Bearded Dragon Noises & Meanings (Hissing, Whistling, Etc.)

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Bearded dragons don’t make a lot of noise. Unlike mammals, reptiles don’t have vocal cords, so they can’t audibly communicate. Instead, they communicate in more physical ways using body language.

For this reason (and many others), they make great pets for smaller homes. You don’t need to worry about them upsetting your neighbors or waking you up at night.

If you do notice your bearded dragon making an unusual noise, it could mean that there’s something wrong.

Bearded Dragon Noises & What They Mean

Bearded Dragon Hissing Noise

Hissing

Bearded dragon hissing is usually down to stress. The hiss will be quite loud and sound like that of a snake. It will often be accompanied by a wide-open mouth and other aggressive behaviors such as arm waving or tail flicking.

This is your bearded dragon’s way of warning you away. They feel threatened and may try to bite you if you move any closer.

What Causes Hissing?

It may be that your bearded dragon is just in a bad mood, and if you go back later, they’ll be fine. However, if you notice hissing becoming a more regular thing, it could be because:

  • The way you approach them makes them feel vulnerable – In the wild, they’re prey for birds, so approaching them from above where they can’t see you might scare them. Try going in from the front or side where they can see your hand clearly.
  • They feel ill – If they’re unwell, they’re more likely to want to be left alone. Watch out for any other unusual behaviors; loss of appetite or lethargy may indicate a larger issue.
  • Shedding – The day before shedding, your bearded dragon may feel a little more sensitive to touch. If they’re uncomfortable, hissing might be their way of telling you that they want to be left alone.
  • Something in their environment makes them feel threatened – The world around your bearded dragon may feel like a scary place, and it’s your job to make them feel secure. If you have other pets that regularly look in the terrarium, your bearded dragon may see them as a predator. Equally, they may see other dragons as a threat. Bearded dragons are solitary creatures, so housing them with a ‘friend’ can cause fights and constant aggression.
  • Mating – If your bearded dragon is getting ready for mating, they’re likely to be a little tense. Let them cool off. Trying to pick them up will only escalate the situation.

Coughing

Your bearded dragon coughing will sound like a regular hiccupping sound. If it’s just temporary, it’s probably nothing. However, if this continues, it may be that your bearded dragon has a respiratory infection.

What Causes Coughing?

  • Dust – Many bearded dragon owners use sand or shavings in the terrarium. This can cause a lot of dust to gather up and eventually enter your bearded dragon’s lungs. A specialized reptile carpet is a much better option to avoid these issues, and it’s easy to clean too.
  • Humidity – In the wild bearded dragons are used to a desert-like environment with dry heat. If your terrarium is overly humid, it could cause issues with your bearded dragon’s lungs. The humidity level should be 20-40%. Monitor this with a hygrometer.
  • Colds – That’s right, bearded dragons can catch a cold, which can worsen if it isn’t treated correctly. This could happen if you’ve bathed your bearded dragon then left them out in the cold air for too long without drying them. Or if you had them away from their heat lamp for over an hour in a cold climate. If your bearded dragon indeed has a cold, you may also notice mucus coming out of their nose.

What Should You Do If My Bearded Dragon Is Coughing?

Go to the vet! No matter what the cause, coughing is never a good sign. As soon as you notice a persistent cough, book them in for an appointment with a specialist reptile veterinarian. You may need antibiotics to get rid of the issue, so the earlier you catch it, the better.

Rasping

Normally, you shouldn’t be able to hear your bearded dragon breathing. If you suddenly start to hear rasping, heavy breathing or gurgling, it could be that your bearded dragon’s airway is blocked by something.

This could be a piece of food that was too large for them to swallow or substrate picked up from the floor.

Continued rasping noises could also indicate yellow fungus disease, which is common in bearded dragons, or even parasites that could have been picked up from their food or water source.

Whatever the reason, rasping noises, where it’s clear that your bearded dragon is struggling to breathe, are never a good sign. Get an emergency vet appointment!

Whistling

If you notice a slight whistling noise from your bearded dragon, it’s likely to be coming from their nose. It could be that a tiny piece of skin has become lodged in a nostril from their last shed, and when they breathe, it causes a whistling sound.

This often isn’t anything to worry about and will naturally dislodge itself over time. If you’re concerned, or if the whistling worsens, you might want to lightly wash your bearded dragon’s nose with warm water to soften and remove the piece of skin.

(Check out our full guide on bathing your bearded dragon)

If the whistle continues, a trip to the vet can’t hurt, just to make sure it’s nothing serious.

How Else Can a Bearded Dragon Make Noise?

Bearded Dragon Whistling Noise

We know that bearded dragons themselves don’t make noises like dogs or cats. However, they can make noises using things around them. These can sound alarming if you don’t know what they are.

Tail Flicking – Tail flicking can be a sign of aggression or stress. It’s a way for your bearded dragon to show you that they aren’t in the mood. Depending on how angry they are, their tail can make loud thumping sounds against the glass or rocks in their terrarium. This doesn’t hurt them but can definitely be alarming if you don’t know what it is.

Glass Surfing – This is when your bearded dragon drags its body across the glass of their terrarium. There are theories why they might display this behavior, but the truth is, no one really knows for sure. It could be that they’re trying to get out, trying to get your attention, or trying to fight the bearded dragon reflection that they see in the glass. Whatever it is, it can make a loud bumping or squeaking sound.

Live Food – While bearded dragons don’t make noise, their food does. Crickets and locusts can be incredibly noisy, especially at night. Some people may confuse these noises, thinking that their dragon is making them. If you hear a chirping sound, take a look around for a rogue cricket.

Summary

So, bearded dragons can make noise. But, they’re often involuntary noises based on their activities, mood, or when something is wrong.

The best idea is to monitor any strange noises and try and diagnose the issue. Hissing can be resolved easily. However, other forms of noise can mean a deeper health issue. Don’t be afraid to call your vet for help.

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