Can Bearded Dragons Get Depressed?
Bearded dragons can get depressed in a way. However, it’s important to understand that reptiles don’t have the same emotional capacity as mammals.
This means that what you’re seeing and labeling as depression, maybe a deeper issue.
Depression is more of human emotion and can be suffered by other mammals too, but assuming this is the cause for odd behavior may lead us to ignore the actual problem, which may be medical.
When we say that they can get ‘depressed’ we mean that they are showing signs that they aren’t happy or are unsettled with something going on in their lives which can cause them to act strangely.
This, in a way, is similar to human depression.
What Concerning Behaviors Should I Look Out For?
Anything can seem concerning if it’s not the normal behavior that you’re used to. You should look out for:
None of these things necessarily mean that your bearded dragon is depressed. It’s unlikely that they’d be able to display this emotion.
However, they do probably indicate that there’s a problem and that your bearded dragon isn’t feeling quite themself.
What are the Other Possible Causes for These Behaviors?
If you’ve made a change to their environment or their routine, bearded dragons can get easily stressed out.
They might also be stressed if they’re young and aren’t used to being handled.
You’ll notice this if your dragon starts to display arm waving or aggressive tendencies, like
If you think your bearded dragon is stressed and is acting aggressively as a result, the issue may be that they don’t feel comfortable in their environment.
You should try to give them as much space as possible and make sure that they have somewhere to hide in their terrarium if they get scared.
The issue might also be how you approach them if they aren’t used to being handled.
Make sure you take baby steps towards picking them up, approaching them from the side rather than from above so that they don’t see you as a predator.
Your bearded dragon may be ill if you notice them being more lethargic than normal.
Bearded dragons spend most of their day basking anyway, so laying around isn’t necessarily an issue.
However, if you notice them sitting in the cooler part of the terrarium more often or laying in a strange position, there may be something wrong.
Other possible indicators of illness are,
Don’t mistake these symptoms for depression. If you notice any of these things, it’s recommended that you visit a vet.
Problems with Habitat
Odd behavior can be sparked by issues with your bearded dragon’s habitat.
If you notice them chilling out in the cooler area a lot, it could be because they’re finding the basking area too hot. Yes, even bearded dragons can get too hot.
Equally it could be too cold, making your dragon more lethargic.
Check on your temperatures throughout the day to make sure they’re consistent. It might be an easy fix.
There may also be issues with humidity, which could make your bearded dragon sick.
Humidity can come from the amount of water that you leave in the water bowl.
Perhaps reducing the amount of water in the terrarium will remove this issue.
You might also want to consider the furniture in the terrarium.
If there aren’t enough hiding places, your bearded dragon may become stressed, but equally, if it’s too cluttered it might be difficult for your dragon to get around, causing stress.
What Not to Do?
If you see your bearded dragon showing any concerning behavior, the first thing you’ll think is that they’re unhappy and you need to change their situation to overcome the problem.
However, bearded dragons work best with routine, and changing anything can make the problem worse.
Look into things that you may have changed unintentionally and put them back to the way they were. This may resolve the issue.
Don’t immediately assume that the reason that your bearded dragon looks depressed is that they’re lonely. This is rarely the case.
In the wild bearded dragons are solitary animals and don’t enjoy the company of others unless it’s for mating.
Don’t go out and buy another bearded dragon to keep yours company in the hope that they’ll feel better.
It WILL make the situation worse and you’ll end up having to purchase a new terrarium for your new dragon in order to separate them.
Rapid changes in behavior can often mean something has changed within their environment or lifestyle.
These changes don’t necessarily mean that they’re depressed but do mean that they’re unhappy or uncomfortable with something.
The cause might be something small that you barely notice, such as a move in their terrarium or a slight change to their normal food.
Perhaps they didn’t have the normal crickets at the pet store that week.
As small as these changes might seem to you, they could cause a lot of problems for a bearded dragon.
The first port of call would be to put right the changes you’ve made to see if this improves the situation.
If you don’t see a change and you’re concerned by your bearded dragon’s behavior, you should take them to the vets as soon as possible.
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