Why Does My Bearded Dragon Puff Up At Me?

In addition to vocal communication, all animals use their physical gestures or body language to express their emotions under different circumstances. A pet owner can only ensure his pet’s physical and mental well-being if he understands his body language. 

Bearded dragons puff up very often, and it’s normal. However, novice beardie’s owners get worried or even scared when they first see their bearded dragon puffing up. Another amazing aspect of this behavior is that bearded dragons puff up in many different circumstances (for different reasons).

So after thorough research, I have compiled common reasons for “Why beaded dragons puff up” to help bearded dragon owners understand this behavior easily.

Stress, Fear & Aggression

Stress and fear are the most common reasons that make a bearded dragon puff up, and the condition is called “throat pouch.” Sometimes when they are stressed or afraid, their beards also turn black, and the condition is called “black bearded dragon.”

This mostly happens when bearded dragons are in a new home or unfamiliar environment. They may perceive even safe items (like a piece of cloth, toy, furniture, etc.) as a threat and puff up to overcome their fear, show aggression and feel safe.

Preparing To Shed

Shedding is a natural way for the reptile community to get rid of old skin and replace it with new skin. Rapidly growing baby beardies shed more often, while adults shed 3 to 4 times yearly. It has been found that both baby and adult beardies start puffing up when they are about to shed. However, in this case, their beards are not turned black, but the areas where shedding is going to begin will turn white.

Experts believe that bearded dragons puff up ahead of shedding to loosen the skin, speed up and aid in shedding.

To Show Dominance Or Attract Love mate

If a female beardie is around, the male bearded dragon generally puffs up to show his dominance. In addition, when they are ready to breed (usually one month after brumation), they puff up to attract females and to demonstrate that they are ready to mate. Females generally respond by waving arms or bobbing heads, and females rarely puff up to attract a male or show their willingness to mate.

Territorial Instinct

Bearded dragons are extremely territorial by instinct.So when they see another beardie (irrespective of gender) in their habitat, they puff up to let other members know that this place is mine. They accept female beardie only when they have a desire to mate. Occasionally, a large bearded dragon may adjust to a bearded baby dragon; however, the baby will constantly be under stress.

Bath Time

Bathing is another common situation in which you may often see your bearded dragon puffing up. While bathing, if the water is too deep for your bearded friend (above its shoulder level), he may puff up due to fear of drowning. At this moment, puffing also helps him to retain extra air inside his body and float. Another possible reason for puffing up during or after bathing is that the water was too hot or too cold, and your beardie is puffing up out of stress.

Meal Time

Meal time is probably the first occasion when most novice beardie’s owners first see their bearded dragon puffing up. Although no detailed research has been carried out on this topic, most experts believe that bearded dragons have the instinct to puff up while eating insects just to look bigger, dominant, and scarier to the prey.

It is also observed that sometimes while eating, bearded dragons also puff their belly and many experts believe that they show this behavior to create more space and consume as much food as they can due to their inherited wild instinct. They develop this instinct because in wild conditions, food is not as readily available as in captivity, and once they find it, they try eating enough that keep them filled for maximum time.

Happy & Comfortable

You may have observed that your bearded friend puffed up without any apparent reason while playing, eating his favorite food or when you approached them. If there is no sign of stress or threatening element, they puff up just to show you that they are happy and comfortable, so you can also sit, relax and enjoy watching your bearded friend.


Puffing is normal behavior that bearded dragons exhibit due to multiple reasons. So as a caretaker, you must understand the body language of your bearded dragon and the different conditions in which he generally puffed up. We are sure that the above points will help you discern “Why Does My Bearded Dragon Puff Up.”