Do Bearded Dragons Play Dead? (Answered By Experts)

Have you ever witnessed a bearded dragon suddenly go motionless, lying perfectly still as if it were playing dead? It may seem like an odd behavior for a reptile, but do bearded dragons play dead? This strange behavior has confused people who like reptiles and own these pets. In this article, we will learn about bearded dragons and find out why they pretend to be dead. We will explore their interesting facts and learn more about these fascinating creatures.

Bearded dragons play dead by lying still on their stomachs. They don’t usually lie on their backs because it’s unnatural. Playing dead doesn’t involve flipping on their back. When playing dead, bearded dragons can slow their breathing and only take one breath every few minutes.

Bearded dragons are fascinating creatures that exhibit a range of interesting behaviors. One behavior that often leaves owners puzzled is their ability to play dead. At first glance, it may seem like a survival instinct or a clever trick, but playing dead serves a deeper purpose for these reptiles.

Playing dead can be seen as an avoidance strategy. When confronted with danger or stress, bearded dragons may choose to freeze and remain motionless as an attempt to blend in with their surroundings or go unnoticed by predators. This behavior can also be observed during times of extreme handling or if they feel threatened by other animals in their environment.

brumation bearded dragon

There might be more to playing dead than meets the eye. Some experts suggest that it could serve as a means of conserving energy. By reducing movement and staying still, bearded dragons can lower their metabolic rate and conserve precious energy reserves for when they truly need them.

Stress Can Cause Your Pet To Play Dead

Stress in bearded dragons can make them play dead. This is called tonic immobility and it’s a defense mechanism used by many animals when they feel threatened. When a bearded dragon feels danger or extreme stress, it may freeze and flatten its body against the ground, looking like it’s not alive. Although it might worry owners to see their pet playing dead, it’s important to know that this behavior doesn’t mean the dragon is sick or about to die. It’s just a natural reaction to stress.

Tonic immobility happens when a bearded dragon gets scared by loud noises, being handled too much, or fighting with other dragons. This stress-induced playing dead usually only lasts a short time, but if it happens a lot, it can make your pet feel bad. To keep your bearded dragon happy and healthy, make sure it has a calm and safe home. This means giving it the right temperature, light, places to hide, and regular meals. By reducing stress and making sure your pet is comfortable, you help it feel safe and well.

One effective method is to ensure they have a comfortable living environment. Providing a spacious enclosure with hiding spots and appropriate temperature gradients can make them feel safe and secure.

bearded dragon food

Another way to minimize stress in your bearded dragon is by establishing a consistent routine. These reptiles thrive on predictability, so maintaining regular feeding times, light cycles, and handling sessions will help establish a sense of stability. It’s important to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere around their habitat. Avoid loud noises or sudden changes in the surroundings that could startle or distress them. By creating an environment of relaxation for your bearded dragon, you’ll not only enhance their overall well-being but also foster a stronger bond between you and your scaly friend.

Believe it or not, your bearded dragon might appear lifeless for reasons other than playing dead. It’s crucial to recognize these factors and distinguish between them in order to respond appropriately if needed!


Brumation is a natural hibernation-like state that occurs in reptiles during the colder months. 

During brumation, bearded dragons lower their metabolic rate and become less active. This behavior helps them conserve energy and survive when food becomes scarce in the wild. They may appear unresponsive and spend long periods sleeping or lying still. It can be hard not to worry about your seemingly dead-looking pet, but understanding brumation will help put your mind at ease.

bearded dragon enclosure

It’s important to note that while brumating, bearded dragons should still have access to water and maintain proper hydration levels. Keeping their enclosure temperature consistent is crucial. Once the temperatures start rising again, usually during springtime, your bearded dragon will gradually come out of its brumation state and resume normal activities.


Another reason for a seemingly lifeless bearded dragon could be due to illness or injury. Common health issues that cause lethargy include respiratory infections and metabolic bone disease. If your beardie appears weak or unresponsive for an extended period along with other symptoms like loss of appetite or abnormal bowel movements, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly.

Actual Death

There are a few key indicators to look out for if you suspect your bearded dragon has passed away. These include no traces of breathing, limbs becoming stiff, the stomach appearing bloated, and finding the dragon lying on its back.

bearded dragon diet

The surest sign of death in a bearded dragon is when there is no heartbeat or pulse. If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to contact a reptile veterinarian immediately for guidance. 

It’s worth mentioning that stories exist on the internet about individuals accidentally burying their bearded dragons alive due to thinking they were deceased. Therefore, it’s always essential to be vigilant and seek professional advice when faced with uncertainty regarding your pet’s well-being. 

You can tell if your bearded dragon is sick by watching how much they eat. If they suddenly eat less or stop eating altogether, they might be sick. Also, check their poop for any changes in color or consistency. If it’s runny or looks strange, they might have internal problems.

Bearded dragons sometimes pretend to be dead, which can surprise owners who might think they are sick or dead. They do this when they feel scared or threatened, as a way to protect themselves from predators. During this time, they may stay very still with their eyes closed and not respond when touched. But this behavior doesn’t last long, and they will go back to being active as usual.

It’s important to know how to tell if your bearded dragon has died. Watch for signs like no breathing and no response to gentle touches. Pay attention to your pet’s health and well-being. Understand the difference between sickness, playing dead from stress, hibernation, and death. This will help you take care of your bearded dragon and build a strong bond with them.

The main question arises: do bearded dragons play dead?  Bearded dragons may seem like they are playing dead, but it is actually a survival instinct. They do this when they feel threatened or stressed, or to avoid confrontation. Knowing the natural behaviors of these creatures can help owners take care of them better. If your bearded dragon pretends to be dead, it’s just their way of dealing with perceived threats. By creating a safe and cozy environment for your pet, you can make sure they feel secure and happy.

How Do You Know If A Bearded Dragon Is Dead?

To determine if a bearded dragon has passed away, check for movement or response when touched gently. Also, monitor breathing and look for skin discoloration as signs of death.

What Is The Bearded Dragon Lifespan?

The average lifespan of a bearded dragon is around 10-15 years, but they can live up to 20 years with proper care. Providing a balanced diet, appropriate lighting and heating, and regular veterinary check-ups can help ensure your bearded dragon lives a long and healthy life.

Is A Bearded Dragon A Good Pet?

Bearded dragons are great pets because they have a relaxed attitude, strong bodies, enjoy human company, adapt easily to new environments, and love to climb. Plus, they’re entertaining to observe!