There is plenty of research on solitary carnivores including their adaptive strategies but I found little detailed research to completely answer the question, are bearded dragons solitary?
To fully answer this question, it is important to understand the behaviors of Beardie which is partly linked to their life in the wild as they adapted to survive their predators in the wild.
First, what are bearded dragons?
Bearded dragons are intelligent lizards that come from Australia. In the wild, they live in hot, dry desert habitats and can grow up to 2 feet long. They get their name from the spiky “beard” on their chin which is used to puff up and intimidate other animals.
The Beardies are native to Australia and the Australian Government has passed several laws to ensure that they are protected in their wild habitats. Since the 60s, the Australian Government has banned trading in Bearded Dragons but somehow, they were brought here to the US in the 90s.
In 1999, the Government of Australia passed the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act which made it an offense to trade in or keep Bearded Dragons without a permit. As of May 2022, none of the Beardie species are endangered or extinct with them being classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN.
Bearded dragons are now popular pets in the US, UK, and Europe.
A March 2021 Study indicates that it is now the most popular and well-liked reptile pet ahead of snakes, turtles, and geckos.
Below is a map from the Study showing how Beardies are the most popular pets reptiles in countries such as the US, Canada, South Africa, UK, and Australia. Others emerging pet reptiles include Ball Python, Crested Gecko, Leopard Gecko and Corn Snake as shown below;
So, why do people like them? Are they friendly?
Bearded dragons are friendly lizards and make great pets. They are relatively easy to care for and can live for up to 15 years with proper care. They are also quite active and love to explore their surroundings.
Bearded dragons have many behaviors that make them seem like social creatures. For example, they often bask in the sun together and will even groom each other. They also seem to enjoy being around people and will often sit on their owner’s shoulder or lap.
Bearded dragons are generally gentle by nature but can become aggressive if they feel threatened. When bearded dragons are born, they are about the size of a pinky finger. They will grow quickly, reaching their full size in about two years.
As for their behavior, Bearded Dragons are shy but curious lizards. They are often seen basking in the sun on rocks or logs, but they will also climb trees and bushes. When they feel threatened, they will puff up their beard and open their mouth to intimidate their attacker. If that doesn’t work, they will hiss and bite.
Are they really very social animals?
Yes, bearded dragons are social animals and enjoy being around other Beardies and people. They often bask in the sun together and will even groom each other. Bearded dragons also seem to enjoy being around people and will often sit on their owner’s shoulder or lap.
They don’t form long-term bonds:
While they are social creatures, it is important to note that bearded dragons are not truly social animals in the sense that they do not form long-term bonds with other individuals. Instead, their social interactions are more based on short-term needs such as basking in the sun or finding a mate.
Sharing space with other Beardies or animals:
It is also important to note that while bearded dragons may be social with other Beardies and people, they should not be housed with other animals such as snakes, turtles, or geckos. This is because bearded dragons can carry a contagious disease that could potentially harm these other creatures.
Bearded Dragons are territorial reptiles;
Male beardies are very territorial and they stake out large territories, with the size of the territory determined by body size. When two males come in contact, you’ll see beard displays as they start combat, circiling and biting each other’s tails.
Furthermore, two male Beardies should not be housed together as they will often fight for dominance. If you are planning on keeping more than one Bearded Dragon, it is best to have one male and one female or multiple females.
Females get along:
Females Bearded Dragons, unlike males, maintain smaller territories and generally adopt a submissive posture when they come across males by slowly waving a forelimb through 360 degrees while extending it out from the body (circumduction).
While females can sometimes quarrel over food, they generally get along well together and can even be housed in the same enclosure.
Bearded dragon babies are called Hatchlings and like females are very submissive and maintain a very small territory. They are born tiny, about the size of a pinky finger, but they grow quickly and can reach their full size in just two years.
Many hatchlings die within their first year of life due to malnutrition, dehydration, or injury. As such, it is important to make sure that your Bearded Dragon has a safe and comfortable home with plenty of food and water.
When they reach maturity:
When bearded dragons reach maturity, they will become more territorial and may even start to fight with each other. As such, it is important to provide them with plenty of space to roam and hide if necessary.
So, are bearded dragons solitary?
While Beardies enjoy being around other Beardies and people, they are not social creatures and do NOT form long-term bonds with other individuals, and their social interactions are more based on short-term needs such as basking in the sun or finding a mate.
Studies have shown that solitary animals – carnivores and omnivores– have few social interactions except during mating and do not show cooperative behaviors.
Beardie appreciates their space as this will give them the best chance to thrive. Too much handling can actually be stressful for them. If you want a pet to cuddle and carry around all the time, a Bearded Dragon is not the best choice.
Why Do Beardies Like Solitary Living?
Beardies have evolved to develop features that make them suited for their hostile environment where they have to survive hunting predators and scavenging for food. Their solitary lifestyle means they don’t have to share resources with others and can use their time wisely to search for food and protect themselves.
Some of these features include:
- – their ability to camouflage themselves in their environment
- – their hard scales that protect them from being eaten or injured
- – their long claws that help them climb trees and escape predators
- – their long tail that can be used as a weapon
- – their sharp teeth that can inflict serious wounds
In the wild, Beardies live in dry, arid environments where food and water are scarce. As such, they have to be careful with how they use their energy and time. If they were to waste time socializing, they would likely starve or die of thirst.
In addition, by limiting the interactions and socializing, they are able to focus on surviving which involves using the features above to spot their predator.
While we as humans might view their solitary lifestyle as lonely, it is actually quite the opposite for them. Their solitary lifestyle allows them to focus on what is important to them – surviving in their harsh environment.
What does this mean for Beardie Pet Parents?
This means that you should not feel bad if your Beardie does not seem to enjoy being held or cuddled. It is perfectly normal for them and is actually a sign that they are healthy and happy.
Of course, this does not mean that you can never hold or interact with your Beardie. Just be sure to do so in moderation and to give them plenty of time to themselves to bask and explore their surroundings.
What to note:
Some Beardie owners think that their pets enjoy the company of humans because they will sit on their shoulders or lap. However, this is actually a behavior that is instinctive for them and is not a sign of affection. When they sit on you, they are actually trying to get as close to the heat source as possible so that they can bask in the warmth.
Bearded dragons are definitely not social creatures and prefer to live a solitary life. However, this does not mean that they do not enjoy human company. They are actually quite docile creatures that enjoy being around people and other Beardies. If you are looking for a pet to cuddle and carry around all the time, a Bearded Dragon is not the best choice. However, if you are looking for a pet that is low maintenance and does not require a lot of attention, then a Bearded Dragon is a perfect choice!
Read our full guide on adopting and caring for a Bearded Dragon here.
What you need to know about solitary animals:
- -They have few social interactions and do not show cooperative behaviours
- -Too much attention and handling can actually be stressful for them. Beardies appreciate their space
- -They have evolved to develop features that make them suited for their hostile environment
- -Their solitary lifestyle means they don’t have to share resources with others
- -They use their time wisely to search for food and protect themselves
- -They are able to focus on what is important to them – surviving in their harsh environment.
Q: How can I tell if my Beardie is happy?
A: A happy Beardie will have its tail up and will be basking in the sun.
Q: What does it mean when my Beardie puffs out its beard?
A: When a Beardie puffs out its beard, it is trying to scare off predators or other Beardies that it perceives as a threat.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com