Have you ever noticed your bearded dragon scratching frantically at its glass? It’s not trying to dig its way out–it’s doing what’s known in the reptile community as “glass surfing!”
For the most part, glass surfing is a harmless activity. Your pet beardie may simply be trying to get your attention or is valiantly attempting to climb glass. However, it can also be a symptom of something more serious, such as illness or stress.
What Is Glass Surfing?
Glass surfing is also known as glass dancing. Your beardie will be pressed against the glass as its arms and legs move quickly as if paddling toward a wave. It can also appear as if your pet is trying to climb the walls and escape its tank or is trying to scratch the glass.
Though it’s called “glass” surfing, bearded dragons can exhibit this behavior on any surface. But since most pet reptiles’ enclosures are made of glass, the name stuck. Sometimes, it can also appear as if your pet is rubbing its snout against the glass.
8 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Do Glass Surfing with Cures
Beardies don’t usually glass surf for the sake of it. Typically, they do so because they are trying to tell you something or are reacting to something in their environment.
Here are the eight most common reasons your bearded dragon may be glass surfing and how to cure them.
It is trying to climb
Bearded dragons are semi-arboreal reptiles that like to climb trees, rocks, and anything else scattered around them.
The first reason your pet may be glass surfing is that it is trying to climb the surface in front of it and is unaware that glass is slippery and unclimbable.
Beardies have a reputation for being a little slow, and studies have shown that warmer climates have lowered their bar of intelligence even more!
Ensure your bearded dragon has many things to climb in its enclosure, from plants to rocks. You can even add a cork wall on one side of its tank that it can clamber all over!
It sees another lizard–or its reflection
Aside from being unable to climb glass, another problem that that surface poses is that bearded dragons can see their reflections.
Bearded dragons are very territorial, and if they see another lizard, even if it is only their reflection, they will get agitated and try to “fight” it.
First, ensure your bearded lizard is alone in its tank. Never try to put two lizards together in one enclosure, especially if it’s a small space!
It’s also not recommended to place two reptiles next to each other, even if they have separate tanks. In general, the sight of another lizard will stress them both out.
Second, do what you can to lessen reflections within the tank. The cork board listed above may help with this, and you can also try placing other reptile tank backgrounds on the sides of its tank.
You can also try adjusting the lighting. Avoid placing your pet’s tank near windows or direct sunlight, and play around with the angle of internal lights to see how you can minimize reflections.
Something is wrong with its enclosure
Your bearded dragon may be glass surfing because something is off with its enclosure. Here are four things to check.
- Does it have enough climbing spots? As aforementioned, your beardie may start trying to climb its glass if there aren’t enough climbing opportunities.
- Is it overcrowded or too small? Beardies like plants, but not so many of them that it’s difficult for them to move around. If your pet feels cramped, it may get stressed and start glass surfing. This will also be a problem if your enclosure is too small and your bearded dragon doesn’t have enough space to move around.
- Are the temperature and humidity levels optimal? Being cold-blooded reptiles from Australia’s arid outback region, bearded dragons are sensitive to temperature and humidity.
- Are you using a good substrate? The best bearded dragon enclosures mimic their natural habitat closely. Reptile carpets work best, but you can also use sand, wood chips or bark, newspaper or paper towels, or alfalfa pellets.
First, ensure that your enclosure size fits your pet’s length. These are recommended tank sizes per beardie size.
A tank too small or too big can cause your reptile to get stressed.
|0-3 months||3-11 inches||20-40 gallons|
|4-5 months||9-16 inches||40-75 gallons|
|6-8 months||11-20 inches||50-75 gallons|
|1 year and up||16-24 inches||75-120 gallons|
Generally, the length of your pet’s enclosure should be at least three times its body length. Meanwhile, the width should be no less than 16” to give it enough space to turn around quickly.
If your tank is large enough, check its temperature and humidity levels. Consider investing in a terrarium thermometer and hygrometer to quickly check if they are within your beardie’s preferred levels.
Ensure it has a cooler section of the tank (around 80-85 °F) and a warmer area for basking (between 90-95 °F). Meanwhile, ensure its tank humidity stays relatively low–only between 30-40%.
It is stressed
Something in its environment may be causing your pet beardie to feel uneasy, therefore causing it to act nervously or agitatedly and do things like glass surfing.
