Do we really know everything about our beloved pets? Probably not, but we should have noticed a third eye on our bearded dragon, don´t you agree? So do bearded dragons have a third eye?
Yes, bearded dragons have a third eye. It is called parietal eye and it appears on the skull between the eyes. Bearded dragons can see shadows and light changes with it.
That´s the answer in short, but what does that even mean for you? Do you have to worry now when you pet your bearded dragon that you hurt its parietal eye? Can they really see with it? Do you have to change your tank setup so your bearded dragon isn´t bothered by shadows or even light?
What The Third Eye In Bearded Dragons Really Is
So, let´s get to the facts first. What even is this third eye? I have never seen a third eye on my bearded dragon. Have you? So how can this thing even be called eye?
Well, many lizards, amphibians and even fishes have a parietal eye. Like a normal eye it has a lens and it has a retina, but it has no iris and that´s why it doesn´t appear like a normal eye. The eye appears on the skull between the eyes and it is covered by a transparent scale.
Actually you can see it pretty well in bearded dragons and other agamas.
The parietal eye is directly connected to a bearded dragon´s brain through a small hole in their skull. Scientist think that most lizards had four eyes back in the day and that the left eye of that additional pair moved to the middle of the skull through many years of evolution. How cool is that?
The parietal eye is also known as third eye or pineal organ. Below is a video that shows exactly where the third eye is.
What Can Bearded Dragons Really See With The Third Eye?
I can understand if dry facts bore the hell out of you. So let me explain to you what bearded dragons can really see with their third eye.
You might think that bearded dragons can see with that third eye as they can see with their “normal” eyes. However, that is not really correct. They use this eye in other ways.
Bearded Dragons Use Their Third Eye As Compass
The scientists Barbara A. Ellis-Quinn and Carol A. Simony have tested what lizards can really do with their parietal eye. Source.
They wanted to find out if lizards use their parietal eye to orientate.
Many lizards have an own territory which could be called their home. Whenever they diverge from that territory too far they find their way back without any problems.
Lizards that were caught and released around 200 meters from their territory also found their way back without any problems. These lizards were able to see their environment during the transport away from their territory though.
Because of that, scientists wanted to know if the parietal eye helps lizards to find their way back.
They caught some lizards and separated them in three groups.
- In one group they covered the third eye after the transport.
- In the second group they covered a spot next to the parietal eye after the transport.
- In the third group they did not cover the third eye at all.
It turned out that lizards need the parietal eye to find the right way. The group with the covered third eye could not find their way back and was roaming around for two days.
The other two groups could find their way without any problems.
In another experiment Freake, M. J. researched if lizards really need their third eye to find their way home or if they just remember the way back to their territory during the transport. Source.
So they covered their parietal eye during transport, but the lizards could see where they were all the time during transport.
Still, the lizards with the parietal eye covered could not find their way back home.
Bearded Dragons Can See Predators With Their Third Eye
Bearded dragons do not only use their third eye as compass. They also can see dangers with it. However, they cannot really see that a bird is above them. They just sense that there is a shadow above them or that the light above them has changed.
It doesn´t matter if that was really a bird or something else, most wild bearded dragons will immediately run for cover if they sense that a shadow is above them.
Why It is So Important To Be Aware Of The Third Eye
So what does that mean for you? Should you even care about that? I mean your bearded dragon is in your tank the whole day and there are no predators in its tank, right? So why is it important to be aware of the third eye?
Let me explain – a lot of bearded dragon owners just grab their bearded dragon from above. Some bearded dragons try to flee then and the owners are wondering why their bearded dragon is so skittish and always wants to get away.
Well, it sees you as a predator because you create a shadow above them. Even without the third eye it could fear that you might be a predator as soon as you are above it trying to grab it. A bearded dragon´s instincts will kick in and it will try to flee.
That´s why I always tell people to not take a fish tank as reptile tank. Grabbing your bearded dragon from above whenever you want to get it out means stress for your bearded dragon. Stress can cause diseases and stress can also cause mental illnesses.
Do yourself and your bearded dragon a favor and get a tank with front doors as soon as you have the money for it. I know those are pretty expensive, but your bearded dragon will be thankful. If you want to know which tank would be a good fit, read this article on setting up a bearded dragon tank here.
That article will show you which tank is pretty good for beardies.
Can You Still Pet Your Beardie On Its Head?
You might be worried now that you hurt your bearded dragon while touching it on its head. Don´t worry about it, it won´t hurt your bearded dragon at all. As I said above the third eye is covered with a transparent scale.
You Should Know What Your Bearded Dragon Is Able To See
It is also important to know what bearded dragons can see with their normal eyes. As I said, stress can be pretty harmful to your bearded dragons and many bearded dragon owners are not aware of how good bearded dragons actually can see.
If your bearded dragons turns black very often, shows a black beard very often or if your bearded dragon is nervous all the time, you should definitely read this article on what bearded dragons can actually see.
When I heard about the third eye in bearded dragons the first time, I thought it means that bearded dragons somehow have a spiritual connection with something, lol. What about you? What did you think what the third eye is?
Do bearded dragons have a third eye? Yes, they have! Let me know what you think in the comment section below.