Bearded dragons have some strange sleeping habits–some sleep in an upright vertical position, and many have fallen asleep in their water bowls before! But if you notice that your pet is sleeping with its mouth open, you might be wondering whether or not that’s normal sleeping behavior for a bearded dragon.
So why does my bearded dragon sleep with his mouth open? Your bearded dragon might sleep with its mouth because its jaw relaxes when it’s asleep, or in order to thermoregulate. An open mouth can also be a symptom of a respiratory infection.
In this article, we’ll go over the reasons why bearded dragons sometimes sleep with their mouths open, from relaxing to thermoregulation to a respiratory infection. We’ll also discuss the reasons why your beardie might open its mouth during the daytime.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Sleep With Their Mouths Open?
There are two simple reasons to explain why your bearded dragon might sleep with its mouth open. First, your pet’s muscles relax when it’s asleep, so when its jaw is relaxed, its mouth might open a little bit.
The other explanation is that your beardie has its mouth open while sleeping in order to thermoregulate. Bearded dragons are ectothermic, or cold-blooded. They use their environment to regulate their body temperature.
Since they can’t sweat, they have other ways to cool off. Mouth gaping, or opening the mouth wide, is a sign that your pet has reached its thermal maximum, the optimal temperature for basking.
Both of these reasons are common bearded dragon behaviors and nothing to worry about as long as they aren’t paired with other symptoms. If your beardie seems like it’s struggling to breathe or has mucus coming out of its nose and mouth, you might be dealing with a respiratory infection.
How Do I Know if My Bearded Dragon Has a Respiratory Infection?
It’s not a problem if your beardie has its mouth open–but it’s a problem if your pet can’t close its mouth. This is a sign that it’s having trouble breathing and can’t take in enough air through its nose.
While respiratory infections are pretty common in bearded dragons, they can be serious and even fatal if left untreated. So be sure to get your pet to the vet if you think it’s suffering from a respiratory infection!
Causes of a Respiratory Infection In Bearded Dragons
A respiratory infection can be bacterial, fungal, or viral, so there are a few different reasons that your bearded dragon might come down with a respiratory infection. Incorrect temperatures and high humidity levels are very common culprits. But a poor diet, parasites, a dirty enclosure, and stress can also play a huge part in causing a respiratory infection.
How to Prevent a Respiratory Infection
Of course, it’s always better to prevent an illness in the first place than to have to treat it! Here are a few ways to keep your beardie healthy.
– Maintain optimal temperatures. As mentioned above, your pet is cold-blooded. This means it relies on you to create an environment with the conditions it needs to thrive! One of the most important aspects of your bearded dragon’s vivarium is the thermal gradient.
The vivarium should have a cool end and a warm end with a basking area. Temperatures in the cool end should be around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, while the basking area should be 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows your bearded dragon to move around to the temperature it needs to thermoregulate.
– Keep an eye on humidity levels. Humidity goes hand and hand with the temperatures in your bearded dragon’s enclosure. Remember that bearded dragons are native to Australia, where the weather is very hot and dry.
Your beardie needs humidity of about 30-40% in order to stay healthy. It’s a great choice to buy a hygrometer, which measures humidity levels. You can use this in conjunction with your thermostat and digital thermometers to accurately monitor the conditions in your bearded dragon’s vivarium.
– Eliminate stress. Constant stress can have a very negative effect on your pet’s immune system! If you handle your bearded dragon too often or if it doesn’t have a good enclosure setup, your pet can get stressed out. Other pets in the house can also cause stress because your bearded dragon might see them as potential predators.
– Clean the enclosure regularly. A dirty enclosure is a breeding ground for bacteria, and it has the added consequence of stressing out your bearded dragon! Nobody likes cleaning their beardie’s vivarium, but regular cleaning is necessary for your pet’s happiness and overall well being.
Symptoms of a Respiratory Infection
Since respiratory infections affect your beardie’s breathing, you’re typically going to want to look out for anything that indicates your pet is struggling to breathe normally. One thing to note is that around shedding time, your bearded dragon’s nostrils might be blocked by dead skin, causing it to breathe through its mouth.
But in the case of a respiratory infection, you’ll notice some other symptoms as well. Here are a few to look out for:
- Mouth gaping, or breathing with the mouth wide open
- Noises coming from nose and throat like crackling, wheezing, snorting, or sniffling
- Runny discharge coming from nose and/or mouth
- Mucus bubbles coming from nose and/or mouth
- Swollen or puffy-looking throat
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
Treatment for a Respiratory Infection
As soon as you notice symptoms of a respiratory infection, get your pet to the vet! A respiratory infection isn’t something you’ll want to try to treat at home. The first thing the vet will do is perform an examination and do some tests to figure out the cause of the infection.
Depending on whether it’s bacterial, fungal, or viral, the vet will provide a different type of treatment such as an antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral medication. They will also give you some instructions for home treatment, as your pet can take some time to recover and return to normal.
There are a few different things you can do to help your pet recuperate from a respiratory infection! First, if you house multiple bearded dragons together, make sure to quarantine your pet and keep it by itself until it’s fully recovered. Give its vivarium a thorough cleaning as well.
Then, raise temperatures by 3-5 degrees. Next, if your beardie seems congested, you can prop up their back legs with a towel, angling their head downwards slightly. This will help any mucus or fluid drain more easily.
If your bearded dragon developed a respiratory infection due to high humidity levels and you’re still struggling to keep them below 40%, it’s a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier. If humidity levels stay high, you’re likely to deal with respiratory infections again and again.
Daily soaks in warm water or in an electrolyte solution can help to keep your pet hydrated and get it the nutrients it needs, especially if your bearded dragon has experienced a loss of appetite.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Opening Its Mouth During the Day?
We’ve gone over the reasons why your bearded dragon might have its mouth open while sleeping, but what about while it’s awake?
First, most bearded dragons gape frequently while basking. It’s a way to thermoregulate and keep their ideal body temperature. Excess heat escapes through the mouth as your beardie warms up in its basking area.
Stretching and yawning are other reasons your pet might have its mouth open. These movements might look strange or erratic, but they’re totally normal!
An open mouth is also a way for your pet to defend itself or to display aggression. Usually this is accompanied by a puffed-up beard and hissing. If you notice this behavior, be careful–your beardie is feeling on edge, and you definitely want to avoid being bitten!
Respiratory infections will also cause your bearded dragon to have its mouth open while awake as well as when it’s asleep.
If your bearded dragon has been sleeping with its mouth open, there are a few things that could be going on. First, your pet might just be so relaxed while sleeping that it releases its jaw, opening its mouth. Second, if your beardie is sleeping in the basking area, it might open its mouth wide in order to let out any excess heat and maintain its optimal body temperature.
But when there are other symptoms present aside from your bearded dragon having an open mouth, it’s possible your pet could have a respiratory infection. If you see mucus bubbles or drainage and your bearded dragon seems to be struggling to breathe, get your pet to the vet!
During the daytime, your beardie might also open its mouth while basking, in order to stretch or yawn, or to display aggression.