Why Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up Their Throat?

If you’re a bearded dragon owner, you must have noticed your pet puffing up from time to time. It can be a sign of different reasons and figuring it out can be challenging. Observing your bearded dragon can help you to learn more about this behavior. It will enable you to tell why your beardie is puffing up.

It’s a normal behavior of bearded dragons to puff up sometimes. But some owners may not still know what it means. It can be unclear for owners to see their bearded dragons do this multiple times. Bearded dragons puff up their beards due to fear, stress, or territorial behavior.

A healthy bearded dragon puffs up sometimes their reaction to their surroundings. Most of the time, they puff up their beards to stretch them. This behavior can surprise you if you’re a new owner, but it’s just normal for them. In this article, we will get to the bottom of this, so keep on reading.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up Their Throat?

Puffing up is one of the most common behaviors of bearded dragons. It’s fascinating to see your beardie do this for the first time. But if it keeps happening, you must be curious about it by now. Many bearded dragon owners also worry that something might be wrong with their pets.

However, you don’t need to worry if you see your beard is displaying this behavior. It will not harm your reptile by puffing up. They usually do this when they feel threatened. It will help them feel safe to puff up when it happens. This behavior will also scare away threats around them.

Bearded dragons puff up whenever they feel stressed or even when scared. Like other animals, beardies will appear more prominent. That can help them to intimidate their predators. It’s a defensive behavior that they usually exhibit in the wild. Beardies will do the same in captivity if needed.

Bearded dragons can also turn black when they look aggressive to scare other animals. But sometimes, when they puff up, their beards will not turn back. But why do bearded dragons puff up their throat can have different reasons? It doesn’t always have to be due to aggression or defense.

Do Baby Bearded Dragons Puff Up?

Yes, baby bearded dragons also puff up sometimes. If you have a new baby beardie, you should see it puffing up. They do this if they are still uncomfortable with their new surroundings.

As the owner, you can help the baby beardie to feel at home. Set up the enclosure and try to simulate their natural habitat.

Provide your new baby beardie with the right size tank. You should add some substrate, plants, rocks, and other tank decorations.

Make sure to make it look as natural as possible. That will help the bearded dragon to feel comfortable. Start bonding with your beardie after you have set up the enclosure.

When talking to your pet, try to be gentle and speak with it softly. It will make the baby bearded dragon trust you and feel safer. That will stop your pet from feeling scared and stressed.

The beardie will stop puffing up or at least lessen the frequency. Give it some time to get used to its new home.

In addition, there are other reasons why bearded dragons puff up. Some animals, including humans, stretch and yawn when waking up.

Bearded dragons also do that by puffing up and opening its mouth. It will help to get rid of the stiffness from their bodies and help them feel relaxed.

What are the Reasons Why Do Bearded Dragons Puff Up Their Throat?

1. Scared or Stressed

When bearded dragons feel scared or stressed, they will puff up. It’s a defense mechanism of bearded dragons. This behavior is also present with other animals, especially in the wild.

They will make themselves look bigger and more threatening to scare off the predators. It helps them survive in the wild and wherever they go.

If you notice that your beardie is constantly inflating its beard, something might be threatening them. Check the surrounding area of their enclosure to find out what scares them.

Some things look harmless, but they may look like a predator for your bearded dragon. Try to remove furniture, toys, or other objects to see if the beardie will be calm.

It’s best to avoid holding your beardie while it looks stressed if you don’t want to get bitten. Although it’s uncommon for bearded dragons to bite, it can happen when they are scared.

They will be on a defense mode so avoid messing with your pet. Wait for it to calm down before handling.

Other pets such as dogs or cats can make your beardie puff up too. The bearded dragon will feel threatened by bigger animals.

If the beardie is new, it can feel scared of your presence. Wait for it to get used to their new surroundings. You should also try to make it comfortable being handled.

  • How to Increase Bearded Dragons Comfort Level?

Place your hand inside the enclosure slowly. Hold the beardie for a minute or two and increase the time gradually. The bearded dragon will catch your scent, and it will get used to it over time.

If the beardie lets your hand closer, place it under its body. Support its legs and tail before lifting.

If the bearded dragon puffs up, stop holding it. But if your pet allows you to pick it up, continue to hold it gently. When your beardie starts to squirm, you should give it a break.

Keep on trying until the beardie stops squirming whenever you hold it. You should handle it more to get used to you.

Spend around 30 minutes of handling daily during the first month. You can spend more time with your beardie if you have time.

Spend quality bonding time with your reptile and be consistent about it. After some time, the bearded dragon will get used to you and be more comfortable.

