Most of the behaviors the beardie displays mean that it is trying to tell you something. Now, what could be the reason for the bearded dragon puffing up?
Puffing up is a fascinating behavior, and it happens quite often in the beardies due to various reasons. More importantly, as a great bearded dragon owner, you must know all potential reactions in the dragons and interpret them. Knowing only about puffing up is not enough.
As for now, we’ll learn why the bearded lizards puff up, and everything associated with this exciting behavior. Don’t miss anything; you will be pleased you read it.
Understanding Puffing Up in Bearded Dragons
An aggressive cat will typically hold its tail vertically with the hair raised and have dilated pupils. A cat displaying these signs warns you to stay away because it could be dangerous.
As for the bearded dragons, they will also show that they are aggressive through the behaviors they exhibit. If you have ever noticed a dragon distending its beard, it was merely puffing up.
A bearded dragon puffing up could be due to a couple of reasons; it can be due to a stressful situation or a non-stressing one.
The fact that the beardie can puff up in an environment that is not threatening makes this behavior even more confusing. And that is why you may want to know why bearded dragons puff up.
Bearded dragons are not limited to puffing up the beard, but they can also puff out other body parts, including the belly. Having that in mind, let’s now see the situations where bearded lizards are likely to puff up.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up?
As a dragon owner, I believe you have seen your pet puffing out its beard or body for a couple of times. Puffing up can never harm a beardie, but it is one way it uses to communicate. So, the beardie is doing that for a purpose.
Puffing up is a natural ability in lizards, and they portray it anytime they see fit. More often, bearded dragons will puff up to show dominance, threaten predators, enhance shedding, or due to fear.
Sometimes the beardie could be expressing this behavior because of simple things that are around like toys or an item of clothing which it sees as a threat. So, it is best if you understand any situation that can cause puffing behavior in beardies.
It will help you to act expectedly and address the situation to prevent constant threats and intimidation to your pet because it could lead to a severe problem.
Let’s discuss intensely the reasons why a bearded dragon puffs up.
Bearded Dragon Puffing Up to Show Dominance
If you house a male and female bearded dragon together, you will not miss seeing them puffing up. It is common in male dragons to show the females that they are dominant and therefore asking the females to submit to them.
Puffing up is also more common in males during the breeding season. Bearded dragon breeds throughout the year, after brumation, they will be ready for mating roughly after one month.
During this period, male bearded dragons will puff their beard up to attract females; this is how they show that they are ready for mating. Then females will respond to the males through arm waving or head bobbing.
In rare cases, female bearded dragons puff up their neck when they are attracted to the males, but this is always a technique seen in males. So, the males puff up their beard to impress a beardie of the opposite sex when they are kept together and not out of fear.
Bearded Dragon Puffing at Meal Time or After Meal
If you provide live insect feeders to your beardie pets, there is a high chance that you will see them puffing up. In the desert, bearded dragons are responsible for catching their potential prey. So, they puff up to appear bigger and look dominant to the prey.
The beardies in captivity will also display this behavior to look big and intimidating towards live food. They can also show the same behavior when they want to scare their predators.
Bearded dragons also tend to puff up during meals to make more room to help them eat more. It happens more regularly with wild bearded dragons to eat more food that can sustain them for quite a long time.
Life in the wild is different; food is not readily available, and because of that, the beardies have to eat whatever they find at once. That is how the beardies manage to survive in the desert.
Puffing Up as a Sign of Shedding
Bearded dragons are smart lizards, and they are always aware when the time for shedding is nearing. So, when preparing to shed the old skin, the beardies tend to puff up to hasten shedding by loosening their skin.
When your lizards begin by puffing up their neck and body more frequently and then getting into the shedding, they take a short time to shed. This proves that puffing up plays a significant role in the shedding process.
However, not all bearded dragons puff up before going through the shedding process. If you have not seen your pet puffing up during this period, don’t worry, it is normal.
Bearded Dragon Puffing Up During Bath Time
Another typical circumstance where bearded dragons puff up their beard is when they are bathing. If your dragon has a habit of puffing up when taking a bath, it means that the water is too deep for it.
If you didn’t know, a bearded dragon should not bath in water that is too deep to submerge its shoulder. Always keep that in mind.
When the beardie is puffing up during bath time, it is trying to find a way of floating. Fortunately, through puffing up, bearded dragons get more air into the body, which makes them buoyant and able to float.
In case you happen to notice that your pet is puffing up regularly when you are bathing it, try and reduce the bathing water. Watch how it will behave in the shallow water and see if there will be any changes.
