How To Calm An Angry Bearded Dragon: 7 Tips to Try

Bearded dragons are known for their calm and docile nature, but even the most chill reptiles can get grumpy from time to time. 

If your bearded dragon is puffing his beard, hissing, or whipping his tail, it’s a sign of feeling stressed or angry. 

Don’t worry, though! There are a few things you can do to help him calm down.

In this article, we will explore the different signs of anger in bearded dragons, why they might become angry, and effective techniques for handling and calming them.

Behavior and Signs of Anger

Before you can calm an angry bearded dragon, it’s important to understand why he might be feeling that way. Bearded dragons communicate their emotions through their body language. 

When bearded dragons are angry, they may display different signs indicating discomfort or agitation. 

Some common signs include:

  • Puffing up their throat and beard
  • Blackening of the beard
  • Hissing or puffing sounds

These signs are their ways of warning you or other bearded dragons to stay away. 

Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Might Be Angry

Some common reasons include:

  • Poor husbandry practices: This includes things like inadequate heating, lighting, or humidity levels. Bearded dragons need specific environmental conditions to thrive, and if their needs aren’t being met, they can become stressed and angry.
  • Uncomfortable living conditions: This could include an enclosure that’s too small, insufficient hiding spots, or an inappropriate substrate. Bearded dragons need to feel safe and secure in their environment; if they don’t, they can become anxious and irritable.
  • Incorrect handling techniques: If you’re grabbing your bearded dragon from above, restraining him too tightly, or otherwise making it feel uncomfortable, it’s likely to get angry. Bearded dragons are delicate creatures, and it’s important to handle them with care.
  • Inadequate or inappropriate diet: A diet low in calcium or other essential nutrients can make bearded dragons grumpy. Feed your bearded dragon various nutritious foods, including leafy greens, vegetables, and insects, is important.
  • New Environment: Introducing a new bearded dragon or another pet, changing the enclosure layout, or moving the enclosure can be stressful and trigger defensive behaviors.
  • Competition: If housed together, bearded dragons can become territorial, and exhibit dominance displays like puffing or hissing, especially when feeding or basking.
  • Hunger or Thirst: A hungry or thirsty bearded dragon might puff up their beard to signal their need for food or water.
  • Mating Season: Males might puff up their beards and bob their heads during breeding season to display dominance and attract females.
  • Misinterpretation of Body Language: Sometimes, humans might misinterpret normal bearded dragon behavior, like puffing their beard while basking, as anger. It’s usually just them regulating their body temperature.
  • Pain or Discomfort: If your bearded dragon is experiencing pain or discomfort due to illness or injury, they might puff up or hiss to signal their distress.
  • Internal Parasites: Parasites can cause discomfort and stress, leading to potentially misinterpreted “angry” behaviors.

How To Calm An Angry Bearded Dragon

  1. improve their habitat
  2. create a calming environment
  3. minimize noise
  4. handle them gently
  5. improve diet
  6. get professional help for severe cases
  7. look for long-term solutions for chronic anger

Improve their habitat

angry bearded dragon in tank

Ensure its enclosure is the right size and has the proper lighting, heating, and humidity levels. Provide hiding spots and substrates to dig in.

Their enclosures should be properly set up with appropriate:

  • lighting
  • temperature, 
  • and humidity levels
  • proper substrate for digging and basking 
  • ample hiding spots
  • regular cleaning and maintenance

Poor husbandry practices, such as inadequate heating or lighting, can lead to stress and anger in these reptiles.

Uncomfortable living conditions can also contribute to a bearded dragon’s anger. Insufficient space, lack of hiding spots, or incorrect substrate can make them feel insecure and anxious. 

Create a calming environment

This includes:

Turning off the lights: Bearded dragons are diurnal, so turning off the lights can help them feel more relaxed.

Providing a warm hide: Bearded dragons like to feel secure, so provide them with a warm hide where they can go to feel safe.

Warm bath: A warm bath can help to relax your bearded dragon. Make sure the water is not too deep and that the temperature is between 90 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

Talk to your bearded dragon in a soothing voice.

Minimize noise

Bearded dragons are sensitive to noise, so try to keep their enclosure in a quiet area of your home. Avoid loud noises like TVs or stereos.

Try to maintain a relatively quiet and peaceful environment when handling your bearded dragon. By minimizing noise levels, you can help them feel more at ease and reduce their chances of becoming angry.

Handle them gently

When you do handle your bearded dragon, do so calmly and confidently. Support his body properly and avoid making any sudden movements. Let him retreat to his hiding spot if he seems stressed.

These reptiles have specific preferences when it comes to being touched or held. Improper handling techniques, such as grabbing them from above or restraining them too tightly, can trigger their defensive behaviors.

Handling Techniques for Angry Bearded Dragons

Safe Handling Practices:

  • Approach your bearded dragon calmly and confidently
  • Support their body properly, making sure they feel secure
  • Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that may startle them
  • Allow them to retreat if they show signs of stress or discomfort

What to Avoid When Handling an Angry Bearded Dragon

While knowing safe handling techniques is vital, it’s equally important to be aware of actions that can further aggravate an angry bearded dragon. Avoid these behaviors when handling them:

  • Grabbing or squeezing them forcefully 
  • Pulling their tail or limbs 
  • Provoking them intentionally
  • Exposing them to unfamiliar or stressful environments

Improve diet

Another crucial aspect of bearded dragon care is a proper diet. Feeding them a nutritionally balanced diet is essential for their health and well-being. 

An inadequate or inappropriate diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies, manifesting as anger or aggression.

Foods That Can Cause Irritability in Bearded Dragons

Some foods may trigger irritability or digestive issues in bearded dragons. Avoid feeding them foods high in oxalates, which can hinder calcium absorption and result in discomfort. 

Foods to limit or avoid include:

  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Beet greens
  • Kale (in excess)

Instead, focus on offering a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of leafy greens, vegetables, and appropriately sized insects.

An ideal diet for a bearded dragon consists of:

  • Leafy greens (collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens)
  • Squash or pumpkin
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots (in moderation)
  • Appropriate feeder insects (crickets, roaches, mealworms)

Ensure that their diet is well-suited to their age and size, and consider consulting a reptile veterinarian or herpetologist for specific dietary guidance.

Get professional help for severe cases

If your bearded dragon’s anger is severe or persistent, it’s important to consult a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. They can rule out any underlying health problems and recommend appropriate treatment options.

When to Consult a Vet

If your bearded dragon’s anger persists or worsens despite your efforts to create a calm environment.

Look for long-term solutions for chronic anger

For chronic anger in bearded dragons, the vet may recommend long-term solutions. These can include behavior modification techniques, environmental changes, or specific medications to alleviate their stress or anxiety. Work closely with the vet to determine the best approach for your bearded dragon.

Stress in adopted or new beardie

If you just adopted or got a new bearded dragon, they may be stressed out because they don’t know you or the environment.

What to do:

  1. Speak softly
  2. Offer food
  3. Let them rest and explore the habitat
  4. Add a piece of clothing that smells like you, to the enclosure so it can get used to your smell
  5. Remove stressors such as noise, draft, etc.
  6. Isolate the birdie if you have other pets or bearded dragons
  7. Give them time to start feeling safe
  8. If you think there might be medical reasons for stress, take them to the vet.
  9. Apply all other techniques from this guide.