What Does It Mean When a Bearded Dragon Licks You?

Bearded dragons are unique and fascinating reptiles. Beardies, as they are commonly known, are generally nonaggressive, gentle, and laid back lizards that can be kept as pets. You will notice that they like licking surfaces and you may freak out when a bearded dragon licks you and wonder if it wants to bite you.

When a bearded dragon licks you, it means that it is trying to get a sense of its immediate environment. If it licks you frequently, it is either expressing its affection toward you or expressing its comfort with its surroundings.

Beardies don’t bite people unless extremely threatened that they have to defend themselves. Licking is usual behavior for bearded dragons, so it should not be a cause for alarm. The rest of this article explores into depth what it means when a bearded dragon licks you. Continue reading to understand your beardie’s licking behavior better.

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Frequently Lick Surfaces?

The natural habitat for bearded dragons is typically the deserts or woodlands. When you take in a beardie for a pet, its environment changes entirely, and it gets curious. Your pet would, therefore, lick you as it tries to get a better grasp of the new surroundings and who it is sharing it with.

When in their natural habitat, beardies are usually preyed upon by predators. Licking helps them sense when there could be danger in the vicinity. When a beardie licks you, it is collecting sensory data to determine how safe it is.

Another reason why your beardie will lick you is to gauge both your temperature and that of the surroundings. Beardies are cold-blooded reptiles. Your pet will often be curious about how hot or cold you are to understand the surrounding temperature better.

Additionally, your pet will always want to understand the texture of items in its vicinity. The beardie will use its tongue to find out how rough or smooth you are.

You will notice a more habitual licking behavior if your pet is newly bred or under 7 to 10 months old. The constant licking behavior occurs because baby dragons are exceptionally more curious about their environment than adults. Everything is new to the baby dragons.

If you spend more time monitoring the behavior of your baby dragons, do not be alarmed by their licking behavior. Baby dragons typically lick surfaces more frequently than adults do.

Older beardies are not very mobile, so their movement is limited to necessity. These grown bearded dragons will also lick less as they get a better understanding of their environment the more they grow.

However, should something in an older beardie’s environment change, their curiosity will be piqued, and so will the amount and frequency of licking.

How Does Your Bearded Dragon Sense Its Environment?

Your pet has a critical sensor called the Jacobson’s organ located in the upper part of its mouth. Every time your pet flicks its tongue, it sends signals to the organ. Jacobson’s organ helps the beardie decode the information from its tongue and make detailed judgments. Your beardie is able to understand its surroundings better and respond accordingly based on the feedback it receives from its tongue.

Licking to Understand the Owner

If you just got your pet dragon, it will most likely lick you a lot, out of curiosity. Your beardie will lick you frequently to familiarize itself with you and to gather information about you. The bearded dragon will then use the information to know and understand you better. Your pet may also lick you often to be able to differentiate you from other family members.

Licking to Express Comfort and Seek Affection

Your beardie will not repeatedly lick something that it does not like. Therefore, this typically means that when your pet licks you, it is checking you out. Usually, the dragon uses its tongue to collect microscopic particles from you. If the licking happens frequently, then it could mean that your beardie likes something that they smell on you and would like to acquire the scent.

Photo 173965177 © Dreamstime.com

The licking behavior could also be a sign of their love and affection for you. Additionally, it could mean that they are comfortable around you. Beardies don’t lick things that make them uncomfortable. You can, therefore, safely assume that your bearded dragon likes and recognizes your scent and loves being around you.

Licking to Mark Its Territory

Bearded dragons are very territorial. In their natural habitats, the males often challenge each other to assert dominance and have access to the females. The females, on the other hand, challenge each other for control over food.

When kept as a pet, your bearded dragon will use licking to mark its territory. This is similar to a dog licking its owner to mark its territory. However, your pet would not often lick you to mark its territory as there is not much competition.

Should you bring in other bearded dragons, you may notice more frequent licking behavior. Your pet could be trying to mark its territory and show dominance over the other beardies. It is recommended that each pet be kept separate in its own enclosure, especially the males.

Licking to Show Signs of Hunger

When in the wild, a bearded dragon will hunt for its food. A beardie hunts through smell.

However, when kept as a pet, it cannot look for its food. Instead, it will seek out food by licking the air. Your pet may also lick you to smell if you could be food. If you maintain a consistent feeding schedule, you may notice that your pet licks you a lot more just before the routine feeding time.

Licking to Signal the Arrival of the Breeding Season

The breeding season for bearded dragons usually begins one month after brumation. During the breeding season, your pet will seek out potential mates. You will, therefore, notice that your beardie licks you more often. Licking is a pre-mating behavior seen in bearded dragons.

Bearded dragons are generally solitary animals that have little to no interactions with other dragons in the wild. However, ensure that you domesticate more than one bearded dragon of each sex because when the meeting season arrives, they desire to be with their mates.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Have Short Sticky Tongues?

Bearded dragons have short but stocky tongues compared to other reptiles like Chameleons since dragons use their tongues for licking more than using them to catch prey. The tongues are also sticky and with a fork-like tip to help guide food into the mouth.

Conclusion

Licking surfaces is normal behavior for bearded dragons since they lick surfaces with the intention to gather information and scents around them.

As they grow older, the habit reduces significantly, but it can be triggered by the introduction to a new environment or object or another bearded dragon. Licking is also a sign of alertness, good health, and an expression of interest in the surrounding. Jacobson’s organ plays a crucial role in ensuring that your pet makes an accurate judgment of its environment.

Bearded dragons are wild animals that can adapt to your environment and lifestyle. Do not be in a hurry to introduce your dragon to so many things in a short time since they rely on their tongue to assess everything new.

As you wind up reading this post of possible reasons why your bearded dragon licks you, you should now have a better understanding of their most noticeable habit.

Sources