Is your bearded dragon making intense eye contact with you a lot lately?
Wondering what’s going on?
As pet owners, we all like to observe our critters and often read into their behaviors, for better or for worse.
When it comes to this stoic reptile, it’s often challenging to translate what they might be attempting to communicate, so we end up paying a lot of attention to body language—like prolonged staring.
Is this particular tick a typical behavior, a weird behavior, or what exactly does it mean?
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Why Does My Bearded Dragon Stare At Me?
The reasons bearded dragons often stare at their owners come from natural, instinctual behaviors. Your beardie is a curious creature and observes you in order to understand their environment better, keep themselves feeling safe, and also keep themselves occupied.
Before you freak out something is wrong, or your beardie is plotting to kill you, we want to assure you this tendency to stare is entirely normal.
While it might feel a bit odd to be watched so intensely (imagine how they feel on display in their tank 24/7!), staring is normal behavior for beardies.
Your pet reptile will naturally want to study moving objects—like you—and get a sense of what’s going on around them.
Keeping an eye on the players in their world helps them know how to respond.
When you think about bearded dragons in the wild, this seemingly strange behavior starts to make a lot more sense, too.
With the potential threat of predators out there, a bearded dragon is programmed to be aware of their environment at all times so they can figure out how to remain safe.
Don’t forget your pet also lives in captivity, so it can get a little boring cooped up in the tank all day!
This focused observation they display is also their way of entertaining themselves—you might even catch them watching TV sometimes if you have one in range of their enclosure.
Otherwise, you might be the most interesting thing in their field of vision!
Are They Bored?
As a responsible owner, you’re probably feeling a bit of discomfort for beardie at this point, hearing how all this staring might be coming from a place of boredom.
It’s true you do want to provide enriching activities for your pet to make their life more enjoyable.
After all, living creatures generally seek diversion and enjoy the interaction.
If you provide your beardie with activities, you may also notice the amount of uninterrupted staring go down.
How Can I Keep My Bearded Dragon Entertained?
Here are a few suggestions for how you, as a bearded dragon owner, are sure your beardie is getting the stimulation they need.
Take them for a walk.
No need to keep your pet behind the glass at all times.
In fact, they might enjoy getting out and about once in a while.
Consider obtaining a unique leash like this one and walking them around your home or potentially in some safe, enclosed area outside.
Take your beardie for a drive.
Just as a car ride often calms a human baby, bearded dragons actually find a road trip to be an enjoyable activity.
Make sure to keep them leashed up and use portable pet carriers like this one for safety reasons.
Also, bring water and beardie food with you if you’ll be gone a long time, and keep the car at a warm temperature for your cold-blooded friend.
Provide a ball.
Much like other animals, there’s a chance your bearded dragon would delight in something as simple as a ball.
Not all bearded dragons will react to a ball, but it’s worth a shot!
A small rubber ball or ping pong ball will do—give it a shot and see if they’ll nudge it around.
Go for a swim.
Bearded dragons love a bit of water play, so set up a pool for them as one means of entertainment.
A plastic storage bin or kiddie pool will do the trick, filled with warm, dechlorinated water no deeper than their elbows around 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).
Feel free to place a ball or other toys in there, too!
Give them some love.
One of the best and easiest ways to keep your beardie happy and stimulated is to hold them regularly—about an hour per day if you’re able.
Doing so will also build trust and form a stronger bond between you and your pet.
Always remember to handle their body safely and carefully in the process.
Your bearded dragon will be better off if you take the time to provide them with a more interesting, varied life.
And they might stare at you less if they have other things to do!
How Do I Know If My Bearded Dragon Is Happy?
From reading into body signs to diverting them with activities, is it ever really possible to know if you’ve achieved success in looking out for your beardie’s happiness?
How can you tell?
The answer will vary depending on your particular pet, but for a bearded dragon, good health is the real key to happiness—the right food, water, care, and environment.
If they’re sleeping normally, eating and pooping, as usual, move around regularly, and appear alert and interested in their setting, they’re probably doing pretty well.
If instead, your beardie is hiding a lot, demonstrating aggressive behavior, or if their beard and belly even become black, these are all worrying signs, and your pet may be ill.
For a bearded dragon, being happy and being healthy are nearly one and the same.
Though interacting with them can yield a positive influence (and give them something else to stare at!), the real concern should be making sure they have the vitamins and minerals they need and taking them to a vet if they become sick.
What Other Bearded Dragon Behaviors Should I Know About?
Besides staring spells, which, as we learned, is harmless apart from a possible reminder to interact more, what other notable behaviors are attributed to bearded dragons?
If your beardie is waving at you (as funny as this sounds), it’s a sign of submission, as they are showing you their vulnerable belly.
It might also be a mating behavior since females wave their arms at males during the process.
Conversely, males often engage in head bobbing to females during mating.
They also bob heads at males to show dominance.
If your beardie is going all bobblehead on you, this may explain it!
Your beardie might start climbing the tank glass—what could this mean?
This one’s a little more complicated, as the reason may be something harmless like the curiosity of glass and seeing their own reflection, or it could mean something’s off with the temperature or humidity in their tank, and they’re unable to thermoregulate.
If the latter, it’s up to you to check on their habitat conditions and make the necessary adjustments!
Glass surfing may be a call for attention out of hunger, boredom, or because they just pooped and want to be cleaned.
This behavior is pretty context-dependent, and you’ll need to do some sleuthing to find out what’s going on!
Bearded dragons have pigmented cells, called chromatophores, which reflect light and enable them to change color in response to their environment.
Beardies will naturally change color over time as they age, but if they turn a dark color out of nowhere, pay attention—they might be ill, cold, stressed, angry, or otherwise in a bad spot.
On the other hand, if they suddenly turn a bright, warm color (orange, yellow, light brown), it means they’re happy, so no need to worry.
It turns out staring is only one of many intriguing behaviors your pet beardie may exhibit!
Some, like staring, are normal and don’t necessarily need to be urgently addressed.
Others require action on your part at times, so be on the lookout.
Maybe you’re curious, perhaps you’re creeped out, but whatever the reason, you want to know why your bearded dragon is staring at you so hard.
We get it! It’s a bit weird and not exactly something we’re encouraged to do as humans (rude much?).
But it turns out there’s no need for concern—a staring beardie is a normal, curious beardie taking stock of their environment and keeping themselves busy.
Consider providing them with more activity and finding time to bond with them.
Otherwise, you’ll have to get used to it!
Take it as a form of flattery.