2. Getting Ready to Shed

Bearded dragons know when they are about to shed skin by instinct. They can puff up their bodies to loosen their skin. It will make it easier to shed their skin during the shedding process. But not all bearded dragons puff up before they shed.

If your bearded dragon seems to be puffing up regularly, it may be waiting to have a good shedding process. Keep an eye for dull or waxy skin on its head. When the beardie puffs up this area, that means that it’s about to shed.

3. Flirting With Potential Mate

Both female and male beardies may puff up during the mating season. They do this to flirt with their potential mate. But it’s more common for a male bearded dragon to puff up. It will let the female beardie know that he’s ready. Puffing up will also show the female it’s dominant.

Female bearded dragons might puff up to show interest. Some may just bob their heads or wave their arms to the male. Unlike other animals, bearded dragons don’t have a specific mating season. They mate a month after the brumation, a period of sleep, and low activity. It happens during the winter, like hibernation.

If you have two bearded dragons, the male may puff up around the female. It means that it’s ready to mate. Sometimes, beardies may even puff up to impress a toy. They might confuse it for another bearded dragon. Male beardies can be energetic during the mating season.

4. Territorial Behavior

Reptiles are territorial by nature, and it’s normal for bearded dragons to display this behavior. They prefer to be alone and don’t like another beardie around the enclosure. If there are two males or two females, they may puff up. That means they are challenging the other beardie of the same sex.

Male beardies may also challenge a female and puff up. The enormous bearded dragon may also do the same to a smaller beardie. They will challenge each other whatever the gender of the other bearded dragon. It’s better to give them separate tanks to avoid territorial disputes.

However, if you plan to put them in one enclosure, make sure it’s big enough for them. It will provide both reptiles with the space they need. But it’s not a good idea to let two male beardies share a tank. No matter how spacious the enclosure might be, they will still challenge each other because male beardies are very territorial.

5. Deep Bath Water

Bathing your bearded dragon should be done regularly. Some owners may think that the only time to bathe their reptile is when it’s impacted or has shedding issues. You must bathe your beardie to keep it hydrated as well. But avoid making the bathwater too deep for them.

Bathwater should not be above the beardies shoulder. It will puff up if the water is too deep for them. This behavior instinctively happens to attempt to float from the water. Bearded dragons are afraid to drown and get scared if the water is deeper than their shoulders.

6. Hunger

Many types of research have been conducted about bearded dragons. One of them is about puffing up during or after eating. There are some theories that puffing and eating might have a connection. The first theory is that the bearded dragon may puff to make more room from its stomach so that it can eat more.

In the wild, bearded dragons need to fight for food. It’s not easy to find a meal out there for them. They need to eat more so that they can have food again. The other theory is that bearded dragons are both predators and prey. Puffing up will scare their prey, and they will appear more threatening to predators. They will have a chance to escape the predators and catch their prey.

7. Excited or Playful

When your bearded dragon puffs up, and you don’t know the reason, it can be because it’s happy. Puffing up doesn’t always mean that your beardie feels threatened. It can also be because it’s exciting to eat or play with you. Your beardie may puff up just to show affection towards you as well.

What Does It Mean When My Bearded Dragon Puffs His Neck?

Your bearded dragon might be getting ready to shed. When it’s about to shed its skin, beardies know it will happen soon. It will puff up before it sheds to make the skin on their neck and body loosen up. You may also observe that it puffs up on the area with dull or waxy skin.

Neck puffing can also signify that your bearded dragon is trying to attract a mate. Male lizards will do this to find a mate during the mating season. Aside from puffing, bearded dragons may also bob its head and push up. There’s nothing to worry about when you see your bearded dragon puffing up.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Push Out Their Throats?

Bearded dragons push out their throats to intimidate other animals. It can also look darker to black to make itself look threatening. They will appear like reptiles with prickly beards this way. This behavior is normal and a defense mechanism for bearded dragons to survive in the wild.

During the mating season, bearded dragons may also puff up their throats. It’s a standard courtship behavior and lures the female to breed. Like male anoles, they puff up their throats and even do mating dances. Bearded dragons will do head bobbing and push-ups to find a mate as well.

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Keep Gulping?

Whenever you see changes or add behavior from your pet, it can make you worry. Detecting a health issue earlier can solve this concern. Bearded dragons will display some behaviors if something is wrong with them. If you see your beardie seems to keep on gulping, it should mean something.

