With a beard of spikes under their chins and an armor of spiny scales, bearded dragons certainly live up to the name with their unusual appearance. Their ears also appear very differently from our own, at least on the surface, so just how well do they work?
Can your bearded dragon hear you? Yes, bearded dragons can hear their human owners very well. They can even recognize voices and the sound of their name. In the wild, they need to keep safe from predators and to listen for movements of small prey and so their sense of hearing is very well developed.
Bearded dragons are able to hear you and will enjoy hearing your voice, so pet owners should regularly speak with their dragons to create a bond and trust with them. Here is what you should know about your bearded dragon so that you can build a trusting relationship with them.
Can Bearded Dragons Learn Their Name?
Here’s a fun fact. Not only can bearded dragons learn the sound of their name, but you can actually train them to come to you when you call them.
Training them to respond to their name sounds like a cool trick, but it can actually be very beneficial for their safety around the home.
It’s fairly common for bearded dragons to get out of their cages and become lost, so if you have them trained to come to the sound of their name, you can simply call your bearded dragon and have them come right back to you.
You can teach your bearded dragon to respond to their name by using a lizard leash or rope.
- Call their name (or a command such as come) and tug the leash towards you very gently.
- Praise them whenever they move towards you and give them their favorite treat once they actually reach you (this part is crucial).
Some dragons will take longer than others to cotton on. You will have to be very patient and make sure you use the same words and tone of voice whenever you call them but you should get there eventually.
Bearded dragons will also associate the sound of your voice with feeding time if you talk to them at mealtimes.
How Do Bearded Dragons Ears Work?
Bearded dragons do not have an obvious ear structure, so people often wonder if they even have ears at all.
Of course, bearded dragons do have ears, but instead of an external structure, they have simple cavities on either side of their heads, with an inner structure that allows them to hear similarly to other species.
From the outside, their ears may just look like gaping holes, but when you peer closer, you’ll be able to see the sheer membrane, called the tympanic membrane, stretched over the openings. This is what is often referred to as the eardrum in humans.
The non-existent external ear structure does not affect the way a bearded dragon can hear; in fact, bearded dragons have a great sense of hearing.
The inside structure of a bearded dragon’s ears is fairly typical to what you’d see in any other animal. That tympanic membrane corresponds with the middle part of the inner ear, catching vibrations from sounds and transmitting them to the other components of the ear.
Another component of the ear is the stirrup, also known as the stapes, which is a tiny bone that picks up vibrations from the tympanic membrane.
Vibrations are then transferred further into the ear to the fluid-filled cochlear duct. This part of the ear has tiny hair-like pieces, called cilia, that pick up the vibrations.
Going past the cilia, signals get relayed straight to the brain where they are deciphered via the auditory nerve.
The inner ear of a bearded dragon also contains a vestibular system that helps regulate their sense of balance. Hence, middle ear infections in bearded dragons can seriously affect their ability to stay upright, the same way that ear infections can affect our own balance.
Do Bearded Dragons Get Ear Wax?
It is common to think that ears and ear wax go hand and hand, but that isn’t the case with bearded dragons. Because bearded dragons do not have an external ear structure, they have less of a cavity to keep clean and so they do not have the need to develop ear wax.
A lot of pet owners look into their earholes and think that that tympanic membrane is ear wax or some other substance trapped in their gaping holes, but it is not. It is important to never try to clean a bearded dragon’s ear because it can cause damage to the internal structure.
Because bearded dragon’s ears do not have external coverage, it’s sometimes possible for foreign objects to fall into their ear holes. Never try to dislodge or remove something out of your dragon’s ears. If you are concerned there is an issue it is best to bring your beardie to the vet.
Bearded dragons have a natural mechanism that makes sure that any foreign object that falls into the ears doesn’t damage their hearing.
It is normal for a bearded dragon to have shed stuck around their ears during the shedding process, but it is important to not tug at it. Shed that isn’t ready to come off is most likely attached to sensitive skin and pulling it off can result in injury.
In short, don’t put anything into your dragon’s ears or pull anything out of them. Let nature run its course – and, if at any time you are concerned about your beardy’s health, get to the vet to help with the issue.
Why Hearing Is Important To A Bearded Dragon?
There are many reasons as to why it is important for bearded dragons to be able to hear well. Some seem pretty obvious, while some are actually useful to know when trying to maintain a strong bond and for keeping your bearded dragon safe.
This is one of those obvious reasons, but it is also one of the main reasons why bearded dragons have evolved such a good sense of hearing. They need an acute sense of hearing to listen out for predators in the wild, of which there are many.
Here are just some of the predators a bearded dragon may face in the wild:
Bearded dragons can also detect movement through small vibrations in the ground.
Hearing is also needed for a bearded dragon to be able to catch their prey. Bearded dragons thoroughly enjoy eating bugs and insects, although they are not always easy to find.
