Thanks to their calm temperament and friendly nature, bearded dragons make excellent pets. However, it does take a lot of caring and responsibility to look after one properly.
With so much responsibility, bearded dragon owners have to understand everything about their beardie in order to know how to keep them happy and why they might not be.
With bearded dragons having such unique behaviors, this can be quite tricky, so we want to help out.
One of the bearded dragons’ most interesting behaviors is digging, particularly when they do so at night.
This can mean a wide range of things, and it’s important we understand why so that we can ensure our bearded dragons are happy.
Therefore, in this post, we will take you through the 6 main reasons why bearded dragons dig at night. This will help you understand your dragon more and make things easier for you when identifying any behaviors.
If you want to learn more, make sure you keep reading!
1. Controlling Their Body Temperature
The first reason why your bearded dragon might dig through the night is down to its need to control and regulate the temperature of its body. Bearded dragons will often dig to regulate their bodies if they are too cold or too hot.
The reason for this digging is purely based on instincts. Your bearded dragon instinctively knows that by digging, they can reach the cooler ground.
As a result of this, you will occasionally see your beardie digging or scratching at the ground, so they can allow their body’s temperature to regulate when they’re too hot.
On the other side of things, your bearded dragon is also aware that they can cover themselves in the materials from the bottom of their enclosure to warm themselves up when they’re too cold.
Obviously, how they do this, and their success to do so, depends on the type of ground materials you’ve put into the tank.
Generally speaking, seeing your bearded dragon do this at night isn’t a problem. It is usually a sign that your dragon is being fussy. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still monitor the tank’s temperature regularly.
Do everything you can on your part to make sure the tank has a temperature of 70 to 75 °F. This will ensure your dragon is also comfortable.
Brumation is essentially the reptile’s version of hibernation. It is something that all bearded dragons kept as pets will do at some point in their lives.
If you spot your bearded dragon digging during the day or at night, it could be a sign that they are about to start their brumation.
When bearded dragons get themselves ready for brumation, it isn’t uncommon for them to attempt to dig a big hole. The reason for them doing this is that they want somewhere compact and safe to sleep.
They will do this to hide away from any predators and regulate their body’s temperature.
The most obvious sign of brumation is your bearded dragon continuously digging.
If they only dig for a few minutes, they might simply be controlling their body temperature. If they can be seen digging for long periods of time, they are probably starting to brumation.
There is absolutely nothing to worry about when your beardie starts brumation as it is completely natural for the species.
Having said that, making sure they have a good substrate in their tank is quite important. This will make digging a lot easier for them.
3. Laying Eggs
Another interesting reason why bearded dragons dig at night is that they are about to start laying eggs.
You might now be telling yourself your bearded dragon can’t be laying eggs as they can’t be pregnant, but the truth of the matter is, they don’t have to be.
Female beardies don’t have to be pregnant to lay eggs, so don’t be alarmed if you wake up one day and see some eggs.
Female bearded dragons that are about to try and lay eggs usually dig in a very erratic way. In fact, they will seem almost desperate in the way they dig.
Don’t panic if you see this as it is actually a fairly common behavior. It is also something you shouldn’t interrupt or stop.
If anything, you should actually try and make it a lot easier for them to dig a hole for their eggs. This can again be done by providing your bearded dragon with an appropriate substrate.
4. Finding A Comfortable Spot
One common reason for a bearded dragon digging at night is simply that they are trying to find a comfy position to sleep in.
Just like humans, bearded dragons have their own traits and personalities that affect the way they like to do things.
Like people, this means some beardies can easily fall asleep anywhere, while others have to be in a more comfortable, sometimes fussy position.
Bearded dragons digging to find a comfier sleeping position is effectively the same as us fluffing up our pillows before going to sleep.
Your bearded dragon might scratch and dig until they have successfully tucked itself into bed.
A clear sign that this is what your dragon is doing is that they only dug for a couple of minutes. Short periods of digging suggest they are trying to get comfy.
If your beardie has been digging for a much longer period of time, it is very likely they are displaying another behavior.
This might be something you have to keep a closer eye on.
5. Feeling Vulnerable
It isn’t uncommon for bearded dragons to feel vulnerable during the day or at night. As a result of feeling exposed, your bearded dragon might start to dig erratically in an attempt to hide away.
The reason for this is pretty simple. Wild bearded dragons frequently have to escape from predators. They do this by hiding under rocks, in small nooks and crannies, or by simply digging themselves a hole.
As a result of these wild behaviors, it is your bearded dragon’s natural instinct to do the same. This will usually lead to regular digging, so they can find a safer place to sleep.
If this happens regularly with your bearded dragon, it could be a sign that your beardie wants some extra protection in their enclosure.
To reduce how often your bearded dragon digs due to feeling exposed and vulnerable, why not kit their enclosure out with a variety of tunnels and hides?
These simple additions to your bearded dragon’s tank will make them feel much safer and less vulnerable, giving them less reason to dig at night.
6. Feeling Intimidated
The final reason in this post, and probably the one we want to try and avoid the most after feeling vulnerable, is when our bearded dragons dig as a result of feeling intimidated.
Feeling intimidated isn’t too different from feeling exposed, aside from the fact that intimidation can come from a number of different sources.
An intimidated bearded dragon will either choose between fight or flight when they are intimated. Which they choose will depend mostly on their individual personality traits.
Dragons that choose to fight might attempt to scratch and bite. Bearded dragons that choose to fly will most likely dig or find other means of escape in their enclosure.
