Bearded Dragon (Gulping, Gasping, Popping, Choking, Gagging)

Bearded dragons are a great choice when considering a reptile as a pet. They can be easy to look after and owners can find keeping one incredibly rewarding.

So, why is my bearded dragon gulping? Bearded dragon’s gulping can be in preparation for shedding their skin, digestive issues or in rarer cases, symptomatic of a more serious health issue. It’s in these rarer cases that further medical advice from a veterarian may be needed to find the underlying cause of the gulping.

Bearded dragons require a lot of attention and special care to ensure they remain healthy and this means ensuring they are kept within the correct temperature ranges, have a humid environment and their diet meets their needs.

Health complications can easily develop when there are changes to their environment and their diet, resulting in potential complications to their health, which can range from mild symptoms to severe health conditions.

Finding out why your bearded dragon make particular sounds is important as sometimes these can be an indication of underlying health issues. Finding out the most lethal health issues early on is important especially if they are respiratory illnesses, as these will definitely require urgent medical care from a veterinarian. Understanding what types of abnormal sounds when bearded dragons breathe and what is considered to be normal and not health impacting is very important.

Every owner therefore needs to not only understand the sounds to look out for but they need to keep an eye on their bearded dragon and ensure their pets environment is humid and temperature controlled, along with their diet including healthy foods and plenty of water.

Let’s take a detailed look into the gulping, gasping, popping, gagging choking sounds that bearded dragons can make and find out which ones are normal, requiring no further investigation and which ones are abnormal, potentially requiring medical assistance.

1. Gulping

Every pet owner worries whenever they see a change in their pets, and it’s only logical to look for the answers. It is easy to solve a health issue if you detect it early. Therefore, we aim to help you understand certain behaviors that your bearded dragon may exhibit.

A bearded dragon may gulp when stretching its skin to prepare for shedding. However, if it does it often, it could be a sign of a respiratory issue due to humidity or temperature changes. Some bearded dragons also gulp when they have digestive problems like compaction.

Therefore, it is a regular occurrence that happens occasionally, but it could be a health concern if they do it excessively. If you worry that something is wrong with your pet, you can seek medical help.

You will notice a lot of weird habits while living with bearded dragons. We gathered the significant concerns among lizard owners to distinguish what is expected and what isn’t. Read on as we give you all the answers to most of the burning questions you may have about your bearded dragon.

2. Gasping

Have you noticed the frequent gasping of air from your pet? If you are a new bearded dragon parent, what may first come to mind is that it has trouble breathing. However, this may not be the case.

Humidity and temperature changes are the main reasons for the gasping. First, it could be a way to lower their temperature when it gets too hot. Some also do it to stretch out their beard in readiness for shedding. Reports also state that bearded dragons can start gasping to show dominance.

In some cases, the frequent gasping shows that your pet is suffering from a respiratory infection, which coupled with other symptoms like puffiness and vomiting could be fatal. Thus, it is critical to ask for a vet’s assistance if the gasping is too much.

It is usual for bearded dragons to gasp once in a while because it is their way to bask. Just like dogs, they do it when it’s too hot, and they have to cool down. It is also normal for them to gasp to stretch their beard to help them loosen the skin under their mouth for it to shed quickly.

Male and female lizards also do it when trying to show dominance to scare away other lizards or threats. Thus, occasional gasping is fine as long as your bearded dragon doesn’t show any other worrying symptoms.

However, you should be concerned when the gasping is frequent. When seriously ill, you will notice differences in complexion, and they may appear puffy. Others also vomit in the process. All these are significant indicators that your bearded dragon could have a respiratory or internal organ issue. If you notice any abnormal changes alongside the gasping, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention; or else, it could be fatal.

3. Popping and clicking

Although it rarely happens, bearded dragons can make loud popping or clicking sounds. It may be loud depending on the individual and its size. Even when your pet seems okay and goes about its daily business, it could be a sign of an illness.

Popping and clicking sounds could indicate your bearded dragon may be suffering from a respiratory issue. Due to breathing difficulties, illnesses relating to the breathing system usually manifest by sound. It may be a pop or a wheezing sound, depending on the extent and severity.

Similarly, your pet may make the sound when it has digestive issues. When they make a weird noise, it usually comes out as if they want to puke. Although they don’t throw up in such instances, they may vomit if they are too full or have a digestive problem.

