Why Is My Bearded Dragon Trying To Escape? (Vet Tech Explains)

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Trying To Escape

Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet reptiles around. This has a lot to do with their easy-going nature and their simple care needs. But, every pet has its own set of challenges. When things aren’t perfect, you might notice your bearded dragon do some weird things. One thing you might notice is that your bearded dragon starts to climb up the walls of its enclosure.

You’re probably wondering, why is my bearded dragon trying to escape.

Your bearded dragon might try to escape their enclosure if the enclosure is too small, the wrong temperature, or the decorations are too overwhelming. Your bearded dragon could also be bored, hungry, stressed from handling, or even nesting. Their tankmate could be stressing them or they just want to explore the area around their tank.

In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into all of the reasons why your bearded dragon is trying to escape. Then, we’ll talk about how to keep your bearded dragon from climbing the walls of its tank.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Trying To Get Out Of The Tank?

Escape attempts aren’t unheard of in the bearded dragon world. In fact, escape attempts are so common that they have a special name, glass surfing. Glass surfing isn’t exclusive to bearded dragons as many other pet reptiles, like leopard geckos, do it too.

When bearded dragons glass surf they’ll put their bellies up to the walls of the enclosure and try to climb with their front legs. Because bearded dragons aren’t arboreal, climbing isn’t a natural behavior for them.

Usually, the glass surfing behavior is rooted in stress. All the things below are basically potential causes of stress for your bearded dragon. Keep reading to figure out what exactly is making your bearded dragon climb the walls of its enclosure.

Reason 1: The Enclosure Is Too Small

One of the biggest reasons why your bearded dragon might be trying to escape is that their enclosure is too small. The minimum tank size for a bearded dragon is usually somewhere around 40 gallons, however, many adult bearded dragons need more space than this.

Some reptiles don’t like open space because it can create stress and anxiety for them. Bearded dragons seem to love having space to roam, bask, and explore. If your bearded dragon doesn’t feel like they have enough room in their enclosure, they’re definitely going to try to escape.

Reason 2: They Don’t Like The New Decorations

Another thing that might make your bearded dragon want to get out of their tank is a new decoration. It sounds dramatic, but changing the furniture in your bearded dragon’s enclosure is a big deal.

Their home is something that they are used to and when things move around it has the potential to stress them out. As we know, stress can cause beardies to glass surf. So, if you recently added a new bowl or plant to your pet’s enclosure, that could be the reason that they are now trying to escape.

Reason 3: Their Tankmate Is Stressing Them Out

Does your bearded dragon have a tankmate?

Bearded dragons aren’t necessarily known for the love they have for other bearded dragons. Actually, there are only a handful of reptiles that even like living with other reptiles. For the most part, these animals do better living alone. However, there are always exceptions to this rule, and you may have found that your bearded dragons get along very well together.

Even so, your two pets might face conflict from time to time. Naturally, one bearded dragon will be more dominant than the other. It’s likely that your smaller and younger pet will be the least dominant of the two. In a tough situation, they are likely to run away and try to escape.

If one of your bearded dragons is trying to escape, you might want to consider separating your pets. Even though it may seem like they enjoy each other’s company, they can both be on edge from living together. Try separating your beardies for a little bit and see if that keeps them from glass-surfing.

Reason 4: They Don’t Want To Be Handled

Another thing that explains why your bearded dragon is trying to escape is that they’re avoiding handling.

Handling is something that we love to do with our pet reptiles. Unfortunately, our pet reptiles don’t always like to be handled. As you’re going to pick up your bearded dragon make sure you pay close attention to their body language. Are they eager and leaning toward you?  Or are they getting low and trying to escape?

If your bearded dragon is trying to escape, when you put your hand in the enclosure, it probably means they don’t want to be handled. Now, this might just be how they’re feeling today. On the other hand, your bearded dragon might just not like handling. In that case, you should take some steps to start building a bond between you and your bearded dragon. That way when you reach in to pick them up, they don’t try to escape.

Reason 5: They’re Bored Or Hungry

If your pet is trying to get out of its tank, it could be bored or hungry.

Let’s talk about boredom first. Even though bearded dragons are wild animals, they still get bored. Boredom can actually be a serious issue in captivity. It can make animals do crazy things. Some bored animals may try to escape their enclosures, while others might turn to more harmful behaviors like self-mutilation.

Climbing up the side of a tank may be the only way your bearded dragon feels they’re able to get exercise and keep the boredom at bay.

Hunger is another big driving factor for escape attempts. The bearded dragon diet can be tricky because these lizards are omnivores. Not only do these reptiles, eat fruits and vegetables, but they also need a healthy amount of insect protein every meal. Younger bearded dragons eat more often than older bearded dragons so make sure that you’re feeding your pet enough food as well.

Instinctually, a hungry, bearded dragon will travel to find food. That means that they’ll try to escape their enclosure in an attempt to survive.

