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
What is Burrowing?
Burrowing is a behavior often seen in bearded dragons, where they scratch and dig at their substrate or bedding in an attempt to create a space underneath. This behavior could be seen in the daytime or might just be heard during the night. Bearded dragons may display occasional burrowing behavior, or they might do it persistently throughout their lives.
Bearded dragon burrowing is a natural behavior for these reptiles in the wild. In captivity, it can be a sign that your beardie is feeling stressed or that they need more space and better heat management in their enclosure. When you observe burrowing behavior, take a close look at their environment to identify potential triggers.
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 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.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Burrowing?
Bearded dragons naturally burrow in the wild as a way to keep their body temperature regulated, lay eggs, prepare for brumation, or hide from predators. Even though bearded dragons in captivity don’t typically have to worry about predators and are already provided with plenty of cool places to rest, they can still have the instinct to dig out a hole.
You’ll usually find your pet dragon digging at the corners of their tank because that’s where they can best get purchased for digging, and also because it is usually cooler against the walls of the tank. Still, it’s essential to be aware of any sudden changes in their burrowing behaviors – such as increased frequency or decreased activity – as this could signal that something is wrong with your pet.
Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Burrow
Bearded dragons burrow for a variety of reasons, not all of which are concerning. Most often, burrowing is a natural behavior that can occur even in healthy and well-cared-for bearded dragons!
However, sometimes it can be the result of your tank setup or other environmental factors needing to be changed. Burrowing could also be a sign that something isn’t quite right and needs to be addressed as soon as possible, as this issue can lead to serious health concerns.
Here are some potential reasons why your bearded dragon may be burrowing; let’s determine if any action is needed.
1. To cool down
Bearded dragons are brilliant escape artists! When the temperatures in their tank become too hot, they understand that burrowing underground can help them to cool down and remain at their optimal temperature.
If your bearded dragon’s basking spot is too hot or the cool side of the tank is not providing enough of a difference in temperature, then it can be like an oven for your pet! Overheating is a huge concern and can be very dangerous if not addressed quickly.
In order to protect themselves from these extreme temperatures, these reptiles will Burrow underground and get away from the warmth of the tank. This helps them to reduce their core body temperature and keep themselves safe in an environment that might otherwise become too hot.
If you’re concerned that your bearded dragon is trying to burrow because its tank is too warm or don’t know what temperatures are appropriate, this guide can assist you…
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
It’s essential to have a digital thermometer to accurately set the temperature gradient from the basking area to the cool spot and to ensure that your thermostat is functioning properly.
2. Preparing for brumation
During brumation, Beardies need to find a safe and secure place to sleep and hide for weeks on end. To protect themselves from predators and regulate their body temperature, wild beardies create burrows in the ground since temperatures can vary greatly on the surface.
Captive bearded dragons still feel the need to secure their sleeping spots by burrowing too. This is normal behavior and therefore shouldn’t be a cause for concern if your Beardie is doing this before brumation.
There are however other tell-tale signs of brumation such as more frequent sleeping, earlier bedtimes, decreased eating and pooping, plus they might also start hiding more often than usual as well as becoming slow or lethargic in movement.
3. Burrowing to Escape Danger
Bearded dragons may try to burrow in order to reduce risk or stress. Generally, you’ll be able to spot this behavior by observing your dragon closely. Without enough protection, bearded dragons will try and burrow in order to create their own hide.
There are a variety of factors that could be causing your bearded dragon stress and making them feel the need to burrow. Some of these include fear of other household pets – such as cats or dogs – fear of other bearded dragons in the home, being new to the house, loud noises like TV or music, and having the tank placed near a window.
If you suspect that your bearded dragon is trying for safety by burrowing, it’s important to first eliminate the source of their stress and then provide them with a comfortable and safe hide. This way, your beardie can feel secure even in dangerous or stressful situations.
4. Nesting or laying eggs
Female Bearded Dragons dig burrows underground when preparing to lay eggs. This is a natural behavior and can be quite stressful for the female if she can’t find an ideal place to make her nest. The good news is that even without breeding, females can lay eggs from as early as 10 months old.