Catching prey in the wild requires a lot of patience on the bearded dragon’s part. They may have to wait for extremely long periods and so it’s important for them to have a keen sense of hearing to detect any sounds nearby.
Pet bearded dragons no longer need to have such a sensitive hearing ability as food is often given straight to them, but it is still a useful natural instinct for beardies.
Usually, bearded dragons can use their eyes to find the crickets or food given to them, but sometimes the insects will hide, so the bearded dragons use their hearing as a hunting tool.
Do Bearded Dragons Like Music?
Many bearded dragon owners report that their bearded dragons enjoy certain genres of music, saying that their behavior notably changes when certain types of music are played.
Some owners say that their bearded dragon will settle down to a certain tune, while others say their bearded dragons become more alert and may even cock their head to one side.
While there is no real evidence to say that bearded dragons actually enjoy music, they definitely seem to at least respond more than a dog or cat ever would. Perhaps this is down to their extreme sensitivity to vibration as well as sound but that is just my opinion.
Bearded Dragon Reactions and Behaviors
Bearded dragons may not be vocal, but they can communicate in a number of ways and can respond to the sound of your voice. They use body language to interact with members of their own species along with other species they may encounter.
It is beneficial for bearded dragon owners to learn how to interpret the gestures of their pets.
Common behaviors you’ll see in a bearded dragon are:
- Head bobs
- Changing of color
- Mouth gaping
- Beard puffing up
- Tail pointing up
Abnormal behaviors you should be aware of are:
- Wobbly walking
- Moving the front legs only
- Soaking too much
- Looking upwards for no reason
- Twitching or jerking movements
- Lack of movement
It is common for some behaviors that appear to be normal to become abnormal if they are prolonged. For instance, it’s normal for a bearded dragon’s beard to become black when they are excited, but if it remains black for a long time, that can be a sign of pain or stress.
Sometimes if you speak to or stand in front of your bearded dragon, they will raise their front foot and actually wave to you.
Waving is a sign of presence and submission. It is their way of saying that they are present, come in peace, and don’t want to be hurt.
When bearded dragons bob their heads, it’s a sign of dominance. Faster bobs serve as a threat and a warning while slower bobs are a sign of submission.
You’ll see male bearded dragons doing quick jerky head bobs as this is their way of trying to court a female. If you notice it during the springtime, it is probably a sign that the mating season has started, and they are raging with hormones.
Slow, calm head bobs, or nodding, on the other hand, is their way of acknowledging you.
The main reason a bearded dragon will change color is temperature regulation. Dark, black surfaces soak in more warmth, so that is why you’ll see them turn black and flatten out under the light.
Some bearded dragons will turn black when they are showing aggression. When a bearded dragon becomes excited, scared, or aggressive, their beard will become enlarged and dark. This is an instance where the black beard will come and go.
But if the black beard stays longer than usual, it could be a sign that your bearded dragon is in pain or that something is wrong with its habitat. Older bearded dragons will show a black beard towards the end of their lives.
A bearded dragon will also turn pale as a sign of an upcoming shedding. Or while they are sleeping.
A common behavior you will see in your bearded dragon is, basking under a heat lamp. Along with collecting heat, they also collect UVB radiation, which helps create vitamin D3 in order to metabolize calcium.
Bearded dragons will hold their mouths open to regulate their body temperature. If their mouth is open while they are basking, they may be doing it to prevent overheating.
If they hold their mouth open for an extended amount of time, it could be a sign that their terrarium is too hot, or this is an underlying health issue.
Alternatively, if you see them holding their mouth open as you approach them, this could be a sign of assertiveness or aggression (often accompanied by a black beard). If this is the case you may want to wait for them to calm down before handling them or they may try to bite you.
When a bearded dragon curls their tale, they are signaling alertness and excitement. They will do this when chasing prey, running around, or greeting their owner.
Unusual behaviors in bearded dragons can be a sign of distress or sickness. These reptiles are energetic and can become angry for many reasons.
Hissing will be your bearded dragon’s first warning when they feel threatened. While the time of hissing, the dragon’s beard will puff up and turn black.
Aggression Towards Humans
If your bearded dragon is showing aggression, do not risk getting bit by trying to handle the aggression.
If you got your bearded dragon as an adult, it is possible that they were mistreated beforehand, so they may see being handled as a threat and will want to try to defend themselves.
It is a good idea to wear thick gloves and try short daily handlings to get your bearded dragon to warm up to you. It is also good to frequently talk to them as your voice can become a sign of comfort and signal that they will be fed soon.
If your bearded dragon is scratching at their glass, that could be their way of communicating with you that something in their environment is stressing them out.
If they begin to climb the glass, they could be trying to escape to a better environment or they may just be bored or in need of some attention.
Although they don’t have an actual outer ear structure, bearded dragons still have an inner ear structure that works in the same way as any other species with ears.
Their ears give them a good sense of hearing that allows them to catch prey and stop them from becoming prey. Beardies also learn their owner’s voice, so make sure you speak to them often!