Bearded dragons are often hailed as one of the most intelligent reptiles, just behind some lizards.
Do bearded dragons behave like mammals? Do they respond to training? It is possible to train them?
This article will look at the intelligence of bearded dragons and answer these questions.
How smart are bearded dragons?
Bearded dragons may be less intelligent than some lizards, but these reptiles are equally smart.
- They can learn to solve problems and are capable of imitating other bearded lizards (an intelligent skill thought to belong to mammals of higher cranial capacity).
- Bearded dragons can tell if you are their owner or a person who feeds them. They will be happy or sad, depending on how they feel about you.
- They can be trained with actions (patterns and routines) like a head pat or push-ups and feeding time to reinforce desired behaviors.
Related: Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink Care.
How Smart are Bearded Dragons? Research
While humans may have once been the only species capable of imitation, new research has shown that some lizards are on equal footing with us in the intelligence department.
- The University of Lincoln, U.K research aimed to provide a better understanding of the intelligence of bearded dragons – through imitation testing.
The bearded dragons were studied while in terrariums. They were offered a wire door and get to the sumptuous mealworm.
- Group 1 – One bearded dragon was shown a video where another bearded dragon was opening the wire door from the left
- Group 2 – Another bearded dragon was shown a video where another bearded dragon was opening the wire door from the right
- Group 3 – Another bearded dragon was shown a video where a human being was opening the wire door
- Control group – Four bearded dragons didn’t get any video instruction on how to open the wire door
The results and conclusion?
- Group 1 and Group 2 (shown videos of other bearded dragons opening the wire door) acted in exactly the same way and even followed the direction used in opening the door in the video.
- Group 3 – But bearded dragon showed a video of human beings opening the wire door didn’t open the door; i.e. no imitation observed.
- Finally, in the control group (the bearded dragons were not shown any videos) and the finding was that they did not learn door opening.
- Bearded dragons are clever animals and they can learn from one another especially through imitation.
- Bearded dragons use their intellectual ability to imitate other bearded dragons better than they can mimic humans.
- It took about three weeks for bearded dragons to understand and imitate the video instruction.
Intelligence Signs? – Recognize owners or Feeders, Feeding-time Routines
Bearded Dragons are smart; they learn and recognize their owners or people who feed them by use of sight, smell, pleasure, or anger.
The research showed that bearded dragons are intelligent as they can imitate other bearded dragons.
- But people with Bearded Dragons pets have seen other smart things they do for a long time.
- A lot of animals kept as pets learn patterns and routines.
They are more intelligent than other reptiles like geckos, Gila monsters, or Komodo dragons.
Bearded dragons are highly motivated by food; they’ll remember and adhere to feeding-time routines.
- Once the owner enters its cage, the Bearded Dragon smells his/her presence and while using its sight it’s able to recognize the owner/feeder – you will fill Bearded Dragon approach him/her on entering the cage.
- It relaxes and also enjoys the pleasure of being held by the owner without resistance.
When it’s mealtime, bearded dragons usually gravitate to the same spot as their food bowls – if you position it at a single location in their enclosure.
- You can teach your bearded dragon to come when it hears its name, by calling them before they eat.
- Also, the bearded dragon associates its human owner with pleasurable experiences, such as and eating.
Bearded dragon has great animal intelligence; they’ll acknowledge waving and nodding by humans or bearded dragons because they understand that these gestures are signs of politeness, even though they don’t have the ability to speak.
On the contrary, the Bearded Dragon would not resist any presence of an intruder in its cage who is not the owner/feeder or someone or an animal who caused them a painful or bad experience.
- In fact, Bearded Dragon may generate anger (an aggressive posture) and begin to run away, or even attack.
Therefore, have a cover or screen on the reptile’s enclosure, so that it can hide from any intruder who is not the owner/feeder.
- Also, don’t the bearded dragon be out of their cage without supervising them.
Related: What Does Leopard Gecko Eat?
Can I Train My Bearded Dragon?
First, dragons are not difficult to train on routine including potty training. But they won’t perform tricks like cats or dogs.
- Keep in mind that your bearded dragons are much less intelligent than iguanas and tegus.
You can also train Bearded Dragon. The experiment carried out by researchers at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom shows that a Bearded Dragon was able to be trained and learn how to open doors to access its food.
This was achieved by placing Trained Breaded Dragon with untrained ones. When untrained Bearded Dragons saw trained ones open the door to access food, they were also able to open too.
In fact, these animals are able to imitate other reptiles (bearded dragons) and practice the learned skills – but their learning time varied.
In the previous section, we discussed how bearded dragons respond to both negative & positive daily experiences.
- The best way to keep your bearded dragon from associating you with fear, anger, or pain is by giving it positive attention.
So, keep your beardie happy by giving him food like super worms and mealworms.
Related: Can Bearded Dragons eat tomatoes?
How to Tame your Bearded Dragon
First, the sign of stress in most bearded dragons are:
- Hiding from other bearded dragons or you
- Their beard turning dark-colored
- Having an expanded or frilled beard
- Bobbing their head
It is possible to train your Bearded Dragon so that it may conform and respond to some activities you may desire. Such activities may include:
- Recognizing its name/sound.
- Accessing a place to take their food.
- Recognize their owner or people who feed them.
- Locate a place to poop/excrete.
- Wave to people/visitors.
- Escape danger.
