Bearded dragon burrowing behaviour

There might be various reasons for a Bearded dragon to show burrowing or digging behaviour. This article will give some insights why your Bearded dragon might show behaviour and explain the difference between normal burrowing and abnormal burrowing.

Bearded dragon burrowing behaviour can be broadly categorised into the following:

  • When its time to take a nap or fall asleep for the evening
  • A pregnant female Bearded dragon burrow when its time to lay her eggs
  • Brumation
  • Stress

Normal burrowing behaviour

When Bearded dragons prepare to sleep some may partially or completely burrow themselves into the substrate. In nature this behaviour will ensure some degree of protection against predators. When this is the case, the burrowing Bearded dragon will be healthy looking (eating well etc.) and will mainly happen in the late afternoon or evening. Bearded dragon burrowing behaviour will be more evident when it comes to the winter months. During this time most Bearded dragons will go into a slumber state, also called brumation, where their activity reduces to such a degree where they will seem listless. Protection during these times can also be more assured by burrowing.

A sexually active, breeding female will start to burrow in the substrate when she’s ready to deposit her eggs. These females can be distinguished from stressed females by having larger, egg filled abdomens. This is also a continued type of burrowing where the female will sometimes burrow for a few days without stop. Also see Bearded dragon breeding for more information.

Gravid female Bearded dragon with distinctive pear shaped, hanging abdomen. Image with permission from BeardedDragonLady.com.

Gravid female Bearded dragons have a typical, pear shaped abdomen. Careful palpation will reveal small lumps & bumps. Gravid females will often show (normal) burrowing behaviour.

Abnormal burrowing behaviour

Abnormal Bearded dragon burrowing behaviour is usually caused by some or other stress process. Stress can have various causes, including disease, social and environmental stress. The most common cause of stress is incorrect husbandry. Lethargic and anorexic Bearded dragons must be accompanied with a stool sample to your closest reptile friendly veterinarian.