Causes Of Bearded Dragon Biting Behaviors
Do Bearded Dragons Bite?
Bearded dragons are known as one of the friendliest reptile species that exists. However, these scaled little fellas can sometimes exhibit biting behaviors under certain circumstances. If you have a beardie that’s biting, it’s important to understand why it’s happening, how to address it, and the things you should be aware of!
The main reasons bearded dragons bite are:
- bearded dragon babies have competition over food
- adults bearded dragons attempting to grab food, but accidentally grab your finger
- feeling threatened
Juvenile BITING BEHAVIOR
- Competing Over Food
Juvenile bearded dragons are young, lively, and will usually try to eat just about anything that moves. Sometimes that might mean biting another bearded dragon. A lot of times they will bite off another limb or tail from another bearded dragon – this is known as “nipping”. They will literally try to eat anything they can fit in their mouths. Small enclosures with a lot of juvenile bearded dragons inside can lead to tail nipping. This is more likely to occur if food is sparse with all of those bearded dragons in one little enclosure.
Adult Biting Behavior
- Accidental Biting
The main reason why an adult bearded dragon would bite someone or something will be an accident. If a bearded dragon is really hungry, it might try to get your hand first before it makes it to the food in its bowl.
- Feeling Threatened
Bearded dragons are smaller animals. If they feel threatened, this could cause them to bite. Many predators are larger than they are, and biting or puffing out is their line of defense.
Fast movements might scare them and they will become extremely defensive. Hissing may occur as well as them puffing out their beard.
Biting is not always from hunger or being threatened.
Male bearded dragons will bite females during mating season. Females will have bite marks on their lips, neck, and head because males are very aggressive during mating.
Does It Hurt?
People can be bitten by their bearded dragon too whether it is an accident or on purpose. Their jaws are surprisingly strong for their size and their bite feels like a strong pinch. As you can see from above, their teeth aren’t razor sharp – they’re basically little ridged nubs.
In the unlikely event that you are bitten by a bearded dragon, it is important to clean the bite properly if it breaks your skin because you could develop an infection if it’s left untreated. Did you know that bearded dragons are actually considered (very mildly) venomous?
In the event you’re bitten and it breaks skin, flush the wound under warm water before cleaning the wound with rubbing alcohol. You can cover it with a bandaid and use disinfectant cream on the wound. If you are concerned about it, you can always have the wound examined by a doctor.
How To Avoid Biting
In order to avoid any tail nipping with juvenile beardies, they need to be fed several times a day so that food is not scarce. There also needs to be less bearded dragons in one enclosure. They need room to move around and being too crowded can cause them stress.
If you want to avoid biting behaviors altogether, do not let your female bearded dragon breed with a male. A male beardie will try to bite the female during mating.
To avoid your bearded dragon biting you, you have to socialize them a lot with yourself when they are a baby. They need to be handled gently and regularly.
Over time, they will be used to your hand coming in their enclosure and won’t be afraid of you. They will even be comfortable enough to climb onto your hand and arm over time.
I recommend trying to hold your beardie once a day at minimum to get it socialized. Do not grab them by the tail or their limbs.
The safest way to handle your beardie is to slide your hand underneath so they can just climb on top of your hand. It is less stressful for your beardie too. They enjoy the warmth of our bodies too, so once they realize we are warm, they might never want to leave your hand.
They Are Still Super Safe Pets!
I want to really emphasize that bearded dragons in captivity are safe pets to keep.
Bearded dragons are generally very docile pets and are unlikely to bite their owners. Puffing out their beard is going to be a more common behavior if they are upset or if they aren’t used to being handled much.
Bearded dragons can exhibit some biting behaviors that can be avoided. It does in fact hurt when they bite a person, but it is rare that it happens. If you handle your bearded dragon often when it is a juvenile, rest assured that with time it will become comfortable with you holding it and it won’t feel threatened.