing as their next line of defence.
Building a habitat with great caves and hides really can be the difference between having a beardie that is calm and feels safe and one that seems skittish, stressed and even aggressive.
You can check out the caves, hides and tunnels we recommend you add to your bearded dragon’s tank here in our new guide…
9. Tank Temperature
An often-overlooked reason why bearded dragons can become stressed and even start hissing is due to the fact that the temperature in their tank is incorrect.
This can really become a problem when there is very little gradient from the basking area to the cool side of the tank.
Bearded dragons can become stressed if they can’t cool down and this is often accompanied by a bad temper and sometimes hissing.
Even though this isn’t one of the most common reasons why you will see your bearded dragon hiss, it can happen and it’s worth checking the temperatures in your beardies tank.
We recommend always keeping a handheld digital thermometer so you can check the temperatures independently of what the readings are in your tank.
You can see all the equipment we recommend for your beardies tank including the digital thermometer we recommend here…
Bearded dragons will often be aggressive and hiss when they are untamed and ultimately not used to human interaction.
This can happen if you bring home a baby bearded dragon from a breeder but it’s actually more likely to happen if you rehome a bearded dragon that’s not been treated well by their previous owner.
Your beardie will need time to trust you and this can take some time depending on how old they are and what experiences they have had in the past.
One of the best ways to get a bearded dragon to trust you and to understand that you mean them no harm is to offer them food directly.
This way they will associate you with food and this will usually be the fastest way for a bearded dragon to feel comfortable around you.
11. Injury & Illness
It’s sad but true that beardies can sometimes become either injured or ill in some way.
If this happens, they will often want to be left alone to rest and if they are injured picking them up can bring pain to the injured area.
Therefore sometimes hissing is the only way that an injured or ill bearded dragon can communicate and warn you to leave them alone.
It’s important to always check for other signs such how well your bearded dragon is moving and if they are lethargic or off their food.
These other tell-tale signs will or either injury or illness will help you to decide if your bearded dragon is indeed injured or ill or if they are hissing for another reason completely.
12. Seeing Their Own Reflection
Another often overlooked reason why bearded dragons hiss is because they can sew their reflection in their tank.
This can be really hard to spot at first as it often just looks like they are hissing at something outside of the tank.
If your beardie thinks that there’s another bearded dragon in their territory then they can become stressed and even unwell over a period of time.
It’s important to try and see if your beardie is hissing at their reflection if you notice this happening a lot of a period of time and you can’t seem to find any other reason for this behaviour.
13. Being Disturbed While Eating
Bearded dragons are very protective over their food and they can sometimes be seen hissing if they think you are going to take it away from them.
If your beardie is eating either insects or greens from their salad bowl then it’s best to just give them some space and certainly don’t creep up on them.
Just like beardies can be territorial over their space, they don’t like to be disturbed while eating.
Do Bearded Dragons Display Any Other Behaviours When Hissing?
As a bearded dragons owner, you are probably well aware that beardies have some of the most fascinating behaviours of all the animal kingdom.
If you notice your bearded dragons hissing, they will probably accompany this behaviour with a number of other behaviours that shows they aren’t happy.
These behaviours can include…
- Puffing out their beard (beard flaring)
- Keeping their mouth open
- Standing taller
- Fast head bobbing
It’s important to mention that these behaviours can happen for many reasons and can mean many different things but if your bearded dragon is hissing and displaying one or more of these behaviours then it’s a big sign they aren’t happy.
Do All Bearded Dragons Hiss?
All bearded dragons have the ability to hiss but only some will choose to display this behaviour and it will largely depend on how stressed or threatened they feel.
If you can provide your beardie with an environment that makes them feel comfortable at all times then there is a good chance that you will never see or hear them hiss.
Of course, there is no guarantee of this and sometimes it’s important to hear your bearded dragon hiss so you know there is something wrong and needs to be taken care of.
Is It Unhealthy For My Bearded Dragon to Hiss?
As we have mentioned earlier in this post, sometimes it’s important for your bearded dragon to hiss so you know there is a problem, for example, if you pick them up and they have an injured leg.
In these short term situations, hissing can be helpful to indicate that your bearded dragon isn’t happy about something so you can find the source of the problem and fix it.
If your beardie is hissing on a regular basis then this really isn’t good for their health as and can be deemed as unhealthy due to the fact that constant hissing will be stressful for your beardie in the majority of situations.
For example, If your bearded dragon is hissing at another pet in your home over a number of weeks then this is obviously something that is stressing them out and they are feeling threatened regularly.
These types of situations need stopping so your bearded dragon can feel comfortable in their environment.
The bottom line is if your beardie is hissing every now and then it’s not really a problem even though you need to see why they are doing it, however, if they are hissing on a daily basis then this can be bad for their health.
How to Calm Down a Hissing Bearded Dragon
The method you use to calm down a hissing bearded dragon will largely depend on the reason they are hissing.
It’s important to try and establish the reason why they are hissing first by eliminating all the possibilities we have talked about in this post.
Let’s take a look at what to do if your bearded dragon is either hissing at you or is hissing for another reason…
How to Calm Your Bearded Dragon When They Are Hissing For An Unknown Reason
If you believe that your beardie is hissing at something in their environment then you will need to try and remove the object or source of the problem.
It’s also a good idea to ensure your bearded dragon has a place where they can hide until they calm down or feel safe.
Going through the 13 reasons bearded dragons can hiss will help you to quickly eliminate most of the reasons and also help you identify the possible reason why your beardie is becoming aggressive.
Talking to your bearded dragon in a soft tone can also help to make them feel more comfortable in the situation and stroking their head may also help them to feel some comfort.
It’s important to note that you should only try and stroke your beardie if you are certain they are not angry with you and are not showing any aggressive behaviour towards you.
Remember that bearded dragons can bite so it’s never a good idea to put your hand near the mouth of an aggressive beardie.
You can find out all you need to know about bearded dragons and biting, including if bites hurt and how to treat them in our full guide here…
If you can safely stroke your bearded dragon then you can also attempt to give them a relaxing bath as this will usually help them to feel calm.
How to Calm Your Bearded Dragon If They Are Hissing at You
If you feel that your bearded dragon is hissing and displaying aggressive behaviour towards you then you should back off and don’t try to pick them up.
You need to give them time to calm down while trying to figure out what is causing them to feel this way towards you.
This could be something simple like invading their territory during mating season.
The main thing is to give them some space until they calm down and always ensure they have a place to hide and retreat as this will help to diffuse the situation.
Give your beardie around an hour to calm down and then you can slowly start talking to them in a soft voice and see how they react and take it from there.
Again, the easiest and fastest way to stop your bearded dragon hissing is to go through the 13 reasons we have talked about and eliminate these reasons one by one until you feel you have a good idea what can be causing the issue.
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