Why Do Bearded Dragons Lick?

If you’re a bearded dragon owner, you’ve likely witnessed your pet’s peculiar behavior of licking. But have you ever wondered why they do it? Understanding why bearded dragons lick is crucial in ensuring their overall well-being and happiness. In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons why these reptiles engage in this behavior, from exploring their environment to communicating with other animals.

First off, let’s get acquainted with these fascinating creatures. Bearded dragons are native to Australia and are known for their unique appearance, docile temperament, and relatively easy care requirements. They belong to the genus Pogona and are commonly kept as pets due to their friendly nature and adaptability to captive environments. However, even though they may seem simple to take care of at first glance, there are many nuances to owning a bearded dragon that can affect their quality of life – one being understanding the reasons behind their licking behavior. So buckle up and get ready for an informative ride on the world of bearded dragon licks!

Overview of Bearded Dragons

You might be wondering, ‘What are bearded dragons?’ Well, they are fascinating creatures that make great pets. Bearded dragons are a type of lizard native to Australia. They can grow up to two feet long and live for up to 15 years in captivity if well taken care of.

Bearded dragon habitats vary depending on their natural environment. In the wild, they live in arid regions such as deserts and scrublands. As pets, they require a habitat with high temperatures ranging from 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and cooler temperatures at night. The enclosure should also have UVB lighting to mimic natural sunlight.

Feeding habits also play an essential role in keeping your bearded dragon healthy. A diet consisting mainly of insects like crickets and mealworms is ideal for young dragons while adults can eat more vegetables like kale, collard greens, and squash. It’s important to provide fresh water daily, but misting the enclosure will also help keep your pet hydrated since bearded dragons don’t drink water directly from a dish very often.

Providing proper housing and nourishment is crucial when it comes to caring for your pet bearded dragon. Understanding their natural habitat and feeding habits will ensure that they remain healthy and happy throughout their lives in captivity.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Lick?

The Importance of the Tongue

Get ready to discover the crucial role that their tongue plays in a bearded dragon’s daily life. A bearded dragon’s tongue is a multi-functional tool that helps them hunt, explore and communicate. It has several sensory receptors on it that allow them to detect taste, texture, temperature and even smell.

The anatomy of their tongue is unique as it is bifurcated or forked, allowing them to capture prey with ease. The tip of their tongue is sticky and covered with small projections called papillae which help in grasping insects. They also have the ability to retract their tongues into a sheath located at the back of their throat when not in use.

Licking behavior in other reptiles suggests that they use their tongues for thermoregulation or regulating body temperature. Bearded dragons may do this too as they are cold-blooded animals and need external heat sources to maintain optimum body temperature. Additionally, licking can also be a means of communication between individuals as well as marking territory through scent glands located on the roof of their mouth. So next time you see your bearded dragon sticking out its tongue, know that it’s not just for show but serves an important purpose!

Exploration and Information Gathering

Exploring the world around them, your bearded dragon’s tongue is a vital tool for gathering information about their environment. As a reptile, they rely on sensory input to learn about the surrounding areas. By using their tongue, they can taste and smell objects in their environment. This allows them to explore and gather information about their surroundings in a way that is unique to their species.

Environmental enrichment is an important factor when it comes to exploration and information gathering for bearded dragons. Providing different objects and materials in their habitat can stimulate their senses and encourage natural behaviors such as digging, climbing, and exploring. Adding rocks of varying sizes or changing the layout of their enclosure can provide new opportunities for them to learn about their surroundings.

Sensory stimulation is also crucial for bearded dragons’ development when it comes to exploration and information gathering. Different textures, sounds, temperatures, and scents can all contribute to how they perceive the world around them. By providing various stimuli, you are allowing your pet to have a more enriched experience that will improve cognitive abilities as well as overall health and wellbeing.

