Are Bearded Dragons Smart? You Will Be Surprised

Are Bearded Dragons SmartHave you ever asked yourself if your bearded dragon even knows that you exist? Do they know their owner, or are we just a thing for them that brings food? Are bearded dragons smart?

It is proven that bearded dragons are pretty smart. They actually recognise their owners and they can even learn things by imitating other reptiles.

You might ask now what I even mean with “they learn things by imitating other reptiles” – and how the hell were people able to prove that? What else can bearded dragons do you don´t know about? Do they know what specific words mean? Read below to learn how smart bearded dragons really are.

Are Bearded Dragons Smart?

As I said above, bearded dragons and most other reptiles are actually smarter than we thought. In the past, scientist always thought that only humans could learn to imitate other creatures and learn to solve problems by doing that.

Later we learned that mammals and birds are also capable of imitation, but we never really tested this in reptiles.

It turned out that reptiles are also capable of imitation, which means that reptiles are way more intelligent than we always thought.

The Experiment

So let me explain how scientist found out that reptiles are capable of doing this.

They took bearded dragons (yes, they actually used bearded dragons and not another species to test this) and put them into a terrarium with two rooms.

However, the bearded dragons were not able to enter the other room except they learned how to open the trap door between the rooms. To give those beardies some motivation to learn how to open that trap door, they (obviously) placed a meaty, delicious mealworm in the other room.

I don´t need to tell you that this is probably the biggest motivation a bearded dragon can have. Except superworms, maybe.

Further, in the other room – the one with the worm in it – was a small monitor that showed a video of a bearded dragon that opened the door and got the mealworm.

The monitor showed three videos.

  • One where a bearded dragon opened the door by biting it and shoving it to the right side.
  • One where a bearded dragon opened the door by biting it and shoving it to the left side.
  • And the last one where a human opened the door for the bearded dragon.

The video below shows what I exactly mean with that.


Why did they even have to use three different videos? Well, they wanted to make sure that they can prove that the bearded dragon learned the exact same behavior from the video.

If the video showed a bearded dragon shoving the door to the right and the test subject opened the door to the left, it could mean that the beardie just accidentally found out how to open the door.

However, by showing those beardies three different videos, scientists would be able to prove that the animals were able to open the door by imitating the exact same behavior as shown on the monitor.

The Results Were Pretty Clear

I have to be honest here, I knew that we underestimate our pets and that they are probably smarter than we always think, but I did not expect the results from this experiment.

The results were more than clear.

None of the bearded dragons that had seen the video where a human opened the door, was able to open the door. However, every single bearded dragon that had seen the video where a bearded dragon opened the trap door was able to actually open the trap door.

How cool is that? They actually learned how it works by looking at another bearded dragon!

However, that did not work in every try. Some bearded dragons seemed to be smarter than other bearded dragons. While one bearded dragon was only able to open the door two out of ten times, another bearded dragon was able to open the door every single time.

They even showed the same head movement they had seen in the video and most of the times they opened the door to the shown side (left or right).

The tested bearded dragons needed three weeks to learn how to open the door. While many people think that this is a pretty long time, I think they learned it pretty quickly.

What Else Can Bearded Dragons Do?

So you have learned that bearded dragon can do things we did not expect. What does that mean for you and your bearded dragon? What exactly can you teach your bearded dragon?

While this is a topic for a whole new article, I want to at least tell you the basic things you might want to learn about right now.

I am sure that you want to know if your bearded dragon can learn to come when called.

Bearded dragons are able to learn that. I don´t think that they know that it is their name, but they can learn that something good happens when they come when they hear that “sound”.

Do bearded dragons recognise their owner? Yes, they definitely do and you can see this behavior in many other reptiles. Some bearded dragons show a completely different behavior when they see their owner or when they see other humans. So, bearded dragons definitely get used to you.

Are Bearded Dragons The Smartest Reptiles?

I highly doubt it. I know it hurts, but let´s be realistic. Every person who has seen a well trained pet iguana or a well trained tegu can immediately tell that those reptiles have to be way smarter. I mean, those reptiles really show dog-like behavior when trained right. That is amazing.

Still, as you have seen bearded dragons can learn things, they are pretty smart and besides that they are awesome, haha.


To wrap this all up, the experiment shows that reptiles in general are way smarter than we always thought. For you as bearded dragon owner this means, that every bearded dragon can be trained, no matter how mean it might be, every bearded dragon can learn. It just takes some time and it takes some patience.

It also shows that every bearded dragon is a little different. Some are very smart and other are a little bit slower when it comes to learning.

By the way, if your bearded dragon is aggressive or skittish and you want it to learn that you are not a threat, this article on taming a bearded dragon will help you with that.

Are bearded dragons smart? Yes, they are – and I strongly believe that they are even smarter than we know at the moment.


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