Therefore, it’s important not to hinder the female dragon from burrowing and instead provide a supportive environment with the best substrate possible so that her egg-laying process can feel as natural as it should be.
It’s possible that your dragon is just plain hungry! If you’re not feeding them enough, they may be digging around looking for other insects to eat. Also, if you recently stopped providing a certain type of food, such as fatty worms, then she could be struggling to find a new source of sustenance.
6. Doesn’t Have Enough Space
If your bearded dragon doesn’t have enough room in their tank, it won’t be having a good time. Even though the optimal tank size for a single bearded dragon is around 60 gallons, this can still be too small for them to feel comfortable and active.
When your beardie has only a limited living space, they may start scratching or digging around the tank to try and find some extra room or activity. This is not ideal behavior, so if you are restricted by space and notice this happening often, consider giving them a bigger tank or terrarium – it will make all the difference!
7. Other stressors
Other stressors can affect the behavior of your bearded dragon, leading it to start digging. This can be caused by a lack of space or insufficient tank size; make sure you’ve given them plenty of room to move around and that they’re not feeling too restricted.
They could also be hearing loud noises outside their enclosure that they perceive as threatening, causing them to hide in the depths of their tank through digging.
Is Burrowing Normal Behavior?
Absolutely! Burrowing, or digging, is a normal behavior for bearded dragons. In fact, it’s something they do in the wild all the time. So if you’re wondering whether your beardie’s burrowing is normal, then the answer is yes! But why are they doing it? Well, it could be because of temperature-related issues or stress.
If that’s the case, you’ll want to take steps to make sure your pet feels more relaxed and comfortable – but also don’t stop them from burrowing for as long as there is no danger of them injuring themselves as a result. All in all, just remember that burrowing is absolutely normal behavior for bearded dragons!
Do Beardies Like Burrowing?
Bearded dragons are creatures that love to dig, even in captivity. These reptiles will often create their own burrows and tunnels where they can hide away, or search for food and insects under the surface of substrates such as sand. This is a natural behavior for them which should be encouraged by allowing them plenty of digging materials in their enclosure.
However, if your beardie starts to dig excessively or appears to injure themselves while digging, then it could be a sign of health problems or distress, and you should act quickly to address the situation.
Ultimately, bearded dragons enjoy a good bit of burrowing and if provided with the tools they need, your reptile may spend hours happily creating their own network of underground tunnels!
What Does It Look Like When a Bearded Dragon Is Trying to Burrow?
A bearded dragon trying to burrow looks quite unique, depending on the type of substrate you are using. If you are using a substrate that is more loose and particle-based, like sand, then it will be easier for them to burrow. However, this type of substrate can be highly problematic and even lead to impaction — so we recommend avoiding it as much as possible.
For firmer substrates such as reptile carpet or tiles, your dragon’s attempt at burrowing may look very different. Instead of actually digging holes in the ground, they may simply begin scratching around with one arm in a long waving motion that could resemble a one-armed breaststroke. On the other hand, if you’ve seen your pup dig up dirt before then you know that their digging approach usually consists of short two-handed motions.
Do All Bearded Dragons Burrow?
When it comes to whether all bearded dragons burrow or not, the answer is no. While many beardies are naturally inclined to dig, some will choose to sleep in a hide or tunnel instead. Similarly, not all female dragons lay eggs, meaning some may never feel the need to burrow.
At the end of the day, all bearded dragons have their own personalities and unique needs which can influence their behavior and determine if they want to burrow or not.
Do Bearded Dragons Burrow In The Wild?
When it comes to wild bearded dragons, burrowing is a natural behavior that can often mean the difference between life and death. This is especially true when it comes to brumation, as wild bearded dragons need an underground shelter in order to survive the cold winter months, otherwise, they are at risk of being eaten by predators or exposed to harsh temperatures that could end their lives.
When it gets hot outside, wild beardies also use burrowing for refuge. In Australia – where they are native – the sun is strong and intense and occasionally, burrowing underground could be the only option available for them to keep cool. In addition, female beardies use burrowing to hide their eggs from potential predators.
Should You Be Concerned About Burrowing Behavior?
