How to Quickly Calm Down and Destress Bearded Dragons

Stress among bearded dragons is common, especially after you bring them home for the first time.

At this point, you may notice that they are not eating or pooping and/or have a darker coloration, which is usually the case with stressed out bearded dragons, in addition to a few other indications discussed later.

At any rate, stress can occur at any point when owning a bearded dragon.

Below are the tips and strategies I recommend when it comes to destressing and calming down a bearded dragon.

Simply keep reading OR use the Quick Navigation Table below to be taken to a specific topic.

Causes of Stress Amongst Bearded Dragons

Before we get into the strategies, it’s important to first consider the common causes of stress…

There is no simple fix when it comes to calming down a bearded dragon as there is no one size fits all solution.

However, taking the time to understand these various causes will (hopefully) help you to more quickly and easily identify the cause so that you can the proper adjustments.

Not Having Their Habitat Set Up Correctly

This is where you should start after you first notice any signs of stress since a large component of external stress is caused by whether their environment is set up properly.

Failing to provide crucial things such as proper lighting, temperature gradient, furniture, and substrate could be the root of what is causing your bearded dragon to feel this way.

Click HERE to read about how to set up the perfect habitat for a bearded dragon

Proper Habitat Setup for Bearded Dragons

Relocation

After you first bring home your new bearded dragon, whether it be a baby, juvenile, or an adult, it will surely feel stressed out for a certain period. This is normal, quite common, and should also be expected.  

Relocation stress occurs for handful of reasons, such as undergoing a change in their environment, experiencing new sights, sounds and smells, in addition to feeling overwhelmed by a potential barrage of new people congregating in front of the tank.

Bearded Dragon Being Transported

This type of stress can last several days and up to a week in most cases as it takes some time for your dragon to acclimate to their new environment. However, in more severe instances, this may even last up to a month.

Click HERE to read about how to safely transport and travel with your beardie

Tips for Dealing With Relocation Stress in Bearded Dragons

Luckily, there are several things that you can do to make your bearded dragon feel at ease more quickly…

Reduce handling to a minimum

If you notice that your beardie is frightened by you in any way (i.e. trying to get away from you, acting defensive, hiding, etc.), then it is best if you avoid handling them all together until they feel more comfortable and fully settle into in their tank.

handling bearded dragon

For time reference, this process could be a period of up to an entire week.

Instead of immediately trying to handle them, try placing your hand in their tank with your palm up for several minutes at a time instead.

This will display to your dragon that you’re not going to hurt them and give them a chance to slowly (and comfortably) get use to you.  

Minimize Sensory Overload

Just as humans can become over-stimulated by their environment from excess noise, technology, and by being around large crowds, excess sensory intake for bearded dragon can cause them to feel overwhelmed which can ultimately lead them to become stressed out.

You can reduce your beardies reaction to sensory inputs (such as spectators) by covering the tank with a towel or getting a good background.

Get Them Used to Your Scent

Another way to help your beardie overcome relocation stress faster is to try and make them feel more comfortable with not only their environment, but you as their owner as well. This is also one of the many ways you can initiate bonding with your pet. 

Bearded Dragon with Sock in Cage

One way to do this is by get them use to your smell. Simply place an article of your clothing in their cage so they’re able to more quickly become familiar with your scent.

Give Them a Warm Bath

Consider welcoming them home with a warm and soothing 20-minute bath which will help keep them hydrated in addition to getting them clean.

Just make sure the water is between 85 and 92 degrees F and that you don’t get it in either their eyes or nose.

Also, something important to note here…when picking your beardie up to bathe, it is best to avoid reaching from above their head since doing so can startle them.

In the center of their head is a third eye which is capable of detecting both light and shadow that may cause them to mistake your hand as a threat.

bearded dragon getting a bath

Instead of the maneuver above, try picking them up from either their side or front.

Make sure that you’re also supporting their body, legs, and tail as beardies need to feel secure when being held.

Offer Food Daily

Consistently offering live food in addition to greens can really make a difference when it comes to destressing your beardie.

So, offer both even if they’re not consuming them or demonstrating any interest.