Regardless of the case, it is wise to seek medical help from a vet to know the issue. You may brush it off as a one-time thing, but your pet could be suffering in silence. Not seeking medical attention can also make the case more severe, and it could end up fatal.

You can also look out for signs such as blocked nostrils, puffiness, or any other physical changes. Remember, the earlier you seek help, the higher your pet’s survival chances.

4. Gagging and choking

It would shock any pet owner when their pet is gagging or choking because strangulation from food can be fatal. For bearded dragons, the gagging sound can be accompanied by puffing and opening of the mouth, and, in some cases, they may throw up.

When normal, bearded dragons make a gagging choking noise when regulating their temperature. Their enclosure needs to be around 100 degrees; making it hotter will make them uncomfortable. As a result, they would gag or gasp to try lowering their body temperature. It could also be due to a digestive issue.

After eating, bearded dragons tend to bask as they wait for the food to digest. As a result, you will find them breathing fast, which comes out as gagging sounds.

The choking-like noises could also indicate that your beardie is having problems swallowing food, especially when the chunk is too large or when it is overfed. The trick is to provide food bits that are smaller than the distance between its eyes.

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Keep Sticking His Tongue Out?

Another weird behavior among bearded dragons is sticking their tongues out. New handlers may think that it is a sign of aggression, but, as we are yet to see, it is normal, and, there is no need to panic.

Bearded dragons tend to stick out their tongues when exploring new environments. They can brush their tongue against new objects as they try to feel the texture or taste. It is also an intuitive trait when they see food. They immediately open up, and the tongue stretches out to push the food into the mouth.

It could also be their way to show that they are at optimal temperatures. If it’s too hot, your beardy will stick its tongue out to try expelling the excess heat.

The main reason for tongue sticking is for temperature regulation. Since the reptiles rely on their environment’s temperature to determine that of their bodies, they can get too hot under high temperatures. Therefore, the only way to lower the level is by sticking out their tongues just like dogs do.

Also, bearded dragons use their tongues to taste and push food in before they swallow. Hence, you can find your pet with its tongue out when food is near. Interestingly, the action also helps them get familiar with new places. By the frequent pushing in and out of the tongue, the lizard can feel new objects as it tries to get comfortable in its new surroundings.

Why does my bearded dragon have his mouth open?

As a bearded dragon owner, you may have noticed that he frequently has his mouth open, especially when under the lamp. Even when they show no signs of inactivity or severe illness, you may still wish to know the reason behind this habit. Sometimes, it’s completely normal, but other times, it may be a cause for alarm.

Bearded dragons often leave their mouths open when they are basking for temperature regulation or when stretching, which is entirely normal. Otherwise, it may be an indicator of a respiratory illness or stress. It may also be a defense mechanism when they feel threatened, especially by another dragon or a larger pet. With close attention, you can tell whether it is normal or cause for alarm.

It’s important to understand why a bearded dragon opens its mouth and whether there is any need to worry. As well as understanding what’s needed to help a bearded dragon in case it is disturbing them. By doing this, the health and well-being of the bearded dragon will be maintained and this will aid in their contentment and longevity.

There are normally four reasons why a bearded dragon has it’s mouth open, from temperature regulation, stretching, yawning, aggression to a worse case scenario of respiratory problems. It’s important to appreciate these reasons, as many owners frequently ask questions about why their bearded dragons has it’s mouth open. Understanding the exact cause can help in getting veterinarian aid if the reasons to keeping their mouth open are severe, like respiratory problems.

1. Temperature Regulation

It is normal to find your pet with his mouth open; this is called gaping and is the primary reason for the behavior. Like most animals, your pet also needs to regulate its temperature. Given that it is a cold-blooded reptile, it reflects its surrounding’s temperatures. Their bodies naturally react to heat by gaping the same way that humans sweat. So, it is an effective way for them to expel excess heat from their bodies; this way, they reduce their chances of overheating.

As soon as their bodies attain optimal temperature balance, they will gape to prevent further heat buildup. You will likely find them doing so while under their light when they are basking. If kept at the perfect temperature, you will notice that they keep gaping.

This act is typical, and you need not worry about it. As you take care of your beardie, it would also be best to be keen on their enclosure’s temperature. Therefore, besides providing a basking spot, you can also set up a cool spot for them to retreat to if it gets too hot.

