Top 10 Reasons Why Do Bearded Dragons Dig? Everything You Should Know

If you aren’t familiar with every reptile behavior, it’s normal to get worried when you notice strange behaviors in them. This include why they dig or burrow. In this article, we’ll look at why do bearded dragons dig and everything you need to know in between.

Digging is a natural behavior that bearded dragons engage in. Bearded dragons dig for a variety of purposes, one of which is to create a little basking area in which they may relax. For you to comprehend your pet, you must first know what behavior it is displaying and why it is acting this way. This is because this habit might be an indication of stress or disease.

This article contains the reasons, causes, and possible signs of an obsessive digging habit in bearded dragons and how you can deal with it.

Cute Reptiles as Pets x
Cute Reptiles as Pets

Do Bearded Dragons Dig? 

Yes, almost every bearded dragon enjoys digging and uses this natural activity to hide. Digging is a great way for a bearded dragon to get some exercise. It is beneficial for their claws if they grow long. 

They usually dig for two reasons: 

a) when their tank becomes too hot and they have trouble controlling their body temperature

b) to make a place to hide their eggs. 

What Behaviour Is Bearded Dragon Digging?

A bearded dragon digging is exactly what it sounds like. To get below, they will scrape at the substrate and bedding. The action might happen throughout the day or solely at night. It might be a one-time problem or a continuing one.

Does A Bearded Dragon Like Digging?

Bearded dragons are natural diggers in the wild. They build caves and tunnels so they can hide in. They excavate and create holes in sand to forage for their foods such as insects.

They may like digging in captivity as well, but if your reptile is digging too frequently, has suddenly taken to digging, or is causing themselves bodily pain while digging, it might be an indication of something unpleasant that needs to be addressed right away.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Dig?

Digging may appear to be normal behavior for a reptile, but is it? Is it possible that your bearded dragon is lacking anything or is sick? Below, we will look at the seven reasons why your bearded dragon is digging, if it is something of concern, and what you can do to remedy the situation.

Your Bearded Dragon Is Too Hot And Wants A Basking Spot

If the temperature in the tank becomes too high, your bearded dragon may attempt to flee or hide behind the substrate or a log/rock. Severe panting and avoiding the basking place are two additional major indicators that your dragon is overheating.

Bearded dragons in the wild make small holes into which they might hide to escape the heat. Burrows can be up to 2-3 degrees colder than the surrounding environment. 

Your pet may be digging because it is in search of a cool temperature. Smaller places, such as glass tanks or cages, may heat up fast, thus a reliable thermometer should be put to check their temperature.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Dig? because temperature is too hot
If the temperature or basking area is too hot, your bearded dragon will dig its substrate to burrow and cool off

Other Signs Tell When Bearded Dragons Too Hot 

Please keep in mind that panting in general is natural. Excess heat is released when your bearded dragon pants or sits with its mouth open in a basking place. So, if you detect extreme panting and hiding symptoms and suspect that the tank is too hot, double-check the heat and light configuration.

What Should Owners Do?

The hot side of the tank should not exceed 92-110 degrees Fahrenheit (33-43 degrees Celsius). Temperatures exceeding 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46.6 degrees Celsius) will progressively kill your dragon by causing overheating, dehydration, and possibly a stroke.

You must construct a temperature gradient so that your bearded dragon may travel to a cooler location when it is hot. A cool location should be between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (23.8-29). At night, the temperature should be between 65 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3-25 Celsius). If temperatures are optimum, do not heat the tank at night.

It is also essential to position the lights appropriately and keep the distance between the lights and your bearded dragon to get ideal temperatures and avoid eye damage or burns. 

Your Bearded Dragon Is Stressed And Tries To Look For Triggers

Stress may be an issue for this lizard, and digging is one possible symptom. Look for triggers if your beardie suddenly starts digging wildly. Check if the lights in its cage are too bright. Check for loud noises or if there are visits from your other pets that are scaring your lizard.

If you have more than one bearded dragon, make sure that they are all in separate cages to avoid tension and ensure a stress-free existence for them.

Other Signs Tell When Bearded Dragon Has Stress/Fear

Other signs of stress for a bearded dragon include loss of appetite, lower activity level, darker coloration (signifying it is ready to shed), not basking enough, and frantically clawing the sides of the tank or enclosure. They may also show stress marks or dark markings. These appear on the belly and chin. 

What Should Owners Do In This Situation?

Bearded dragons are solitary and competitive creatures, therefore, never keep them together. Fighting, injury, and stress will occur if two or more bearded dragons are housed together.

The stress scars may fade after a few days as it adjusts to its new surroundings. Check to make sure you’re providing food and water, and that the temperatures in the habitat are appropriate.

Your Bearded Dragon Is Hungry And Could Be Looking For Food

Bearded dragons may be digging for food, believe it or not. In any event, if you underfeed your bearded dragon, it may seek food on its own by excavating and moving about.

You should only be concerned about your dragon’s obesity after it has reached the age of a sub-adult, which is roughly 10 months. Please feed as many live bugs as your dragon can consume in 15-20 minutes before that. Babies, in particular.

Other Signs Tell When Bearded Dragons are Hungry

When your bearded dragon has cloudy/sunken eyes or is acting lethargic, it may be hungry.

