Why is my bearded dragon closing his eyes when stroked? A reader of mine asked me this question a few days ago. Let’s talk about this a little bit. In this post, I will share with you some of the answers to this question.
The truth is that bearded dragons have unique behaviors you might not see in other animals. One of those behaviors is eye closing. What does it mean?
So, why is your bearded dragon closing his eyes when stroked? Is it healthy or is it something that you should worry about?
Well, in general, when a bearded dragon closes its eyes when you stroked him, it may be a sign of discomfort. He might want you to stop and leave him alone.
If you are a bearded dragon lover, you don’t want to cause discomfort to your pet. Now that you know what does eye closing means, you might want to avoid it next time.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Close Their Eyes in General?
Humans have the inherent behavior to not engage in eye contact with strangers. We don’t do eye to eye contact with other passengers on the train, on the bus, or in public places. This is called civil inattention in sociology.
Reptiles too like bearded dragons have this behavior. Direct eye contact is a communication process and one of their body language.
However, when dealing with a bigger predator, eye contact becomes and threat and it is hard for beardies.
They can’t stand it. Engaging in an eye contact means that they are challenging the bigger predator. To avoid trouble, they close their eyes. While it may not mean submission, they just don’t want to engage in trouble.
However, eye closing in bearded dragons has multiple meanings. There are possible causes as to why your reptile pet does so.
Infection and the immediate surrounding could also be the reason. Poor lighting for instance could cause eye closing in beardies.
When interpreting this behavior, you need to take into consideration different possible factors as well as the situations.
Below are some of the occasions when bearded dragons may close their eyes.
Bearded Dragon Closing Eyes When Stroked
Eye closing in reptiles can easily be mistakenly interpreted. Most people believe that when a bearded dragon closes its eyes when is stroked it means he likes it. But it is not true at all.
When a beardy closes its eyes when stroked means that he wants to be free. It may not be the perfect time to pet him.
The misconception stems from the fact that humans do the same when we feel good. Tasting delicious food can make our eyes close.
In bearded dragons though, it is a different story. They don’t feel good but feel threatened and uncomfortable.
This might not mean that your beardy does not like you anymore. He/she just might want some pace.
Eye closing can also be a sign of stress. When your beardy closes its eyes with puffed beard, he is stressed.
If you don’t want to harm your bearded dragon, stop what you do. Give him/her space and time.
Bearded Dragon Closing Eyes When Held
Sometimes bearded dragons close their eyes when you hold them. This could mean they are stressed.
This a worse response. Closed eyes are their way of saying that they are scared of you and want you to leave them alone.
They feel vulnerability in the hands of a potential predator. They have no control and completely powerless. They have no means of escaping. The only option is to fight back.
If your beardy gets aggressive on you, he is just showing his last resort. He needs to show you this as a final message.
In contrast, if your beardy stays calm and eyes open, he is just fine. He loves to be held. But as soon as he closes his eyes, put him down.
Sometimes, it takes time to tame bearded dragons and create a friendship with them. You just need to be consistent in your effort.
Bearded Dragon Closing Eyes When Basking
Eye closing should not be interpreted as bad behavior automatically. It is normal and healthy behavior and common in many animals.
For instance, it is normal when a bearded dragon closes its eyes when basking. There is nothing to worry about it. Although no one knows exactly why. But the most logical explanation is because beardies feel relaxed when basking.
However, when a bearded dragon closes its eyes all the time when basking, something is wrong. The most common reason in this is case is too close to lighting equipment.
Bearded dragons do close their eyes when sleeping, although this usually happens only in the dark. If you are using a UVB light, move it away from the basking spot. This will help your beardy gains rest.
Bearded Dragon Closing Eyes When He Has Eye Infections
Eye infection is another potential reason why a bearded dragon closes his eyes. You will know this by paying close attention to his behavior.
Does the eye closing happens before you pet or hold him/her? If yes, then eye infection could be an issue.
A bearded dragon with an eye infection closes its eyes at any point in time. You’ll notice it even your beardy is alone.
This is a serious condition that needs immediate attention. I recommend that you bring your beardy to a vet for verification.
Physical condition such as this may complicate sometimes. So having you bearded dragon checked by a licensed veterinarian is the best option.
Why a Bearded Dragon Closes One Eye?
As mentioned, eye closing is normal in all animals. But there are times when simple behavior becomes the sign of health problems.
This is true with bearded dragons. When your beardy closes its one eye, there is something wrong. And you need to figure it out immediately.
There are three main reasons for this. The first one is the infection. As mentioned, a bearded dragon closes its eye to protect the infected tissue inside the eye.
The second reason is a parasite. Your bearded dragon could be affected by parasites. These tiny intruders can be harmful to your pet. So take the time to check their body or skin for potential parasites.
The third one is foreign objects. This commonly happens when they have loose substrate in their tank. Those tiny pieces could be stuck in the eyes causing irritations.
You better remove the foreign objects immediately as soon as you notice it.
But if you don’t know how, bring your reptile pet to a vet. This is to make sure that your beardy is in good hands.
In my case, I always choose the safest way. I don’t compromise the safety of my beardies.
Do Bearded Dragons Close Their Eyes While Sleeping?
Like other animals, bearded dragons do close their eyes while sleeping. Like humans, they sleep at night too.
But there are times when they cannot go to sleep. This usually happens when they have too much light near them.
When they fall asleep, don’t disturb them with a cellphone light or a flashlight. They will sense that they are being watched. The light alone will awake them and disturb their sleep.
To help your beardies gain enough sleep, provide them with hides. They will enjoy those dark corners in the entire night. Keep the room dark for the rest of the night.
Final Thoughts on Bearded Dragon Closing Eyes When Stroked
Eye closing is normal for most animals. Even humans we close our eyes when we feel good.
However, in bearded dragons, it is a different story. Eye closing in bearded dragons when they are touched or held may be an indication that they feel discomfort and threatened.
They want to be released and left alone. So you better give your beardy a little bit of time and space. But you should not quit building a bond with your reptile pet. He/she will get used to it.
Apart from this, eye closing may also indicative of potential health issues. It could be an indication of eye infection, parasites, and foreign objects stuck in the eyes.
As a bearded dragon owner, it is your job to figure out what is going on before everything is too late.
If you can’t resolve the issue, consulting a vet will the best option.
I hope this helps. If you are interested in learning more about bearded dragons, feel free to visit my guide here.
Do bearded dragons like to be stroked?
Yes. You can do it gently on its head. Always remember that bearded dragons can easily be scared and stressed. Do not show any aggressive posture for they can interpret it as a threat. So be gentle.