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Let me guess – you’re here because your bearded dragon is licking everything in sight.
Bearded dragons have an interesting habit of licking just about everything they see. From surfaces, the air, you, and everything in between.
But why do they do it? Why do bearded dragons lick everything?
There are several reason why your bearded dragon is licking everything. One of the most common reasons is because they are showing affection. However, bearded dragons will also lick to mark their territory or signal mating.
In this post, we’re going to dive deeper into why bearded dragons lick and what they’re trying to tell you when they do so. We’re also going to discuss why bearded dragons have sticky tongues!
The Secret Lies in The Jacobson’s Organ
Bearded dragons use their tongue to get better access to their surroundings. Remember, bearded dragons initially lived in the desert in Australia. But the ones we have today have been inbred and, due to their nature, have an instinct of surveying the surroundings first before, and you’ll notice the licking more frequent in newer places.
I know you’re wondering why they wouldn’t just use their eyes or nose to look around. Well, the Jacobson’s organ in the bearded reptiles is located at the bottom of the mouth. Hence it is used to assess what comes in its tongue. In addition, the organ is so sensitive that it allows them to analyze and detect different particles they pick up.
The different tastes they get from the environment give them more confidence in their surroundings and move around freely. So, if you notice your bearded dragon licking everything, let it be.
Beardies Lick to Show Comfort and Seek Attention
Whenever you notice bearded dragons licking you so much, it means it is checking you out. Basically, beardies won’t lick anything they don’t like, and when they do, they acquire microscopic organisms from you. So if you have a scent they like, the beardies will lick as frequently as possible as if they need to acquire the same smell.
The licking habit of beardies could also come as a sign of love. It is similar to how cats purr and rub themselves against you as a sign of affection. So, if your beardie is licking you as much, you can at least say that they like you.
Beardies Lick to Signal Mating Season
Beardies are affectionate animals and are also quite solitary. You’ll notice they aren’t used to interacting with other dragons, even in the wild. However, when the mating season comes, they wish to be with their mating partners. Therefore, if you’ve domesticated one beardie, finding another of the opposite sex is advisable.
During the mating seasons, your dragon will lick you more often, signaling the need for a mating partner. It is noted to be a pre-mating behavior in almost all breeds of beardies.
Beardies Lick More When Young
While beardies are generally curious creatures, the young ones are even more curious. That said, they tend to lick more often to get familiar with the environment. It is more frequent with beardies of 7 to 10 months old.
Since everything is new to baby dragons, they are curious, fascinated and spend most of their time interacting with the environment. Of course, the curiosity subsides as they become older, and you’ll rarely notice such behavior in older dragons of 2+ years. However, there are times when older beardies get curious, especially in a new environment. They’ll lick the air until they get familiar with the environment.
Beardies Lick to Mark Their Territory
If you have several beardies, you may encounter the reptiles licking each other. It is usually a sign of dominance or acceptance of hierarchy. Beardies like dominance and will show it by licking their environment. If you happen to keep two male bearded dragons in the same place, they can start a dominance dispute by bobbing heads. They will do this until one accepts dominance, which they’ll then lick the other one’s head as a sign of acceptance. But as mentioned, avoid keeping two bearded dragons in the same place.
Beardies Lick to Signal Hunger
Another common reason why bearded dragons lick is when they are hungry. Instinctively, a beardie hunts through smell. But when kept as a pet, it has someone feeding them. So, the pet will look for food by licking in the air. If you have a regular feeding routine, the pet will lick more often before giving them food.
Why Do Beardies Have Short Sticky Tongues?
Bearded dragons have shorter tongues than lizards or other reptiles such as snakes. Most reptiles with long tongues use them for feeding, and hence they should go as far as to catch prey. However, beardies use their tongue to sense the environment and check their surroundings, so their tongues are shorter. Their tongues are also sticky to help them direct food into their mouth.
Licking surfaces is not a new phenomenon to beardies, and it is as normal as moving around. The beardies lick the surfaces to get information about texture, scents, etc. it is crucial they do this to ensure they are familiar with their environment. While it is not an entirely safe habit as they may contact harmful substrates, as beardies grow older, they reduce their licking habit.
Bearded dragons are curious creatures, and so when acquiring them as a pet, it is vital to introduce them to new things slowly. They take time to adapt to the environment, and you should give them ample time to do so. Lastly, if your bearded dragon licks you, it is a sign of love and affection. So, don’t be surprised if they lick everything and anything around you; they are just speaking with their tongue.