One of the most fascinating behaviours of a Bearded Dragon is the way they puff up their beard. I have always been interested in the unique behaviours of Bearded Dragons and this has led me to do some extensive research to give you the answer to this amazing and important behaviour.

In this post, we will look at the many reasons why bearded dragons puff up and if puffing up is unhealthy for your bearded dragon.

So why do Bearded Dragons puff up? Bearded Dragons often puff up when they feel threatened or intimidated. Puffing up their beard helps to make them appear larger and more aggressive to discourage would-be predators. Males are also known to puff up their beard to attract the opposite sex.

There are several other reasons why Bearded Dragons puff up their necks, so let’s take a closer look at each of them and some other important questions that need answering.

Is Your Bearded Dragon Feeling Intimidated?

Whenever I see a bearded dragon puffing up its beard my first thought is that it feels threatened and intimidated. This is one of the most common reasons for this behaviour and both the Spruce Pets and PetMD also talk about this in a post they have on Bearded Dragon behaviour and Bearded Dragon facts respectively.

Bearded Dragons have the ability to puff up their beard whenever it feels threatened or as an aggressive display. Source:

The reason for this, as mentioned at the top of this post is because your Beardie is trying to make itself look bigger and more opposing to predators.

This is a common trait throughout the animal kingdom, The bigger and meaner something looks the more doubt is filled in the predators’ mind.

A Bearded Dragon has the ability to use this concept by puffing up its beard as a defence mechanism.

If you see your Beardie puffing up its beard, there is a strong sign that it feels uneasy with something in its surroundings.

If you notice this happening constantly in a certain room or certain area of a room you may want to take a look around for any objects that might be making your beardie feel threatened.

As silly as this seems, this could be something simple like a sock, a child’s toy or basically anything that can be mistaken for a predator.

This is certainly the most common situation for a Bearded Dragon puffing up its beard, However, it’s certainly not the only one and you should definitely read on to see some other common reasons and situations where your Dragon may be using this amazing ability to its advantage. 

Having a tank that’s full of hiding places is always recommended as this will allow your Dragon to feel safe if ever they feel threatened. Here’s a list of great tunnels, hides and plants to create a great tank habitat your Dragon will love.

Do Bearded Dragons Puff The Beard to Attract The Opposite Sex?

Another common reason that bearded dragons ‘puff up’ is that they are wanting to attract the opposite sex.

Male Beardies have been known to puff up quite regularly in attempts to show the female that they are attractive. This is backed up by the Vetstreet website who also talk about this as a common reason why Bearded Dragons puff up their beard.

They also use the ‘puffing up’ technique as a sign of dominance over the female, and therefore requesting the female to submit to the males’ advances.

Females are also known to puff up their necks as a sign of attraction towards males, but usually, it’s the male that is the most eager to use this technique.

So if your Bearded Dragon is near another Bearded Dragon of the opposite sex or even something that can resemble the opposite sex such as a toy, they might puff up regularly to impress rather than out of fear.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up In The Bath?

Another common situation for puffing up of the beard is bath time!

If your Bearded Dragon is puffing up when taking a bath then it could simply mean that the water is too deep.

Believe it or not, It’s not advisable to let them take a bath in water that is deep enough to submerge their shoulders.

When this happens or they simply feel that the water is too deep they may puff up their nbeard to help them to float.

Your Bearded Dragon is using this amazing ability in a very creative and clever way.

When you think about it, this is completely logical for your Beardie to do this as the more air you have in your body, the better your buoyancy and ability to float.

If you notice your Bearded Dragon puffing up at bath times on a regular basis,

try letting them take a bath in shallower water and see if this makes a difference.


Why Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up Their Beards at Meals Times?

There are two main reasons why your beardie could be puffing up during or after a meal.

The first is a theory that puffing up can help them to make more room in their stomach to eat more.

In the wild food would be scarce and eating whatever was available at that point would be necessary for survival.

The only way to see for sure if there is a direct link between your Bearded Dragon puffing up and trying to eat more is to lessen the portion at the next meal time and see if the puffing up of the beard still occurs.

You can always give the rest of the meal a few minutes later once you see if there is a difference or not.

To be honest there is little evidence of this and not much research either but many top experts do believe this to be the case.

The second reason is that your Bearded Dragon wants to look dominant to its prey.