Behavioral Triggers for Licking

When it comes to understanding why your bearded dragon is licking, it’s important to consider the potential behavioral triggers that could be causing this behavior. Curiosity is a common reason for licking, as bearded dragons are naturally inquisitive creatures who use their tongues to explore new objects and environments. Additionally, hunger or thirst can also prompt your dragon to lick surfaces or even their owner’s skin in search of food or water. By paying attention to these behavioral cues, you can better understand your pet’s needs and provide them with the care they require.

Behavioral Triggers for Licking


You’re probably wondering why your bearded dragon is always licking everything, but did you know that this behavior is often driven by sheer curiosity and can occur up to 50 times a day? Bearded dragons are naturally curious animals and use their tongues as a way to explore their environment. When they come across something new, they will often lick it to gather information about the object’s texture, taste, and smell.

To better understand this behavior, let’s take a look at the relationship between licking and body language. As shown in the table below, different types of licks can convey different messages. For example, if your bearded dragon licks its lips after eating, it may indicate satisfaction or contentment. On the other hand, if it repeatedly licks its nose or face while basking under its heat lamp, it could be a sign of discomfort or stress. By paying attention to your pet’s body language and understanding what their licking behavior means, you’ll be able to provide them with better care and keep them happy and healthy.

Type of LickMeaningExample
Lip LickingSatisfaction or ContentmentAfter Eating
Nose/Face LickingDiscomfort or StressBasking Under Heat Lamp
Self-Grooming LickHygiene MaintenanceCleaning Scales/Claws


If your bearded dragon is licking you or objects around its enclosure, it could also be a sign of hunger. Bearded dragons are diurnal animals and are known to have a hearty appetite. Understanding their feeding habits and digestive system can help you determine if they’re hungry or not.

Bearded dragons have a unique digestive system that allows them to eat a wide variety of foods, including insects, fruits, vegetables, and even small vertebrates like mice. They have strong jaws that can crush the exoskeletons of insects and sharp teeth that can tear through flesh. When hungry, they will actively search for food by moving around their enclosure and rubbing against their food dish. It’s important to offer them an appropriate amount of food based on their age, size, and activity level to ensure they receive proper nutrition without overfeeding them.


Proper hydration is crucial for the overall health and well-being of your bearded dragon. These creatures require access to fresh water at all times, as dehydration can lead to serious health problems. In addition to drinking water, bearded dragons may also get hydration from the food they eat. However, it’s still important to make sure that they have a source of clean, fresh water available.

Be aware of your dragon’s drinking habits and monitor their water consumption closely. It’s recommended that bearded dragons drink about 10-20% of their body weight in water every day. If you notice that your dragon isn’t drinking enough or seems dehydrated, it’s important to take action immediately by offering them more water or taking them to see a veterinarian if necessary. Proper hydration is key to keeping your bearded dragon healthy and happy!

Health Considerations

When your bearded dragon licks you, it’s important to remember that their tongues serve a variety of purposes. One of the most crucial is to test the temperature and texture of objects. This means that when your beardie licks you, they’re not necessarily trying to communicate anything specific. Instead, they may simply be checking out what you feel like!

However, it’s worth noting that there are some health considerations associated with bearded dragons licking. For example, poor oral hygiene can lead to bacterial infections in your pet’s mouth. This can cause problems ranging from bad breath to more serious issues like gum disease or abscesses.

To prevent these issues from developing, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene for your bearded dragon. This might include brushing their teeth regularly (using a soft-bristled toothbrush and reptile-safe toothpaste), as well as providing them with plenty of fresh water to drink. Additionally, you should keep an eye out for any signs of infection or other dental problems – such as redness or swelling around the gums – and schedule an appointment with a veterinarian if necessary.

While bearded dragons lick for many reasons (including testing temperature and texture), there are also important health considerations associated with this behavior. By practicing good oral hygiene and monitoring your pet’s dental health closely, you can help ensure that they stay happy and healthy for years to come!

