Is your bearded dragon digging holes in its enclosure?
Are you worried about the health of your bearded dragon?
Digging behavior with bearded dragons can seem alarming, especially if it’s something you’re not used to seeing.
It can leave you worried something is wrong with your oddly cute pet.
We can help!
In this article, we’ll dig into the reasons why this happens.
But still, you wonder, “Why is my bearded dragon digging?”
Bearded dragons can start digging for several reasons, but none of them are something to get worked up over. The most common reasons for digging are trying to find a better basking spot, females preparing to lay eggs, and beardies getting ready for brumation.
Read on for more details and how to tell the difference.
What Does Digging Behavior Look Like?
You may be wondering as you read this post:
“Seriously, these reptiles dig?”
Yes, they can, and in the wild, this is normal behavior.
When bearded dragons dig in an enclosure, they use their front and hind legs to press substrate out of the way and create holes in the bedding.
If you don’t use substrate, your beardy may still be “digging” if it’s moving the flooring or furniture and trying to get underneath it.
In both circumstances, look at these reasons below for information on why your bearded dragon is digging even if there is nothing to uncover.
3 Reasons Bearded Dragons Dig
As with most animal behavior, experts can only guess the exact motivations behind specific actions.
However, with observation, we can make very accurate assumptions.
In this section, we dig into the three reasons why your bearded dragons are digging and what you need to do about it.
(And, yes, the last sentence was a pun intended.)
#1 Basking Spot
Basking is essential for bearded dragon health.
In their natural habitats of the Australian desert, beardies spend a lot of time in the sun and hot weather.
As part of their typical day, they rest in the direct to gather sunlight for energy, UVB radiation, and for help with digestion.
In your bearded dragon’s tank, you need a basking spot for them.
This spot should be underneath a light/lamp which gives off UV light as well as heat.
You’ve probably already set up a spot for them beneath this light using a flat rock or piece of reptile furniture.
If you haven’t, this may be why the bearded dragon is digging.
They like to be comfortable and safe while they bask.
If the bearded dragon digs at a spot beneath your lamp and then rests there, it may be time to rethink the way you have the basking spot set up.
Even so, don’t be alarmed if they dig a spot anyway; they do like to mix it up.
#2 Females Getting Ready To Lay Eggs
When a female bearded dragon is pregnant and getting ready to lay eggs, their instincts tell them to dig a hole to lay their eggs into.
Appropriately, this is called an egg lay.
If you’ve been trying to mate and breed your bearded dragons, this is a good sign for you!
4-6 weeks after successful mating a female bearded dragon will lay her clutches (sometimes several clutches).
Read more on how long a bearded dragon is pregnant.
If your female bearded dragon does lay her eggs in the lay, you need to remove them to an incubator.
This will help keep as many eggs alive as long as possible.
Check out the best incubators for bearded dragons.
If you don’t use an incubator and go for a more natural approach, make sure you remove the baby beardies right after they hatch.
Mother bearded dragons don’t view offspring as children.
Now, you may be thinking:
“My bearded dragon isn’t pregnant. It can’t be this.”
Female bearded dragons can lay clutches of unfertilized eggs and they may not be viable for babies.
Even if your beardy hasn’t mated, count back until her brumation.
If it was around 8-10 weeks ago, it might be this kind of situation.
Still, there’s nothing to do other than to make sure the substrates you choose can’t accidentally be eaten during this digging process.
#3 Preparing For Brumation
As the temperature would get lower during the rainy season and colder months in Australia, bearded dragons go into a state of brumation.
Brumation is similar to hibernation.
But instead of sleeping for the time, bearded dragons go into a state of low movement and eating for survival.
Note: Bearded dragons will still move to drink or sit in water briefly and sporadically.
During brumation in the wild, they need to find a place to hide for this time.
As a reptile can dig, they often burrow into sand and dirt beneath some kind of object.
If you’ve decided to force your bearded dragon into brumation by lowering the temperature of the tank, your bearded dragon may have started to dig as a way of finding a safe place.
Even if you aren’t forcing it to brumate, they still do this about once per year as part of their natural cycle.
Assume it’s brumation if their appetite and movements slow down.
Leave them be if you’d like, and they’ll be just fine.
If you want to help, some owners put in a small towel for your pet to sleep under and feel more secure.
Now you know why bearded dragons dig.
Many assume it’s something wrong with their bearded dragons such as stress or illness.
In fact, it’s very typical behavior and doesn’t require you to do much of anything.
Whether it’s making a new basking spot, getting ready to lay eggs, or preparing for brumation, you don’t have to worry.
However, it is essential to know what the behaviors mean to be the best caregiver for your beardy.