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9 Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Glass Surfing

why is my bearded dragon glass surfing?

Glass surfing in bearded dragons is a peculiar behavior that leaves many owners wondering what’s up with their pets. If your beardie spends excessive time glass surfing, something could be off with its environment. 

Bearded dragons glass surf for various reasons, including feeling cooped up, too hot or cold, or anxious. They may want to escape a new enclosure, seek more stimuli, or evade another bearded dragon’s threats. A beardie also may be gravid, hungry, or unable to understand glass as an invisible barrier.

Although these theories aren’t scientifically confirmed, they are worth looking into. Watch your beardie closely the next time you notice it by a window or glass wall. To ensure your pet’s health and to deal with any underlying problems, learn why your bearded dragon is glass surfing.

What Is Glass Surfing?

When a bearded dragon repeatedly presses up against the walls of its enclosure, it is said to be glass surfing. The enclosure’s walls may or may not be glass. But since most lizards’ tanks use this material, the term just stuck.

Glass surfing is also known as glass dancing. 

This behavior can be entertaining to watch. But know that the beardie’s frantic glass pawing, if done often, could be a red flag that signals the lizard’s distress. 

How Does A Bearded Dragon Glass Surf?

The bearded dragon usually stands on its hind legs with its belly against the glass. It will be paddling around frantically and scratching at the walls, likely trying to escape its cage.

It often runs up to the glass wall and skates over it, seeming as if to climb up the walls or attack its reflection.

But as glass is slippery, the lizard cannot climb out and always slips back down. Yet, it attempts to do so again and again.

Watch these videos to see how a bearded dragon glass surfs.

Bearded dragon glass surfing –Start: 0:30  End: 0:39
Sometimes, a bearded dragon glass dances with its snout.

Why Is Your Bearded Dragon Glass Surfing?

Understanding your bearded dragon’s distress can be challenging. 

Glass surfing is one of those visible symptomatic behaviors beardies exhibit to tell you something is amiss. Something inside or outside of its enclosure may be stressing it.

Have a look at the decision tree below to find out why your beardie is glass surfing. After that, we will explain each reason in detail.

How to find out why a bearded dragon is glass surfing

Let’s look at 9 reasons in detail that could cause a bearded dragon to feel stressed and start glass surfing.

1. The Enclosure is Too Small

Bearded dragons like a lot of space, so a small enclosure may feel too confining (or possibly claustrophobic). 

A 55-gallon to 100-gallon tank is a good place for an adult bearded dragon because it has enough room. Larger, of course, will be better.

Some reptile husbandry specialists even recommend a tank that can hold at least 120 gallons, measuring 48′′L x 24′′W x 24′′H.

If you notice your juvenile dragon trying to climb the walls, it may have outgrown its tank. You may need to upsize, probably to an enclosure already big enough for an adult dragon. 

However, be sure to weigh and measure your pet first to be able to give it the proper-sized enclosure. Enclosure size is essential. A hatchling may not thrive in an adult-sized tank as it can feel vulnerable and stressed in a large space.   

Pro Tip:The length of the enclosure should be at least three times the lizard’s total body length, and its width should be at least 16″ so it can quickly turn around. 

2. Temperature is Not Right

why is my bearded dragon climbing the glass?

It can either be too warm or too cold—nowhere can your beardie find the right temperature it is comfortable in. It could be glass surfing, trying to see where the temperature hits its sweet spot.

A bearded dragon needs different temperatures for various areas of its enclosure. 

As a reptile, a beardie cannot thermoregulate or manage its body temperature. It can get quite stressed when it can’t settle comfortably in an area with the desired temperature.

If you don’t set the temperature right, your dragon could get too hot or not get enough heat.

This chart shows the general temperature requirements of an adult bearded dragon.

AreaTemperature °FTemperature °C
Cool spot70-7521-24
Warm spot75-8024-27
Hot basking spot90-11032-40

Tip: If you need to get a new heat lamp, we have tested a lot of heat lamps and show you what the best lamps are here!

3. Glass is Perplexing

Your pet lizard will never understand why he can see the broader world beyond his enclosure but not get to it. 

