How to Stop a Bearded Dragon Trying to Escape

Lots of people experience issues with their bearded dragon trying to escape and need to know how to stop it. In fact, what looks like an escape attempt may be down to something else. 

When we think of a bearded dragon trying to escape all bearded dragon owners will think of the same thing.

No, they’re not gradually digging a hole through the wall with a plastic spoon, it’s not prison. But usually, they’re glass surfing. 

Glass surfing is when your bearded dragon rubs its body against the glass, usually standing on its hind legs and clawing at the glass.

As the glass obviously won’t budge when they do this, their body might move from side to side, looking to people outside the terrarium as though they’re surfing. 

It might look like they really want to get out to see something interesting, or you might think it’s cute because they want to come out for a cuddle.

However, glass surfing is generally a manifestation of stress. 

How do I know if my Bearded Dragon is Stressed?

If you notice an escape attempt from your bearded dragon it’s usually because they’re stressed, but just to be sure, there might be some other unusual behaviors that they’re displaying which will help you identify the problem.

1. Arm Waving

Arm waving is stage one of glass surfing. You might see them waving their arms in the air or against the glass.

It looks funny and makes a great video, but usually, it’s a sign of submission.

It might mean that your bearded dragon feels threatened and feels the need to submit to a more dominant presence, (maybe even you). 

2. Tail Wagging

Have you ever seen a cat flick the end of their tail? They’re the opposite of dogs and tail flicking in cats means they’re angry.

Bearded dragons are like cats in this way and use their tails as a warning to anyone that comes near them.

They’re trying to tell you that they’re in a bad mood and that you shouldn’t try to touch them. 

3. Hissing

Hissing, again much like in cats, is a sign of aggression. They’re warning you not to come any closer. If you choose not to listen, they may even bite you. 

4. Hiding

Hiding is a more worrying sign. It’s not a sign of aggression, but rather a sign of fear.

Bearded dragons are prey for lots of predators in the wild and will naturally hide to avoid being eaten.

If your bearded dragon is hiding in the corners of the terrarium, they might be scared of something which is causing their stress.

5. Beard Puffing

Beard puffing is also a sign that they feel threatened. In the wild, they’d darken the scales on their chin and puff it out, a bit like a frog.

It makes them look bigger to enemies, giving them more chance of winning a fight. 

Why might my Bearded Dragon be Stressed? 

1. The terrarium is too Small

If your bearded dragon has outgrown their terrarium, they’ll often get stressed at the lack of space. Just like us, they can get a bit claustrophobic.

It’s an easy fix. Just buy a larger enclosure for them and the glass surfing should stop. 

2. Another Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are solitary animals and must live alone to be happy.

If you’ve placed another bearded dragon in their enclosure, this can cause lots of stress and may even cause them to fight and harm each other.

Keeping them separate would be the easier solution to reduce stress. 

As silly as it seems, they can also feel threatened by their own reflection. If they think their reflection is another bearded dragon, they’ll start to behave aggressively towards it.

This might even be the reason that they’re glass surfing. They might actually be trying to fight the bearded dragon on the other side.

Try to get a terrarium with only one side of the glass to minimize this risk and keep them distracted with other, fun things in their house. 

3. Feeling Bored

Your bearded dragon will sit and bask for the majority of the day so it might seem that they’re quite lazy.

In fact, they must sit under the UV light to get the energy to do other things.

If they’re building up all this energy and then they don’t have anything fun to do, they might get restless and become stressed just because they’re bored.

To make their enclosure more interesting, you could get more

It might also help to move them around occasionally to keep things new and fresh. 

4. Temperature or Humidity

If the temperature in the terrarium is too hot this can cause stress. They might be trying to get out of their home because they’re too hot and are craving the outside air.

You’re unlikely to see this behavior if it’s too cold though, as your bearded dragon will lack energy. 

Similarly, they might find it too humid in there. Bearded dragons aren’t good with humidity as they live in a dry and dusty environment in the wild.

If you leave too much water in the terrarium it’s likely to add to the humidity levels. Just reduce the water in their bowl and it should fix the issue. 

5. New Furniture

Bearded dragons are picky and if you add something to their home that they don’t like, you’ll know about it.

If you notice excessive glass surfing right after you’ve added a new item of furniture, remove it again to see if the behavior stops. 

If you’ve recently moved their terrarium, sometimes they just aren’t happy with where you’ve arranged the house, maybe the view isn’t as nice.

The behavior might stop after a few days once they’ve realized that you aren’t going to move it back just because they’re having a tantrum. 

Does Glass Surfing Cause Other Health Issues? 

Other than the worrying fact that your bearded dragon seems stressed, glass surfing isn’t particularly anything to worry about health-wise.

The physical rubbing against the glass won’t hurt them.

However, if it’s prolonged and you’ve considered all the above steps and still can’t resolve the issue, it might be worth a trip to the vet for advice. 


When you notice your bearded dragon up against the side glass of the terrarium, it’s unlikely that they’re trying to escape. In fact, they’re probably doing it as a result of stress.

Make sure you pay close attention to what might have changed recently and try to change it back to fix the issue. Monitor the behavior closely and it should reduce over time. 

Like this article? Pin it on Pinterest

how to stop a bearded dragon trying to escape

  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
  • Affiliate Disclosure

    Bearded Dragon Guru is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Bearded Dragon Guru also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank, ShareASale, and other sites. Bearded Dragon Guru is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.