The fear of intimidation in our bearded dragons is something we really want to avoid. The main reason for this is that it isn’t safe for them. Feeling intimidated puts your pet under a lot of stress and anxiety.
Apart from making them feel a lot unhappier, this can also impact the general health and well-being of your beardie.
We will look at the things that can intimidate your bearded dragon next.
What Could Intimidate Your Bearded Dragon?
Let’s take a look at the most common things that can make a bearded dragon feel intimidated. Doing so will give you a much better understanding of how to avoid making your bearded dragon feel intimidated.
Your Other Pets
A common cause of intimidation in pet bearded dragons is other pets in the house. Pets such as dogs and cats easily intimidate bearded dragons, making them feel very threatened.
While cats and dogs seem very cute and loving to us, to bearded dragons they are much bigger animals that come across as predators.
With this in mind, you should always try and keep your bearded dragon away from your other pets.
Other Bearded Dragons
Most people find this one quite surprising, but it is a very common cause of intimidation in bearded dragons.
If you have two bearded dragons and one or both of them can be seen erratically digging at night, this could be because they both feel intimidated by each other.
The main reason for this is again down to bearded dragon instinct. Bearded dragons, especially males, are very territorial, seeing other male dragons as a threat.
By removing one of your bearded dragons from the room, you can expect to see a drop in the amount of digging your dragons do.
Bearded dragons can also be easily intimidated by a change in scenery. This could be something as simple as moving a piece of furniture, moving their tank, or simply noises they wouldn’t usually hear.
Examples of new noises that could bother your bearded dragon include construction work or loud music.
All of these small changes can make your beardie feel extremely threatened. This can result in your bearded dragon looking to attack or hide away by digging.
You should always try to keep any changes away from your bearded dragon so that they can stay relaxed and happy in the environment they already live in.
Believe it or not, something as simple as toys can really rile up and intimidate your bearded dragon.
Your children’s toys are easily seen by the bearded dragon as a direct threat or predator. Aside from toys, small ornaments and decorations can also have the same effect.
This can result in your dragon feeling very overwhelmed, scared, and attacked. This could be why your bearded dragon digs at night. They simply want to find shelter where the toys can’t get them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Digging An Unhealthy Behavior?
Normally, it is completely fine for bearded dragons to dig and not something we would consider to be unhealthy.
Usually, a bearded dragon will only dig to get comfier, lay eggs, brumate, or regulate its body temperature.
Having said that, some reasons for digging can impact the happiness and general well-being of your bearded dragon.
A bearded dragon digging erratically for long periods of time could be showing signs of vulnerability or intimidation.
If this is the case, we have to be responsible owners and remove any threats that could be bothering the beardie. This could include other pets, another bearded dragon, or simply any loud noises.
While it might not be an unhealthy behavior most of the time, it is still important for owners to monitor their dragons to understand why they are digging.
For example, by ensuring the temperature of the tank doesn’t drop below 70 °F, we can ensure the dragon is only digging because they are fussy and not far too cold.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Digging At The Tanks Glass?
If your bearded dragon can be seen digging at the glass of its tank, it could be experiencing feelings of intimidation and vulnerability.
A bearded dragon scratching or digging at the glass is typically a tell-tale sign that the dragon wants to escape its tank.
This could be the result of them feeling exposed to predators, hence the desire to escape, or a result of something encroaching on their territory.
In terms of things that make them feel exposed or vulnerable, this could be down to a lack of cover in their tank, nearby pets, loud noises, or sudden movements.
The reason why your dragon might feel threatened and intimidated could be down to another bearded dragon being in the room, your other pets, or simply being in too small a space.
You should try your very best to work out why your bearded dragon is feeling stressed because if not dealt with correctly, they will be a lot less happy. They could also potentially hurt themselves by trying to get out of the tank.
How Do I Stop My Bearded Dragon From Stressing?
Stopping your bearded dragon from stressing is crucial if you want them to live a happier lifestyle. Luckily, it isn’t actually that difficult to do.
There is a wide range of different things you can try to make your bearded dragon feel better, but before you try anything, you should try your best to work out why they are feeling stressed.
Once you’ve worked out what it could be, you can start trying to solve the problem.
If your beardie is feeling intimidated, this could be something as simple as removing other pets from the room, ensuring there aren’t two bearded dragons near each other, keeping the room nice and quiet, and guaranteeing you don’t startle your dragon.
If he/she is showing signs of vulnerability, you could make the situation better for your bearded dragon by giving them plenty of space to hide away.
This will reduce how vulnerable they feel and make sure they feel much more comfortable in their tank.
Finally, you can actually de-stress your bearded dragon by simply comforting them with a calm voice. This will help reassure your bearded dragon that everything is okay.
Bearded dragons are beautiful reptiles with docile and friendly temperaments. They also have plenty of unique behaviors that can make them quite hard to understand.
However, as bearded dragon owners, we have a responsibility to ensure we know as much as we possibly can about why our dragons do certain things.
In this post, we have taken an in-depth look into why bearded dragons dig. We have shown you how digging is usually perfectly natural and has nothing to worry about.
We have also shown you the negative reasons why bearded dragons dig occasionally.
While there’s generally nothing to worry about, by understanding our bearded dragons better, we can ensure they are always 100% comfortable in their tanks and only dig to regulate body temperatures, lay eggs, or start brumation.
Now you have all of this information at your disposal, take time to observe your bearded dragon so that you can understand why they are digging.