Hand feeding a bearded dragon

If crickets are your choice of food, then be sure to not leave any uneaten insects inside the cage.

Removing these crickets is best since they’ve been known to attack and nibble on beardies.

NO Roommates

If you already have a bearded dragon at home, consider keeping your new beardie in a separate tank as there are known issues such as bullying among dragons from sharing an enclosure.

Bigger beardies are capable of bullying other littler dragons by taking the best food or basking spots which can result in your new dragon feeling more stressed out.

bearded dragons in tank together

Use a Pleasant Tone

Did you know bearded dragons have excellent hearing? Speaking slowly and softly to them will come across as less frightening, intimidating, and overall calmer.

This technique is especially helpful as you advance towards their tank.

Doing so will give them the opportunity to know you’re there before they see you as to avoid creeping up on them.

Signs and Symptoms that Result from Relocation Stress

As mentioned before, common signs that result from relocation could include a darker beard and/or appearance in addition to not eating or pooping.

However, additional signs of relocation stress also include low activity levels/lethargy, smelly/runny poop, and hard urates.

Tips for Calming Down and Destressing Bearded Dragons

Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of how to deal with relocation stress, let’s discuss other common causes of stress amongst bearded dragons.

Not Offering a Large Enough Space

Like humans needing enough space to avoid feel closterphobic, bearded dragons also need adequate space to feel good about roaming around.

Bearded Dragon basking under lights

As your beardie gets older and grows bigger, they may not comfortably fit in the same cage they once had as a youth, so you may need to adjust.

It is recommended that you have a tank of at least 40 gallons if not bigger for adults since having enough space is crucial for a happy and healthy bearded dragon.

Click HERE to read about the best sized tank for a bearded dragon at any age

Not Avoiding Loud Noises

We know that beardies can hear very well.

This means that loud music, yelling, thunderstorms, helicopters, etc. can all have a large impact on your beardie’s health.

They are also immensely attuned to vibrations in addition to being able to pinpoint someone’s movement. 

Not Providing Enough Enrichment

Be sure you’re filling your beardie’s schedule with plenty enrichment opportunities like fun activities and toys to play with.

Failure to do so will result in a very bored and upset bearded dragon!

Click HERE to read about MUST Have Bearded Dragon Toys and Accessories

bearded dragon playing with a ball

Additional Factors that Contribute to Undue Stress:

  • Feelings of over stimulation
  • Not being given consistent food / feelings of being hungry
  • Extreme temperatures

Wrapping up Stress and Bearded Dragons

Knowing that your beardie could be stressed out is likely going to concern and worry you.

Although difficult, it is important to not give into the urge of wanting to tamper with your setup as this will potentially add to the confusion and further stress out your dragon.

Focus on keeping the lights and other accouterments inside of your tank in the same place and be sure to consistently offer both food and water.

It is crucial during this time that you keep a close eye on them as this is a very delicate time in their lives.

Any drastic changes or strange behavior should be taken seriously with a visit to the vet.

Read These Articles Yet?

How to Bond With Your Bearded Dragon

150+ BEST Bearded Dragon Names

Ultimate Bearded Dragon Care Guide

34 thoughts on “How to Quickly Calm Down and Destress Bearded Dragons”

  1. I don’t really know what to do saying that my Bearded Dragon keeps biting me and no matter what I try it doesn’t work.He won’t let me touch him, he won’t won’t let anyone get close to him.Ive tried a few different techniques but they don’t seem to work.

    Reply
    • Is the beard black, puffed up and aggressive, leave it alone, but keep a close eye as it is not stressed but territorial and annoyed so leave it be for a bit and it should be fine.
      (I know this was posted earlier but take that into account it’s not you fault but it feels paranoid and is feeling territorial as it may claim your house as territory)

      Reply
      • Hey, I am currently experiencing the same thing. My beardie was roaming around the room comfortably and with supervision. I opened the door and now she is puffed up with a dark beard. Any suggestions on how to get her back in her enclosure to calm her down?

