You’re probably pretty familiar with your bearded dragon’s typical routine, from the time of day it typically comes out to bask to the way it responds when you walk over to its vivarium. So if your bearded dragon is suddenly curled up in the corner of its cage, you may be pretty surprised, especially if your pet is a generally active creature.
So why is my bearded dragon curled up in the corner? There are five main reasons your bearded dragon might curl up in the corner of its vivarium: either the temperature is too warm, your pet is avoiding other bearded dragons, looking for a safe place to hide, brumating, or not feeling well.
In this article, we’ll go through the five reasons your bearded dragon may be curled up in the corner of its cage. You’ll get plenty of information on the proper conditions for your pet’s vivarium, causes of stress, symptoms of illness, and details on the brumation process.
Seeking Cooler Temperatures
One reason your bearded dragon may be curled up in the corner of its vivarium is that the temperature is too high. Because bearded dragons are cold-blooded, they rely on their environment to thermoregulate, or maintain their body temperature. This means the only way they can avoid overheating when their surroundings are too warm is to hide or burrow underground.
Your bearded dragon’s enclosure should have a temperature gradient ranging from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the cooler side all the way up to 95 to 105 degrees on the warm basking end.
During the night, temperatures should drop to 70 to 75 degrees. This temperature gradient is essential for bearded dragons to be able to thermoregulate properly. Not being able to do so can lead to problems with development as well as various health issues.
Because of this, you’ll definitely want to invest in a thermostat and high-quality digital thermometers so that you can accurately monitor the temperature in your bearded dragon’s vivarium.
Remember that although basking is very important for bearded dragons, it’s also necessary to have a cool area where your pet can escape from the light and heat if needed. If your bearded dragon isn’t provided with an adequate environment to thermoregulate, it may be forced to curl up in the corner or burrow down under the substrate in order to cool down.
Whenever you house more than one bearded dragon in the same enclosure, you run the risk of one of them becoming territorial and establishing their dominance over the other. This goes for both same-sex and opposite-sex pairings. Even if you plan to breed your bearded dragons, they’re still solitary creatures and prefer to live alone.
For the most part, it’s inevitable for two bearded dragons living together to fight over the territory or to become aggressive. This in turn can create a lot of stress for your pets, particularly the more submissive one, who will feel threatened and scared. This can cause your bearded dragon to hide away or curl up in the corner to get away from the other bearded dragon.
Searching for Security
A bearded dragon who feels unsafe in any way is likely to look for safety by burrowing under its substrate or curling up in the corner of its vivarium. Bearded dragons are native to the woodlands of Australia, where there are lots of bushes, branches, and other types of hiding places where they can go to feel safe.
That’s why it’s essential to have two hides in your bearded dragon’s vivarium, one on the warm side and one on the cool side. This way, regardless of the temperature your pet needs to thermoregulate, it will have a safe place to go and feel secure rather than having to curl up in the corner.
Brumation is very similar to hibernation; it’s the inactive state that bearded dragons go into during the winter months. In the wild, all bearded dragons brumate, and the weaker or unhealthy ones unfortunately die during this period. However, not all bearded dragons brumate in captivity, and when they do, there are many precautions you can take to make sure your pet goes through the brumation process safely.
Brumation will start with a sudden change in your pet’s behavior. It will have less of an appetite, appear sleepy and sluggish, and hide frequently, possibly curling up in the corner of its cage. Remember that brumation is natural and you shouldn’t try to stop it; instead, do what you can to help the process along.
Feeling Stressed or Sick
Anytime your bearded dragon is feeling under the weather, there’s a possibility it will hide away or curl up in the corner until it’s feeling better. If your pet isn’t acting like its usual self, there are a variety of things that could be going on.
Stress can be caused by many different things, but the most common culprit is an issue with your bearded dragon’s environment. The temperature could be too warm or too cold, the humidity could be off, your UV light might need to be replaced, or maybe your pet’s cage really needs a good cleaning.
If you think your bearded dragon is feeling stressed, it’s important to check out their vivarium and make sure everything is set to the appropriate levels.
Another possible cause is lots of activity outside of your bearded dragon’s vivarium. Bearded dragons aren’t especially social creatures, and they typically don’t enjoy too much human interaction.
While it’s definitely possible for bearded dragons to bond with their owners, they don’t usually like being handled by strangers or multiple people. Another reason your bearded dragon may be stressed is if there are other pets in the house who are able to walk around its cage.
Your bearded dragon will see them as predators and will feel threatened, even if your other pet can’t do them any harm. But it’s not too surprising that your bearded dragon might want to curl up in the corner of its enclosure if it’s afraid of the environment outside.
Metabolic Bone Disease
Metabolic bone disease is a dangerous and oftentimes fatal disease for bearded dragons. It’s commonly caused by either a diet that’s very low in calcium and Vitamin D3 or an issue with your pet not getting enough exposure to UVB rays.
Some symptoms to watch out for include swelling of the hind legs and jaw, weakness, loss of appetite, and lethargy. If your pet has been curled up in the corner of its cage and has any of these symptoms, it’s important to get it to the vet as soon as possible. While metabolic bone disease can be treated in most cases, it’s essential to catch it as early as possible.
Pinworms, mites, and ticks are the most frequent types of parasites in bearded dragons. While mites and ticks generally come from the outdoors and burrow under your pet’s skin, pinworms live in your bearded dragon’s digestive system.
They can sometimes cause weight loss and diarrhea. The discomfort your bearded dragon can feel as a result of the parasites can cause it to curl up in the corner or hide away.
Respiratory infections generally occur when temperatures aren’t warm enough in your bearded dragon’s vivarium. Other causes include a cage that isn’t properly cleaned, excessive amounts of stress, and lack of nutrients in your pet’s diet. Sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, trouble breathing, and lethargy are all symptoms of a respiratory infection.
Adenovirus is a very fatal disease that causes weakness, paralysis, and refusal to eat. It’s a highly contagious virus that spreads quickly among bearded dragons. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for adenovirus.
Bearded dragons who have contracted it must be housed separately from others and may be treated to relieve their symptoms. However, this illness can definitely cause your pet to curl up in the corner of its cage due to its severe nature.
If your bearded dragon is curled up in the corner of its cage, it’s possible that the thermostat is set too high and your pet is looking for a place to cool down. If you have multiple bearded dragons living together in the same vivarium, the less dominant one may be hiding away from the other, resulting in it curling up in the corner of the cage.
Your bearded dragon could be seeking security due to not having enough hides in its enclosure, or it may be brumating. Finally, your bearded dragon could be curled up in the corner of its cage because it’s feeling stressed or sick.