Bearded dragons are fascinating creatures that have become increasingly popular as pets. One of the most curious behaviors that bearded dragons exhibit is digging. If you are a bearded dragon owner, you may have observed your pet digging tunnels and burrows in their enclosure, but have you ever wondered why they do it? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this behavior and what it means for your bearded dragon’s health and happiness. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s dive into the world of bearded dragon digging!
Bearded dragons dig for various reasons, including laying eggs, regulating their body temperature, and hiding from predators. Female bearded dragons dig to create a nest for their eggs, while males may dig to create a burrow to regulate their body temperature. In the wild, bearded dragons also dig to hide from predators and to search for food. If your bearded dragon is digging excessively or showing signs of distress, it may be a sign of a health issue and should be checked by a veterinarian.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Dig?
Bearded dragons are a popular pet reptile known for their unique appearance and docile temperament. If you are a bearded dragon owner, you may have noticed your pet digging from time to time. But why do bearded dragons dig? Let’s explore the reasons behind this behavior and what it means for your pet’s health and wellbeing.
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded reptiles that rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. They need a basking spot with a temperature of around 95-105°F and a cooler area around 75-85°F to maintain their metabolic functions. Digging is one way bearded dragons regulate their body temperature. By burrowing into the substrate, they can escape from the heat or cold and find a comfortable spot to rest.
Digging can also help bearded dragons maintain their body temperature during brumation, a hibernation-like state that occurs during the winter months. During brumation, bearded dragons slow down their metabolic functions to conserve energy and survive through the colder months. By digging into the substrate, they can create a cozy den to spend the winter in.
2. Nesting and Egg Laying
Bearded dragons are oviparous reptiles, meaning they lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. Female bearded dragons may dig to create a nesting site for their eggs. They prefer to lay their eggs in a warm, moist substrate such as sand or soil. By digging a hole, they can create a suitable environment for their eggs to develop.
If you have a female bearded dragon that is digging excessively, it may be a sign that she is preparing to lay eggs. Make sure to provide a suitable nesting box with moist substrate and a heat source for her to use.
3. Stress and Anxiety
Digging can also be a sign of stress or anxiety in bearded dragons. If your pet is digging excessively or frantically, it may be a sign that something is bothering them. Common stressors for bearded dragons include improper housing conditions, lack of proper diet and nutrition, illness or injury, and handling or interaction from humans or other pets.
Make sure to provide your bearded dragon with a suitable enclosure that meets their needs. This includes a proper heat source, lighting, substrate, and hiding spots. Also, make sure to provide a balanced diet and monitor your pet’s health for signs of illness or injury. Limit handling and interaction with your bearded dragon to minimize stress.
4. Enrichment and Play
Bearded dragons are intelligent and curious animals that require mental stimulation and enrichment to thrive. Digging can be a form of play and exploration for your pet. You can provide your bearded dragon with a digging box filled with safe substrate such as coconut coir or play sand. This will give them an outlet for their natural digging instincts and provide mental stimulation.
You can also hide food or treats in the digging box to encourage your bearded dragon to explore and dig. This will provide a fun and rewarding activity for your pet.
Bearded dragons shed their skin periodically as they grow. Shedding can be uncomfortable and itchy for your pet. Digging can help them remove old skin and relieve any discomfort. By burrowing into the substrate, they can rub against rough surfaces to help remove the old skin.
Make sure to provide a moist hide or bathing area for your bearded dragon during shedding. This will help loosen any old skin and make the process easier for your pet.
6. Natural Instincts
Digging is a natural behavior for bearded dragons. In the wild, they dig burrows to escape from predators, regulate their body temperature, and find food and shelter. Even in captivity, bearded dragons retain their natural instincts to dig. By providing a suitable substrate, you can allow your pet to express their natural digging behavior.
7. Benefits of Digging
Digging can provide many benefits for your bearded dragon. It allows them to regulate their body temperature, create a suitable nesting site, relieve stress and anxiety, provide mental stimulation and play, help with shedding, and express their natural instincts.