It doesn’t understand that glass is an invisible barrier it cannot climb, dig around, or go through. Hence, it glass surfs, looking for a way to go to what it can see beyond its habitat.

To stop your beardie from glass surfing, you can attach stickers to the glass to help it recognize its solid existence. A stripe or two lengthwise can do the trick.

Just don’t choose stickers that resemble the size and shape of food, or you can have the animal trying to eat these instead!

4. Seeing Another Lizard

Bearded dragons get stressed seeing other lizards, even if housed in separate enclosures. Whether dominant or submissive, they feel threatened when they see others of their kind.

They can even stress themselves out with their reflection in the glass! 

If you see your lizard staring at itself and then paddling on the glass, it is surfing to get at the “enemy” that might take over its territory. 

Pro Tip: Bearded dragons are loners and highly territorial. For this reason, don’t give in to the temptation to house two or more bearded dragons together to save space and money. 

If you’re not breeding, allowing a male and female in one tank isn’t a good idea either. Most scenarios involving more than one dragon in an enclosure do not end well. 

5. It’s Hungry, and It’s Looking for Food

why is my bearded dragon glass dancing?

Your bearded dragon might be hungry if it is glass surfing an hour or two before its usual feeding time.

Your beardie’s instinct is to look for food. Since it can’t find anything in its tank, it wants to forage out on the broader world, which it can see through the glass. 

In this case, increase the amount of starchy and fibrous vegetables when feeding an adult. Feed more insects to juvenile dragons to increase their protein intake.

By increasing their intake, they will stay satisfied long enough for the next meal.

Tip: Need more info on beardies? Have a look at our beardie care guide!

6. New Enclosure or Changes In Tank Decor

Most bearded dragons hate change. They are creatures of routine and love to have everything remain the same forever. 

Transferring them to a new enclosure can throw them off. Even rearranging their tank‘s decor or adding new accessories can cause anxiety.

When you change their environment, beardies could perceive their surroundings as alien (possibly dangerous). They resort to glass surfing in their attempt to get away from the new situation.

Try to keep changes to a minimum if it can be helped. Add or replace one or two tank accessories or plants at a time to allow your pet to adjust to their presence. 

Meanwhile, it would be best to stick to the same routines for feeding, bathing, and cleaning their enclosures so that any changes you make have less stressful effects. 

The aim is to calm their anxiety, thereby reducing glass surfing behavior.

7. Boredom

Despite the bearded dragon’s preference for unchanged surroundings, it can get bored. That’s why it’s climbing the walls!

A bearded dragon is active and curious. If understimulated, it could want to see what’s up in the big, wide world outside the enclosure. It may tend to “surf” on the glass or wall. 

Try taking your bearded dragon out of its tank for 15 minutes a day. Let it explore its outside world safely under your supervision. 

You could also give your pet more things to do by adding new logs and rocks to climb on, a hammock, and tunnels to its enclosure. But don’t overdo the accessories. Again, too many things in its tank may stress the animal and drive it to seek escape by glass surfing. 

8. Smelly Poop!

Believe it or not, bearded dragons turn up their noses at their own stench! 

A beardie’s poop stinks. So, if its enclosure isn’t cleaned regularly, its waste and uneaten food could make its home smelly.

This lizard can smell a stink and will always try to get away. It will be glass-surfing to escape from its dirty environment. 

Did you know? Some bearded dragons glass surf to tell their owners to clean up their poop! You know your beardie is a diva if it stops glass dancing when you clean up its waste.

9. Your Female Bearded Dragon is Preparing To Lay Eggs

why is my bearded dragon trying to escape?
A gravid (pregnant) bearded dragon.

Some pregnant bearded dragons get anxious before starting to lay their eggs. Even if your female doesn’t have a mate, she could still lay eggs, even if they won’t hatch.

When the female dragon draws near her time for laying eggs, she becomes restless as she might be looking for a good place to burrow her eggs – especially if you do not provide a diggable substrate in the enclosure or a digging box!

She may have the urge to dig and scratch at her enclosure walls. You may observe her glass surfing more frequently and frantically. 

Do not worry; this is normal behavior for gravid bearded dragons.

Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team
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