Don’t forget in the wild they would be responsible for catching their own dinner and making themself look bigger to pray as well as predators are essential.

This can be especially true if you feed your bearded dragon live feeders.  


Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up When Getting Ready to Shed?

Another reason why Bearded Dragons puff up is that they are getting ready to shed their skin.

Beardies are intelligent and they know when they are about to shed.

They can speed up the process by puffing up and loosening the skin on their neck and body.

Try and look out for a cycle where your beardie is puffing up a lot then sheds shortly after, This will give you a good idea that they are puffing their neck simply due to shedding.

Not all beardies will do this, and it’s certainly nothing to worry about, but it’s just something to look out for if you are struggling to find the reason why they are puffing their neck.

 If you want to learn more about shedding then take a look at my complete guide to Bearded Dragon shedding here.

Is Your Bearded Dragon Puffing Up to Show Off?

It’s also possible that your bearded dragon will puff up simply to show off or as a sign of happiness.

If you notice that during playful activities they start to puff up this could simply mean that they are happy and enjoying themselves.

Puffing the beard can simply be a way for a bearded dragon to express its feelings.

Sometimes they express their feeling through fear, sometimes it’s sexual intentions through mating and sometimes it’s because they are happy and content.

If this is the case then you have a healthy, happy and content bearded dragon.


Why Do Baby Bearded Dragons Puff Up Their Beards?

If you have a baby bearded dragon it can be quite common that they puff up their beards.

This can be due to a few reasons, The first is that they are in a new habitat and they don’t feel safe as yet.

This will usually pass pretty quickly as they realise there is nothing to fear.

Try and bond with your dragon and make it feel comfortable as soon as possible. Once it realises that you are not a predator and your baby beardie stars to feel calm in its surroundings then puffing of the neck should decrease.

You can help your baby Bearded Dragon settle in a lot quicker by creating a terrarium that provides a natural environment.

The first thing you need to do is purchase a terrarium that is the right size for your Dragon.

Here’s a post that will help you pick the correct sized tank for your Bearded Dragon

The second thing you need to is to provide your Bearded Dragon with plants, rocks and decor that match their natural habitat.

This will help them feel comfortable much faster and also help them to feel happy and safe.

Is Puffing Up Unhealthy For Your Bearded Dragon?

This is a great question and one that you certainly need to know the answer to.

The short answer is NO, puffing up is not harmful to your beardie. Bearded dragons have been given this ability by nature and they use it whenever they see fit.

It could be through fear, dominance, helping them shed, helping them float or anything else. The bottom line is that they have been given the ability for a reason.

However, there are some situations where if you feel that your Dragon is puffing up constantly to defend itself and it feels threatened then this is a situation that you might want to avoid.

This could be something as simple as a toy or small piece of clothing that is placed close to your bearded dragon and it sees this as a threat.

You don’t want your beardie to feel threatened and intimidated constantly as this is not good for the stress levels, So finding exactly what they are scared of and removing it is a good idea.

If you are confident that your bearded dragon isn’t feeling threatened by something in its surroundings, Then usually it’s normal and healthy for it to puff up it’s neck from time to time.

If at all you are concerned then you should seek the advice from a vet who can see your Beardie and give his/hers professional opinion.


Can a Bearded Dragon Puff Up Any Other Body Parts?

Believe it or not, a bearded dragon isn’t limited to only puffing up its beard.

There are certain situations where they can also puff out their body. This again is usually when they feel threatened and they feel the need to make themselves larger to scare away potential predators.

Again, we go back to the whole point of making themselves look bigger and more aggressive as a defence strategy.

Something else that is worth mentioning is, Bearded Dragons are also capable of changing their posture in these situations to make them look larger.

They will often take on a bigger and prouder stance to give the illusion of a scarier physical presence. This coupled with puffing up can be enough to make predators think twice.


Wrapping Up

I hope this article answered the questions you may have regarding Bearded Dragons puffing up their necks.

On the whole, it is perfectly normal and healthy for Bearded Dragons to do this. They have been given this very unique ability and they will use it however they can and whenever they see fit.

If you feel like your Beardie is feeling constantly uneasy in its surroundings then try and find the source of the problem and move it.

Other than that just see this as one of their personality traits and a way to show expression in certain situations.