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Bearded Dragon Opening Mouth – Why? What Does It Mean?

If you have a beardie, I’m sure you are well familiar with bearded dragons opening their mouths. If you don’t understand what is happening, it might bother you, right? 

The main problem most people who keep reptiles face is when they can’t explain the behaviors that these animals portray. When in such a situation, you may end up having frequent visits to the vet even when it is not necessary. 

In this article, I will show you why beardies open their mouths, how to react, and more. Read on for more details. 

This article has been reviewed by Dr. Dilber. Read more about our knowledge control process here.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Open Their Mouth?

Why Do Bearded Dragons Open Their Mouth?
Why Do Bearded Dragons Open Their Mouth?

Bearded dragons are fascinating pets to have around. They have unique and individual personalities that will captivate you to love them even more. After staying with a beardie, you will get to know the many behaviors they express, some of which may seem strange.

As a responsible beardie pet owner, you must understand all the possible behaviors associated with bearded dragons; it is crucial.

Being in a position to understand and interpret every doing in your pet will help you to know when it is having a problem. 

Bearded dragons opening their mouths is one of the behaviors you will notice and is most common. You will want to know why your dragon is opening its mouth and how you should react. So, a beardie can open its mouth for different reasons, some are serious and others normal.

Mouth opening as the name suggests is when the beardie sits with its mouth wide open. We are going to see the root cause of this behavior shortly. 

The following are the significant reasons why bearded dragons keep their mouth open. Keep reading, and you will be glad you read them. 

Bearded Dragon Opening Mouth to Regulate Temperature

Bearded Dragon Basking
Bearded Dragon Basking
(Source: Tomos Wildlife YouTube)

If the body temperature reaches its optimum or ideal level, the beardie will want to dissipate the additional body heat, and it is also the same with humans.

As humans, we have sweat glands, and through sweating, we regulate the internal body temperature. 

New to bearded dragon? Check out the bearded dragon care sheet now! We had listed out all the things you need to know about bearded dragons as pets. Check it now!

Bearded dragons, on the other hand, lack sweat glands; instead, they open their mouth similarly to dogs as they pant to cool the body and prevent it from getting hotter. More often, a beardie opening its mouth means it is cooling itself. Open mouth breathing lowers the body temperature of bearded dragons

Because there are many reasons for the beardies to open their mouth, you may be wondering how to know when it is regulating temperature. Here is how. 

How to Tell if Your Beardie Lizard is Regulating Its Body Temperature

This one is super easy, and you will notice it at a glance. During this time, the dragon is resting under or above a heat source with its mouth open. It means that your pet is just taking a moment to cool off. 

It is typically a standard behavior, and you shouldn’t worry at all; it is indeed good news.  The only thing you may need to check is the temperature in the enclosure and make sure it is ranging between 95-110℉ in the basking spot. 

Be happy if this behavior frequently occurs because it means that you are keeping your pet at its ideal temperature, and kudos to you. 

Check out this simple guideline to ensure you have the correct temperatures in your beardie’s tank. 

Basking spotCool spotNight temperatures 
Adults and juveniles95-100℉.75-80℉70-75℉
Babies 100-110℉80-90℉70-75℉
Correct Temperature Table

Bearded Dragon Opening Mouth Due to Beard Stretching

When you spend more time sleeping or resting, you will want to stretch the muscles to make them flexible and keep moving.

The same applies to the bearded dragons; they need to stretch their muscles after being inactive for a while to stay safe. 

The beardie’s head and face contain numerous muscles, including the beard. All these parts work together, and when the muscles stretch or the beardie is yawning; the mouth opens.

Stretching also improves the movement of fluids in extracellular and intracellular spaces.

Also, beard stretching is prevalent when the dragon is about to shed, but it can happen in other situations. The skin around the beard and face is more robust; therefore, stretching helps to loosen this skin for smooth shedding. 

Loosening the skin around the head is necessary as this is often where shedding begins. Again, this is normal behavior, and there is nothing to make you worry. Now, the question is, how will you know if the beardie is opening its mouth due to stretching, check below. 

How to Tell If a Bearded Dragon is Opening the Mouth Due to Stretching and Yawning

If you are an unprepared witness, I’m sure you will be astonished to see your beardie displaying this sign, and you may think it to be abnormal. 

To be confident that it is indeed just a good stretch, you will notice there is beard puffing, unusual head movements, and the beardie opens and closes its mouth inconsistently. The beard will also stretch during yawning.

Notice that a bearded dragon often stretches and yawns after sleeping.

