Do Bearded Dragons Bite?

Bearded Dragons are very peaceful and placid creatures and it would be a rare occurrence for a bearded dragon to bite its owner or any other handler.Let’s ask: Do Bearded dragons bite?

Bearded Dragons LOVE attention

do bearded dragons biteThey certainly thrive on the attention and admiration they receive while being handled and touched, and most bearded dragons just love to be tickled on their sides or stroked with a fingertip making them a very interactive pet to have.  They are favored as pets for this very reason and children naturally love handling and taking care of something as unique and exotic as a bearded dragon.

In rare cases there are certain stimulus and reasons that may cause biting behaviors in bearded dragons. Let us take a quick look at these behaviors and what we can do to prevent them.

Why would a Bearded Dragon Bite?

#1 Mating Season

During the breeding season male bearded dragons naturally become more dominant and show aggression towards other males in the area, and in the mating process males will bite and grasp onto the neck and lip area of the female so that she can’t move away.

This is a completely natural behavior during the mating season and will only occur when more than one bearded dragons are kept together for breeding purposes. This should not be seen as sign of your bearded dragon becoming aggressive. If you do have more than one dragon or a mix of males and females, it would be a good idea to separate the males from each other and from the females throughout the duration of the mating season to avoid unnecessary fighting and injury.

#2 Juvenile Beardies learning to eat and hunt

Juvenile bearded dragons may also unintentionally bite during their first period of growth. This behavior is part of its instinct to feed itself and survive in the wild. The juvenile needs to learn how to hunt for food by itself and it is important to remember that during its growth phase it needs a substantial amount of meat and fatty foods to develop and grow properly.

Generally a juvenile consumes up to 80% insects with the remainder of its diet including fruits, greens and flowers. This means that any insect that passes by a juvenile bearded dragon will be snapped up in an instant. The jaws of the bearded dragon are quite hard and also very strong in order for it to bite into hard-shelled insects, and this is why the juveniles eat so many insects in their first year as part of optimum growth and developing the muscles in the jaw for eating properly.

If you have more than one juvenile bearded dragon in the same cage or enclosure they may snap at one another’s tail tip, mistaking it for a worm or other insect.

#3 Under-fed or Over-excited feeding time

biting food

When hand feeding your juvenile a mealworm or other insect it may bite your finger by being overzealous for the meal item or by bad aim while still learning to catch prey. This is not painful or something to worry about, it is simply part of its learning curve.

This type of biting can also be evident in hungry or underfed adult bearded dragons. If you hold out a single mealworm there is a likelihood that an adult bearded dragon may bite your finger at the same time as snatching up the mealworm.

Remember its mouth is quite large, so to avoid this behavior, change the feeding regime slightly by giving the dragon a slightly larger item of food, for example three mealworms at once which are bulkier than one mealworm and the bearded dragon will be less likely to bite your finger. Once again this is not aggressive biting behavior and is quite easily prevented by altering the way you feed your bearded dragon and making sure that it is not hungry.

#4 Self-Defense or Provocation

A third form of biting in bearded dragons would be the result from a stimulus to defend itself. This type of biting behavior would be considered aggressive and only if the dragon feels threatened to such an extent that it needs to bite. In the wilderness a bearded dragon needs to be able to defend itself from predation and in captivity it will still carry that instinct.

That being said, it is highly unlikely that even picking up a bearded dragon in the wild would lead to a bite, going to show how docile they are by nature. It is very important to handle your bearded dragon regularly and to do so gently but deliberately, they enjoy this type of interaction.

Some people try to tease bearded dragons to see them inflate their beards, which is a natural behavior during dominant displays or self-defense, however constant provocation could lead to a bite out of frustration, but this would be rare as the bearded dragon usually will give fair warning by hissing or inflating the neck area before attempting to bite.

Curious children may want to tease or provoke a bearded dragon to see it react. If you have children, it would be a great idea to teach them from the start that the bearded dragon is a peaceful and gentle animal and that it too should be treated and handled gently. Regular handling by your family members will make them comfortable to hold the bearded dragon and it in turn will become used to this as part of its life, and they generally do enjoy the attention.

bearded dragons make great pets

Bearded Dragons are highly unlikely to bite

To summarize, it is highly unlikely that your bearded dragon will ever bite you or others purely for the fact that they are relaxed and placid reptiles. You should not be scared or nervous while attempting to handle a bearded dragon, and be assured that the likelihood of a bite from these marvelous reptiles would be an absolute rarity.

Side-note: In the case where you or a child has been bitten, it is recommended to disinfect the bite area or wound and to seek medical advice immediately. Bearded dragons have powerful jaws and a bite from a fully grown adult can be painful and may result in an open wound that requires immediate disinfection, cleaning and the attention of a doctor.