Bearded Dragons Licking and Digging (Checked out)

Bearded dragons are known for their fascinating behaviors, and licking is one of them. When it comes to your pet, this action can indicate several things and may worry you as you may not know how to interpret it. Whether licking helps your pet to feel their surroundings or signal you to do something for them, we understand that it is an issue that requires your attention.

So, what are the reasons behind your bearded dragon’s licking? Bearded dragons can:

  • lick the air to learn about their environment
  • lick surfaces to familiarize themselves with their surroundings
  • communicate with their owners through licking their lips

Through the licking, their tongue absorbs the particles that enable them to interpret and judge their surroundings.

If your bearded dragon licking worries you that something could be off with your pet, this is the ultimate guide for you. We help you understand why they lick the air, their lips, and the things they like to lick the most. Go through the rest of the sections to find out all the answers you need.

Bearded dragons are known for licking objects within their habitat. However, in rare cases, you may spot your bearded dragon licking the air, which could be a more intentional action.

Licking helps bearded dragons to learn more about their environment. When your pet licks the air, they could be trying to find out the environment’s smell and feel. Calm behavior indicates they are comfortable, while aggressiveness may indicate a problem in their environment.

Bearded dragons like to keep their tanks clean; hence, they lick the air to eliminate any pollutants. They even prefer holding their poop until you open their tank for them to come out. If, for instance, they poop in the tank, they will not like the smell. You will see them lick in the air to smell the air better. They will then scratch the glass to signal you to let them out of their tank.

Bearded dragons will lick their lips to communicate with their owner. This behavior is common for dragons who spend their lives in a tank rather than natural habitat.

While it is common for bearded dragons to lick objects and surfaces out of curiosity, if your bearded dragon licks their lips, they are trying to let you know that they are dehydrated and need water. While trying to quench their thirst, you should note that providing them with a bowl of water immediately after noticing this will not stop the licking.

This is because, unlike other pets, bearded dragons will not drink water from a bowl. Rather they prefer water available in their natural habitats, such as water from a stream or rainwater.

To prevent your bearded dragon from dehydrating, you can supply fresh water to them in the tank using a dropper. The dropper will dispense drops of water to your bearded dragon’s snout and quench their thirst when they cannot access a natural water source. You can also train your bearded dragons over time on how to drink water from the available sources. While doing this, also ensure the tank temperatures are optimal as high temperatures will dehydrate your pet.

What Do Bearded Dragons Like To Lick Most?

Besides licking the air and their lips, bearded dragons will tend to get curious and lick other things; however, this does not imply that they will lick anything they come along. These pets have a preference and will prefer certain things over others. Licking helps them pick particles such as liquids, sweat, and pheromones from the surfaces or creatures and learn more about them. This way, they will be able to tell them apart.

Bearded dragons like to lick human beings, food, items in their habitat, other bearded dragons, household pets, and objects that spark their curiosity. When a bearded dragon licks anything, the particles from the object’s surface pass through their mouth to the Jacobs Organ.

The Jacobs Organ analyzes the particles and sends the report to the brain giving your pet all the information it needs about the object. This explains the accurate sense of taste in bearded dragons than humans.

Two Main Reasons Why Bearded Dragon Licks

Therefore, the bearded dragon licks for two main reasons, as summarized below;

1. To Familiarize With Their Surrounding

Bearded dragons love to lick their owners, especially when they are new. Therefore, if your new pet constantly licks you, you should not worry as they are not planning to eat you. Rather, they are trying to find more about you. By licking you, your bearded dragon will absorb your sweat or pheromones particles and will be able to differentiate you from other people, especially your family members.

If you have household pets such as cats and dogs, you may find your bearded dragon licking them, especially if you allow free interaction between them. This licking, just like in humans, enables your bearded dragons to distinguish your pets from others.

If you bring a bearded dragon to a new environment, they will lick objects within the area. This licking helps them familiarize themselves with their surroundings. Moving your bearded dragon’s tank to a different corner will also spur this behavior. If you add a new object such as a basking spot in your pet’s tank, they will lick it for familiarization.

