Have you discovered your bearded dragon chewing on his log or rock? Maybe you brushed it off at first, thinking it’s just something passing, but now it’s hard to ignore as your beardie seems to be chewing and biting on anything and everything within the enclosure. You’re beginning to wonder if this is normal behavior, or if it is something you should be concerned about.
So, why is my bearded dragon biting his ornaments? Some possible reasons could include hunger, a lack of calcium, a mouth irritation, territorial issues, courting behavior, shedding, or reacting to some kind of threat. Overall, biting of ornaments can be seen as a sign of aggression due to some or other cause.
In this article we will discuss each of the seven possible reasons a beardie may be biting the ornaments in its terrarium, as well as taking a look at three ways to calm an aggressive bearded dragon and four essentials that every bearded dragon needs.
Biting Ornaments Due to Hunger
Biting is after all, a precursor to eating, so it could be possible that your bearded dragon is looking for something to nibble. Have you noticed whether the biting takes place predominantly before the normal feeding times?
Perhaps you might consider reviewing or increasing your beardie’s feeding schedule. This is particularly relevant if your pet is a baby or juvenile, as they tend to bite more frequently and need more nutrition as they grow rapidly.
Biting Ornaments Due to a Lack of Calcium
It may be possible that a residue of some calcium powder supplement has settled on the ornaments in your bearded dragon’s enclosure. This may be the reason why he is biting and licking to try and get some of that stuff which beardie’s clearly seem to enjoy.
It could be that there is some kind of mineral lack or deficiency which is driving the bearded dragon to try and eke out something by biting on the features in the cage. If this is the case, you might need to check that you are giving your beardie the correct supplements.
Biting Ornaments Due to a Mouth Irritation
We all know how little kids who are teething or have sore gums like to chew on hard things to bring some relief. Maybe your bearded dragon has some kind of irritation or sore place in its mouth, and biting on the ornaments is an attempt to somehow alleviate the discomfort.
See if you can get a good look inside your pet’s mouth and determine whether there is an oral problem, in which case a visit to your reptile vet or professional breeder would be in order.
Biting Ornaments Due to Territorial Issues
Bearded dragons are clearly territorial creatures and the males will mark and defend their space passionately. Biting on all the items within his enclosure may be your beardie’s way of saying to whoever needs to know, “All these are mine, so back off.”
Biting Ornaments Due to Courting Behavior
Related to territorial issues is the matter of courting and breeding. When mating season approaches the males tend to become more aggressive and can display biting behaviour, including biting the ornaments in their terrariums. Your beardie may be looking for a potential mate, and in the process end up biting everything in sight.
Biting Ornaments Due to Shedding
Another important time in the life of your bearded dragon is when shedding occurs. This can be a time of added stress as the old skin needs to come off completely in order to allow new growth. So your beardie may decide to take out some of the stress and frustration of shedding by biting on the surrounding ornaments.
Biting Ornaments as a Reaction to Threat
Your bearded dragon may feel threatened for a variety of reasons. Perhaps he is new in your home and the stress of a strange location and habitat is causing distress. Maybe there are loud noises, perhaps there is construction happening in your area, or a noisy neighbor playing loud music.
Possibly your beardie feels threatened by a new pet in your home such as a cat or dog. Think about any changes recently which may have caused your dragon to feel threatened and to start biting his ornaments.
Three Ways to Calm an Aggressive Bearded Dragon
Biting is essentially a sign of aggression of sorts, whatever the reason. So your goal as a concerned pet owner would be to reduce the stress and calm your bearded dragon down. Here are three tips to help in this direction.
Rearrange or Re-Decorate the Enclosure
Take a good look at your beardie’s living quarters. Is it perhaps too crowded with features and ornaments to the extent of being claustrophobic? If so, maybe removing a few things could give your bearded dragon the space he needs to breathe and he won’t feel the need to bite the excessive ornaments anymore.
You might also like to introduce a few edible plants into the terrarium, just in case the biting behavior was due to hunger. This way your beardie could take a snack and forage for himself as needed.
Also check that the temperature in the enclosure is optimum and not too hot or cold. Although bearded dragons originated in the hot Australian deserts, excessive heat can make them stressed and aggressive.
Give Your Bearded Dragon a Warm Bath
When your beardie is aggressively biting his ornaments, maybe a nice warm bath will be just what he needs to calm down and relax. Bearded dragons usually enjoy bathing as it gives them a new area to explore and clean themselves.
It’s also a good bonding time for the two of you, as you splash around gently and play with your pet in the water. Your beardie will probably appreciate a little massage or light brushing with a soft toothbrush.
Handle Your Beardie Correctly
If your beardie is biting his ornaments, make sure you wear some gloves before picking him up, as the last thing you want is a nip on your fingers. Remember the correct way to pick up a bearded dragon is by gently placing your hand under the belly and placing your other hand on top, making sure that the whole length of his body is supported.
Never grab your beardie by the tail or limbs. Also be sure to approach from the side or front where your bearded dragon can see you coming, and does not become triggered or alarmed. Speak gently and reassuringly to your pet so that mutual trust can grow and develop.
Four Essentials That Every Bearded Dragon Needs
If your bearded dragon is biting his ornaments, it may mean that something essential is missing from his daily life. Here are four essential you can check in case some adjustment is needed in one of these areas.
Your bearded dragon needs regular supplements to remain strong and healthy. The three basics are Calcium, Vitamin D3 and Multivitamin. Calcium powder can be given daily, sprinkled on their food, while vitamin D3 is needed about 3 times per week, and reptile multivitamins once per week.
Places of Refuge
It may surprise you to know that your feisty little reptile is not actually a natural predator – in fact in its natural environment it is most often the prey. For this reason bearded dragons need ample places to hide so that they can feel safe at all times. At least one place of refuge is essential in your bearded dragon enclosure.
Like all of us, your bearded dragon needs a balanced diet of both protein and greens. As beardies are highly individual, you may need to experiment a bit before you find out what your pet’s favorite vegetables are. Try a wide range and see which ones are preferred. Some options might include carrots, lettuce, bell peppers, endive and mustard greens.
It is very important to keep your bearded dragon properly hydrated. The four best ways to do this are by placing a drinking bowl inside the enclosure, regular misting and bathing, as well as feeding juicy foods. A combination of all these sources of hydration should ensure that your beardie stays healthy and happy.
Now that you know some of the possible reasons why bearded dragons bite the ornaments in their cage, you may be able to pinpoint what is going on with your particular pet. Firstly, is your feeding and supplement schedule adequate? Is there some oral irritation, or could it be a territorial matter? Or perhaps your beardie is courting, shedding or feeling threatened in some way?
Whatever the reasons might be, you would do well to calm your beardie and reduce the aggression displayed in the biting behavior. As you attend to the essential basic needs of your pet, you may find that it no longer wants to go around biting the ornaments in its enclosure and you can enjoy handling your beardie once again in a normal fashion.