Glass surfing bearded dragon

Why Won’t My Bearded Dragon Stop Scratching the Glass?

Anyone who has ever had a pet knows they can show some cute, odd, and at times perplexing behaviors. If you make a square with tape on your floor, cats will come over and sit inside the square. Ever notice how a dog will walk in circles before settling down for a snooze? Usually, it’s just the quirky nature of our pets. It’s what makes them unique. When your bearded dragon glass surfs (scratching at the glass), it’s easy to pass it off as another quirky pet trait.

What Is Glass Surfing?

Glass surfing (glass dancing) is when your bearded dragon will hug the glass while paddling his back feet, trying desperately to escape. They also will run at the glass in some cases. Glass surfing is not unique to bearded dragons. Fish will swim forth and back rubbing against the side of their aquarium. Also, other reptiles will show the same behavior.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Glass Surf?

Occasional glass surfing is pretty common among bearded dragons. One thing I would recommend is covering 3 sides of the enclosure, if not already covered. Doing so seems to lower their stress levels down considerably they will feel more “safe”. Let’s take a look at the common causes.

  • Enclosure is too small – Bearded dragons need adequate space. The recommended minimum for an 18-month-old bearded dragon is a 120-gallon aquarium. If he doesn’t feel his environment is large enough, you could notice him glass surfing.
  • Reflection – Enclosures will often time act as a mirror thus allowing them to see their reflection. And bearded dragons will mistake their reflection for another bearded dragon and try to fight “themselves”. The best solution in this case, is to cover the outside of the enclosure with paper, so his reflection isn’t so obvious.
  • Change – Bearded dragons hate change. Anytime you add or remove decor, it will take time for them to adjust. Did you place a new SpongeBob castle in his enclosure? If so it might take him a while to get used to.
  • Wants out – It could be his way of telling you he wants to come out and roam around.
  • Poop – Some dragons will glass surf if they need to go poop, some just don’t like pooping in their home (enclosure). Others will glass surf after they finished pooping to tell you “clean up time.”
  • Hit puberty – Bearded dragons will go through puberty (8 to 18 months) during this time they tend to act like teenagers, attacking their reflection, get the head bob, and discover they have a black beard. Often times during this stage they will dance on the glass.
  • Gravid – When a female becomes gravid (pregnant) she will be looking for a place to lay her eggs. Even if she doesn’t have a mate she can still become gravid.
  • Pets – If there are other pets in the house, they could be considered as predators and cause stress resulting in glass surfing.
  • Incorrect temperature – Check the temperature, the basking side should be 95-110°F, The opposite end of the enclosure (cool side) should be 80-90°F.
  • Window – If a bearded dragon is housed next to a window that he can see out of, it can be causing him stress.

How to Stop Glass Surfing

Glass surfing is usually a sign that something is wrong. If the temperatures of his enclosure are in check, your next step is to make him feel “safer” by limiting his view outside.

Let‘s face it, living in an aquarium is like living in a prison cell. He may just feel cramped inside, and time to consider upgrading his aquarium. Bringing him out of his enclosure more often might minimize his scratching of the glass. If you want to limit where he goes while he is out, I would recommend getting a pet playpen, it will allow him to do his own thing in his own space while out.

Conclusion

I hope this gave you some insight into why bearded dragons glass surf. It’s funny to see for the first time, but there is a reason they are doing it. Most of the time they just want out to explore, or you to clean up their poop.

I would love to hear your thoughts, questions in the comments below.

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