Is your bearded dragon running around the tank and bouncing off the glass?
Are you worried your pet is going to hurt itself with this behavior?
I don’t blame you.
Glass surfing is a dangerous behavior, but fortunately, fixing it is relatively easy.
So you’re wondering, “Why is my bearded dragon glass surfing?”
Glass surfing is a commonly seen behavior where bearded dragons run around their tank, bouncing off the glass walls of their enclosure. Though this is common, it’s often a sign of something off with your bearded dragon’s habitat, which can easily be corrected with some simple steps.
Read on for more details on what causes glass surfing and, more importantly, how to stop the behavior.
Table of Contents
What Is Glass Surfing?
Glass surfing is the owner’s term for a specific behavior with bearded dragons.
Despite the name, you may see this behavior in tanks without glass walls, although sometimes the reasons are specific to glass tanks.
When glass surfing, the bearded dragons appear to want to escape the tank desperately.
Also known as glass dancing, bearded dragons will scurry around their tank and attempt to climb the walls of the enclosure.
The reptile rubs its belly on the wall to get a grip while its arms are waving frantically.
The bearded dragon will also stand on its hind legs to give it more height in its attempt to escape.
With this behavior, the bearded dragon may stick to one wall and climb repeatedly or move around the tank on multiple walls.
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8 Reasons Your Bearded Dragon May Be Glass Surfing
It’s impossible to look at the behavior and pin down the exact reason why the bearded dragon is glass surfing right away.
But by looking at these eight reasons, you may be able to determine why it’s stressed out and take steps to stop the behavior.
#1 Enclosure Too Small
One of the reasons a bearded dragon may glass surf is because the enclosure itself is too small.
Bearded dragons are active creatures and need a lot of space for their everyday activities such as digging, climbing, basking, hiding, and resting.
If the space is too small, they can’t burn off the energy properly, and they begin to seek other ways to use it up.
We recommend adult bearded dragons use an enclosure at least 50 gallons large.
75-gallon tanks (or more) will be preferred if they have to share space with another reptile or if you don’t want to keep having to upgrade tanks.
Here’s a guide to the age, growth, and tank size of a bearded dragon:
|Age||Length in Inches||Weight in Grams||Tank Size in Gallons|
|Hatchling||3 inches||4 to 6 grams||20 gallons|
(1 to 3 months)
|3 to 9 inches||4 to 20 grams||20 to 40 gallons|
(3 to 11 months)
|8 to 20 inches||20 to 100 grams||40 to 75 gallons|
(12 months and older)
|16 to 24 inches||100 to 400 grams||75 to 120 gallons|
If you need upgrading, we have a post review of our favorite 75-gallon bearded dragon tanks you’ll find helpful.
#2 Sharing Space With Another Bearded Dragon
Another reason a bearded dragon may glass surf is their sharing space with another bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons are territorial creatures and don’t enjoy being cooped up with one another.
This is especially true if the bearded dragons are close to the same size.
Warning! Never keep more than one male in an enclosure.
If there is a size discrepancy, the larger reptile will challenge and dominate the smaller.
Often in these situations, you see glass surfing as a means of escaping the domination and abuse that usually occurs.
Make sure you don’t keep more than one bearded dragon in an enclosure unless you’re breeding.
If you’re considering having a different reptile cohabitate, read through our post on what can live with a bearded dragon first.
#3 New Space
As instinctive animals, bearded dragons have learned to fear unknown things, including new spaces.
Glass surfing is common when a bearded dragon is moved to a new enclosure, even as a baby or juvenile.
No matter how much you make the tank look and feel like the Australian desert, it’s never going to be a perfect match.
There will always be some adjustments.
If glass surfing happens after switching to a new place, give the beardy some time to adjust.
If he doesn’t seem to calm down on his own, read our post on the best methods for calming down bearded dragons.
#4 New/Rearranged Furniture
Believe it or not, even changing the position of furniture or getting new furniture is enough to set off sensitive bearded dragons.
In this case, “furniture” refers to any items or objects in the tank.
Drastic changes can make the enclosure feel like a brand-new tank, and then you see the same problem with glass surfing you see when switching to brand-new tanks.
Do not change too much, too fast, if possible.
Bearded dragons are creatures of habit and like their homes to stay as much the same as possible.
Another time you may see glass surfing is when the bearded dragon is hungry.
As the reptile gets more and more hungry, and if it’s not getting more food, its instincts tell it to go in search of food.
