Before going into more details, I would like to reassure you that digging is a natural behavior found in bearded dragons. In the wild, bearded dragons often dig for many reasons but mostly to dig caves to hide in it. Forced by their instinct, they express digging behavior in captivity also. So being a novice beardie owner, if you first see your bearded friend digging, don’t panic; it’s perfectly normal, and you will also observe this behavior in the future.
However, you should be concerned and need to investigate the matter if your bearded dragon is expressing digging behavior too often or digging crazy. Now let’s find out why “My bearded dragon is Digging crazy” and how you can prevent this.
It’s Too Hot Inside The Enclosure
The most common reason that induces the hefty digging behavior in bearded dragons is that the temperature inside the enclosure is higher than it should be. When bearded dragons feel too hot, they try to dig out a burrow, where they can hide and cool down their bodies. The shallow burrow is usually 2-3 degrees cooler than the external environment in the wild. A too-hot beardie also shows some other signs like panting and avoiding the basking spot. (However, it’s imperative to understand that panting is generally a normal behavior. If your bearded dragon is resting in the basking area and is panting, he is just trying to maintain his body temperature within normal range).
How To Fix
If your bearded friend is digging too much, panting, and avoiding the basking spot, the first thing to investigate is the temperature inside the enclosure. Make sure to keep the temperature within the recommended range (95°F – 100°F). Also, check that well-defined basking and cool spots are present, and temperature gradient is maintained inside the enclosure.
Remember that tank size also matters because you will not be able to create a temperature gradient (and a cool spot) if the tank size is too small. Generally, an adult bearded dragon is recommended to be kept in a 55 – 70 gallon tank.
Small Enclosure (No Enough Space)
Tanks size is crucial when considering the well-being of bearded dragons. If the tanks are too small for your beardie and they don’t have enough space to move around, the beardies will dig to relieve boredom or to create some extra space for them.
How To Fix
Bearded dragons require a fairly large enclosure where enough space is available for them to roam after installing the necessary accessories. In addition, it will be difficult for you to maintain a proper temperature gradient in a smaller tank. Generally, a 55-70 gallon tank is recommended for an adult bearded dragon. So don’t hesitate to invest in a bigger chamber; after all, it’s a matter of your beardie’s well-being.
Preparing for Brumation
Hibernation in the reptile world is termed brumation. Usually, baby bearded dragons brumate more often and for a longer duration than adult beardies. So if the winter season is near and your bearded friend is digging, he may be preparing to brumate. They dig to create a hole or burrow where they can have a comfortable sleep. The objective of digging a hole is to protect themselves from predators and maintain their body temperature.
How To Fix
Since it’s a natural behavior, you must facilitate them to have a comfortable and disturbance-free sleep instead of preventing it. So once you see your bearded dragon is ready to bromate, ensure everything inside the tank is correct, and don’t allow kids or other pets to make noise near the tank.
Stress & Fear
Although it’s a less common reason, still stress or fear due to any reason can induce the digging behavior. Your beardie can easily get stressed or afraid if you introduce a new bearded dragon in the same chamber, add a new toy, children making loud noises, larger pets (like dogs or cats) moving around, etc. This is so because beardies are solitary animals by nature and don’t accept any other animal in their habitat or any change in their environment. Especially if you have installed a new ornament in the room, your beardie may take it as a predator and continuously be under stress or scared. A scared bearded dragon is more likely to begin digging.
How To Fix
If you notice that your bearded friend started digging after you made some changes, the solution is simple. Just undo the recent changes you have made and remove the factors that are making your beardie stressed and afraid. Remove any newly added toy, place the tank in a room away from children, dog, or cat access, and never place two beardies in a single tank.
Not Getting Enough Food
In the wild, bearded dragons usually dig in search of insects and other natural food to satisfy their appetite. So in captivity, one reason for digging could be that you are not offering them enough food, and they are digging to find some food. Generally, owners restrict their bearded friend’s diet to avoid obesity. However, obesity should not be a matter of concern unless your beardie is more than ten months old.
How To Fix
As mentioned above, you should not be worried about obesity before your bearded dragon reaches ten months of age. So as a thumb rule, you should allow your bearded friend to eat live insects at will for twenty minutes. Baby bearded dragons should be fed 4-5 times daily, and the frequency gradually decreases to once daily as they grow old.
Want to Hide
Every bearded dragon needs at least one hide inside the enclosure. Because instinctively bearded dragons tend to hide when they are stressed or afraid (for any reason), or sometimes they want to rest under a covered place for a while. So if a hiding spot is not available inside their chamber or its size is too small for them to hide comfortably, they will dig out to make a hide for themselves.
How To Fix
The primary step is to ensure that at least one hiding spot is available in the tank; it’s better if you have more than one. The size of the hiding area should be according to the size of your bearded dragon so that he can adjust inside comfortably. Experts recommend making a hole on the top of the hiding area to make sure that they get enough UVB light even when hiding.
You Have A Lady Bearded Dragons
Remember that lady bearded dragons can express digging behavior due to any reason mentioned above. However, they have an additional motive to dig out. When the laying season arrives, you will notice your female beardie digging anxiously. If they have not mated a male, Even then, they can lay infertile eggs, and it’s natural.
How To Fix
Since it’s a natural behavior, there is nothing to fix here. All you can do is help your bearded lady satisfy its instinct by using a good quality substrate that is easy to dig. Generally, experts recommend using excavator clay because it is near to beardie’s natural habitat. You can also place a separate laying box (having recommended substrate inside) in the enclosure.