Bearded Dragons

Do Bearded Dragons Have Emotions? – Happy, Sad & Stressed

This question is a hard one to tackle, and definitely one that took a lot of research because honestly I wasn’t entirely sure how their brains work emotionally. So do bearded dragons have emotions, are they capable of having the same feelings as humans or other animals. To some extent yes. Beard dragons have a very narrow sense of emotion, like most other reptiles. However unfortunately they lack the heightened ability of emotion that animals such as dogs have towards humans. So if you’re looking for a pet that will show you a lot of love, then bearded dragons probably aren’t your best bet. However they do very much enjoy human interaction, but won’t openly show this like other pets can. 

(Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to find ‘Other related articles you might like’, once you are done reading).

Bearded dragons have a very undeveloped emotional system, and for this reason they do not have the same emotions as us humans. They have three very basic emotions which includes, Fear, Aggression and Pleasure. However I actually think there are four emotions, as Depression is definitely an emotion that bearded dragons feel, and absolutely one you as an owner should look out for. Follow the link to find out how to tell if your bearded dragon is happy.

It is believed these emotions are triggered by their natural instincts, depending on the environment which surrounds them. For example, if you took your bearded dragon out from its enclosure and into an environment which is unknown to them, they will naturally become more aggressive towards you and others in that situation. This is because it is natural for a bearded dragon to be defining and slightly more aggressive in an environment which they are unfamiliar with, as they do not know the dangers which could come from this new surrounding. 

The Hypothalamus

Bearded dragons do have emotions, and this is because they have a hypothalamus. What’s a Hypothalamus you say? Well, the Hypothalamus is a region of the brain which coordinates the activity of the pituitary and the autonomic nervous system. This controls aspects such as temperature, thirst, hunger and emotional activity. Therefore letting the body know when it needs food or drink for example.

Unlike humans, who can display different emotions to what they are actually feeling, bearded dragons emotions are genuine. They are always a true reflection on that specific animal. What I mean by this is that if you had two bearded dragons in the same enclosure, and one seemed sad and lacking in energy, the other may be the complete opposite, happy and full of energy. This is because they do not have the ability to mimic each other, they can not falsify or hide their emotions like humans can. 

It’s for this exact reason that bearded dragons also act in the same way in certain situations. It’s just how they have evolved over time. An example of this could be hoe unsocial bearded dragons are towards each other. They are naturally aggressive towards one another, which is completely natural. These are all emotional behaviours that have evolved through generations. 

Do bearded dragons have emotions – The four main emotions of bearded dragons

Fear 

Fear is a factor that a huge majority of animals feel. Specially if you’re not at the top of the food chain. Even then, there may be other life style factors which may bring a little fear into their lives. We know from research and studying bearded dragons that yes, they do fear. 

Bearded dragons don’t have a lot to fear other than predators. Snakes and birds of prey are a bearded dragons biggest threat in the wild. A bearded dragon is at most risk when out in the open or hunting for food, vulnerable to arial attacks. 

Other than that, bearded dragons are thought to be pretty fearless. They are arboreal, so they like to climb trees on occasions. This shows they are not thought to have a fear of heights. They enjoy a long bask in the sun, which is thought they have no fear of high daily temperatures. They have even been known to swim occasionally also, so do not have a fear of water.  

They’re actually pretty hardened reptiles, but we can tell their fear is present by their behaviours. Bearded dragons will be quick to find cover, or shelter when there is a fear of a predatory attack. They have no real means of defence, so taking cover is their best form of safety. 

Have a good sized hide for your bearded dragon to escape from any thought of danger.

Aggression

Aggression is basically the effects of a fear overload. Believe it or not, bearded dragons hate confrontation. Only in very serious circumstances will a bearded dragon actually become aggressive, for example if it feels its life is in danger, or the need to defend territory.

There are many ways in which you can tell if a bearded dragon has become, or is becoming aggressive. This emotion is unmistakable. The signs to look out for will include, puffy their beard out to make themselves looks bigger, Making a hissing sounds to warn off predators, Head bobbing (which is used to show they are ready to fight), Tails pointing to the sky, and Biting and lunging forwards. 

These are such obvious signs of aggression if you can’t tell this then you should really do some more research on your pet. If you see any of these signs, it is best to leave your bearded dragon alone for a few days without any interaction other than feeding. Maybe check their living conditions, as sometimes this can cause aggression.

Pleasure

The pleasure emotion is a bit more complex than the rest. Pleasure is a hard one to gauge. The only real pleasure that you see for bearded dragons is when they are mating, or interacting with their owners. Researchers believe this is all down to trust. If your bearded dragon feel completely safe and they enjoy the time which you spend with them, then this is thought to be a form of pleasure. 

There is one more factor in which I believe bearded dragons get pleasure and that’s basking and bathing. Bearded dragons love to bask. It’s basically a hobby for them. Although, yes, they do bask to heat their body temperature after the cold nights, I think they get some enjoyment from sunbathing, just like us humans do. Bathing is another factor though. You may commonly see your bearded dragon bathing in its water bowl, even though it may not to shedding. I can’t think of any other reason for this other than pleasure, to cool themselves down, so make sure you have a water bowl they can bathe in easily.

Depression

Commonly we think of depression as being a horrible combination of feeling sad and lonely. And yes, bearded dragons do get sad and lonely some times. But not for the same reasons as you an I would. 

Bearded dragons are very antisocial. In fact, they love to be alone. In the wild they will commonly separate themselves from other bearded dragons and only ever come together when they are sexually active. So loneliness towards other bearded dragons isn’t something they usually get upset about. (If you’d like to know more on housing two bearded dragons together, follow this link).

Depression for a bearded dragon can derive from factors such as, incorrect living conditions, unbalanced diet and boredom through lack of activity. These are all factors you should be keeping on top of as an owner to ensure the best living style for your bearded dragon and to keep them happy.

After searching and testing many different products, we have come up with our list of “Must Have” items for recommendations for both price, and durability for the best enclosure accessories.

Bathing Water Bowl – Click Here

Heat Mat – Click Here

Heat Lamp – Click Here

Reliable Thermometer – Click Here

Vivarium/Enclosure – Click Here

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