Other times, your bearded dragon may lick their surroundings, not because there is anything new, but out of curiosity. If the glass in their tank catches their interest, they will lick it for no apparent reason. Despite their licking behavior, bearded dragons will not lick objects they are unsure of. Failure to lick may also indicate discomfort in their new environment.

Bearded dragons are cold-blooded. As such, they need to find out optimal temperatures where they can rest. To do this, they will lick objects in their surroundings to test their temperature. The temperature of these objects gives them the area’s temperature and helps them identify perfect spots within the tank to be at an optimal temperature.

Also, just like humans, bearded dragons love to lick food. This includes insects, fruits, and vegetables. Food licking in bearded dragons could be out of curiosity or an attempt to find out the food’s flavor and texture.

2. To Communicate

If you host more than one bearded dragon in a tank, you may notice them licking at each other. This behavior enables them to get a sense of pheromones of each other. The dominant male bearded dragons will usually display aggressive behavior after licking the weak ones.

During the mating season, the female bearded dragons will have higher pheromones and hormones, and it is normal to see male bearded dragons licking them. In this season, females will also get jealous of each other, especially when a female from another territory intrudes their territory. The jealous females will lick these females to find out if they have been mating with their males.

Also, the bearded dragons will tend to lick their lips when they are thirsty. If you notice your bearded dragon licking its lips when it sees you, it’s simply telling you that it’s thirsty. Therefore, just provide a clean source of water as provided above to quench its thirst.

Why is your bearded dragon digging?

Bearded dragons tend to dig frequently, especially in the wild; therefore, it is common to find them doing the same even in captivity. Since it is an innate behavior, it shouldn’t worry you as a pet owner. We went on to investigate some possible reasons behind it.

Your bearded dragon may start digging:

  • to look for more food, especially if the food you provide is insufficient
  • to search of favorable temperatures, like when it is too hot
  • to find a place to hibernate
  • to alleviate stress
  • to hide
  • to lay eggs, especially female bearded dragons

Perhaps the digging makes you worried about your beardie, or the scratching noise irritates you, read on for some of the primary reasons behind this behavior. The coming sections will answer all your pressing questions.

Beardies and reptiles, in general, have some unique behaviors and characteristics, which may be alarming as a first-time keeper. You might have noticed that your pets dig and scratch a lot while in their enclosure.

Naturally, the female reptile may be digging to find a safe ground to lay its eggs or find a conducive place for brumation. You may also find them searching in the substrate to regulate their body temperature. It is also something most beardies do when they are stressed, or when they need to hide. Lastly, digging is an innate behavior among wild beardies necessary when they need more food.

The beardies will dig below the tank to find a place where they can hibernate. When in the wild, the reptile can brumate at least once every year; however, there is no harsh winter to worry about in captivity. Therefore, hibernation may not happen, thanks to temperature regulation. Since it is a natural occurrence, some reptiles will still try to dig, thinking that it is time to hibernate.

Another reason to make your pet dig is the lack of hiding places; if there are no shades to provide them a hiding spot, they take the initiative to create one themselves. This behavior is a skill they obtained from the wild; therefore, they will always try to hide even if there are no predators in sight.

Similarly, your pet may be digging to find the best spot to lay her eggs. By hiding them, she will ensure that they are safe, and that predators cannot see them. If you find your pet digging erratically, especially at night, it is best to let them be. It is a motherly protective instinct, so we discourage interfering with the process, but it would help if you provide a substrate that is easy to dig.

Besides, stress may cause frequent digging, especially if they are scared or intimidated. If you have recently brought a dragon, it is normal for them to be stressed and uncomfortable due to the new environment. Other pets in the house could be one reason for the stress; therefore, you can relocate their tank to another room or find another alternative.

The reptiles will also dig when regulating their body temperature because, based on their instincts, the ground below is warmer than the surface. Therefore, digging will help in temperature regulation. Lastly, your pet may be digging because it is hungry. When there are in the wild, they do it to look for food.

