Bearded Dragons naturally hide throughout the day for many different reasons. Sometimes they want to cool down; other times they hide to rest. This type of hidden-away behavior is quite healthy and normally lasts for 30–60 minutes.
I own several Bearded Dragons, and each of them hide away occasionally for all sorts of reasons.
My main stud, Hannibal will often hide as soon as he is given his daily salads. Unless the salads are garnished with flower petals, Hannibal will retreat to his hide in disapproval! However, if I offer him a few pretty petals this will coax him out.
With experience you will soon begin to understand your own Dragon’s behaviors. The main concern with Bearded Dragon hiding is when they are spending more time hidden than they are active. If this happens you will need to figure out why.
Keep reading to learn five surprising reasons why Bearded Dragons hide and if it is problematic.
- Hiding is a completely natural behavior and is often a sign they need rest, cool down, or want to be safe.
- A Bearded Dragon that hides all day, or for extended periods of more than 60 minutes, can often be a sign of stress, illness, or incorrect temperatures.
- They will hide in response to change.
- Bearded Dragons hiding in a cave can be an early sign of shedding. This type of behavior is generally considered healthy and will gradually subside post shed. Warm baths are an excellent way to ease discomfort during this time.
- Brumation will also bring about natural instincts to burrow down and hide, but this is normal.
Author Tip: Any type of change can cause a Bearded Dragon to become upset. Most unusual behaviors can be prevented by keeping their environment stable and peaceful.
7 Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Hiding
Too much hiding throughout the day can be a sign that your Bearded Dragon is in distress or feeling out of sorts. When left unattended, this behavior can bring about all sorts of health issues which may impact their growth and happiness. It can also cause behavioral issues where they become reluctant to be handled.
In our annual survey, 75% (31 out of 41) of Bearded Dragon keepers said that they have seen their Bearded Dragon show hiding behaviors.
If you see your Dragon hiding more frequently than usual, you will need to troubleshoot both the behavior and the environment.
It is helpful to understand these lizards are diurnal, which means of or during the day. They are active throughout the day, followed by rest, sleep and regeneration at night. In the evening your Bearded Dragon will seek out a safe place to shelter down and sleep.
So, when is it acceptable or concerning?
1. An Attempt to Escape the Heat
Not all hiding is a cause for concern.
It is very natural for Bearded Dragons to hide periodically throughout the day in an attempt to escape the heat and cool down. So long as these intervals are 30 – 60 minutes, there really is no cause for concern or need for change.
If you do feel concerned, the best solution is to run a quick temperature check within the enclosure. You can do this by using an infrared thermometer to record the temperature.
To prevent hiding, temperatures should be maintained as:
|Cool ambient||77 and 85 degrees fahrenheit
25 and 29 degrees celsius
|Basking||105 and 109 degrees fahrenheit
39 and 43 degrees celsius
Irregular temperatures can often be a reason for hiding, and the solution is generally a few quick adjustments to the thermostat.
Sleeping is another acceptable time when your Bearded Dragon may naturally hide and retreat.
This is a normal, instinctual behavior which should never be discouraged.
It is quite normal for them to take short naps throughout the day. However, during the night we aim for 12 hours of lights off for healthy sleep time.
Your Dragon will sleep where she feels safe, so it is important to provide her with a few hiding areas and plenty of branches to bunk down under. The aim is to replicate what nature provides in their habitat, which includes the provision of natural props, such as rocks, branches, logs and plenty of accessible spots to rest.
3. Other Pets Causing Stress
Common household pets like cats and dogs can cause lots of stress. This can often result in constant fear and an attempt to burrow down. Oftentimes, when a Bearded Dragon is under constant scrutiny from other pets, she will become reclusive.
This type of behavior can be the contributing factor to behavioral issues like a reluctance for handling and biting.
To avoid unnecessary stress, it is important to have your enclosure set up in a safe space, away from other pets.
Author Tip: A good rule is to have a dedicated space for your Bearded Dragon tank, away from other pets, predators and heavy foot traffic.
When your Bearded Dragon is feeling stressed, they will try to escape from the view of predators by hiding away.
Bearded dragons have a third eye which is located at the top, center of their head. Anything looming above this area is often viewed as a threat and will trigger instinctual behaviors to take cover and hide. This type of reaction is often caused by birds flying overhead in the wild.
As your Bearded Dragon approaches each shed, she is highly likely to become irritable and sensitive to handling. Her skin will become dry and flaky, and she may retreat.
Bearded dragons are known to retreat, hide away and avoid contact during shedding. This can be viewed as acceptable behavior, with no cause for concern.
Author Tip: I also own Dragons who aren’t bothered by handling at all during shedding. It all depends on the individual Dragon and their response at the time.
The best way to approach this behavior during shedding is to limit handling until the process has completed. In my experience handling is usually fine a couple of days post shed.
Offering your lizard warm baths may help with soothing the skin and hydration.
5. Poor Health
Just like us, when Bearded Dragons feel unwell, they will retreat and rest.
Consistent and excessive hiding can be recognized as more time being spent under shelter than not. When a Bearded Dragon is hiding for hours on end it can be an indication of illness.
Common indicators for poor health can include:
If any of these symptoms are accompanied with a tendency to hide, it is extremely important to have your lizard assessed by a vet. This type of behavior is an important indicator that something is not quite right.
On a daily basis an adult Bearded Dragon requires 12 hours of exposure to UVB, and if they are hidden away, they are not getting UVB exposure.
6. Enclosure Upgrade or New Decor
An enclosure upgrade, adding new decor, or a simple rearrangement of old furnishings can be quite the disruption for some Bearded Dragons. These changes can be a contributing factor towards hiding and undue stress.
Bearded dragons are creatures of habit. They enjoy warming up on their favorite log, or having the option to retreat for a nap in their usual hide or spot. Their environment is a place which helps them to feel familiar, well-adjusted and safe.
Any change to a Bearded Dragon’s tank setup is enough to disrupt their daily routine.
It is best to keep their environment stable and familiar.
If you have to introduce change for any reason, try to approach this in small intervals. For example, if you want to add a new hide, do so for an hour each day, and then gradually increase the duration until your Dragon seems comfortable and accepting of her new surroundings.
Brumation is another time where your Bearded Dragon will hide away. Throughout the cooler months, it is a perfectly safe and natural response to the change in climate. It occurs naturally in the wild in southern parts of Australia and can last anywhere from several weeks to a few months.
Your Bearded Dragon will gradually stop eating and find a suitable place within the enclosure to bunk down for the Winter.
It is important to understand how brumation works so that you can provide the appropriate care.
There is a lot more involved than just allowing your Bearded Dragon to sleep away in the winter. You will need to gradually ease off feeding and hydrate their resting place. They do not completely shut down and will still require weekly care.
Brumation is not advised for the first winter as your baby Bearded Dragon requires regular care and feeding to support healthy growth and development.
There are many reasons why your Bearded Dragon might suddenly start hiding; some are acceptable where others will need investigation.
Hiding is a natural behavior, and provided it doesn’t extend beyond periods of more than 60 minutes, it is often a sign they need to rest or cool down.
A Bearded Dragon that hides all day can be a sign of:
- Poor health
- Enclosure changes
Other reasons for hiding can include:
- Unfamiliar surroundings
- A change in substrate
- Having an off day
It is your responsibility to research the behavior, then consider and decide the outcome. You can do this by taking note of areas of change in the environment, temperature and diet. If you cannot find the root cause, please seek the advice of a qualified Veterinarian immediately.