Social Interaction

Now let’s talk about social interaction with your bearded dragon. Bonding with owners is an essential component of keeping a happy and healthy pet, and bearded dragons are no exception. Regular handling, feeding, and playing will help establish trust between you and your dragon. Additionally, communication with other bearded dragons can provide important mental stimulation for your pet. If you have multiple dragons in the same enclosure or allow them to interact during playtime, keep an eye out for any aggressive behavior that may require separating them.

Bonding with Owners

By spending time with their owners, bearded dragons can become quite affectionate and may even lick them as a sign of bonding. This is because bearded dragons are social creatures that enjoy human interaction and crave attention from their owners. When they feel comfortable and safe around you, they will show affection by licking your hands or face.

To create a strong bond with your bearded dragon, it’s important to use training techniques that promote trust between you and your pet. Start by spending time with them every day, talking to them in a soothing voice and offering treats as rewards for good behavior. You can also try hand-feeding them to build trust or holding them close while you watch TV or read a book. Remember to always handle your bearded dragon gently and never force them into any uncomfortable situations. With patience and consistency, you’ll soon find that your bearded dragon is eager to spend time with you and show their affection through licks, cuddles, and playful behavior.

  • The feeling of warmth when your pet snuggles up against you.
  • The joy of watching your bearded dragon explore their surroundings.
  • The sense of accomplishment when your pet responds positively to training.
  • The comfort of knowing that your bond with your pet is growing stronger every day.

Communication with Other Bearded Dragons

Interacting with other bearded dragons can be a fascinating experience for owners, as they communicate through their body language. Bearded dragons use head-bobbing and arm-waving to convey different messages to other bearded dragons. For example, a dominant male may give a quick nod of the head while puffing up its beard to show its dominance over another dragon.

Another way that bearded dragons communicate is through scent marking. They have special glands on their hind legs that release pheromones, which can indicate their territory or signal mating readiness. This is why it’s important not to house multiple male bearded dragons together, as they may become aggressive towards each other due to territorial disputes. Understanding these communication methods can help you better care for your pet and ensure their happiness.

Read Also: Do Bearded Dragons Need A Hide?

Training and Conditioning

When it comes to training and conditioning your bearded dragon, it’s important to understand the principles of positive reinforcement. This means rewarding good behavior with treats or praise in order to encourage that behavior in the future. It’s also important to discourage undesirable behaviors by withholding rewards or using a firm but gentle approach. By consistently applying these techniques, you can help your bearded dragon develop good habits and become a well-behaved companion.

Positive Reinforcement

Using positive reinforcement, you can teach your bearded dragon to associate licking with good behavior and rewards. One effective training technique is to use treat rewards when your bearded dragon licks in response to a command or desired behavior. You can start by using small pieces of their favorite food as the reward, gradually decreasing the frequency of treats as they learn the desired behavior.

Another way to reinforce positive licking behavior is through physical affection. When your bearded dragon licks you or another object in a desirable manner, gently stroke their head or offer a chin rub as a form of praise. This will help them understand that their actions are appreciated and lead to more frequent repetition of the desired behavior. By consistently using positive reinforcement techniques, your bearded dragon will quickly learn that licking leads to good things, making it easier for you to communicate with and train them effectively.

Discouraging Undesirable Behaviors

To dissuade negative behaviors in your pet, try implementing behavior modification techniques that focus on training and promoting desirable actions. Bearded dragons are intelligent creatures that can learn from their experiences, so using positive reinforcement methods can effectively discourage undesirable behaviors.

One way to modify behavior is by rewarding good behavior. For example, if your bearded dragon stops licking when you offer a treat or praise, it will slowly learn to associate this action with positive consequences. Another way is to use deterrents such as loud noises or unpleasant smells when they exhibit the undesired behavior. However, it’s important to note that punishment should never involve physical harm or fear-inducing tactics as these can negatively impact your pet’s emotional well-being and trust towards you.

