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Do Bearded Dragons Bite? Reasons & How Much It Hurts

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

bearded dragon opening its mouth

Bearded dragons are one of the most popular reptiles kept as pets, with many people considering them to be a good starter pet for someone new to keeping reptiles. Not only do they have relatively straightforward care needs, but beardies are typically docile pets that often show a level of bonding with their person. In fact, they are typically docile and willing to be handled even by people they aren’t familiar with. Should you be worried about a bite from one of these docile critters? It does happen, although it’s not too common.

bearded dragon divider

Do Bearded Dragons Bite?

Yes, bearded dragons can and will bite. The good news, though, is that bites from beardies are pretty uncommon. Their docile, gentle nature means bites typically occur irregularly, but they are more common to occur regularly in a bearded dragon that is highly stressed or kept in an inappropriate environment that doesn’t feel safe to them. They may also bite when being handled inappropriately. You are less likely to be bitten by a bearded dragon than you are by most other reptilian pets.

close up of a bearded dragon on branch
Photo Credit: Gerhard G., Pixabay

Why Do Bearded Dragons Bite?

It seems that most bearded dragon bites occur by accident. The beardie may mistake your fingers for food or something interesting, giving them a bite before realizing their mistake.

They also are apt to bite if they’re being mishandled. Being handled too roughly or in ways that cause pain or discomfort have the potential to end in the handler being bitten. If a bearded dragon is showing its black beard, then it is scared or stressed. If you continue to attempt to handle a bearded dragon that is showing its beard, then there is a real potential for a bite to occur.

Less commonly, male bearded dragons may become confused and bite you. Male beardies are extremely aggressive toward each other. If your male catches a glimpse of his reflection in the glass of his tank or in a mirror, then he may bite you because he believes that another male is in the enclosure.

Do Bearded Dragon Bites Hurt?

If your bearded dragon bites you, there is a greater potential for your beardie to be harmed than you. If you are bitten, try to stay calm and resist the temptation to let your fight-or-flight instincts cause you to drop or throw the animal.

Although uncommon, a bearded dragon bite can break your skin, in which case you’ll need to thoroughly wash the bite and keep the area clean, visiting a doctor if needed. Most bites don’t break the skin, though, and the vast majority will only cause minor discomfort for a few minutes.

bearded dragon divider

In Conclusion

Bearded dragons are willing to bite, like most animals, but their bites are not common. They are docile animals, but they may bite if they feel threatened, are in pain, are confused, mistake you for food, or are generally grumpy. Even beardies have bad days sometimes!

To avoid any bites from your bearded dragon, handle them gently and appropriately. Try to read their cues that tell you when they’re feeling stressed or don’t want to be handled. Black bearding is an obvious sign, but wiggling away from you, hiding, or staying away from you can all indicate that your beardie doesn’t want to be handled.


Featured Image Credit: Ashley Whitworth, Shutterstock

Brooke Billingsley

Authored by

After nine years as a veterinary assistant, Brooke Billingsley transitioned to a career as a nurse in 2013. She lives in Arkansas with her boyfriend, sharing their home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. A dedicated animal lover, Brooke has a special place in her heart for special needs pets, including a three-legged senior dog and a famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. is one of her hobbies, and she is constantly improving her knowledge to care for her aquarium pets. Brooke is an active yoga enthusiast, having obtained her 200-hour yoga teacher certification in 2020. She believes in the importance of continuous learning and dedicates time each day to developing new skills and expanding her knowledge....Read more

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