Reason 6: They’re Too Hot Or Too Cold

Bearded dragons are native to Australia. They can be found in an extremely wide variety of climates and environments. In captivity, these reptiles thrive in pretty specific conditions. Their enclosure should have a healthy temperature range that starts at 70°F and goes up to somewhere around 100°F.  One side of the tank is cool, and the other side is hot and made for basking.

If your bearded dragon is too cold, they might try to climb up to be next to the heat lamp. Obviously, this is dangerous and if you notice your bearded dragon reaching up towards the heat lamp, it’s a good sign that you need to adjust the temperature in their enclosure.

However, if your bearded dragon is too hot, they also might try to escape their enclosure. In many cases, your bearded dragon might dig into their substrate when they’re too hot. However, they might continue digging and trying to escape out of the bottom of their enclosures.

An easy way to avoid this issue is to check the thermometer and temperature gradient in your bearded dragon’s enclosure.

Reason 7: They’re Exploring

One less common reason that your bearded dragon is trying to escape is that they just want to explore.

It’s possible that you have a very outgoing and brave pet. If they’ve had a good experience outside of their enclosure, they’ll probably want to do it again. It might have made such a positive impact on them that they want to explore on their own.

Some bearded dragons that want to get out of their enclosures just to explore are relentless. You might find your beardie climbing up the side of their glass enclosure all day long. If this sounds like your pet, don’t worry, we have some solutions down below!

Reason 8: They’re Nesting

The last, and most unexpected reason that your bearded dragon is trying to escape is that she is nesting.

Female, bearded dragons can lay eggs whether they’ve been in contact with a mail or not. When female, bearded dragons lay eggs, they start to nest. These females will dig and dig to create the perfect den to lay their eggs in. However, if your female doesn’t feel like she has enough space or safety to lay her eggs, should definitely try and look for a new place to settle down.

This could definitely cause her to climb the glass side of the enclosure and attempt to find a better place to have her eggs.

If you think your bearded dragon is with eggs, provide them with a comfortable nesting box. This can be as simple as a cardboard box, filled with a moist substrate. You’ll want to give them a privacy screen so that they feel safe and enough substrate that they can dig deep into it.

How To Keep Your Bearded Dragon From Esacaping

So, how do you keep your bearded dragon from escaping? There are a few easy things you can do to make your bearded dragon’s quality of life much better. All of the steps below should keep your bearded dragon from climbing the glass. If they don’t fix the behavior immediately, they’ll definitely just be an improvement on your beardie’s enclosure.

Step 1: Check The Tank’s Size And Temperature

Obviously, you want to make sure that your bearded dragons’ tank setup is perfect.

That means you’ll need an appropriately sized tank, a good water dish, and a nice hide. Remember that a 40-gallon tank may not be adequate for a full-grown adult, so always compare the size of your tank to the size of your bearded dragon.

Bearded dragons like it hot but also need a temperature gradient to be comfortable. Any temps that are too hot or too cold could cause your bearded dragon to make an escape attempt.

Step 2: Feed Your Pet A Well Rounded Diet

Another way to keep your pet satisfied is to feed them a well-rounded diet. An adult bearded dragon needs meals that are made up of about 20% insect protein and 80% plants. Of these plants, 80% should be vegetables while 20% are fruits.

One nice thing you can do to make sure that your bearded dragon gets all the vitamins and minerals they need is to add variety to their diet. Try offering different fruits or vegetables every few days. It’s also a good idea to switch up their bug choices in order to make sure your bearded dragon is getting enough calcium and phosphorus in their diet.

Feeding your bearded dragon exactly what they need is a great way to ensure they don’t try to escape their enclosure.

Step 3: Make Their Environment Familiar

A familiar environment is a comfortable environment. It’s always a good idea to introduce new items to your bearded dragon slowly. If you need to do some upgrades, just do them one at a time. That way, your bearded dragon doesn’t get overwhelmed and feel like they need to run away.

Step 4: Provide Stimulation

The last thing that you can do for your bearded dragon is to provide them with enrichment and stimulation.

Stimulation helps your bearded dragon stay physically and mentally healthy. It also helps control stress and boredom in captivity. Some things you can do to stimulate your bearded dragon are to add new items to their enclosure (slowly of course), give them new food choices, and take them for a walk in your backyard.

For more ideas about what to do for your bored reptile, watch the video below.

All of these things combined should reduce the amount of attempt escapes your pet bearded dragon makes.

Final Thoughts

If your bearded dragon is trying to escape their tank, don’t panic! This usually isn’t a sign of something going very wrong. Probably just means your bearded dragon is stressed from one thing or another. There might be an issue with their housing, diet, or routine. Maybe they don’t like being handled or they don’t like their tank mate.

Whatever the case may be, you can reduce escape attempts and make your bearded dragon’s life better by perfecting their housing, providing enrichment for them, and improving their diet.  Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas as to why your bearded dragon is trying to escape and how to fix it.