Most times, new pet owners tend to shocked by the character exhibited by their pets. However, these behaviors are usually in response to one or more actions.
Just like dogs wag their tails and lizards nod their heads, bearded dragons open their mouth and often keep it open for longer period of time.
Reason Bearded Dragon Keep Their Mouth Open
The different postures or behaviors of reptiles can mean different things. One of such postures in bearded dragons is keeping their mouths open for a while.
A bearded dragon keeping its mouth open for a long time shouldn’t always be a cause for alarm. In this article, we discuss five reasons for this behavior.
– Regulate Body Temperature
Every animal has a way to regulate its body temperature. For example, humans sweat to cool off. Bearded dragons are not left out, and since they lack sweat glands, their body regulation mechanism is gaping.
Gaping is an act of thermo-regulation where bearded dragons leave their mouths open for some time.
It enables them to give off excess heat in the body and prevent it from becoming warmer than it ought to be. Therefore, gaping doesn’t signify discomfort; instead, it helps bearded dragons be at the best body temperature.
Bearded dragons are also likely to be seen gaping if they have been basking for some hours. While these reptiles are used to gaping, it is still essential to provide the right temperature for your bearded dragon.
– Stretching Their Beard
Just like most animals stretch from time to time, bearded dragons also need to move and stretch their body parts regularly. Therefore, another reason your bearded dragon would keep its mouth open is to stretch its beard.
This might occur because the reptile wants to stretch a muscle that has been inactive for some time. In other cases, bearded dragons might want to loosen the skin around the head and beard. When bearded dragons are yawning or seen with their beards up, it might seem a little alarming, but it is perfectly normal behavior.
– Mating Behavior
When bearded dragons are in their mating seasons, they tend to be aggressive. There are some periods in the year when bearded dragons would have their hormones raging.
During times like this, they tend to have their mouths open in an aggressive manner for no reason. They are also territorial and get aggressive when pets or people get anywhere close to their tanks.
In situations like this, you need to handle your bearded dragon with care as it can become aggressive to you as well. This behavior is totally normal and should be expected.
It is also important to note that you can do nothing about it, and once all the hormones are gone, bearded dragons would go back to their normal behavior.
– Sign of Aggression
Although bearded dragons are calm reptiles, they also tend to get aggressive due to one or more reasons. And a part of their aggressive behavior is opening their mouths.
Aggressive behaviors in bearded dragons can be caused by so many reasons, some of which are:
- Stress: because of new environment, transportation, handling.
- Another bearded dragon: when two or more bearded dragons are kept in a tank, it can cause them to become aggressive as each would strive to be dominant.
- Other pets: bearded dragons are not usually comfortable having other pets close to them, and this might cause them to become aggressive.
- Little objects: little objects like children’s toys can make bearded dragons freak out and become aggressive. Bearded dragons mistake these objects for predators.
Generally, bearded dragons get aggressive when they feel threatened, so they tend to puff out their chests and keep their mouths open.
To be sure your bearded dragon is just aggressive, other behaviors you would notice include hissing, black beard, leaping, and rapid head bobbing.
When bearded dragons feel threatened, it is advisable to remove the threat or move your bearded dragon to a safe place.
– Respiratory Infection
One alarming reason why bearded dragons keep their mouths open is if they have respiratory infections. Bearded dragons are often at risk of respiratory infections when the humidity is above forty percent for a long time. Respiratory infections can also be caused by poor ventilation and inadequate diet.
Bearded dragons are not accustomed to breathing moist air; hence, respiratory infections are likely to happen in humid regions.
To avoid respiratory infections, it is advisable to own a hygrometer to monitor humidity and avoid mosses in terrariums. For houses with high humidity, it is best to purchase a dehumidifier and have it in the room containing your bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons with respiratory infections might seem as if they are gaping all through. It’s in an attempt to breathe with their mouth and not a form of thermoregulation. Other signs that indicate your beardie has respiratory infections include:
- Appetite loss
- Mucus around the nose and mouth
- Reduced energy
- Difficulty in breathing
After confirming these symptoms, you need to get your bearded dragon to a veterinary as soon as possible.
Another concerning reason why bearded dragons leave their mouths open is as a result of bone disease. This disease is slack jaw and is evident when a bearded dragon finds it hard to hang onto food.
In this scenario, it is best to take the bearded dragon to a vet immediately to perform a blood test. Such a blood test is done to check the level of calcium present in the blood.
Bearded dragons with slack jaw should be fed with soft foods like wax worms and provided with adequate radiation.
Bearded dragons keeping their mouth open serves as a response to so many things. Most times, it is done to regulate their temperature; other times, it can result from stress, as a defensive mechanism, or as a result of illness.
It is extremely important to monitor your bearded dragon’s behavior, know the cause of every behavioral change, and address it. Also, ensure to provide adequate meals and supplements.