Using training techniques like positive reinforcement and effective deterrents can help discourage undesirable behaviors in your bearded dragon while promoting desirable actions. It takes patience and consistency but with time and effort, you’ll be able to train your pet into becoming a well-behaved companion.

Common Misconceptions

You might think that bearded dragons lick you because they’re thirsty or want to taste your skin, but these are common misconceptions. In reality, there are several reasons why bearded dragons lick people and objects around them. One reason is for communication; bearded dragons use tongue flicking as a way to communicate with other animals in their environment.

Another reason for licking is for exploration and gathering information about their surroundings. Bearded dragons have a highly developed sense of smell and use their tongues to collect scents from the environment. By licking objects and people, they gather information about their surroundings and potential prey or predators.

Contrary to popular belief, bearded dragon licking does not always mean affection or bonding behavior with humans. While some licks may indicate trust and comfort with their owners, other licks may simply be a natural behavior driven by instinctual needs for communication and exploration.

To better understand the various reasons behind bearded dragon licking behaviors, refer to the table below:

Reason for LickingExplanation
CommunicationBearded dragons use tongue flicking as a way to communicate with other animals in their environment
ExplorationLicking objects helps gather information about surroundings including potential prey or predators
Self-GroomingLike cats, some beardies groom themselves by licking
Taste TestingSome licks could indicate taste testing food or water sources

It’s important to understand that not all lizard behaviors are rooted in bonding or affection towards humans. Bearded dragons have complex communication systems that involve tongue flicking as well as scent gathering through licking objects around them. Knowing these behaviors can help owners better understand how to care for this unique species of reptile while also appreciating the cultural significance they hold in many parts of the world today.

Best Practices for Bearded Dragon Care

Proper care for bearded dragons involves providing them with a suitable habitat that mimics their natural environment. It is important to maintain the right temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions in their enclosure. Bearded dragons require a basking spot with temperatures between 95-105°F during the day, and cooler temperatures at night. They also need access to UVB lighting, which helps them produce vitamin D3 necessary for proper calcium absorption.

In addition to maintaining environmental factors, it is crucial to provide bearded dragons with a nutritionally balanced diet. Their diet should consist of both animal-based protein and vegetables. Some high-protein options include crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches. Vegetables such as collard greens, kale, squash, and bell peppers are great sources of vitamins and minerals. It is important not to overfeed or underfeed your bearded dragon as this can lead to health problems.

Lastly, regular check-ups with a reptile veterinarian can help ensure your bearded dragon remains healthy. They may recommend supplements or other treatments based on any deficiencies or health concerns found during an examination. By providing proper care including nutritional requirements and environmental factors, you can help ensure your bearded dragon lives a long and healthy life!

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of food should I feed my bearded dragon to encourage licking behavior?

Encouraging healthy eating habits in your bearded dragon is crucial for their well-being. Bearded dragons have dietary preferences like leafy greens, vegetables, and insects. Incorporate these foods into their diet to encourage licking behavior and a happy, healthy pet.

Can excessive licking lead to health problems for my bearded dragon?

Excessive licking can lead to health problems for your bearded dragon, such as dehydration and digestive issues. Preventing this behavior through environmental enrichment and proper diet can also improve their overall well-being and behavioral implications.

Is it normal for bearded dragons to lick each other?

Do bearded dragons lick each other? Yes, it’s a common part of their socialization and grooming behavior. They use their tongues to clean one another and show affection. It’s normal as long as there are no signs of aggression or dominance.

Can bearded dragons learn to lick as a trained behavior?

You can train your bearded dragon to lick as a behavior using positive reinforcement techniques. Start by observing their behavioral cues and rewarding them with treats when they perform the desired action. With time and consistency, this behavior can be learned.

Do bearded dragons only lick to gather information or do they do it for other reasons?

Bearded dragons use licking behavior for both communication and curiosity. Understanding their social dynamics through this behavior can reveal dominance, submission, and recognition of potential mates or threats. It’s a fascinating insight into these reptiles’ world.

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