Many bearded dragon owners are curious about what it means when their pet reptile licks them. It’s not always easy to decipher their behavior, but this guide will shed light on why bearded dragons lick and whether you should be concerned.
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How Licking Helps Them Gather Information
Reptiles, like lizards and snakes, have a unique way of sensing their surroundings. Have you ever noticed your bearded dragon flicking its tongue as if tasting the air? Well, that’s exactly what it’s doing!
When your bearded dragon sticks out its tongue, it collects microparticles that contain valuable information. These particles are then processed by a special organ called the Jacobson’s organ, located near the roof of its mouth. The sensory messages are sent to the brain, helping the dragon learn about its environment, detect predators, find potential mates, and locate food.
What Does It Mean When A Bearded Dragon Licks You?
While it’s common knowledge that cats and dogs lick their owners, it may come as a surprise that many pet reptiles, including bearded dragons, also have a tendency to lick people. So, what does it mean when your bearded dragon licks you?
Licking is a natural and instinctive behavior for bearded dragons, and it doesn’t indicate aggression or displeasure. On the contrary, they usually lick in a gentle and calm manner. Understanding their natural behaviors is vital for responsible bearded dragon owners.
Let’s explore the reasons why your bearded dragon licks you. The more you know, the more you’ll appreciate and admire these beautiful and unique reptiles.
1. They’re Gathering Information About Their Environment
The most likely reason your bearded dragon licks you is to gather information about you and its surroundings. This behavior is similar to how they “taste” the air in the wild to detect predators and danger. When your pet licks you, it’s trying to determine if you’re a friend or a threat. As it becomes familiar with you and its environment, this behavior may decrease.
By licking you and the objects nearby, your bearded dragon assesses temperature, texture, and other environmental factors. If you have a baby dragon, constant licking is likely due to curiosity and the desire to explore new things.
2. Something Tastes Interesting
Bearded dragons lick objects, including you, in order to gather information about their environment. If your bearded dragon licks you around feeding time, it may be trying to determine if you’re something tasty. By licking you, it can confirm if you resemble food it recognizes.
3. It’s Territorial Behavior
Bearded dragons can be quite territorial and may lick everything around them to mark their space. If you’re the only dragon owner, this behavior might not be as noticeable. However, if you have multiple dragons, they may lick to claim territory and warn off potential rivals. To avoid stress, it’s best to keep them in separate tanks.
4. Mating Is On Their Mind
During mating season, male bearded dragons will often go into a licking frenzy to find a suitable mate. They will lick everything, including you, to gather information about their environment and potential mates. If you only have one bearded dragon, this behavior is futile, but their natural instincts persist.
5. It’s A Sign Of Affection Or Comfort
Some believe that when a bearded dragon licks you, it’s a sign of affection or seeking comfort. Though difficult to prove, this behavior is more likely if your dragon trusts and feels comfortable with you. They might enjoy your scent or feel safe having you around. However, licking primarily signifies friendship and not necessarily affection.
Spending quality time with your bearded dragon builds trust and strengthens the bond between you. Over time, licking behavior may develop into companionship and comfort.
Why Does My Bearded Dragon Lick The Air?
Besides licking objects, bearded dragons lick the air to collect and analyze chemical signals in their environment. They use this method to learn more about their surroundings, search for food, detect predators, and find potential mates.
If your bearded dragon licks the air during feeding time, it’s likely feeling hungry and trying to detect the scent of its favorite food. A new dragon or one in a new enclosure might lick the air due to stress, trying to gather information about its new environment and the people or animals nearby. As it becomes more relaxed, this frantic licking should decrease.
Remember, there’s a difference between normal licking behavior and open-mouthed gasping. Licking is normal, but gasping could indicate overheating. Ensure your bearded dragon has plenty of water and appropriate temperature levels in its enclosure.
Will Their Licking Behavior Change As They Age?
In general, baby and juvenile bearded dragons exhibit more consistent licking behavior. They are naturally curious and eager to learn about their surroundings through licking. As they become familiar with their environment, the constant licking diminishes.
It’s crucial to provide appropriate tank enhancements for young bearded dragons, as they may also taste the substrate. Avoid using sand or small pieces of gravel to prevent accidental ingestion and choking.
Now that you understand what it means when your bearded dragon licks you, you can better discern the reasons behind their behavior. Most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about and may even be positive. However, there may be instances where you need to take action.
If you have any questions or concerns about your bearded dragon’s licking behavior, don’t hesitate to reach out. Visit the 5 WS website for more information and expert advice on various topics.