Are Bearded Dragons Smart? {See The Evidence & Be The Judge}

I love this topic as much as I love my bearded dragon. Are bearded dragons smart?

Am I biased for saying Yes? Can I back it up? Yes!

This article contains so much information on bearded dragon intelligence. You be the judge.

Are Bearded Dragons Smart?

Yes. Bearded dragons receive high marks for intelligence based on tests, observations, consensus and anecdotal evidence.

They can do well with:

  • Problem solving
  • Recognizing owners
  • Imitating other reptiles
  • Social learning
  • Learning routines

When a bearded dragon demonstrates the skills to imitate or copy other counterparts for survival, they exhibit a higher level of intelligence that is similar to humans.

Do Bearded Dragons Recognize Their Owners?

Yes. My bearded dragon reacts differently to me compared to my friends or relatives.

When they are near the enclosure, he either retreats or remains motionless. Sometimes his neck puffs up and turns dark. Other times he may hiss.

When my beardies sees me or senses me, he reacts by:

  • coming closer
  • opening his mouth expecting food
  • giving me his attention
  • interacting with me
  • approaching for physical touch.

Bearded dragons recognize their owners’ scent and voice. In many cases they can lick the air and sense particles associated with scents such as my favorite conditioner in my hair.

Are Bearded Dragons Emotionally Intelligent?

Yes. I’m biased, but let me share some details I found about this. They feel:

  • Emotional states
  • Pleasure
  • Suffering
  • Positive associations to moments
  • Negative feelings towards hostility or fear
  • Pain
  • Stress

Much more is needed in terms of concrete evidence to take this question further past primal emotions of fear or hunger.

While more evidence emerges the more we find out how emotionally intelligent our bearded dragons under your care and mine really are.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Seem Intelligent?

Have you heard of a female bearded dragon being trained by scientists to open a screen door? The whole point was to retrieve and capture a hornworm if the task was complete.

It was a success. It gets even better:

  • In 11 seconds the fist female opens the door.
  • Her session was recorded.
  • 8 more bearded dragons watch the video.
  • They IMITATE the first female.
  • All 8 succeed to open the door.
  • 4 bearded dragon did not watch the video.
  • All 4 failed to open the door.

I find these results incredible and I rest my case. Just kidding. There’s so much to discover below.

How Smart Are Bearded Dragons?

It’s hard to measure exactly how smart bearded dragons are compared to other animal species. Are bearded dragons smarter than cats?

I would say they have different skills, but a cat has developed more learned adaptations to interact with humans for the ultimate gain of receiving easy meals.

Bearded dragons that reach a bond with humans will frequently:

  • React positively.
  • Move the font of the enclosure to greet them.
  • Hope they will be rewarded with food for their act of recognizing us. 
  • Imitate other bearded dragons or reptiles who learned how to get easy snacks from their human caregivers..

Are bearded dragons smarter than dolphins? I would say no. When comparing them to other ungulates, they are efficient, intelligent, emotional and imitative.

Do Bearded Dragons Think?

Yes. While there are some reasons to believe that bearded dragons can think or dream, their experiences are not meant to be compared to humans.

Repetition, pattern recognition and routines where problem solving is required makes us feel like they are thinking for the best or easiest way to achieve their goals.

The goal is usually a tasty treat and their success is usually based on how they maneuver themselves to get the food they are focused on.

Why Are Bearded Dragons Smart?

Any animal that could survive on this planet for millions of years has to be smart enough to exist this long.

Bearded dragons are physically appealing for their miniature dinosaur appearance. These relatives of their early ancestors know how use their body, reactions, sensations and brain to:

  • Remember routines
  • Develop patterns
  • Recognize people
  • Respond negatively or positively to external stimuli
  • Use their head bobbing to communicate
  • Lick the air to capture scents
  • Change beard color
  • Puff out beards
  • Undergo brumation to rest and recharge

Of course, not all bearded dragons are going to rate the same under intelligence tests. Some have been able to imitate others better to reach their goal of food.

Others have failed physical tests to open doors in order to receive a treat. Some are more fearful of others and may hide more which limits their learning opportunities.

Bearded Dragon Instincts

The instincts of a bearded dragon are indicative to their history as one of the oldest animals on this planet.

Their intellects allow them to:

  • Protect themselves
  • Defend territory
  • Find a mate
  • Capture prey
  • Forage for fruits and vegetables

What we can do as caregivers and pet owners of bearded dragons is to allow them to rely less on instinct and more on routines that give them more opportunities for:

  • Hand feeding
  • Physical contact
  • Taming
  • Maneuvering around the house or enclosure

Bearded Dragon Learned Behavior

The behavior that is learned is opposed by instinctual behavior or ones that are innate. Bearded dragons can learn to:

  • Perform tasks (example: open a screen door, open a trapdoor)
  • Mimic other reptiles
  • Find their way around your home
  • Recognize you
  • Greet you
  • Respond to new potential threats

A bearded dragon may not learn party tricks and perform them flawlessly, but if they have the potential to open doors, we can assume that there’s plenty more for them to learn and for us to learn about them!

