Bearded dragons are popular pets for people who love reptiles, but you have to remember that their life in the wild is much different than their life in your home where they’re kept in a cage all the time. One of the biggest problems is that in the wild, bearded dragons are constantly stimulated and have a lot of things to do, mainly due to the need to hunt and search for food to eat.
When they’re in a cage or tank, they have very little to do, so yes, bearded dragons can get depressed, and it is mostly due to lack of stimulation.
Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Get Depressed
A sad bearded dragon can make the pet parent sad as well, but before learning what to do about the problem, it’s good to know some of the reasons why they get depressed in the first place. Below are four of the most common reasons why bearded dragons get depressed.
More than one bearded dragon in a tank. Bearded dragons are not social creatures, and if you put another bearded dragon in the tank with your beardie, they will not like it. Having another beardie nearby can cause a bearded dragon a lot of stress and anxiety, which can easily lead to them becoming depressed.
A small tank. We mentioned that beardies need stimulation, and that is nearly impossible when your bearded dragon is housed in a very small tank. Remember that they experience a lot of movement when they’re in the wild, but a small cage causes them to sit still and do nothing for long periods of time.
Lack of stimulation inside of the tank. Not only should a bearded dragon have a large tank, but it should be filled with things such as plants, stones, and rocks, as well as numerous toys and playthings. Remember that beardies don’t like to just sit there and do nothing all day, so make sure that they have things to play with and to do.
Lack of stimulation outside of the tank. If you take your bearded dragon out regularly and let them roam and search for food outside, they’ll love it. You’ll have to watch them, of course, to keep them safe, but this is a great way to make sure that they are properly stimulated and get to enjoy a habitat that is familiar to them.
All of the reasons why bearded dragons get depressed center around one thing: lack of stimulation. Give your beardie plenty to do and make sure that they are alone in their spacious cage, and you should have a happy bearded dragon at least most of the time.
Ways That You Can Cheer up Bearded Dragons
It may sound silly, but you can indeed cheer up a bearded dragon that is depressed. Much the same as humans, there are simple ways to make a beardie a little happier, and below are four of those ways.
Remove any overloading of light and sound. If you occasionally cover your bearded dragon’s cage with a blanket to remove any overdoing it when it comes to light and sound, it will give them the chance to calm down a bit. If you warm the tank first and turn off the lamp beforehand so no overheating occurs, this method is even more effective.
Let them become familiar with your scent. The more your bearded dragon is used to you, the less likely it is that they’ll become depressed. Place your hand in front of their face with your palm up to let them get familiar with your scent. Do this several times a day and when they are finally used to your scent, you can use that trait to get them to calm down periodically.
Stroke their head gently. This method won’t work with aggressive bearded dragons, but it should work for most of them. Stroke their head occasionally from their nose to their crown, but do it gently. Also, make sure that you do not touch their eyes. This works for mild depression but not necessarily for severely depressed animals.
Give your beardie a bath. While bearded dragons cannot tolerate a lot of water, an occasional short bath with only one or two inches of water can help with their depression. Make sure that the water is warm, around 90 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Let them rest in the water for a few minutes, and never let the water itself reach the beardie’s eyes or mouth.
Other Things That You Need to Know
At this point, you might be wondering how common it is for bearded dragons to get depressed. Fortunately, the answer is, not very often. In fact, it is not super common for beardies to get depressed, but if you know what to do ahead of time, you can actually prevent the depression from happening.
Tips include providing them with a large tank that copies their natural habitat, giving them lots to do while they’re inside of that tank, letting them spend a certain amount of time each day in the outdoors, and making sure that they get enough mental stimulation each and every day.
And how do you know if your bearded dragon is depressed? You’ll notice it mostly because of changes in their behavior. For instance, if they show no interest in eating or drinking their water, if they sit still all the time and are lethargic, or if they are losing weight, this could mean that they are depressed. The thing is that the only way you’ll know for sure is to take them to the vet. While the methods mentioned above for cheering up a beardie will help, this doesn’t take the place of a real diagnosis from a qualified veterinarian.
The vet is also likely to give them a certain medication that will help, as well as help you determine what you should do next. If you think that your beardie could be depressed, take them to the vet before you start practicing measures that you think will make them happy. It’s usually better to get the vet involved before you start doing anything on your own simply to prevent it from being too late. This is because if not treated properly, your beardie might even die.