Owning and caring for bearded dragons brings its own curiosities, worries, and questions, especially if you are caring for your first ever bearded dragon. You have more than likely gone down the list of necessities: terrarium tank, water dish or bathing bowl, food dish, hiding place, light and heat, tank liner, and the perfect basking spot.
But what about a tank cover or top? Will your bearded dragon make a leap for escape and freedom?
Can bearded dragons even jump high enough to make it out of their tank? Will they still try?
Technically, yes, bearded dragons do have the ability to jump high enough to make it out of their tank. Although this is not the most common of behaviors for a pet bearded dragon, it can still happen for a variety of reasons.
Bearded dragons are more likely to climb to get to a higher destination and will jump to get to a lower one.
Bearded dragons are full of mystery and wonder, with many surprises and hidden abilities. Jumping is one of those hidden talents; many owners go years without knowing that their bearded dragons even have the ability to jump, let alone the ability to jump high enough to make it out of their tank.
While there is not a lot of data on how high a bearded dragon can jump, it can range from several inches to over a foot depending on age, sex, health, and diet. So, when bearded dragons would normally choose to not jump, what could cause a bearded dragon to jump?
Fear or lack thereof, food, uncomfortable situations, and poor depth perception can all cause your bearded dragon to make the jump that you never saw coming. Now, let’s take a leap together and venture into the mysterious world of one of the bearded dragon’s many hidden talents, jumping.
Reason 1: Fear Of Another Animal
If you have just recently brought your bearded dragon home or maybe you already have your bearded dragon and you just recently brought home a new cat or dog; this sudden change for your bearded dragon can cause fear and stress resulting in some strange behavior for your bearded dragon. Your bearded dragon may be jumping to escape their enclosure in order to better hide from this strange new animal.
If you feel this is the case for your bearded dragon, it would be wise to purchase or make them a hiding spot that they will feel secure in. You can even use loose substrate to fill the bottom of their tank so they are able to burrow for safety and security.
Moving your bearded dragon’s tank to a secluded area or blocking the new animal from getting to your bearded dragon’s area would be wise as well until your bearded dragon has enough time to get used to this animal and recognize that it is in fact not a threat to him or her.
Reason 2: Stressed Or Uncomfortable
Your bearded dragon could also be trying to get away from you, especially if he or she is a new member in your family. Not all bearded dragons will automatically be comfortable with being handled by their owner, sometimes you have to work up to this level of trust and that can take some time and patience.
Start with small bonding moments like feeding or misting, move up to gentle pets and strokes in a slow motion, once your bearded dragon seems to be warming up to you then you can start the transition into handling. Begin by gently placing your hand under their belly and fully supporting their entire body and hover just a few inches off their tank floor, gradually getting further and further away from the tank bottom.
Taking your time and showing patience with your bearded dragon will not only establish a sense of trust and companionship with your bearded dragon, but also a sense of safety and security. Check out our popular post about how often to let your bearded dragon out of its cage.
Reason 3: Lack of Fear
We know that bearded dragons can be quite fearful and experience levels of stress and uncertainty, but what about the bearded dragons that seem to have no fear at all. Baby and juvenile bearded dragons are eager to explore anything and everything around them with little fear of the unknown.
They will jump and hop around, glass surf, run around, and dig; this is all part of their learning process, like with any baby animal. It is a wise decision to keep a cover or top on the tank of any aged bearded dragon in order to ensure their safety, but when it comes to baby and juvenile bearded dragons this is an extremely good idea as they are unpredictable in nature.
Practice safe handling techniques and only remove a portion of the cover or use the side opening (if there is one) to maintain a small opening that he or she may not be able to jump through. Like with any and all animals, your baby bearded dragon will begin calming down and become more “chill” with age.
Reason 4: Poor Depth Perception
One set back that bearded dragons suffer with is extremely poor depth perception. Your bearded dragon may be looking up or down at something and it will seem like an easy feat to just jump to whatever they are intrigued by, which they will most likely attempt to accomplish.
Whether or not your bearded dragon has the strength to jump and clear the top of their tank, their depth perception may tell them that they can because it isn’t that high which could cause your bearded dragon to unintentionally harm themselves. This can also occur when your bearded dragon is hanging out in your hands or on your shoulder and they decide that the ground isn’t that far away, they will leap off to the ground which can seriously injure them if they land wrong or if the height is too great.
The best way to handle this is to keep a cover on your bearded dragon’s tank so there is no sense of a ledge to reach, and if you are handling him or her to stay seated so if he or she does decide to jump, the fall is not as far. Just remember to keep an eye on your bearded dragon, especially when he or she is out of their tank.
Reason 5: Food
Feeding time is always an exciting ordeal for any bearded dragon; they love food and are not picky at all. If you are raising their lid or cover on their tank to feed them then they may try to jump up and out during all of the excitement.
If you have a tank with a side opening, it would be better to feed them through that way so they are less likely to jump (if this is something that concerns you). This behavior is more common in baby and juvenile bearded dragons but adults are known to jump up or down for food as well. Be sure to keep an eye on your bearded dragon during feeding time or if there is any food around while they are out of their tank.
Bearded dragons are unpredictable and full of mystery but almost always their strange behavior is a form of communication and if you pay close attention your bearded dragon just may be jumping to tell you something. Whether they are trying to escape out of fear and unease or they are quite literally jumping for joy, it is up to you as their owner to pay attention and decipher what they are trying to say.
Jumping may or may not be a completely normal activity for your bearded dragon; each and every bearded dragon is different with their own personalities and activities they enjoy. If you are concerned about the safety of your bearded dragon while they are in their tank and you don’t already have a lid or cover for the tank, I would suggest purchasing one to ensure your bearded dragon does not have a way to escape and potentially injure themselves or get lost.
The safety and security of your little jumping bearded dragon should be top priority and there are several ways to ensure that this is guaranteed. Whether they are jumping up for something or jumping down, they can accidentally injure themselves so it is up to you to pay close attention and provide a safe and secure enclosure so that this risk is decreased.
If you are ever concerned about the well-being and safety of your bearded dragon or if they have suffered from a fall or jumping incident, contact your local herp vet with any questions or concerns you may have.
You can find covers and lids that will be more than appropriate for keeping your bearded dragon from jumping out of their tank at any pet shop that sells aquariums or terrariums.