        Reply
        • There something she doesn’t like in the enclosure/cage is the cage at least 40galloms minimum which by a year old should be upgraded to a 120 gallon tyoically 4-6 feet long. Also NO colored bulbs ever, and at night pure dark that’s how they like it. No heat lamps with color u don’t need anything I’m the summer unless u run he AC all nite then u can get a ceramic heat emitter and place to the left or right of where he sleeps because it gets hot. This emails heat but no light. Also no sand or coconut substrate use smooth shelf liner $10 at Target or wallmart beige is good NOT black. U need a clear basking bulb the ZooMed basking bulb is the best and it’s clear and u need a Reptisun in the back behind the heat lamp Reptisun 10.0 T5 worse case get the T8 if u can’t get the T5. U order it on amazon and it should cover 70
          Percent of the tank the UVb Reptisun. On 12-14 hours in summer and 10-12 in the winter both lights hea and UVb and turn it on and off same time everyday tyoically unless u end up feeding him later he needs to bask in the heat for 2 hours after eating!!! And baths twice per week for 15min in warm dechlorinated water buy reptisafe from our store 2drips for every cup in drinking and bathing water if u don’t have dechlorinated water!! Crickets and Dubia roaches only!! Never ever do meal worms it destroys their tummy! And greens/veggies a big plate everyday cut up into decent size pieces he can eat. Google staple freens and veggies 2-3 of each mixed a day. Dandelions, mustard/collard greens and endives and for veggies; damp peas, yellow squash, butternut squash and green beans.

          Reply
  2. I think your beardie is uncomfortable and is scared in the environment. Or he is not comfortable with human affection yet, my suggestions is to build up trust but don’t touch him when your bonding. When he is ready for the human affection, he will come to you. And he probably bites because he is hungry, territorial, frightened, or feel threatened.

    Reply
  3. Hello… my beardie still has the small stress marks on its belly. (Almost like leopard print) I’m really concerned. Shes also sleeping a lot, her sleep schedule is regular. I also put her on my chest and stroke her lightly.

    Reply
    • Hi Eliza!

      Mind answering a few questions for me to help me better understand what could be going on?

      1. What type (coil, compact, or bulb) and brand of UVB bulb are you using?
      2. What are her cage temps (basking spot and cool side specifically)?
      3. How old is she?
      4. Is she eating or has her appetite disappeared (could be that she’s getting ready to brumate)?

      Based on the little info I know, I would venture to guess she may be getting ready to brumate and you handling her could be stressing her out because she really just wants to be left alone to sleep. Please check out this article here to learn more about brumation.

      I hope you find this information helpful!

      Reply
  4. I tried the bath mixed with the toys and my beardie was perfect.I checked his stress marks before and after.his stress went down and I was so happy.I also used the water as a help with shed.I slowly talked to him in a sweet voice and he kept looking at me in awe (I think).I think this really helped! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Hi there, I’m a new beardie owner, I have a concern that all my beardie seems to be doing lately is trying to climb the side of the tank and never seems settled, I’ve tried picking him up on a few occasions but to not much success.
    Can someone please help me as I dont want a un happy dragon

    Reply
  6. PLEASE HELP ME! My bearded dragon has been running back n forth in her cage n she hasn’t done it in a long time. She didn’t start doing it until I got my new puppy, the puppy whines/ cry’s at night. I’m just so scared n worried about my beardie!! HELP!!

    Reply
  7. My breadie has been going crazy, and will only calm down for small periods of time during the day, He tears everything up. At night he calms down. Nothing in our house has changed. He 4. Holding, baths talking nothing works.

    Reply
  8. I have had him his name is Kevin for multiple months I haven’t relocated and he was doing just fine then all of a sudden he stopped eating and I thought maybe he was hibernating so I left him alone but still offered food a few days ago we got him active and able to poop then he closed his and hasn’t opened this is a sign of stress I really need to know how to help him I just gave him a warm bath got him to open them but when he got out he closed them again if he doesn’t open his eyes he won’t see his food and isn’t able to eat so PLEASE PLEASE HELP

    Reply
    • He is most likely brumating. it’s a bearded dragons way of hibernating. Be sure to have a safe hiding spot in your tank where he can go and sleep. Dont worry, if brumating is what’s happening then everything is ok.

