Affable emotions are typically not associated with reptiles but in the case of bearded dragons, there are some notable exceptions. Accordingly, in this post, we will be exploring the social quotient of bearded dragons to determine whether, and to what extent, do they score on this front.
Are bearded dragons social? Bearded dragons are social up to a reasonable point. As compared to many other species of their ilk, bearded dragons are able to display a fair number of behavioral tendencies which point towards their sociability, especially the ease with which they form a bond with humans.
In this post, we will explore a number of behavioral manifestations that are a clear sign of gregariousness on the part of bearded dragons. At the same time, we will also clarify some behavioral aspects which are not linked to sociability but simply to traits characteristic of them as a species.
Rapid Bonding with Humans
An aspect characteristic of bearded dragons – which is a clear sign of their social disposition, is the ease with which they bond with humans. Typically, when you first handle bearded dragons at pet shows, you will find them warming up to you at the venue itself.
Then, once you have brought your chosen pet beardie home, again you will find it bonding with others at home – including other pets that you may have such as a cat or a dog, within no time.
Moreover, in its native Australia, humans are known to handle bearded dragons out in the wild with remarkable ease!
All of this is a clear pointer towards the social nature of bearded dragons. As compared to a lot of other reptiles, bearded dragons do tend to form bonds with humans quite fast.
Some behavior as displayed by bearded dragons is more a matter of communicative gestures than of sociability per se; below, we highlight some of these gestures.
- Arm Waving
Most often done by young beardies by raising and waving a front limb, this is a sign of submission or being intimidated, especially as you first walk up to your bearded dragon’s enclosure. If your bearded dragon is waving all the time, you should read this article.
- Flared Beard
This is the most well-known gesture of bearded dragons; in fact, it gets its name from the “beard” on its chin, which in this case, it flares up. It is typically a sign of feeling threatened. At the same time, males sometimes flare their beards simply to sway the ladies!
- Head Bobbing
Bearded dragons often tend to bob their heads up and down, as if giving an affirmative response to a question posed to them but in reality, they are simply asserting their presence.
This is especially true in case of male beardies when more than one is present in the same enclosure, and one wants to prove to the other “who’s the boss” by bobbing its head! If your bearded dragon is head bobbing very often, read this article!
Watch out for Stacking
An unusual behavior pattern, especially seen among young bearded dragons, is to stack up one on top of the other. This is not really a sign of strong sociability which many pet owners inaccurately perceive.
Rather, it is simply about dominating and capturing resources such as light and heat to the maxim; the one(s) stacked over are compromised while the other(s) on top is able to maximize the light and heat they get.
Remember this is far from ideal behavior and as a responsible pet owner, you must do everything possible to prevent it. That is because the one(s) at the bottom will continue to remain depleted of resources essential to them.
So, the solution lies in either avoiding housing more than one beardie together in the same enclosure, or if you really have to, then providing them with more than adequate space so that they simply do not resort to stacking in the first place.
Females Flaring their Beards
While males are known to be more pro-active when it comes to flaring their beards, females do it too but often for a different set of reasons, especially to be left alone by their male counterparts. The quirky thing to note here is that males do “get it” and usually tend to leave females alone if the former tried to approach it and was flared at by the female.
Interestingly, when females are “not in the mood”, besides flaring, they are also known to take on a unique posture of their own. Yet again, males do understand this and tend to shy away.
Talk about our male human species learning a thing or two about consent from bearded dragons!
Physical Characteristics that Boost Sociability
It would also be pertinent to mention certain physical characteristics that actually unwittingly end up boosting the social quotient of bearded dragons with humans.
Bearded dragons are just the right size for humans to handle them with ease; neither too big (like iguanas) nor too small.
- Easy to Feed
In the wild, bearded dragons stretch out their sticky tongue to catch their food without involving their teeth. In a domesticated setting, this behavioral tendency negates any chances of being bitten by bearded dragons when you feed them.
- Thorns on their Neck
The thorns on their necks are really easy (and feel great!) to bristle, whether done by fellow beardies or you!
Mistaking Optimal Resource Utilization for Loneliness
A common mistake made by bearded dragon pet owners is to perceive solitary beardies as “loners” when they may simply be looking to optimally use the resources that are available to them.
An excellent example would be the food that you provide to your bearded dragon within its enclosure; the presence of another beardie would mean competition for that seemingly precious resource.
Accordingly, most bearded dragons would much rather be by themselves and have such resources to themselves, than be compelled to share with others.
It really does not have anything to do with loneliness.
Moreover, bearded dragons have a strong sense of competitiveness among themselves (males not being very comfortable in each other’s presence being a suitable instance). Therefore, ideally, you should avoid housing too many beardies together, whether males or even a male-female pair (which can lead to excessive breeding, causing immense undue stress to the female).
“Reasonably social” as we described in the introductory section, is the best way to describe the social quotient of bearded dragons. You certainly cannot equate their sociability with common household pets such as cats and dogs.
Yet, as highlighted above, bearded dragons have many unique behavioral manifestations of their own, which ultimately render them as even more special pets!
Armed with a solid background on the social quotient of bearded dragons, you might also want to know:
Do bearded dragons feel love? Bearded dragons do not feel a wide range of emotions which we humans (and various other species of animals) do. Love is one of them. At the same time, they have no emotion such as hatred either; “indifference” would be the apt reference in this case.
Do bearded dragons need a friend? Notwithstanding some of the social characteristics reasonably applicable to bearded dragons, for the large part, they are loners and therefore, can make do very well without a friend per se. They certainly do not have a “need” for friends as such, the way we humans do.