Bearded Dragon Puffed up – 10 Reasons Why

It is an instinct for a bearded dragon to puff different parts of its body. It is normal for them to puff their stomachs and throats. But why does a bearded dragon puff up? In this article, we will explore the various reasons bearded dragons puff up and how you can respond to this behavior.

It is normal for a bearded dragon to puff up their body and show their magnificent beard. Your pet might do this as a defense mechanism, temperature regulation, or social interaction.

Bearded dragons puff up their body when they perceive danger. Your beardie will puff their body to look more dominating and bigger to potential rivals and threats. Male beardies will also puff up their body and attract female partners during the mating season.

Puffing also occurs for temperature regulation. Bearded dragons are ectothermic, meaning they have to rely on external heat sources to regulate the temperature in their body. Puffing up helps absorb more heat or release excess heat from their body. Temperature regulation is very important and thus requires your bearded dragon to puff up to absorb more heat from the surroundings.

If your bearded dragon puffs up during social interaction, it is trying to establish dominance. This generally occurs when introducing your pet to a newly adopted bearded dragon. They are trying to establish a hierarchy among other bearded dragons and it is all part of a natural process.

10 Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Puffed Up

Bearded Dragon puffed up

Bearded dragons puff up due to various reasons. Puffing up is the way bearded dragons react to different situations. Your pet is trying to communicate, stretch, or establish domination. Here are ten reasons why bearded dragons puff up.

Stress or Scared

Scared Bearded Dragon

Being stressed or scared is one of the common reasons for bearded dragons to puff up. When a bearded dragon is feeling hostile, it stretches its body and puffs up its throat to look more dominating. This is done to scare away predators and occurs as an instinct.


When a bearded dragon puffs up its body, its beard might turn black. This phenomenon is called beard blackening and occurs to scare away predators and establish dominance. Some things that can cause stress or discomfort to your bearded dragon include loud noise, a newly adopted dragon, illness or injury, or sudden movements.

A bearded dragon might also get aggressive or scared if you change the surroundings inside its enclosure. As a pet owner, you should know to notice their behavioral patterns to know what is causing stress to your beardie.

Bearded dragons can also develop stress marks due to excessive stress and thus, it is very important to remove or resolve issues that are causing stress to your reptile.

Editor’s Note
Make sure your bearded dragon has a healthy environment and a well-balanced diet to avoid stress and discomfort.  The enclosure must contain adequate lighting, humidity, hiding space, and clean water.

Shedding Process

Bearded Dragon shedding

The shedding process also known as ecdysis is a naturally occurring procedure throughout all ages of bearded dragons. Shedding is another reason why bearded dragons puff up. Bearded dragons need to shed to reveal a new layer of skin.


Puffing up helps your beardie to stretch and loosen up all the dead skin on its body. Shedding takes place every few weeks for young beardies, while it only occurs every few months for adult bearded dragons. Throughout this period, your pet will be lazy and under a lot of stress, so make sure you provide them with adequate care.

If your bearded dragon is puffing up due to shedding you should provide them with enough humidity and fresh water inside the enclosure. Doing so will help them shed much faster; you can also run them a freshwater bath to make the process easier.

Mating Ritual

Bearded Dragon mating ritual

Many male bearded dragons will puff up around female dragons. This is done to attract the female bearded dragons to mate with them.


Male bearded dragons puff up due to various reasons, but if you have a female dragon attracting her might be the reason. During mating seasons, male bearded dragons will bob their head and puff up to show they are ready to mate and establish dominance inside the enclosure. 

Puffing up during mating season is a natural phenomenon and shows your pet is interested in mating with other dragons inside the enclosure. There is no reason to be worried as this behavior is not coming from aggression. Provide your beardies with enough space and monitor their interaction with other males, as they can get aggressive.

Editor’s Note
Apart from puffing up and bobbing their heads, bearded dragons also like to wave to show in other dragons inside the enclosure.

Establish Dominance

Another reason for bearded dragons to puff up is to establish dominance of their territory. This generally occurs when you put a new beardie inside the enclosure or if there is not enough room left for multiple beardies to breed in.


Male bearded dragons puff up to establish dominance over their territory or females. This behavior pattern can be followed by hissing and biting. You should never keep two male dragons inside the same enclosure. 

Berate dragons can get pretty aggressive when it comes to claiming their territory. You can see this behavior when you introduce a new beardie to your pet. Make sure you keep enough hiding space and keep all the male bearded dragons in different enclosures.

Bath Water Is Too Deep

Bearded dragons also puff up when they are taking a bath. If you are bathing your beardie in a deep container they might puff up as they are not good swimmers.


Bearded dragons need to be bathed in a shallow container. They are not great at swimming and can drown in just a few inches. You should only fill up the container about one inch for baby dragons and up to three inches for adults. 

If your bearded dragon is puffing up during bathing sessions make sure the water is shallow enough for them to swim in. Also, make sure that the water is of the right temperature, anything between 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit.


Being hungry is also a common reason for bearded dragons to puff up. Bearded dragons are known to stretch their stomach to make more room for a big meal.


Bearded dragons need a well-balanced diet and are known to eat big meals. They will stretch their skin by puffing up to make more room for food. If your beardie is puffing up during the feeding session you should make sure they are getting enough food on time.

As pet owners, you should also make a feeding schedule so they do not starve throughout the day. Feed your bearded dragons enough food according to their age and size. If they are losing too much weight, feed them superworms or waxworms to give them a healthy protein-rich diet.

Editor’s Note
You can also gut load your feeder insects to make sure your bearded dragon is getting a well-balanced nutritious diet.


