It sounds fun and exciting to watch your bearded dragon explore the great outdoors, but what if your pet doesn’t seem to enjoy being outside? Maybe your bearded dragon’s beard turns black and it begins to bob its head when you take it outside, or perhaps it seems angry or afraid and doesn’t want to be active.
So why does my bearded dragon get mad when I take him outside? Bearded dragons often feel stressed and threatened outdoors due to the wide open spaces and potential predators; they can also quickly become overheated and aggressive in hot weather.
In this article, we’ll go over the main reasons why your bearded dragon gets mad when you take it outside. We’ll also give you plenty of tips on how to have a successful outdoor outing with your pet!
Why Doesn’t My Bearded Dragon Like Going Outside?
If your bearded dragon seems like it gets bored of sitting in its tank all day, you might think taking your pet outside would be a treat for them! While many bearded dragons do enjoy being outdoors, there are just as many that have a negative reaction.
Feeling Stressed, Angry, or Threatened
One reason your bearded dragon may not enjoy being outside is because it feels stressed, threatened, or even angry. Bearded dragons crave safety and security, so being outside where there’s so much open space can be extremely stressful for them. They’re used to being inside their enclosure with access to their hides at all times, so it can be really overwhelming to go outdoors and have nowhere to escape to!
In addition, the outdoors is full of potential predators. Birds in particular can cause bearded dragons tons of stress and make them feel very threatened. It’s not unheard of for large birds to swoop down and grab bearded dragons, so make sure not to leave your beardie unattended outside!
Oftentimes it’s easy to tell if your bearded dragon is feeling stressed out or angry, but here’s a list of common signs to look out for:
- Darker coloration
- Dark markings on chin and belly (commonly called “stress marks”)
- Less movement and activity than usual
- Loss of appetite/refusal to eat
- Hard urates
- Head bobbing
If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good idea to take action to help your beardie destress!
How Can I Help My Angry or Stressed Bearded Dragon Calm Down?
Since constant stress can have a negative impact on your pet’s immune system and make it more likely to become ill, it’s a good idea to handle stress at the source. Here are some tips for helping your bearded dragon feel more calm and content.
- Cut back on sensory overload by providing a place for your bearded dragon to hide away when it’s outdoors. This could be as simple as bringing one of your pet’s hides outside with you. If your bearded dragon has a way to escape the overwhelming open space, it will feel much more safe and calm.
- Hold your bearded dragon rather than setting it on the ground if it seems nervous. This is especially helpful if you have a strong bond with your pet, because your beardie will feel more secure in your arms.
- Ease into going outside. Start by letting your bearded dragon hangout near a window indoors. Next, move to the doorway. Go step by step, making sure your beardie feels secure before moving on. Spread out the process over a week or more if your pet is particularly stressed out or frightened by the outdoors.
How Can I Tell if My Bearded Dragon Feels Happy Outside?
While you’re probably pretty familiar with your beardie’s expressions of comfort (or discomfort), it’s helpful to know how bearded dragons generally act when they feel calm and content.
Here are signs of a happy bearded dragon:
- Explores its environment
- Sticks out its tongue to smell the air
- Relaxes its muscles and lays flat
- Appears alert but not on edge
- Spends lots of time basking
Another reason your bearded dragon may appear to be mad when you take it outside is because it’s too hot. Think about how cranky humans get when the AC isn’t working! And since bearded dragons are cold-blooded and rely on their environment to thermoregulate, they can become uncomfortable very quickly when temperatures are too high.
The solution here is to make sure that your bearded dragon has access to shady areas and hides when it’s outdoors. Bearded dragons naturally know whether they need to warm up or cool down their body temperature, so as long as you provide your beardie with an area that has both sunshine and shade, it should be just fine.
It’s also a great idea to set out a water bowl large enough for your pet to soak in; keep it in the shaded area so your bearded dragon can choose to cool off in the water if it wants to.
But it’s totally normal to notice some signs of aggression in your bearded dragon when it’s very hot outside. Common signs of aggression in bearded dragons include a dark-colored beard, hissing, gaping (opening the mouth wide), head bobbing, and biting.
Providing access to shade and cooler areas should help your beardie calm down, but if it’s above 80 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors, it’s best to just keep your pet inside.
How Can I Help My Bearded Dragon Feel Comfortable Outside?
If you live in a warmer climate, taking your bearded dragon outside can be great for its health! Direct sunlight provides warmth, light, and UVB rays. But it’s always important to make sure that your pet feels comfortable and happy when you take it outdoors. Here are a few tips to help!
Invest in a Reptile Leash or Harness for Your Bearded Dragon
This way you can let your pet explore while still keeping a hold on it, and it won’t be able to get lost or escape. A harness will not only keep your beardie safe, it will also give you peace of mind!
Take Your Bearded Dragon to the Same Place Each Time You Go Outdoors
This way, your pet will eventually become familiar with the area. Over time, this will result in less stress. Constantly introducing your bearded dragon to new outdoor locations can be overwhelming.
Choose an Area With Trees and Bushes
When outside, it’s a good idea to stay in an area near trees or bushes so that your bearded dragon has cover available, especially if you don’t want to bring one of your pet’s hides outside. This way your beardie will feel much more safe and secure!
Make sure not to let your beardie explore on any grass that’s been treated with fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals. Your pet could get sick or even die from ingesting these substances!
Don’t Let Your Bearded Dragon Eat Anything It Finds Outdoors
Don’t let your beardie eat any bugs, rocks, pebbles, or other small items it finds outside. With insects, there’s a risk of them being toxic to your pet. In the case of pebbles and rocks, you have to worry about problems with digestion such as impaction.
Keep Track of Temperatures
Generally, the best time to take your beardie outdoors is when temperatures are in the high 70s. Remember that in your bearded dragon’s enclosure, the cool end should be 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a basking area of 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
If temperatures outdoors are much higher or lower than the recommended temperature for the cool end of the enclosure, or if there’s no access to shade available, it’s not a good idea to take your bearded dragon outside.
Watch Out for Parasites
Unfortunately, it’s somewhat common for bearded dragons to pick up parasites after spending time outside. The best thing to do is to take a stool sample into the vet once or twice a year in order to check for parasites. Oftentimes you won’t notice them yourself until the infestation has become severe.
Remember to Be Patient!
The difference between your pet’s enclosure and the great outdoors is huge! Understandably, your bearded dragon may need some time to adjust. Remember that oftentimes, introducing your bearded dragon to the great outdoors is a process!
If your bearded dragon seems to get angry whenever you take it outside, there are a couple of things that could be going on. First, your pet could be stressed out because of the lack of cover outdoors. It could also become aggressive due to overheating. Because of this, it’s important to provide hides or other forms of cover for your bearded dragon to use when it’s outdoors.
Remember that introducing your pet to the outdoors can be a long process, and it’s important to remain patient! Over time, your bearded dragon should become more comfortable outside. Don’t forget to keep it on a leash or harness and not to let it eat anything it finds outdoors!