What Does It Mean When a Bearded Dragon Opens Its Mouth?



A bearded dragon with its mouth open is a natural behavior that does not mean something is wrong.

Bearded dragons show gaping behavior mostly when they are basking, but sometimes they can keep their mouth open for a long time when they are not basking.

Why? Well, find out more from the list of answers we have provided below to help you understand more about gaping behavior.



First on our list is thermoregulation because it’s actually the common reason behind why your beardy’s mouth stays open while basking.

The bearded dragon opens their mouth to help them regulate its body temperature once it has reached its optimal body temperature.

Therefore, you should not worry about this behavior when you spot them basking near the window or basking lamp.


If you spot this behaviour while they are in the tank, we recommend you take your pal to a cool spot or regulate the lighting setup in the tank. If they are babies their cool spot temperature should be 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Contrarily, for adults and juvenile beardies, the temperature should range between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Then at night, it should range between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit for the bearded dragon at any age.


But the right basking temperature for baby beardies should range between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit and 90-100 degrees for adults and juveniles. Therefore, make sure you provide your beardy a basking spot and a cooling spot where it can hang out or hide when they have reached their optimal body temperature.

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Aggression and Defensiveness

Aside from thermoregulation, a bearded dragon can be agape as a sign of aggression and defensive behaviour. Aggression and defensive behaviour in beardy can be triggered for the following reasons;

  • They are stressed or feel threatened by fearsome pets near their space like birds or dogs.
  • They want to show dominance during mating season or if you keep beardies of the same sex in the same cage.
  • If there is noise or small objects like toys and decorations within their space or in the room. This can also result in chronic stress.


If you suspect your beardy is aggressive and defensive, you should check out for the following signs while it is gaping, they include:

  • The mouth is wide open with its head raised making it appear larger and more threatening.
  • It appears larger with their chest puffed out while adopting a tall stance.
  • They can bob their head very fast like it is ready to charge and bite.
  • They may produce a hissing sound while displaying a black beard.


To eliminate aggressive behaviour triggered by the above-mentioned factors by keeping your pets away from your beardy’s tank or out of the room. Secondly, keep your beardy’s tank away from the window because moving or hooting objects like cars and fearsome animals like birds and birds can make them feel threatened and stressed.

Lastly, you should avoid keeping bearded dragons of the same sex together in the tank to eliminate competition for dominance over mates, territory, and food. Besides, separating beardies of the same sex in different tanks will reduce the fight for dominance, the stress in less dominant lizards, and encourage their appetite.

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To Stretch their Muscles or Is Getting Ready to start Shedding

Like mammals, a bearded dragon’s gaping behaviour is common when they want to stretch their muscles and is getting ready to start shedding. Usually, when your beardy wants to stretch its muscles its mouth will open for a short period of time.


Contrarily, when they are getting ready to start shedding they open their mouth and puff out their beard to help them loosen the skin around their head and beard to shed it.


Due to Respiratory Infection

If your beardy’s mouth stays in an agape stance for an extended period of time don’t confuse the sign for thermoregulation. It could be a sign of a respiratory infection.

The risk of respiratory infection in beardy can occur if beardy’s tank humidity exceeds 40%. Especially if  it stays in such condition for an extended period. This can be difficult to notice, but you should check out for the following symptoms:

  • Lack of appetite and energy.
  • Wheezing or crackling sound while breathing.
  • Presence of mucus around the nose and eyes.


To minimize the risks of respiratory infection in your beardy, we recommend you reduce the size of the water bowl. Also keep it away from your beardie’s basking spot.

Secondly, you should provide more ventilation in your beardie’s cage. This will drive out excess humidity or place a dehumidifier in the room where your beardy resides.


Lastly, avoid keeping materials that can retain moisture in your beardys’ tank like barks or moss.

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Don’t worry if you notice your bearded dragon mouth is open for an extended period of time.

However, apart from basking, stretching, and shedding, you should check for the signs of your beardys’ gaping behaviour. Because it might either be aggressive, stressed, or develop a respiratory infection. In addition, respond immediately if it is something to worry about.


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