2. To Stretch Their Beard or Yawn

Usually, when we get tired, our first instinct is to stretch our muscles to relieve soreness. So, like most animals, the bearded dragon also gets the urge to stretch. You may also notice that they puff or flare in the process, which is entirely normal. However, new pet owners may worry about this since it happens sporadically, and it appears like they are choking. They move their heads, puff their beard, and rapidly open and close their mouths, all in a bid to stretch. They also do it when they are yawning, so, there’s no cause for alarm.

When they are merely stretching, you will notice that they open their mouths for a short time, which is different when regulating their temperature. This behavior is also typical for beardies when they are about to shed. In so doing, they make the skin around the beard lose, making it easy to shed it.

3. To Show Aggression

Just like any other creature, the bearded dragon also has a defense mechanism whenever they feel threatened. In such cases, they may hiss, puff, gape, or lift their heads. If you have two bearded dragons in the same tank, you may notice that they will try to prove who is more dominant. You will find the more aggressive one opening his mouth to outshine the other.

Also, they are not very friendly with other pets like dogs, so they will feel threatened if they are in the same room. If your beardie feels scared when in the presence of other pets in your house, then it would be best to take necessary action since you wouldn’t want them to be stressed.

For one, you can ensure that your bearded dragon and other bigger pets are not in the same room. You may place their enclosure in a separate room where your dog or cat rarely goes into, hence lowering their chances of meeting.

4. A Sign of Respiratory Problems

If your lizard frequently has its mouth open, it may cause alarm since it may have a respiratory infection. Such illnesses occur when the humidity in your lizard’s enclosure is more than 40%. The dragon is fond of hot and dry climates; therefore, any changes may cause respiratory problems. To mitigate the situation, you can lower the humidity level in their tank by setting up a dehumidifier.

It would also be best to watch out for signs such as coughing, appetite loss, and mucus traces around the nose. Hence, if your lizard shows such signs, contacting your vet is the best course of action. You will be sure about the presence or extent of the infection; this way, you can start a treatment plan for them.

What Does It Mean When Your Bearded Dragon Opens Its Mouth at You?

It would worry any pet owner when their pet shows any unusual behavior towards them. You, your family, or friends would want to pet them, so you need to know whether it is safe to do so.

Bearded dragons open their mouths at their owners if they are scared and see them as a threat. Thus, if your pet is newly acquired or is not fond of humans, they will open up since they are afraid of you. However, the good thing is, the lizards are naturally docile, so they are not likely to attack humans. As they see you more frequently, they will eventually get fond of you and be comfortable when you are around.

Even if the behavior continues, you need not worry. Lizards are not venomous, so they will not be a danger to you or your loved ones.

Do Bearded Dragons Sleep With Their Mouth Open?

Most lizards have weird sleeping habits that may astound you, especially as a first-time owner. As much as most of these behaviors are normal, you may wonder whether they are in the habit of sleeping with their mouths open.

Bearded dragons can sleep with its mouth open due to some reasons. First, it may be a natural reflex for their jaw to relax when they are thermoregulating. If it’s too hot in their tank, they may end up sleeping while gaping to lower the temperature as they sleep. In contrast, it may be an indication of a problem with its respiratory system. Therefore, if the mouth being open concerns you, it would help to consult a vet.


Beardies need special care and attention, which means the right temperature, humidity, and diet. If there are any changes, they can develop health complications ranging from mild to severe.

The most lethal health issues include respiratory illnesses, which you can tell when they have breathing problems. Watch out for signs like gasping and abnormal sounds when they breathe. Without the necessary medical attention, your bearded dragon may lose its precious life.

Therefore, we advise that you monitor them closely and ensure that they get everything they need. Make their environment as comfortable and conducive as possible and provide healthy foods and a lot of water.

There are many reasons why your bearded dragon frequently has his mouth open. In most cases, it is entirely normal, and there is no need to be worried. Your lizard may be trying to regulate its temperature or stretch its beard.

It may also be a show of aggression when they feel scared in the presence of other dragons, people, or pets. However, it could be a sign that your pet has contracted a respiratory illness. So, if you are still concerned about the behavior, then the best cause of action is to ask a vet for the way forward.

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.

Recent Posts