When a bearded dragon gulps while stretching its skin, that means it’s preparing to shed. But if it happens frequently, it can be a sign of respiratory issues. Humidity and temperature changes can be the cause of this concern. Some beardies may gulp because of digestive problems such as impaction.

When gulping happens occasionally, you have nothing to worry about. But if your beardie does this excessively, it can signify health problems. It’s recommended to consult the vet right away. There are many weird behaviors that you will notice as a bearded dragon owner.

If these habits make you worry, ask for a vet’s advice immediately. This behavior might mean something wrong. Bearded dragons are not the same as other pets. They are unique pets which means they also have special needs. You can also check forums to talk to other beardie owners.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Puffing Up and Opening His Mouth?

When a bearded dragon puffs up and opens its mouth, it’s a sign of aggression. Generally, they are docile and calm reptiles. But when they feel threatened, scared, or angry, they will open their mouths. Beardies will puff out their chest, raise tits beard, and open their mouth to look more significant and threatening.

1. Regulating Temperature

When bearded dragons open their mouths, it means it’s trying to regulate their body temperature. It’s common for them to open their mouths and do gaping. If you observe your beardie, it’s usually gaping while basking. When they reach their optimal temperature, the beardie will open its mouth to avoid overheating.

When the beardie is under the basking light, you might see its mouth open. It’s normal behavior for these reptiles, so don’t worry. Bearded dragons cool themselves by opening their mouths. In humans, we need to sweat to avoid overheating. Reptiles can’t sweat so they open their mouths instead to allow the heat to exit from their bodies.

Regulating the temperature inside the beardie’s enclosure is essential. Make sure also to have the proper lighting. Your beardie will have a hard time controlling its body temperature if it’s too hot inside the tank. Provide a basking area for your bearded dragon as well as a cool area.

It will allow them to hang out when they have already reached their optimal body temperature. If the enclosure is too hot, your beardie will refuse to bask. It will hide a lot instead to avoid overheating or getting burned from the basking spot. Monitor the temperature inside the tank to prevent this.

2. Stretching Their Beard

Like other animals, bearded dragons also need to stretch their muscles sometimes. As humans, we stretch our muscles in the morning. We also do this after sitting for a long time. Beardies also do the same to prevent it from cramping. If you see your pet is stretching their beard or opening their mouths, that means it’s stretching.

When bearded dragons are stretching, that means that it’s preparing for shedding. That’s the most common time you can see your pet doing this. The beardie may also puff out its beard around this period. It will help the bearded dragon loosen its skin by puffing and stretching. You may also see some dull and waxy skin during this time.

Bearded dragons open their mouths so that they can stretch. It doesn’t mean that the beardie is always angry or threatened when it opens its mouth. Puffing up doesn’t always mean aggression for these reptiles. Over time, you should recognize this behavior appropriately. Keep on observing your pet to learn more about what it can do.

3. Sign of Aggression

Although bearded dragons are usually calm and docile, they can also show signs of aggression. Your beardie may puff up and open its mouth when it feels threatened. It can also happen when the reptile feels scared or angry. They will do this as a part of their aggressive stance. It’s like giving a warning for the predators to start running.

Like other animals, bearded dragons will go into a fight or flight response when it feels threatened. The beardie will puff out its chest and open its mouth wide. This stance will make the bearded dragon bigger and meaner looking. Bearded dragons may also display a black beard, hiss, or bob its head as a defense mechanism.

There are some situations when you may see your bearded dragon becoming aggressive. When other house pets threaten it, you can see the beardie doing an aggressive stance. The beardie might open its mouth every time other pets are around. After some time, your beardie will get used to other pets. If not, you must find a way to avoid the beardie feeling stressed all the time.

  • What To Do If Other Pets are Bothering Your Bearded Dragon?

Larger pets can sometimes try to bother your bearded dragon. As a result, the beardie has to open its mouth for a long time. The first thing to do is keep them away from the bearded dragon’s enclosure. It can be challenging if you live in a small apartment. But you should keep the larger pet away from where the beardie is staying.

Another thing to do is move the tank where your other pets don’t usually go. If you have a guest room, you can move the beardie’s enclosure there. You can also put the beardie’s tank near a window. It will provide your pet with more stimulation and avoid seeing the other pets. The problem with placing the tank near the window will be the animals outside.

The bearded dragon may feel threatened instead of solving the other concern. When the tank is near the window, the beardie’s mouth will also open. It displays an aggressive stance to intimidate other animals. If your beardie seems always to exhibit this behavior, move the tank again and find another room for your beardie.