Make sure to provide a suitable substrate for your bearded dragon to dig in. Safe substrate options include coconut coir, play sand, and reptile carpet. Avoid using substrates that can cause impaction, such as loose particle substrates like calcium sand.
8. Impaction and Health Risks
While digging can be a natural and beneficial behavior for bearded dragons, it can also pose health risks. Impaction is a common health issue in bearded dragons that occurs when they ingest substrate while digging. This can cause blockages in the digestive tract and lead to serious health complications.
To prevent impaction, make sure to provide a suitable substrate that is safe for your pet to ingest. Avoid using loose particle substrates like calcium sand and provide a shallow water dish for your bearded dragon to soak in. Monitor your pet’s behavior and health for signs of impaction, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and constipation.
9. Bearded Dragons vs Other Reptiles
Bearded dragons are unique in their digging behavior compared to other reptiles. While many reptiles like snakes and lizards also dig, bearded dragons have a more complex digging behavior. They can burrow down into the substrate to create a den or nest, or they can dig shallow pits for thermoregulation and play.
Understanding your bearded dragon’s natural digging behavior is important for their health and wellbeing. By providing a suitable substrate and monitoring their behavior, you can ensure that your pet stays happy and healthy.
Digging is a natural and beneficial behavior for bearded dragons. It allows them to regulate their body temperature, create a suitable nesting site, relieve stress and anxiety, provide mental stimulation and play, help with shedding, and express their natural instincts. However, it can also pose health risks such as impaction.
By understanding your bearded dragon’s natural digging behavior and providing a suitable substrate, you can ensure that your pet stays happy and healthy. Make sure to monitor your pet’s behavior and health for signs of stress, illness, or impaction, and provide a balanced diet and proper housing conditions. With proper care and attention, your bearded dragon can enjoy a happy and healthy life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do bearded dragons dig?
Bearded dragons are known for their love of digging. They will spend hours excavating the substrate in their enclosure, making it look like a miniature construction site. But why do they do it?
The most common reason for bearded dragons to dig is for thermoregulation. By digging a burrow, they can create a cooler spot to escape the heat of their basking spot. They can also dig a deeper burrow to find warmer temperatures during cooler months. This behavior is particularly common in wild bearded dragons, who live in hot, arid environments.
Another reason for digging is to lay eggs. Female bearded dragons will often dig a burrow in which to lay their eggs. They will carefully prepare the site, creating a chamber in which to deposit the eggs. This behavior is not limited to breeding season, as female bearded dragons can lay eggs even if they have not mated with a male.
How can I encourage my bearded dragon to dig?
If you want to encourage your bearded dragon to dig, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure your enclosure provides plenty of substrate for digging. A depth of at least 4-6 inches of substrate is recommended. You can also create a designated digging area by adding a pile of sand or soft soil to one corner of the enclosure.
Another way to encourage digging is by providing a hide box. Bearded dragons like to feel secure when they dig, so a hide box can provide a sense of safety and privacy. You can even add some substrate to the hide box to create a burrow-like environment.
Finally, make sure your bearded dragon is healthy and happy. A stressed or sick bearded dragon is less likely to engage in natural behaviors like digging. Offer a varied diet, provide plenty of basking spots, and make sure the enclosure is properly heated and lit.
Bearded Dragon Gravid Digging Behavior
In conclusion, bearded dragons are fascinating pets that require attention and care. One of the most common and curious behaviors they exhibit is digging. While there are several reasons why bearded dragons dig, the most common reasons are burrowing for warmth, seeking out food, and preparing for laying eggs. By understanding these behaviors, pet owners can provide their bearded dragons with the proper environment and care they need to thrive.
It is important to note that not all bearded dragons dig, and the frequency and reasons for digging may vary from one individual to another. Some bearded dragons may dig more often than others, while some may never dig at all. As a responsible pet owner, it is essential to pay attention to your bearded dragon’s behavior and provide them with the necessary care they require.
In conclusion, bearded dragons are fascinating creatures that exhibit various interesting behaviors, including digging. By understanding why they dig, pet owners can ensure their bearded dragons are happy and healthy. If you are considering getting a bearded dragon as a pet, be sure to do your research and provide them with the best possible care.