If they are underfed or need more, their first instinct is to dig, hoping they will find food under the substrate. It is also typical to see them searching if they need a different type of food. If you accustom them to the same food, they may try to change their diet by finding an alternative through digging.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Digging at Night?

Beardies can dig at any time, whether during the day or night, depending on the reason behind it. However, there are particular reasons why they will do it at night and not during the day. This activity may be irritating, especially at night, and will affect the keepers’ sleep.

Bearded dragons will dig inside their tank at night if they are sleep deprived. Bearded dragons may also find their beddings uncomfortable; therefore, by scratching, they try to make it more favorable for sleeping. If the substrate or the material inside the digging box is rigid, they will not feel at ease throughout the night. Unless you provide a better sleeping spot, your dragon may keep scratching.

You also need to consider the type of bulb you use. The reptiles are sensitive to light; a brightly colored bulb may deny them a peaceful night’s sleep. In such a case, you may find another bulb or switch it off. Finally, your female bearded dragon may be digging at night to create a hiding spot for her eggs to be safe till they hatch.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Digging and Not Eating?

The reptile is not very fussy when it comes to food and their diet. Therefore, it is a cause for concern if your little friend is not eating and is digging instead. Without food, they become week, and if it goes on for a while, they may starve.

If you just brought home a new bearded dragon, it may take time to adjust to the new environment; thus, they may do it due to restlessness or stress. Feeling disturbed is one reason for a dragon’s loss of appetite. It may also be due to unfavorable temperatures or because they don’t like the food you provide. However, in most cases, it shouldn’t alarm you, because, with time, they will come around and adjust to their new home.

Your beardie could refuse to eat and start digging when the tank’s temperatures are too high and uncontainable. This situation forces it to scratch the surface to regulate the temperatures. So it would be best to ensure that the enclosure is not too hot or too cold. Also, an empty stomach or an unfavorable diet can cause frequent scratching. They will dig if they don’t like the food you are providing; therefore, we advise switching up their diet to give them a range of options.

How Do I Stop My Bearded Dragon From Digging?

The digging may be your pet’s normal instinctive behavior. However, sometimes, it may be detrimental to the pets’ health, like when it interferes with their appetite. Not only will the frequent scratching injure their claws, but it may also affect your sleep.

To stop your bearded dragon from digging, first, you can ensure that they are always full and have a variety of food options. If you don’t feed them regularly, or continuously provide the same type of food, they will scratch to find alternatives.

Secondly, you need to consider their bedding condition to ascertain that it is comfortable for them. It would also help use the right bulb for temperature regulation and setting up hiding spots in the tank. Lastly, it helps to create a stress-free environment for your pet by limiting contact with other bigger pets in the house.


Licking in bearded dragons is a natural behavior that should not worry you. If you notice your bearded dragon licking, you should be happy that they are interested in their new home and are curious to familiarize themselves with everything and everyone. However, you need to exercise care in baby dragons, given their sensitivity to substrates such as sand, which can cause constipation.

If you let your bearded dragon out of the tank, you should ensure there are no crumbs on the floor as they may lick and affect their digestive system. The next time your bearded dragon licks you or your surroundings, and don’t be surprised, they are trying to get comfortable around your space.

It is okay for the beardies to dig, but it is alarming if it becomes constant and frequent. Different digging behaviors will signify a particular beardie instinct. For example, if they scratch at night before sleeping, they may be trying to make their sleeping bed comfy enough for the night. Hence, the behavior is their way of communicating to you that something is amiss. Therefore, you need to be keen and try to help them if need be.

Most importantly, frequent digging may negatively affect the beardie, especially when it scratches a hard ground; its claws may get injured, causing a lot of stress. To avoid and minimize the digging, all you have to do is provide a favorable environment and adequate food for the reptile. If you have done everything without results, it is wise to contact your vet to find out more about the problem.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is an owner of several pets including reptiles, cats and dogs. An avid writer, who loves to share her insights into caring for pets.

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