Bearded dragons also puff up to show they are excited or in a playful mood. They tend to do this when they receive a new toy or are just excited to see you.


Puffing up is a great way of communicating excitement for your bearded dragons. You should promote this behavior by getting them involved in playful activities. Berate dragons also enjoy petting, you can stroke their head to tail gently to show affection for your bearded dragon.

You should also treat your bearded dragon from time to time. They will get all giddy up for their treats that they puff up and show their magnificent beard. Some feeder insects to offer as treats are waxworms, dubia roaches, etc.

During Feeding Sessions

Bearded dragons also puff up during their feeding sessions. They might puff up before or after a meal to digest the food properly in their body. 


Puffing up helps bearded dragons to stretch their skin to make more space in their mouth. This allows them to feed more than their fellow beardies and consume more calories. It is natural for bearded dragons to compete for food, it is an instinct they have acquired from the wild.

Bearded dragons might also puff up during feeding sessions to intimidate their prey and establish dominance for food. This behavior can be seen when you feed them live feeder insects like crickets.

While Basking

Bearded dragons bask in the morning to warm their bodies. Basking helps your pets to produce heat after being exposed to cold temperatures.


Puffing up is a sign there is not enough heat inside the enclosure. Basking in the morning is normal behavior in bearded dragons which is followed by an opening of lips and puffing up their beards.

Make sure you provide an external heat source for your beardies and maintain a temperature of 95-110 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Bearded dragons also need heat at night. Lower the temperature of the heat source to 70-75°F at night. You should always notice these small behavioral changes to provide the best care for your beardies.

Sign of Stretching

Puffed up Bearded Dragon stretching

To improve muscle functions bearded dragons will puff up their bodies in their body to regulate more blood. This is done after they have woken up from a long slumber and is considered just like a yawn.


Bearded dragons stretch their bodies after a long period of relaxing or sleeping. Puffing up after a nap helps to regulate blood evenly throughout the body. Stretching and puffing up helps your bearded dragons to pop their ear canals and wake up fully after a nap.

7 Tips if Your Bearded Dragon Is Puffed Up

Bearded dragons puff up due to various reasons, they use it to communicate if they are under stress or uncomfortable. Here are a few tips to help your bearded dragon if they puff up.

Check for Signs of Illness

Bearded Dragon Illness

You should check your bearded dragon for any illnesses if they are puffing up for no reason. You should always look for behavior changes to identify what is causing them stress or discomfort. Look for signs of lethargy, a sudden loss of appetite, discharge from the mouth, or digestive issues.

If you notice any of these signs consult a vet and provide them with the right treatment as soon as possible. You should also track when they are puffing up to identify the issue easily.

Temperature And Humidity

Bearded Dragon in enclosure with thermometer

Check the temperature and humidity levels of the enclosure. Bearded dragons generally puff up to provide more warmth to the body. You should always provide your beardie with external lighting and keep the temperature around 95-110 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, maintain a humidity level of 30-40%.

Adequate Lighting

Beaded Dragon in tank with UVB lighting

You should always provide adequate lighting for your beardies enclosure. Bearded dragons need UVB lighting to maintain good health. Ensure there is a good lighting source that is turned on for 12 hours a day.

Enough Space or Hiding Spots

Enclosure with hiding spots

Provide your bearded dragon with enough hiding space inside the enclosure. They should also have enough space to breed in if there are female dragons inside the enclosure. Two male bearded dragons should also not be kept inside the same enclosure as they might get aggressive.


Puffing up can also be a warning sign for parasite infestation in your bearded dragons. Check your bearded dragon for any signs of ticks, mites, or other parasites. In case you find any, take them to a vet for treatment immediately.

Offer Clean Water

Bearded dragons also puff up to conserve water or moisture in their body. You should always provide your bearded dragon with clean water so they are never dehydrated. Pet owners should also clean their water after every feeding session to prevent health issues.

Reduce Stress

It is very common for bearded dragons to puff up when they are under a lot of stress. Stress can be caused due to various factors such as loud noises, not enough space, shedding, and an unhealthy environment.

When to See a Vet?

Puffing up is an instinct to regulate heat and to communicate. Although, prolonged puffing can be an early sign of a health issue. If you notice your bearded dragon is puffing up more frequently or for a longer duration, you should consult a vet immediately.

If puffing up is caused due to respiratory infection, digestion issues, impaction, or stress you should consult a vet. Respiratory infections are the most common health issue that causes puffing up in your beardies. 

Bearded dragons might also puff up their stomach or mouth if they are facing a digestive issue. You should notice their eating patterns and consult a vet if anything seems to be off. It would help if you also gave your beardie a healthy and clean environment to keep them stress-free.

If you notice your dragon puffing up due to these reasons, you should consult a vet for medical attention. Vets will be able to treat the problem effectively, and your bearded dragon will be back to its normal life.


Why do bearded dragons puff up their throat?

Bearded dragons puff up their throats for various reasons. They might do it to communicate stress, excitement, or health issues. Bearded dragons also puff up to attract females and establish dominance amongst other male beardies.

Do bearded dragons puff up for attention?

Yes, bearded dragons sometimes do puff up for attention. They are trying to show you they are excited or in a happy mood. Bearded dragons also puff up before giving treats or being offered a new toy.

Final Thoughts

Bearded dragons puff up due to various reasons. Puffing up is an instinct to communicate excitement, threat, or health issues. Pay close attention to notice why they are puffing up and provide them with the right care.

You should also make sure you are giving them enough heat, light, water, and a healthy environment. The absence of these factors can lead to stress and puffing up in bearded dragons.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *