There might be times where Bearded dragon owners see their pets trying to climb the glass of their enclosure. This, so-called, ‘glass surfing’ or escaping behaviour, might be seen from time-to-time, but when it becomes a habit it might be an indication that something is wrong.
Glass surfing behaviour in Bearded dragons is when a Bearded dragon is constantly trying to climb the glass surfaces of the enclosure, and slips off again. Sometimes Bearded dragons will also try to climb non-glass surfaces as well. It is referred to as ‘surfing’ because when the Bearded dragon keeps sliding off, it will fall and move to one side and then try to climb that area again, and so forth. This will lead to the Bearded dragon moving from one side of the enclosure to the other side – usually quite fast, making it look like ‘surfing’.
Although there might be various other (less serious) reasons, Bearded dragon glass surfing behaviour is considered to be caused by stress. Although many factors can contribute, the main areas to evaluate when when a Bearded dragon is showing this behaviour is the lighting, enclosure size, the temperature and quantities of food. Because of the sudden change in their new environments, newly obtained Bearded dragons might also show this behaviour.
During the day, Bearded dragons are considered to be active sun baskers. Glass surfing is often observed when the lights go out, but when a Bearded dragon is showing this behaviour during other hours of the day, there might be insufficient lighting – especially ultraviolet (UV) lighting.
Bearded dragons should be supplied with specialised reptile UV light tubes and/or spotlights. The UV range should include the UVA and UVB spectrum of light and should be replaced more or less every six months (or as indicated by the manufacturer’s recommendation). The UV lighting should preferable cover the entire enclosure and should be mounted within 30 cm / 12″ from the main basking area. Also see UV lighting requirements for Bearded dragons for more information.
Insufficient enclosure size
Insufficient space might also be a reason why a Bearded dragon might want to try to escape. The size of the enclosure should be large enough for the amount of Bearded dragons to move freely, and to be able to function normally on a physiological level.
A floor space of at least (900 x 350)cm / (35 x 14)” for a single Bearded dragon, and at least (1 300 x 420)cm / (50 x 17)” for an adult pair is recommended. The floor space should increase with at least 25 – 50% for every Bearded dragon added after that. Also see Bearded dragon housing requirements for more information.
Bearded dragons are desert animals. As with low lighting, lower than recommended day temperatures will cause stress. The same will happen when temperatures are too high.
The background temperature should range between 24 and 34 ºC / 75 and 93 ºF. The basking area should be around 40 °C / 104 °F with a natural temperature gradient towards the recommended background temperature on the other side of the enclosure. Also see Bearded dragon temperature requirements for more information.
Bearded dragons are active hunters. When hungry, they will often go out and look for food. Baby Bearded dragons often show glass surfing behaviour when there are too many mouths to feed and/or feeding does not take place multiple times per day.
Bearded dragons need to be fed every day, or at least every other day. The size of the meal is determined individually and enough live food should be supplied until the Bearded dragon is full and refuse more food. Also see feeding Bearded dragons for more information.