      Reply
  9. Hi there!
    I’m in the market for a beardie and have been doing a lot of reading up on how to best care for them. While I feel I’m mostly prepared, one of my roommates yells a good deal and I worry that will inhibit my dragon from ever becoming accustomed to its new environment. If this was a common occurrence (she usually yells within the 6pm-8pm area, weird with and without context), would the dragon get used to it? Or should I try to figure something else out?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Hi my name is Jordan and I recently got a baby bearded dragon and he is still a baby but I only have a 10 gallon size tank but for a baby I think I should be good for now but all he does is sleep, doesn’t eat at all, and the most concerning part is when he does wake up he flips out for like 5 seconds the falls asleep again I really need help because I don’t know what to do

    Reply
    • 10 Gallon is too small. A baby bearded dragon should be in a 40 gallon tank at least. The sleeping could be from incorrect heating or bulb watts or low uvb light.

      Reply
  11. I recently had to move my beardie out of my place at school and to my dads house because of the recent events. She has been very skiddish lately which is so not like her. She has very dark marks on her beard and chest. I think it’s the new environment that has scared her but it’s already been almost a week and a half. I’m not sure what to do. Help!

    Reply
    • Also she eats and everything just fine she’s just acting very strange. Possibly due to new noises. Dog barking, kids, etc.?

      Reply
      • Hi Alex!

        Yes, chances are it is the new environment. If you can, try to eliminate or minimize everything that could be stressing her out. I’d recommend keeping her enclosure in a room where she can’t see the dogs or kids, perhaps a bedroom or home office where it’s more quiet? Also, it wouldn’t hurt to ensure her cage temps are spot on as the last thing you’ll want to deal with is a stressed and unhealthy beardie!

        And just in case you need a refresher on what proper temps should be, I have a really thorough bearded dragon lighting and temperature guide article you can check out.

        Reply
  12. I recently got a baby beardie about 4 days ago. It has eaten little and the most it’s eaten in one sitting was 5 crickets. It’s now day four and it’s been black for most of the day. I’ve given him a bath, offered him food/water and tried petting his head and handling him a little throughout the morning but no it’s hidings in his cave. I’m pretty sure he is dealing with relocation stress and I’m not entirely sure how to properly reduce that.

    Reply
  13. Hi Stacey. Great info…especially how to get a beardie to come on you. I’m going to try it tomorrow…maybe. I’ve had a 10 week old, for 2.5 weeks, and he/she is not not aggressive at all, but scared of me. He really doesn’t mind being picked up, but under his tummy and beard has circles of a darker color. I was told that it means he is stressed. I have a high level of energy and I’m wondering if that’s the issue. I’ve tried moving slower, but he’s still nervous. He watches me and if I start to approach, he goes into flight mode. He locks eyes on me and I know he doesn’t want me to go near him. It makes me sad as I adore him already. I’ve done the hand feeding and he does that fine. I don’t want to give him back to the breeder, but I truly feel he doesn’t want me near him. Could it mean he really doesn’t like me…because of my energy? Also he eats pretty well, his vivarium has the correct temps and he doesn’t appear to be sick. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
  14. I have an adult beardie who all of the sudden started showings signs of stress like wall surfing, hiding more, pooping a lot more, and she also isn’t eating her greens. I’ve tried a lot of things not only on this website but others too. If anyone has any tips please let me know.

    Reply
  15. Hi, so I have a female beardie whose a year old, she also has a male with her and has had 3 clutches of eggs within 7 months but she has been hiding in this cave decoration i got and is showing aggression and has been for 3 days. She hasn’t came out yet. She never shows aggression cause she’s sweet. Idk if she is stressed or dying and if she is stressed Idk y. Can u help?

    Reply
  16. Hello. Our bearded dragon, Kiwi, is definitely sick. She has an infection with a growth on her throat. The vet isn’t available to us right now. She’s been on her prescribed antibiotics for 11 days (the vet had us start a second round of ten days). The infection area is better, but not gone. She is super sleepy (sleeping all day and all night without breaks) and won’t eat (this started with the antibiotics). She’s also dark almost all the time. Sometimes it even seems like she’s fighting sleep, but can’t keep her eyes open. Is it the meds? We only could talk to a receptionist who gave more antibiotics through the doctor. They are backed up from the start of the pandemic. Any help would be appreciated!

