Pet Bearded dragons are generally calm and docile by nature, but biting behaviour might be seen at times. Biting behaviour in Bearded dragons ranges from biting each other to biting people. It is commonly seen with Bearded dragons that are hungry, territorial, courting or feeling threatened.
Juvenile Bearded dragon biting behaviour
Bearded dragons are known to be hunters and great eaters. Greedy, hungry, juvenile Bearded dragons will often show biting behaviour towards moving objects or anything they think they can fit in their mouths. Limb and tail injuries from biting are more common among juveniles – especially where multiple Bearded dragons are kept in smaller enclosures. The rate at which Bearded dragons eat significantly starts to increase from about three weeks of age. When food becomes sparse, or space becomes limited, biting behaviour is frequently seen.
From this age, feeding should be increased to at least two to three times a day. Juvenile Bearded dragons should be housed individually or in smaller, similar-sized groups.
Adult Bearded dragon biting behaviour
Biting behaviour is also more common in starving or underfed adult Bearded dragons. A hungry Bearded dragon usually lunge at a moving hand or fingers with its tongue out – confusing or associating it with food. A scared Bearded dragon on the other hand will be retrieving and threatening.
Biting behaviour in adults might also be seen during the shedding process.
Scared Bearded dragon biting behaviour
Bearded dragons might show aggressive behaviour towards a perceived predator or, generally, when feeling threatened. Threatening behaviour includes the fast form of waving, opening the mouth, making hissing sounds, dashing forward and flattening of the body. Although uncommon, aggressive individuals may appear from time to time in captivity. Handling on a regular basis might reduce this behaviour.
Male Bearded dragon biting behaviour
During the breeding season, female Bearded dragons might end up with several bites from their male counterparts. These bites will be more prominent on the lips, beard, and upper neck area as a result of aggressive mating and will be even more prominent towards the end of the breeding season. This type of biting behaviour is normal for breeding Bearded dragons.
In order to crush its prey, adult Bearded dragons have relativly strong jaws. A health professional should always be consulted when bitten by a Bearded dragon – especially when blood was drawn.
Immediate management of bite wounds includes flushing the bleeding wound under clean running tap water for at least a few minutes – let it bleed in the process. After flushing and disinfecting the wound, the bleeding can be stopped by applying pressure with for example a temporary first aid bandage.