Bearded Dragon Puffing Up While Basking
It is common for bearded dragons to bask in the morning to warm the body after the cold temperatures at the time. The beardies are cold-blooded animals, and therefore, through basking, they warm themselves.
When the body temperature goes beyond optimal, the dragons in most cases open its mouth, and sometimes this is accompanied by puffing up the beard. In case your pet is behaving like this, you will need to check if the temperatures in the tank are within the expected range of 95-110℉.
Bearded Dragon Puffing Up When in Danger
Bearded dragons will not just wait to be caught by their predators; of course, they will also defend themselves just like any other animal.
Presence of a predator or anything that resembles a predator, it could be a hat, socks, or any material around will scare the beardie. The only thing it can think of is that the predator will attack at any given time.
So, puffing up the beard and turning them black helps the dragon to look bigger than usual as a way to frighten the predator. Bearded dragons, especially in the desert, change their posture when running away from the predators.
If you see that happening to your pet, make sure to check if there is anything around scaring it and remove it right away. However, don’t try to hold the beardie in such a condition because it might bite or injure you.
Puffing Up Due to Excitement
A bearded dragon can puff up when it feels happy. So, this is a good sign to show that bearded lizards will not only puff up in threatening situations but also in good ones when they are engaged in their favorite activities.
If it’s treat time or playtime, and you notice your friend puffing up, the beardie is trying to tell you that it is delighted, but some owners think of them to be showing off. After all, there is no other way the beardies can speak to you except through its behaviors.
Every time the beardie puffs up, and nothing is startling or stressing it, and it is not shedding, your friend is just feeling good. It should not trouble you at all, as long the beardie is healthy.
Be happy when your friend seems comfortable participating in its favorite activity because it means you are a great owner. It shows that you have brought up a happy dragon, kudos for it.
Puffing Up as a Sign of Stretching
After sitting down for a long time, sleeping or relaxing, you will need to stretch up the body to increase the activity of the muscles. It is the same with bearded dragons; they need to stretch their body to make themselves comfortable.
We yawn to wake our bodies, increase blood flow, and increase alertness. Also, yawning helps to pop our ears when riding the elevator in a high-rise building or airplane. Similarly, bearded dragons puff up to relief themselves by pressurizing their ear canal.
When the beardie is stretching through puffing, you will also notice that it is opening its mouth. It can do this even when relaxing in a quiet environment.
Why Do Baby Beardies Puff Up?
Puffing up the beard occurs regularly in baby bearded dragons especially, when they come into a new home where everything is unfamiliar to them. They will do that to show that they don’t feel safe in the new environment.
However, this is not something to worry you; allow the beardie to spend some days exploring the new home, and it will eventually adapt to the place. Puffing of the beard should decrease once the pet learns that you are not a predator, and the environment is safe for it.
Sometimes you may wish to bond more quickly with your new dragon and make it settle as soon as possible into its enclosure.
You can succeed in that by buying the right sized tank, provide plants, decors, and other accessories to make the tank look like a natural habitat for bearded dragons.
When everything is right, your pet will feel comfortable after a few days. It will also make them happy and feel safe.
But if the baby beardie keeps on puffing up and displaying other signs like black bearding, refusing to go to the bathroom, declining food, and seems sluggish, you must be concerned. Don’t be silent about it; you can talk to your reptile vet to hear his opinion.
Should I be Worried about Puffing Up?
This is a good question, the simple answer to that is No. Puffing is not something to worry you because:
It is an ability that is given to the beardies by nature. So, it is healthy and helps the beardie to cope up with different situations.
It helps them deal with predators, save themselves when in deep water, support some biological processes, and sort out many problems perceived.
However, if your pet is continuously puffing, you may be concerned about it. If that is happening to your dear friend, it means that something around is stressing it. Maybe it is something in the tank or your surroundings.
I know you don’t want your pet to experience constant stress, right? So, ensure you examine the surroundings to check for anything that could be bothering your lizard. Remove all those objects you suspect until when you see the beardie stops puffing perpetually.
Well, it’s time to conclude the article, and I hope you enjoyed reading about the bearded dragon puffing up.
It is crucial to know that bearded dragons will not only puff up when something is wrong but also when things are right. So, this means that when you see your pet puffing, it’s always not something to be concerned about, keep that in mind.
It is necessary to know about different behaviors in bearded dragons and their cause for you to be able to act accordingly in situations that might need to be resolved.