Bearded dragons may have a natural tendency to dig, but it’s important for their owners to know when the digging behavior might be concerning. Generally, digging is just part of a normal bearded dragon’s behavior in order to thermoregulate and for female bearded dragons with reproduction, however, it can also be an indication that your dragon might not be feeling comfortable.
If you notice your bearded dragon digging excessively in one area, especially if he or she has not exhibited this kind of behavior before, then this could be a sign that there is something causing stress or discomfort. On the other hand, regular or periodic digging should not be cause for alarm because it is completely natural.
Is It Ever Okay To Let Your Beardie Burrow?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to let your bearded dragon dig. Digging is normal behavior for a bearded dragon, especially if they are trying to find food or find cool spots inside the tank to burrow in. It’s important to check the enclosure first to make sure that there are no irritants or anything out of order that could suggest stress or discomfort like having inaccurate temperatures, too much light exposure, or overcrowding.
Should You Allow Your Bearded Dragon to Burrow?
Bearded dragon burrowing is a natural behavior that can be encouraged in certain circumstances. If your beardie is burrowing because of an uncomfortable tank temperature or stress, then you should do your best to fix these problems as soon as possible and avoid using burrowing as a long-term solution.
If your bearded dragon is burrowing due to brumation or egg laying, then this behavior should be accepted and even supported. Dystocia, or egg binding, is a very serious health issue amongst bearded dragons and it can arise if they can’t find a suitable nesting site. Providing a safe substrate for them to dig and nest in will help them lay their eggs more safely and free from pain or risk of injury.
It’s also important to consider that some scalding behaviors may only occur at night, such as digging or scratching the floor of the cage. You should still keep an eye on your pet, particularly hoping for any signs of discomfort or excessive anxiety due to the nocturnal digging habits. Overall, however, allowing modest burrowing activities by providing safe materials with which they can do so should not cause any harm to your beloved pet!
How to Promote Healthy Burrowing
When it comes to promoting healthy burrowing for your beardie, it’s important to consider the substrate you’re using. The loose substrate is best for older beardies, as they can truly enjoy the digging experience and won’t get injured by flying pieces of the substrate. You can either cover the entire enclosure in a loose substrate or create a designated “dig box” or digging area.
Additionally, make sure that the substrate you choose is toxin-free and won’t irritate your pet’s skin or disrupt their digestive system. Avoid grit substrates like sand, as these may cause impaction. Instead, opt for finer, softer substrates that will not only provide an enjoyable digging environment but also help control and maintain humidity levels within the ideal range of 20-40%. For added caution, make sure to clean any water bowls regularly as smaller particles of the substrate may get caught in them.
What Substrate Should You Use If Your Bearded Dragon Wants to Burrow?
When it comes to providing your bearded dragon with a substrate, safety should always be the top priority. If your beardie is attempting to burrow or enter brumation, sand and other loose particle-based substrates may seem tempting, but they can lead to health issues like impaction if ingested.
That is why the best and possibly the only safe substrate for burrowing bearded dragons is “excavator clay”. It can look intimidating at first, as it’s made up of a lump of clay that needs to be wet and molded into the desired shape – but doesn’t be intimidated!
Once properly set up and arranged, your beardie will love digging and burrowing around in it. Not only will it provide them with a fun activity while they burrow or brumate, but it also ensures that their environment stays firm without becoming dry as sand would.
Is it normal for bearded dragons to burrow?
It is common for bearded dragons to construct shallow burrows in order to regulate their body temperature, hide from predators, or when females lay eggs.
Why do bearded dragons bury themselves?
Bearded dragons may bury themselves to stay hidden or cool off, which is often referred to as brumation.
Why is my beardie digging in the corner?
Bearded dragons usually dig in the corners of their enclosures since the walls tend to provide good grip and are cooler.
Why is my bearded dragon scratching at the walls?
When your bearded dragon attempts to climb the walls of their tank (also known as “glass surfing”), this usually means that they want to leave.
In conclusion, burrowing is an important and natural behavior for bearded dragons. Not only does it help regulate their body temperature, but it also provides them with a sense of security and protection.
With the right conditions, a healthy diet, and plenty of stimulation, your bearded dragon can be happy and safe in their burrow for many years to come.