If you observe this sign, don’t panic at all. Everything is happening for the good of your beardie. Just enjoy the show. 

Bearded Dragon Opening Mouth Due to Aggression and Defense

Bearded Dragon Opening Mouth Due To Aggression And Defense
Bearded Dragon Opening Mouth Due To Aggression And Defense

You are indeed able to learn about your dragon’s mood, feeling and health through the various behaviors they exhibit. If the beardie is angry, most of the time, it doesn’t know how to hide. You will know by the way it reacts towards you. 

So, if a bearded dragon is startled, it will open its mouth, and this indicates that it is aggressed and may want to defend itself. Typically, the beardies are calm and friendly, creating a good relationship with humans.

However, they also become aggressive when they feel threatened. Many things can make the beardie become aggressive; one of them is when they don’t want to be handled. If the beardie is unfamiliar with you, it may be scared if you touch it. 

It is common for the aggressive bearded dragons to open their mouth as part of that violent display. 

What Other Signs Show that the Beardie is Aggressed?

The mouth opening is not enough to know when the beardie is aggressive; you will need something different before concluding to yourself. 

Staring with extended eyes, opening mouth, and restlessness are also the signs of aggression.

You may notice other behaviors like beard puffing, black beard, hissing, tail stance, and fast head bobbing. Your pet may not display all these behaviors, but you will notice at least one of them. 

To help reduce the aggressiveness in bearded dragons, you can provide them with a hiding place or plants in the tank as they show this behavior when threatened. Also, make sure to allow the pet to have some time alone without handling it. 

New to bearded dragon? Check out the bearded dragon care sheet now! We had listed out all the things you need to know about bearded dragons as pets. Check it now!

Note that the beardie may bite your finger, causing a cut and inject some venom though it is not poisonous and cannot harm you. The beardie is just stressed and needs to calm down. 

Bearded Dragon Keeping Mouth Open Due to Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infection is something to watch out for because it can be dangerous, especially if it is not promptly treated. Bearded dragons keeping their mouth open is one symptom of respiratory infection.

However, this disease is not common in bearded dragons, and this means that if the beardie is opening the mouth, there is little chance that it has a respiratory infection. Inflammation of epithelial cells of the trachea also compel a bearded dragon to open the mouth.

The only time when the dragon is vulnerable to this disease is when the humidity in the enclosure is too high for a long time. Bearded dragons thrive well in humidity that is between 30-35%, and it helps to minimize the chances of respiratory infection. 

How Can You Identify a Bearded Dragon with Respiratory Infection?

A dragon suffering from respiratory infection keeps its mouth open more often for breathing. Other symptoms accompanying mouth opening are the presence of mucus around the nose and mouth, difficulty in breathing, and wheezing.

Sticky secretions from the nose and watery eyes are other signs of respiratory infection.

The beardie also loses its appetite for all foods, appears inactive, and there is a slow movement. 

If you suspect your beardie to be suffering from a respiratory infection, take the pet to your reptile vet right away for a check-up. If the respiratory disease is not treated immediately, it can cause mucus to accumulate in the lungs and eventually kill your pet. 

Also, ensure you have a hygrometer in the tank to keep monitoring the humidity and prevent respiratory infection. 

What Does it Mean When a Bearded Dragon Opens its Mouth and Tongue Out?

What Does It Mean When A Bearded Dragon Opens Its Mouth And Tongue Out?
What Does It Mean When A Bearded Dragon Opens Its Mouth And Tongue Out?

The same way the beardie opens its mouth for a variety of reasons, the tongue is also out for a number of different reasons. 

Most of the time, when a dragon is basking, you will notice that aside from opening its mouth, it is also sticking out its tongue. This helps to cool the body to prevent a further increase in temperature. Evaporation causes a cooling effect.

Also, a beardie sticks the tongue out to explore its new surroundings. It flips the tongue in and out of the mouth to identify unfamiliar objects. This is the way bearded dragons learn new objects and environments. 

A bearded dragon will as well have its tongue showing out when it’s meal time, to catch food. There you have it, bearded dragon tongue sticking out and opening mouth happens for different reasons. 


I hope you found this article helpful and now you understand various reasons why bearded dragons open their mouth. It is when you are well conversant with bearded dragons opening mouth that you will know how to react and when to do it. 

In most cases, the beardie will keep its mouth open due to temperature regulation, aggressiveness, stretching muscles and rarely due to respiratory infection. 

The information above will help you to make a sound decision in different circumstances when you notice your bearded dragon opening its mouth. 

Why Do Bearded Dragons Open Their Mouth

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