First of all I want to make clear that digging is a natural behavior in bearded dragons. A lot of beardies love to dig caves and hide in them.
Digging is a very good exercise for a bearded dragon in captivity and it is also good for their claws as they can´t get too long if the beardie is digging on a more or less regular base.
However there are situations when this behavior might become a little bit too much. Of course it doesn´t mean that your bearded dragon is a weirdo. It always has something to do with the husbandry.
In this article I want to show you what could cause an obsessive digging behavior and how you can help.
In some cases the temperature was just too high for the bearded dragon, leading do a very hefty digging behavior. If your bearded dragon just can´t stop digging for days (constantly) this could be it.
Your bearded dragon wants to dig into a cave to cool down a little bit. You should definitely check your temperature if you are worried. If you don´t know what temperature you need in your habitat, have a look at my beardie lighting guide. You will find everything you need there.
Of course this depends on your situation. Maybe you just got your bearded dragon and it still has to get used to the new environment and it has to get used to you as well.
Many bearded dragons who move into a new home show this behavior for a couple of days. It should get better though.
However it may be that you keep two or more bearded dragons in one tank and your beardie is afraid of one of the other dragons.
I know that many pet shop sellers love to tell unaware people that they can tell the gender at a young age and sell “two females that get along well with each other”. Make no mistake, those sellers just want one thing: your money.
It is not possible to tell the gender at a very young age and that´s why many reptile keepers end up with two males instead of two females or one male and one female.
You should monitor your bearded dragons. Is the one that diggs all the time getting suppressed by other beardies? If you don´t know how to tell that, here is a list of bearded dragon behavior which helps you with that
You Have A Female
No matter if you have a female that was allowed to mate or not, female bearded dragons in captivity will lay eggs from time to time.
In that time it will show a very obsessive digging behavior to find the perfect spot to lay eggs. You have to make sure that your bearded dragon has enough energy and gets enough minerals during that period. Here is how to do that.
When In Doubt Always Visit A Vet
I know, I know vets are expensive as hell. To be honest, I like my reptile vet, but I hate it to visit him. It takes so much time and as I already said, a lot of money.
However this is definitely better than worrying all the time. Some bearded dragons just like to dig more than others and that´s okay as long as your vet says that your bearded dragon is absolutely healthy.
You Should Allow Digging
I know that most beardie keepers are afraid of using sand or clay as substrate because they fear that their bearded dragon might eat sand.
Those concerns are justified as many bearded dragons die from impaction. However there is an easy method to prevent your bearded dragon from eating sand – offering enough calcium.
Simply make sure that your bearded dragon always has access to a calcium source. If you want to learn more about it, read this article on bearded dragon diet.
The Right Substrate
I have a lot of experience with the Excavator Clay from Zoo Med. This clay gets hard and you can form hills, ways and caves with it. There even is a Cavern Kit to buy that you can use for forming those caves easier.
However you can always go with a normal substrate as well. For example white sand or walnut shells are highly rated by many reptile keepers.
I hope this article helped you a little bit. As you see, digging is an absolutely normal behavior in bearded dragons, but it can become obsessive if your bearded dragon is not healthy or if it is stressed.
You just need to make sure that you got the right substrate, so that your bearded dragon does not hurt itself and can work on its claws. Trust me, clipping your bearded dragons nails can be pretty exhausting.
Make sure that you check out the clay that I have recommended above. It is amazing and I am sure you will love it.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below.