But in the tank, there is no more food.
So the natural response is to escape the enclosure by climbing out the sides.
Always be sure you are adjusting the amount of food you feed them as they grow.
The rule of thumb is to feed them as much as they can eat within 15 minutes.
If you’re worried about overfeeding them, it comes from feeding them too much protein or too often.
For more information on proper feeding ratios, check out our bearded dragon guide.
#6 Temperature Is Low
Bearded dragons naturally live in the deserts of Australia.
Because of this natural habitat, their bodies need a lot of heat and UVB from the sun to survive.
We have a post on how long bearded dragons can survive without UVB, which is vital to know if an emergency arises.
Naturally, if the temperature of their home is too low in the wild, they go in search of somewhere warmer, or they go into brumation (kind of like hibernation).
And bearded dragons do not go into brumation only in the winter, and we have a post about bearded dragon summer brumation you may find intriguing.
In captivity, if they’ve already brumated recently, they will desperately go in search of warmer temps by climbing and escaping the tank.
The running around also helps them slightly raise their body temperature too.
Not only is the heat needed for good health, but it also helps to digest their food.
Here’s a chart showing the recommended temperatures for a bearded dragon:
|Temperature Zone||Recommended Temperature (°F)||Recommended Temperature (°C)|
|Basking Spot||108 to 113 °F||42 to 45 °C|
|Warm Hide||90 to 95 °F||32 to 35 °C|
|Cold Hide||77 to 85 °F||25 to 29 °C|
|Nighttime Temperature||55 to 75 °F||13 to 24 °C|
#7 Confuse Reflection
Guiltily, I admit this reason is amusing, but it’s also an easy fix.
If you’re using a glass tank and the walls are clear and clean, your bearded dragon may see its reflection and think it’s another bearded dragon.
As we discussed above, beardies are territorial and don’t like to share space.
When it sees its reflection, it may be confused about this new beardy and attempt to challenge it.
This doesn’t solve anything.
The easiest solution here is to use a background on the walls to prevent reflections.
It’s also fun to decorate your tank, and if you’re looking for some awesome backgrounds, we have a post reviewing the backgrounds for bearded dragons we like the most.
#8 Can’t See The Glass
Similar to the last reason, your bearded dragon may want to get something outside the enclosure it sees through clear glass.
However, they don’t understand or see the glass.
So they attempt to get through and keep running up against this invisible barrier.
If you notice your reptile climbing up the same wall over and over, this may be what’s happening.
The simplest solution is to add backgrounds against the walls or remove the objects the beardy is going after.
How To Stop Glass Surfing
Stopping glass surfing is easy to do.
The best way to go about it is to follow this checklist of items to check and fix.
Follow these steps to determine what’s wrong and then correct it to the recommended specifications.
Checklist For Stopping Glass Surfing
- Check the size of your tank (50 – 75 gallon tanks are recommended).
- Remove any other bearded dragons or reptiles to another enclosure.
- Check the temperatures.
- 105° degrees Fahrenheit (41° C) for basking spots
- Overall temp 90° – 95° degrees Fahrenheit (32° – 35° C)
- Hide spot 70° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (21° – 29° C)
- Nighttime 60° – 65° degrees Fahrenheit (15° – 18° C)
- Check the diet and look for frequency, as well as the type of food.
- Adult bearded dragons should have 30% insects and 70% vegetables
- Feed protein one day, Veg the next, take a day off, and repeat
- Cover the glass walls with any type of background if needed
- Calm the bearded dragon
- Remove stressors
- Stroke head
- Give him time to get used to new enclosures or furniture (1 – 2 weeks)
- Take to the vet
You’ll notice only after testing all of these other things.
Otherwise, we suggest taking your bearded dragon to the vet.
It’s up to you, and when in doubt, there’s nothing wrong with taking your pet to the vet.
However, if you do notice some of these other behaviors along with glass surfing, you may want to take it to the vet to be safe:
- Frothing at the mouth
- Lack of appetite over long periods
- Visible injuries
- Persistent hiding
- Lack of movement
Now you know why your bearded dragon is glass surfing and how to stop it.
Most of the time, it’s caused by the presence of another reptile or something wrong with the habitat.
Luckily, this is an easy fix if you follow the checklist mentioned in the last section.
As funny as it may seem, glass surfing needs to be avoided to prevent injury to your bearded dragon.