bearded dragon handbook

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Why Does My Bearded Dragon Run Away from Me?

Does your bearded dragon run at the sight of you?

Are you worried your bearded dragon doesn’t like you or fears you?

Running from a more gigantic, unknown creature such as a human isn’t something to be overly concerned with, but looking at the reason why a beardy runs can help you determine how to help fix this behavior.

If you notice your pet fleeing when you go to pick it up, you may find yourself wondering:

Why does my bearded dragon run away from me?

Bearded dragons run away for several reasons, but the most common is being startled or fearful. Of course, this doesn’t mean your reptile is scared of you, but you may need to take extra calming and bonding steps as well as ensure you’re picking it up the right way.

Read on for more details on why your beardy is running and how to stop this behavior.

why does my bearded dragon run away from me

5 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Run Away

In this section, we’ll look at the specific different reasons your bearded dragon may be running away from you.

Most of these reasons stem from the lizard being stressed or fearful.

In the next section, we’ll look at steps to take to fix the behaviors.

#1 Feels Threatened

The first reason why your pet may be running away is it is feeling threatened by you.

If a bearded dragon feels threatened by a more massive creature, its first instinct is to run.

This may be for any number of reasons.

It could be the beardy is stressed out from something else entirely.

When these reptiles are already in a state of heightened stress, it doesn’t take much for them to lose their cool and run from you.

Here are some common stress raisers in bearded dragons:

  • Loud noises
  • Other pets bugging the enclosure
  • Needing to poop
  • Feeling hungry
  • Rapid changes in light
  • Being ready to mate

Check if any of these are problems first, then look into calming and bonding in the next section.

#2 You Approached It Wrong

Many owners reach in to pick up or feed a bearded dragon without thinking there’s a right or wrong way.

But if your hand comes to the beardy incorrectly, it can trigger the lizard’s defense mechanism and make it run. 

Bearded dragons have a third “eye” on the top of their heads.

This eye doesn’t see shapes or objects with any definition, but it senses changes in light and shade.

This is for defense in the wild.

Though the beardy is a predator, it’s still prey to larger animals and needs to be prepared for an attack from behind and, especially, above.

If a bird of prey were coming down on the beardy, this third eye would see the shadow and trigger the reptile to hide for protection.

If reaching for the bearded dragon from above or behind, this may be why it keeps running.

You can learn more about the bearded dragon’s third eye here.

#3 Bearded Dragon Isn’t Used To You

Another reason the bearded dragon may be running from you is that it isn’t used to your presence.

There are no predators the size of a human in the wild, so it doesn’t know how to handle you.

If you have a new or young bearded dragon, it may not see you as anything other than a threat and will run from you.

This is fixed through bonding, as discussed in the next section.

#4 Temperature Is Off In The Enclosure

If the habitat’s temp or UVB is off, the bearded dragon may have too much or not enough energy.

This may also result in glass surfing (read more at the link).

When the habitat is off, the bearded dragon may go into odd bouts of lethargy and over-activity.

Usually, the over-activity is triggered when something happens in the tank, such as you reaching in.

Check the temperature and basking set up to ensure it’s all right to eliminate this as a possible reason.

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#5 You’ve Been Picking It Up Wrong

There is a right way and a wrong way to pick up a bearded dragon.

It may not communicate to you if you’ve been doing it wrong, but, over time, it will learn to fear being picked up and attempt to escape when you go in for the pet.

The most common mistake is not supporting the entire body of the bearded dragon.

If you leave something dangling, the beardy is afraid of being dropped and hurt.

This negative association will build over time, and then it’ll run a lot from you.

How To Fix Running Away

All reasons for running include stress, comfort with you, and proper handling.

Follow this quick checklist to fix the running behavior by repairing your own.

Stress

Do these steps and read the associated guide for more details:

  • Remove stressors
  • Give it a bath
  • Feed it
  • Cover tank with a dark blanket
  • Give it time

If stress or aggression is a significant problem with your bearded dragon, we’ve written a detailed guide on tactics we recommend to calm your pet lizard.

Comfort

Reads the quick steps for checking the comfort of the beardy and bonding:

  • Check temperature
    • 100° – 110° degrees Fahrenheit (38° – 43° C) for basking
    • 95° degrees Fahrenheit (35° C) for general
    • 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) for a hiding spot
    • 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) for night
    • Use a UV bulb
  • Place your hand in the tank where the beardy can see it but don’t approach it
  • Feed from your hand slowly

Proper Handling

Keep these ideas in mind when handling bearded dragons:

  • Slowly approach from the front
  • Scoop underneath to pick up
  • Use both hands to support the whole body
  • Gently put a hand flat on the ground and lift from wrist to slide the bearded dragon off when putting down

Of course, there is more to handling bearded dragons than what’s listed above.

We recommend checking out our post on how often to handle bearded dragons for additional information.

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Conclusion

Now you know why your bearded dragon is running away from you.

It is alarming when you see this, and you wonder if your pet hates you.

This isn’t the case; make sure you calm it down and spend some time bonding with it by learning the correct way to pick it up, and you’ll be just fine.