What Should Owners Do In This Situation?

Some foods, like fatty worms, are highly addictive to bearded dragons. These worms should only comprise a small part of your pet’s diet. Balance their meals with fruits, vegetables, and other insects.

Now and then, feed your beardie some veggies and greens. They must eat a well-balanced diet to ensure they acquire the nutrients they require.

Your Bearded Dragon Looks For Extra Space And Activity

A bearded dragon in a tiny tank may become irritated and bored. They will search for something to do and may burrow to find additional room and activities. 

The ideal tank size for a single bearded dragon is roughly 60 gallons, but if you have the room, a larger tank would serve your beardie better. If it is scratching because of a lack of room, consider expanding her dwelling space.

What Is The Correct Size Of The Tank For Bearded Dragons?

Your dragon will need a minimum 40-gallon tank that is at least 36 inches long and 18 inches high. Here’s a fair rule of thumb for selecting a tank size based on the length of your dragon:

  • Baby (under 10 inches long): 20 gallons
  • Juveniles (10 to 16 inches long): 40 gallons 
  • Adults (over 16 inches long): 50 to 75 gallons
  • Adults (over 20 inches long): 75 to 125 gallons  

What Should Owners Do In This Situation?

Choosing the right size tank for your bearded dragon helps them feel more at ease and less agitated, especially during the first few weeks when they are adjusting to a new habitat. A large tank also eliminates glass surfing, which is commonly caused by dragons feeling too confining.

Your Bearded Dragon Tries To Create A Hiding Spot For Itself

bearded dragon digs to hide
Another reason your beardy digs is because it wants a cool place to hide

If there are no hides in the tank, your bearded dragon may start excavating automatically to find a place to hide. This is especially true when stress, brumation, or high temperatures are present.

What Should Owners Do In This Situation?

Please ensure that there is at least one hide in the tank as well as other protected areas. You may even make little hiding spaces with branches and other items.

Your Bearded Dragon Is Preparing To Brumate

Bearded dragons consume next to nothing and spend much of their time sleeping during brumation. So, if your bearded dragon is over a year old and begins excavating throughout the colder months of the year, it might be preparing for brumation.

They are known to dig before going into brumation to make a burrow in which to sleep. This allows them to maintain their body temperature while sleeping.

Both men and females can brumate, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. You can only help the process by making things as easy for them as possible.

Other Signs Tell When Bearded Dragon Is Preparing To Brumate

The following are signs that your bearded dragon is in brumation:

  • Spending less time in the basking area and more time in the enclosure’s colder regions
  • Appetite loss
  • Sleeping for longer stretches
  • Seeking dark areas to hide or excavating for a nesting site.

What Should Owners Do In This Situation?

Most of the time, it is better to just leave your beardie alone and let them relax. If they stop eating completely, bathing them can assist in inducing bowel movement and hydration. You can also cut back on the quantity of heat and UV you now offer.

Gravid female bearded dragons dig to bury their eggs.
Gravid female bearded dragons dig to bury their eggs.

Your Female Bearded Dragon Is Getting Ready To Lay Eggs

Your bearded dragon is most likely getting ready to lay eggs if she’s at least 12 months old and female. Even though she might not have had contact with any male dragon, she can still produce unfertilized eggs.

She’ll want to locate a secure and warm place to deposit her eggs once the laying season begins. Below is an actual footage of a bearded dragon laying eggs.

Bearded dragon laying eggs [source: Uniquepwtswiki]

Other Signs Tell When Female Bearded Dragon Is Getting Ready To Lay

When a female bearded dragon is preparing to lay her eggs, she may appear drowsier than normal and spend more time napping or lying beneath the heat lamp. Because the bearded dragon’s tummy is full of eggs, it will seem bigger than usual.

What Should Owners Do?

Make sure you have a lay box ready for her to lay eggs in. Place it in the center of the tank to prevent the substrate from drying out too rapidly.

If you do not construct a laying box, she may fail to lay eggs and become egg-bound. This may need surgery to extract the lodged eggs and may potentially result in the death of your dragon.

FAQs

Do male bearded dragons dig?

Yes. Male bearded dragons are diggers by nature. They will often create tunnels and caves to hide in, as well as hunting insects or other foods found on their territory.

Bearded dragon digging substrate

In your bearded dragon’s tank, do not use any loose substrate. Sand, gravel, bark, and other loose substrates provide a serious risk of impaction. Not only is loose substrate harmful, but it also shelters a lot of microorganisms.

Preferably, use cut-to-size tiles (ceramic, porcelain, slate), paper towels, or a reptile carpet for bedding. Place a soft blanket, a cloth, or a towel for your bearded dragon to dig and hide in if it digs, especially in a corner. This will keep your dragon from scratching the carpet.

Baby bearded dragon digging in the corner

Your bearded dragons may be digging to prepare a hiding place for brumation. This is also frequent when a bearded dragon digs in a corner.

Wrapping Up

Digging may be a reliable indicator of a bearded dragon. This suggests that they try to settle into their new surroundings. 

They are natural diggers; whether male or female, they both like digging. As previously said, digging is a natural activity. However, if the digging behaviors become compulsive, this may indicate illness or stress. This is the time to consult a veterinarian. We hope you’ve found this article helpful.