    Reply
  17. my friend just recently gave me his bearded dragon because he wasn’t spending enough time with it. this is my first day having him. He didnt eat anything today and wasn’t moving much. is this normal ? what would help ?

    Reply
  18. Hello, so I’ve had my baby bearded dragon for about a week. He was doing fine; he was eating and pooping everyday. But since last night he’s been acting scared of me. For the past 3 days I’ve been trying to give him water through spinach and been trying to get him to eat it and he was drinking the water but he won’t even do that anymore. I did give him 3 mil worms today but he only ate one of them. I’m not sure what to do. So being that he’s scared every time I come near the tank I stopped going near him for the rest of the day. I’m scared he’s going to starve himself

    Reply
  19. I was experimenting with my baby bearded dragon, and he doesn’t do much with him watching me. So what I did is lied down beside his cage and I closed my eyes and kept one open a little. After waiting a short while he ran up to the cage and started scratching at the cage right where I was laying, so I opened my eyes and let him out of his cage. When I closed my eyes again, leaving my eyes open a little, he ran up to me and I think he tried to bite my nose, I think he either, one, tried to attack me when he thought I was asleep, two, he was trying to wake me up, or three, he was trying to play. I would like to know if he was trying to attack

    Reply
  20. first time poster,

    My beardy was out of the enclosure for some exercise and got stuck underneath a electric baseboard heater (it was off), i believe the dragon hurt some scales on its back a bit while it was stuck. i took great care getting him out.
    As soon as i got him out, he started panicking, He went fully black ( no bear or hissing) then tried to run right back to under the baseboard. I grabbed him and put him back in his enclosure and hes very black and looking at me like im trying to kill him.

    Please advise on what the bearded dragon might be experience and how i can help him.

    Reply
    • I don’t know much about beardies- but perhaps it could be shock? Just being logical- like if you got stuck and didnt know how and then was pulled out- how would you react? and let’s think- they’re animals- Maybe try calming it down a bit?

      Reply
  21. Hello! Before I say this- if you want to respond please email me or message me on Discord at- Vel#4905.

    I’ve had my beardie for 2 years (3 on christmas 2020) and.. I havent taken good care of her. I know that. I’m a bad owner and I want to do better, so I got money and got her proper accessories and such for her tank, and me and my mom are also working on a new tank for her, as we have a 10 gal (she isn’t very big- but big enough for a 20 gal, 40 prolly) I have been giving her baths now, and taking better care. She’s a Standard incase it matters- but she doesn’t want to trust me.. I know I have to let her get used to me, and reading this helped, I will put a piece of my shirt into her enclosure, and make sure I approach her differently. She seems quite stressed. I got to this page by looking up- “What does it mean if my beardie has a small kink in their tail, and it is black”

    We haven’t taken her out of her tank- (for context, we own a small Pitbull, who is a sweetheart who wouldnt hurt a fly. a Tortoise shelled calico who is indoor/outdoor and will kill anything that breathes.) – so I’m not surprised she isn’t used to being handled. She doesn’t struggle/squirm much when I take her out to bathe, and she’s quite docile until I turn her on her back, or try to clean her front talons (claws?) then she whips at me with her tail. I try to make sure I don’t lay her *flat* on her back in my palm, but for hold her in an upright position- is this good for her? I want to be a better owner- so any tips would be much appreciated!! Any tips on taking her out of her tank? Her harness should be here soon (it’s too cold here atm- so I cant take her outside yet- it *is* fall in PA) Should I soak her for 20 minutes and make sure she’s pooped, then put on her harness on and try to bond?? Any help will be appreciated! please please PLEASE dm me on Discord or Email me! Because I won’t see anything posted here!

    Discord- Vel#4905
    Email- starflowerwarrior@gmail.com
    Twitter- @VHivewing

    I really want to be a better person for my lizard.

    Reply

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