Anything new will cause your beardie to feel stressed. This includes getting a new home or tank, plants, or even furniture in the room it lives in. Excessive stress can also cause stress marks to appear on your bearded dragon’s skin. Seeing other animals, such as your pet cat or dog, also causes pet reptiles to react strongly.
If your beardie is adjusting to something new, all you need to do is give it time. Eventually, it will acclimatize and feel comfortable once again.
If it is reacting to your other pets, consider moving their tank to a more secluded area or room. Optionally, you can move it higher, out of sight of your other pets.
Since beardies take a while to adjust to environmental changes, changing plants or other tank accessories are recommended once every four months. It’s better to hold off for longer and do it even less frequently!
It is bored
It’s also possible that your beardie is glass dancing because it is boring and lacks stimulation. After all, they come from huge outbacks with limitless areas to explore. Suddenly confined to a small tank, it’s understandable why they become bored.
Your bearded dragon will greatly appreciate more time out of its tank to roam freely and play. If warm enough, you can bring it to your garden to enjoy the grass and natural sunlight.
Ideally, give your pet beardie 10-15 minutes out of tank time daily.
It is sick
Unfortunately, one possible reason your bearded dragon is glass surfing is that something is causing discomfort, such as an illness.
The two most common illnesses for beardies in captivity are
- Parasites – Bearded dragons are susceptible to Coccidia parasites, which cause Coccidiosis. Aside from glass surfing, other symptoms your pet has parasites include lack of appetite, weight loss, and vomiting or diarrhea.
- Metabolic Bone Disease – a lack of calcium or UVB lighting causes Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Since your reptile’s bones are affected, they may feel pain or discomfort, which they try to alleviate by glass surfing.
If you suspect your bearded dragon is suffering from a disease and it displays other symptoms besides glass surfing, schedule a visit to your vet as soon as possible.
They are trying to get your attention
Sometimes, glass surfing can be simply what it appears to be–your pet bearded dragon scrambling to get your attention.
Your beardie may be trying to get your attention because it is hungry and is looking for food. It may also be trying to get your attention because it has pooped and is asking you to clean up its tank!
It’s hard to give a specific cure for this reason for glass surfing! All you need to do is be attentive to your pet’s needs and, if this is truly the reason for its dancing behavior, it should stop once you address its concern.
Interestingly, Bearded dragons like being petted. This is a simple way in which you can communicate your affection and attentiveness towards your beloved reptile.
It is a female about to lay eggs
Last, if your pet bearded dragon is a female, it may be glass surfing because it’s about to lay eggs.
Females become extremely hormonal and display lots of erratic behavior when they are about to lay eggs. However, you will know this is the case if it performs other typical egg-laying habits such as digging.
There is no need to cure glass surfing for this reason–all that’s left to do is ensure your female is happy and healthy until it can lay its clutch! Ensure it has lots of calcium, vitamin D3, and nutritious food to maintain strength.
Will Glass Surfing Hurt My Beardie?
There is nothing wrong with glass surfing itself. The only danger is if there is a crack in the glass or other sharp objects around your beardie on which it could hurt itself, but that is highly unlikely.
Occasional glass surfing is harmless–you should only become concerned if your bearded dragon does it frequently or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or a slowing down in their shedding frequency.
Also, if glass surfing is a manifestation of underlying stress or illness, you should address those immediately before the problem becomes too serious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Glass Surfing Have Anything To Do With The Bearded Dragon Age?
No–bearded dragons can glass surf at any age, from baby to adult.
What Are Some Immediate Things I Can Do To Address Glass Surfing?
You can instantly calm your bearded dragon by stroking them gently on the head, bathing them, or removing any new additions to its tank.
How Else Does A Bearded Dragon Display Stress?
If your bearded dragon is under extreme stress, its color will darken, possibly even becoming black. This color change will be most noticeable on its beard.
You may also see them bobbing their head or waving.
Glass surfing itself is not bad for bearded dragons. Sometimes they may do it for harmless reasons, such as boredom or hunger.
However, if the behavior persists, pay closer attention to your beardie since it may be trying to tell you something. Prolonged stress or illness can be extremely harmful to your pet, and none of us want our dear beardies to feel uncomfortable for long.