Why Did My Bearded Dragon Hiss at Me?

Bearded dragons are some of the most popular reptiles to own as pets. They show all sorts of different body languages that can stump their owners. Waving, ‘glass surfing’, changing colors, and even biting can be signs with multiple meanings. Hissing can be frightening and confusing at the same time for you and your pet.

Your bearded dragon hisses at you because they felt threatened, they wanted more privacy, or they might’ve seen their own reflection. Lack of adequate food and water can cause them to be upset, as can fear or anxiety. Meeting all of their health requirements will limit the amount of hissing.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following details about hissing bearded dragons:

  • Five reasons that your bearded dragon hisses
  • How you can calm your pet to prevent them from feeling uncomfortable
  • Several misconceptions about bearded dragon behavioral patterns
Photo 1432239 © Dreamstime.com

What Causes Bearded Dragons to Hiss?

Bearded dragons are quite active and gesticulatory with their body language. Whether they’re being friendly or aggressive, it’s important to remember that they don’t have the same complex emotions that we do. Never take personal offense to the actions of your bearded dragon, and remember that they want to feel safe and happy as well.

Here are five reasons that your bearded dragon might hiss at you:

  1. They hissed out of fear or anxiety. If they’re feeling stressed about something in their immediate proximity, they’ll act out of fear. Bright lights, sudden movements, or a new home could be enough to change their mood rapidly. If you notice that they’re hissing constantly, then review the other suggestions.
  2. Your bearded dragon feels threatened or aggressive. Just as with most other animals, bearded dragons will act out if they’re provoked. Never corner you dragon or push it too far. You’re much bigger than they are, so they’ll feel attacked or aggressive, defending themselves by any means necessary.
  3. They don’t have access to enough food or water. Malnutrition causes any animal (including humans) to act out. They might have hunger pains, severe dehydration, or improper nutrition that reflects through their actions. Hissing could be their way of asking for more food and water or higher quality than what they currently have.
  4. Their reflection could be scaring them. You might believe that they’re hissing at you through the glass, but they’re probably just seeing themselves in the reflection. As Bearded Dragon Tank suggests, dim lights, wrong angles, and glare from sunlight through the window might make your bearded dragon think it’s not alone in the tank.
  5. Your bearded dragon wants more privacy. If you’re always playing with your pet, they might start to feel bored or invaded. Bearded dragons are very private creatures during many times of the day, so make sure that you’re giving them enough space to relax and be alone when they need to be.

As you can see, there aren’t too many reasons that they’re hissing. If you can eliminate a few of the suggestions, you’ll be able to narrow down the possible solutions. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to calm down your bearded dragon if they keep acting up.

For more information about relieving the tension and getting rid of the constant hissing, proceed to the next section.

How to Calm a Bearded Dragon

Hissing every once in a while is nothing out of the norm; They’re just being moody as we all are at different points in our lives. That being said, if your dragon continuously hisses every time you walk by or try to interact with it, something has to be done.

Follow these tips to calm your bearded dragon and limit or tame their hissing habits:

  • Try changing the light source to see if they have too much or too little. According to The Spruce Pets, bearded dragons need 12 to 14 hours of UV light exposure. If the lighting setup in your tank differs from those parameters, see what you can do to fix the problem.
  • See if they need a different type of food. It’s important to analyze the diet of your bearded dragon. They can eat quite a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, so mix up their diet as much as possible. Remember, certain nutrient-lacking foods, such as iceberg lettuce, are unhealthy.
  • Provide them with a bigger tank. As they grow, you need to expand the size of their tank. Otherwise, they’ll be confined to a small area. Even a slow movement could make them feel cornered and threatened, leading to hissing. On that note, give them enough space to be alone for several hours per day.
  • If you have multiple bearded dragons, give them separate tanks. Many bearded dragons are territorial. When they’re stuck with another one, they’ll always feel on edge. Once you get near the tank, they’ll start to hiss at you from being too pent-up and angry. Getting another tank to keep them separate will calm their nerves.
  • Gentle head strokes can be a perfect way to relax your bearded dragon. Use the back of your fingers to slowly scratch their head. Make sure that they’re not hissing or biting at you before you try this suggestion. It’s an excellent way to calm them down throughout the day.

Common Misconceptions

Bearded dragons are complex creatures with plenty of physical demands. If you’re a first-time owner, their body language can seem incredibly foreign. However, once you learn what they’re trying to communicate, tending to their needs will be as easy as it gets.

One of the biggest misconceptions about bearded dragons’ behavioral patterns is that they’re always being friendly or aggressive. For example, head-bobbing generally looks funny or playful to us, but it’s actually a sign of them being territorial. They want you to know that they own the tank or portion of their home.

On the other hand, glass surfing is commonly misinterpreted as them being angry or running to attack something on the outside of the tank. Glasses surfing is when they put their feet on the side of the tank, pressing their belly against the glass. This is actually a sign that they’re either hungry, thirsty, stressed, or intimidated.

Finally, perhaps the biggest misconception of all applies to their mouths. An open mouth is often a sign of being aggressive or tired with most animal species, but it’s actually a way for your bearded dragon to regulate their own body temperature. In rare cases, it could be a sign of a breathing problem, though.

Owning a bearded dragon is a big responsibility. They’re not out to hiss and bite at everything in sight; Knowing how to prevent these patterns is the best way to be a good owner. When their needs are met, there’s nothing that can aggravate or upset a bearded dragon.

The next time you see them hissing at you, consider everything from their perspective. What would make them hiss? Is it their food? Are they feeling trapped or enclosed in a small space? Do they feel cornered?

Conclusion

Bearded dragons tend to express themselves in a variety of ways. If your bearded dragon hisses frequently, it’s time for a change. Whether it’s a new light or a bigger cage, finding the source of the problem will prevent it from continuing.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • Never corner or rush your bearded dragon if they’re hissing.
  • Address their nutritional and privacy needs before anything else.
  • Providing a bigger cage can calm them down quite a bit.

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