To achieve these skills in the Bearded Dragon, you must train one skill for a given period of time. It is not possible for the Bearded Dragon to master all these skills simultaneously.
Normally, Bearded Dragons are shy by nature. It won’t be possible to train them in any of the above skills until you create a close bond between you and Bearded Dragon. To do this, you will need to carry out the following steps for your newly acquired Bearded Dragon:
- Once you bring a new Bearded Dragon in your home, allow it to have its free time without touching it. Feed it from a distance so that you don’t create tension or fear. Ensure it is living in a large enclosed place.
- Start to Hand Feed your Bearded Dragon. This will make your Bearded Dagon get free and comfortable with your touch. It will also boost its trust in you. Bearded dragons are normally harmless – they may not bite you when hand feeding.
- Make sure you spend a lot of time in the cage where the Bearded Dragon lives. You can be there cleaning, making its sleeping place, or feeding it. This will create recognition with time.
- Allow the Bearded Dragon to move about in an enclosed cage for some hours. This can be done effectively by setting up little food in bowls at various points to attract its movement. Keep watch from a distance to see if it has any signs of stress (showing an aggressive posture).
- Once you realize that your Bearded Dragon is now free with you, pick it with your hand and softly rub its back softly to kill its tension or fear. Do not lift the Bearded Dragon from behind – this may make it get angered or generate fear. Never raise it up by the tail – it may startle. The tail of the Bearded Dragon does not grow back once cut. Slowly and calmly pick your Bearded Dragon from the front and support its trunk gently. In case it reacts restrictively, taps its back softly as you tend to put it on the ground.
- Further, calm your Bearded Dragon until it’s stress-free. This will be shown by indicators such as warm relaxations and lack of aggressiveness.
Once you are able to handle your Bearded Dragon with your hands freely without it reacting, then it will be easier for you to train it other skill as indicated above through the use of Conditioned reflex action.
- Every time you handle your bearded dragon, try to get in the habit of washing your hands; you don’t want to pass salmonella on to your pet.
- Bearded dragons have an exceedingly high tolerance for pain, so never attempt to restrain them by grabbing their tail.
- To reassure them, stroke their backs.
Can you Potty Train the Bearded Dragon?
Bearded Dragon report that they’ve effectively potty-trained some of these pets.
Some bearded dragons don’t quickly learn to use the litter. However, most will get into the habit of going in one spot on their own within a week or two.
- The reptiles hate the smell and sight of their poop, and thus they learn to avoid it by choosing a single pooping “litterbox” spot that’s far.
- Also, the bearded dragons have a tendency to go out of the cage to poop.
Are Bearded Dragons Friendly?
Yes, Bearded Dragons are docile. These reptiles rarely show aggression unless you get too close to their space, at which point they may try to flee the area.
Bearded Dragons are a good pet because they do not bite people and they are easier to tame; they’ll curl or turn when held as a sign of cool pleasure.
These reptiles will not attack your children when in their cage or when invading their “hideouts”.
Bearded Dragons do not cause any rebellion against other pets. If you have a bearded dragon, then you can also have other pets in the same cage.
But, when Bearded Dragon gets aggressive, it begins to Hiss, open its mouth, stare, bobbing its head, puffing the beards or generate stress marks.
The reaction may be caused by stress, stiff competition in the case, being scared often, shedding, hormonal imbalances, breeding season, or environmental change.
Do bearded dragons show affection?
Yes! Bearded Dragons are special as compared to other reptiles in that they are eagerly waiting for their owner or the person feeding them. You will find them warming up as you approach which is a sign of affection and appreciation.
Moreover, the Bearded Dragons Voluntarily seek to be held by their owner. You will find them preferring to feed on your hand instead of using their bowls.
The affection of the Bearded Dragon increases with age. You will find that it likes to always be closer to you/owner. In addition, it will even climb over you for fun. Therefore, Bearded Dragon is an incredibly affectionate reptile.
Are Bearded Dragons Nocturnal?
No! Bearded dragons are very inactive at night. Indeed, these lizards are diurnal – they are active during the day and sleep the whole night. We noted that Leopard Geckos are crepuscular
Bearded Dragons are docile reptiles. They are active when the room temperature rises during the day to a level that can make them go hunting or move around in the cage.
Normally, the light will make the Bearded Dragons wake up while Darkness makes them sleep. Artificially, you can control the sleeping style of the Bearded Dragon in an enclosure/cage by switching off and on light or using a time switch.
However, it would be problematic to make your Bearded Dragon be active in the presence of light. They will sleep often during the day, especially after feeding.
Do Bearded Dragons Respond to Their Names?
Yes! Bearded Dragons will respond to their names. However, they do not respond to those names as a human does. You must associate the given name/voice with something that will attract (at first) the Bearded Dragon such as food.
Any time you give the Bearded Dragon food, mention the name. With time, it will connect that voice with itself and food too.
It is not easy to take Bearded Dragons to respond to their names though with commitments and repetition, you will have them respond to your call even without food.
On how smart are bearded dragons; YES, they’re smart – they’ll imitate other Bearded Dragons and learn feeding-time routines such as name-calling.
- You can easily tame it for a given task through a conditioned reflex action method.
- In case you want to feed your Bearded Dragon, you can this by calling it a given name just before giving it food. With time, Bearded Dragon will associate that sound/name with food or your presence.
We cannot say that Bearded Dragon is the most intelligent reptile we have. However, we can attest that Bearded Dragon is smart and able to learn with continuous training.