Some objects may also make your beardie feel scared and threatened. Items such as toys, clothes, decorations, etc., can make your beardie feel stressed. Make sure to find a room without these items that can make your beardie feel scared. You can also cover one side of the tank to avoid seeing them.

4. Dominating Other Bearded Dragon

It’s another reason why bearded dragons will open their mouths. They prefer to be alone, but there are times that they might get a tankmate. Housing two beardies inside an enclosure is not a good idea. Doing this will make them try to dominate each other. Opening their mouth is one way to show the other who is more dominant.

As a result, the less dominant bearded dragon will be stressed. It can stop eating, and the dominant beardie will not allow the other to bask. If you want to get another bearded dragon, make sure to house them separately. It’s also a good idea to place the other one in a separate room. They will still fight for dominance even if they live in different tanks. It will be bad for the less dominant beardie, and it may have health issues.

5. Respiratory Infection

When your bearded dragon keeps its mouth open longer than it should, it can be a sign of a respiratory infection. Usually, they open their mouths to regulate heat. If your beardie also seems to lack appetite or energy, it may be suffering from a respiratory infection. Other signs will be mucus around the eyes or nose, coughing, wheezing, and irregular breathing sounds.

When the humidity inside the enclosure exceeds 40% for a long time, your beardie will end up having a respiratory infection. Bearded dragons have adapted to hot and dry climates. If it’s holding its mouth open and showing other symptoms, visit the vet immediately. They can provide treatment for your beardie and advise how to achieve the best tank condition.

Is Puffing Up Unhealthy for Bearded Dragons?

No, puffing up is not unhealthy or harmful for bearded dragons. This behavior helps them to survive in the wild. They can intimidate predators and scare the prey. Puffing up can also help them shed and adequately make them float to avoid drowning. This ability allows the bearded dragons to keep surviving in the wild.

However, bearded dragons may be puffing up all the time. It’s their way of defending themselves when it feels threatened around them. In captivity, they don’t have to worry about predators attacking them. They also don’t have to worry about their food anymore. But bearded dragons may still need to stay alert if they don’t feel they are safe.

Even a simple toy or household item can make the bearded dragon puff up. They might see it as a threat and try to protect themselves. Bearded dragons will feel stressed when it always happens. Try to solve this issue to prevent your pet from feeling stressed. Remove anything that seems to make your beardie puff up. It will help your pet to be calm again

If you think that the bearded dragon should not feel threatened but still puffs up, it might be caused by another problem. A healthy bearded dragon puff up sometimes. It’s normal for them to do this to stretch their muscles. But if your beardie puffs up for no reason at all, check it with the vet. Ask for advice to deal with the problem better.

Can Bearded Dragons Puff Up Other Body Parts?

Yes, bearded dragons can puff up other body parts aside from their beards. They can also puff out their body when needed. Usually, they will do this when they feel threatened. They will make themselves look more prominent and meaner. That will scare the predators and run away.

In the wild, bearded dragons make themselves look bigger and more aggressive. That’s how they defend themselves from large animals. Bearded dragons can also change their posture to appear more prominent than the predator. They will stand to look bigger and make them look more threatening.

Puffing up their bodies can also help them to float in the water. That’s why your beardie may puff up if the bathwater is too deep for them. They are afraid of drowning, which is understandable. When they puff up their bodies, it will also scare away the predators and stop bothering them.


1. Why is the baby bearded dragon puffing up?

Baby beardies may puff up and even display black beards. This is because the bearded baby dragon may be scared and uncomfortable. It usually happens if you take home a baby beardie for the first time. It may puff up during the first few days until it gets accustomed to its new environment.

2. Can a bearded dragon puff up its belly?

Yes, bearded dragons can puff up their belly as well. Their beards or throats are not the only part that can puff up. The stomach may do this depending on the occasion. If you feed it less than its regular meal, it may puff up its belly on the next meal. That will help the beardie to fit more food inside its stomach in case food becomes scares.

3. Why is your bearded dragon puffing up during bath time?

When the water is too deep for them, the bearded dragon may puff up. If thru think that the water is too deep, they will puff up and float. Make sure to put water below their shoulders to avoid puffing while bathing.

4. Why do the bearded dragon’s beard puff while basking?

When a bearded dragon’s beard puffs while basking, there’s nothing to worry about. But if their beard turns black, it means it feels threatened by something. When beardies puff up, it doesn’t always mean it scared or threatened.

5. Why should bearded dragons be alone in the tank?

Bearded dragons are very territorial types of reptiles. If you put two of them inside an enclosure, they will fight for dominance. It’s best to house them separately if you notice that one of the beardies is puffing up a lot.

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