Do Bearded Dragons Yawn?
Bearded dragons do yawn just like we do. Yawning can be a sign of tiredness or boredom, just like it is in people, but it can also be a sign of stress for bearded dragons.
Yawning can appear a little bit alarming if you’ve never seen them do it before. They’ll typically tip their heads back and open their mouths (which are surprisingly wide for such a small animal).
They may also twitch their beard up and down, a little bit like a frog. This is to allow them to stretch their beards during the yawning process.
Yawning allows them to take more oxygen into their lungs from the air which helps them to recover from tiredness more easily.
It also helps them to reduce stress levels naturally, just like when we take a deep breath and count to 10.
What Else Could It Be?
Bearded dragons ‘gape’. This is when they leave their mouths open to regulate their body temperature. If you catch them at it, it could be mistaken for yawning.
However, the difference is that once they’ve started gaping, they tend to leave their mouths open for longer. Whereas yawning only takes a few seconds.
Gaping is a bearded dragon’s version of panting. Just like dogs, they use their mouths to help regulate their overall body temperature.
Although bearded dragons love the heat, even they can get a bit too warm sometimes.
Opening their mouths allows them to dissipate some of this heat, whilst still taking in their required vitamins from the sun (or UV light in a domestic environment).
If gaping is occurring a little too often, you might want to double-check your heat and humidity settings inside the tank to ensure you aren’t overheating your dragon.
This can best be done by mounting a couple of wall thermometers inside the tank. Ones that measure both humidity and temperature.
You should ideally look to install one in the basking zone of the tank and one in the cooler side too. Here is one that comes highly recommended.
However, all this said, gaping is completely normal behavior and generally, there’s nothing to worry about.
Most bearded dragons have friendly personalities, but there are some things, such as other bearded dragons for example, that can cause them to become stressed and aggressive.
If your bearded dragon is stressed or feels insecure, they might try to make themselves look as intimidating as possible to ward off whatever is frustrating them.
To do this they would leave their mouth wide open whilst running towards their aggressor.
Although this physically looks like a yawn, it becomes quickly obvious that it’s not that simple.
Coupled with the mouth being open, your bearded dragon’s beard (chin) may also become darker and they’re likely to swing their tails from side to side.
Having their mouths fully open allows them to make themselves look physically bigger and more intimidating to predators in the wild.
If you’ve noticed this behavior a lot, make sure that they feel comfortable by housing them by themselves, giving them plenty of foliage and a cave to hide in (like the one below) and not placing their tank in a heavy footfall area.
This is one of the most popular bearded dragon hides and is made from a durable material which is really easy to clean. It offers great shelter and a place to hide for your beardie.
You could also provide some foliage in your bearded dragon tank which will give them even more opportunity to hide away and get some privacy. The option below is a great recommendation which are designed to look natural, and are made of a non-toxic material that can be cleaned easily.
They also come with suction cups to quickly fix them to the walls of the tank and you even get a choice of styles.
3. Respiratory Infection
A respiratory infection should be easily distinguishable from a simple yawn as they’ll display the yawning behavior for hours at a time.
Although they might look like they’re yawning at first, make sure that you check back to see if they’ve closed their mouth.
If a bearded dragon has a respiratory infection, they will leave their mouths wide open in an attempt to breathe through their mouth instead of their nose, just like we do if we have a cold.
You might also notice mucus around their nose.
Respiratory infections can be caused by the humidity in their tank being too high for a long period of time.
To ensure your tank is constantly at the correct humidity, it would be a good idea to get a top-spec humidity reader (hygrometer). Having one that comes with a fully integrated app means you can monitor the changes in humidity throughout the day and make changes as necessary.
In the wild, bearded dragons live in desert areas and aren’t used to the climate being damp. If it’s too humid for them they’re likely to struggle with a higher rate of infections and illnesses.
Avoiding a Respiratory Infection
To avoid this, make sure that you don’t add bark as a floor covering in the tank, as this can soak up moisture.
You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t overfill the water dish in there. Excess water can escalate the humidity quickly.
If you do suspect that your dragon has a respiratory infection, contact the vet immediately.
Should I Be Worried if my Bearded Dragon Yawns a Lot?
If you’re positive that what you’re seeing is a yawn and not one of the other possibilities above, then you probably have nothing to worry about.
Just like people, bearded dragons can have more tiring days. If they seem to yawn more when they’ve been out playing with you, it’s most likely that you’ve tired them out.
If they seem to yawn a lot, but haven’t done anything strenuous, it may be because the temperature in their tank isn’t quite right.
Just like us, bearded dragons become sleepy when they get too warm, (just like us falling asleep on the sunbed). Check your temperature and humidity settings and make sure you aren’t overheating them.
Alternatively, it could be too cold. If you notice your bearded dragon yawning a lot, but they’re sitting in the cooler area of the tank, it might be because they haven’t been basking enough.
For a quick and easy way to assess the temperature in the tank you could also invest in an infra red thermometer which will give precise temperature readings for any zone in the tank. This one comes highly rated and is used by many bearded dragon owners.
Bearded dragons, as with most reptiles, need the heat from the sun (or UV light) to help them warm up their blood and enable them to move around.
It’s what gives them energy. If they aren’t warming up enough each day, it could lead to tiredness and lethargy. Just pop them back out to bask and the yawning should calm down.
So, the answer to the question is ‘Yes’, bearded dragons do yawn and if they’re just yawning, it’s nothing to worry about.
But be sure to stick around to be certain that they are closing their mouths again. Something that might initially look like just a yawn could turn out to be something more serious.
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