Can Bearded Dragons Understand You?

Yes. Your bearded dragon is paying attention to you and may be trying to understand you based on your:

  • Actions
  • Movements
  • Hand entering the enclosure
  • Scent
  • Voice

The mostly even-tempered behavior of these reptiles under captivity is fostered with routines that give them constant rewards by way of tasty live foods such as crickets, roaches and worms.

YouTube video

Can Bearded Dragons Hear You?

Yes, bearded dragons can clearly hear their human owners. They can identify:

  • voices 
  • the sound of their own name

In the environment, they must protect themselves from predators and listen for movements of little prey, therefore their hearing is highly developed.

Bearded dragons only emit slight hissing noises when they are angry. They communicate not just through color changes, beard puffing, and body flattening, but also by leg waving and head bobbing.

Are Bearded Dragons Playful?

Yes. Bearded dragons can act goofy or playful when they are relaxed or motivated with food rewards.

They may enjoy:

  • Music
  • Running through obstacles
  • Climbing levels
  • Interacting with a ball
  • Squeezing or clutching toys

Watch your bearded dragon react to manipulatives, toys or other stimuli besides food. See how they can connect play and food together when they receive treats for doing fun things.

When my bearded dragon pushes a ball towards me, I give him a piece of a leafy green or a live critter. He gobbles it down and goes back to the ball to repeat the action for another treat.

How Much Attention Do Bearded Dragons Require?

Bearded dragons demand a great deal of attention, especially in their early years. A healthy bearded dragon must consume a variety of insects in addition to a limited amount of fresh veggies and fruit.

They also require a clean tank as well as being kept warm and humid. The bearded dragon is one of the most popular reptile pets.

They may be highly active and are easy to care for. Although they demand more care than other types of pet lizards, they still need a lot of it. The typical bearded dragon takes one hour of care each day, with others requiring slightly more or less.

What Is the Smartest Reptile?

Some crocodilians have intricate social systems, utilize tools, and hunt in groups. Some turtles have been seen to be good at solving mazes, whereas enormous tortoises have outstanding learning abilities.

  • The monitor lizards, however, provide the most evidence for intelligence in reptiles.

An experiment on captive rock monitors reveals they can count up to six. The lizards were regularly shown two chambers, each holding four snails.

Instead of going on, they withdrew a snail from the first box, and the lizards searched in perplexity for the missing meal. This worked for snacks containing up to six snails.

Captive monitors, like dogs, can be trained. This includes simple things like feeding from their owner’s fingers to far more spectacular accomplishments like:

  • toilet-training
  • walking with a dog leash
  • performing tricks

A monitor lizard can be trained to wave a leg as a request for food. Another teaching can be how to hunt rodents.

Signs That Bearded Dragon Are Smart

Bearded dragons are adaptive and capable of learning routines and remembering patterns. Let’s what they enjoy:

  • Motivated by food to learn
  • Able to meet you at their same feeding spot
  • Arrive to the front of enclosure when you enter the room
  • Recognizing you over others
  • Scratching the glass when excited
  • Hiding from strangers
  • Escaping from enclosures (it happens. Watch out!)
  • Playing With Toys
  • Raise limbs like they are waving at one another or to you
  • Bobbing head for communication
  • Defense mechanisms
  • Hand feeding
  • Cuddling

These are some of the highlights from this article that helps us determine how to spot the signs of bearded dragon intelligence.

Do Bearded Dragons Have Feelings?

Bearded dragons have feelings and may feel physical sensations as a result of their emotions. Your bearded dragon is capable of feeling joy, pain, or suffering.

When they encounter an event, they can experience both pleasant and negative emotions. According to some studies, bearded dragons and other reptiles may feel:

  • worry
  • anguish
  • excitement
  • irritation
  • tension
  • pain

Bearded dragons and other reptiles may also respond more to their owners than to other people.
Bearded dragons’ attitudes toward their owners may differ from those of dogs or cats, yet they may bond with people.

It is important to note that the degree of affection displayed by a bearded dragon is determined by their individual personality.

Some of the most prevalent emotional states is:

  • opening their lips
  • a rigid posture
  • hissing
  • rushing forward in short spurts

If you witness your reptile performing these behaviors, the bearded dragon is feeling and reacting.

What Is the IQ of a Bearded Dragon?

That can’t be answered since an IQ test is designed for people and there’s no way to administer one to a bearded dragon.

Even among humans from various cultures, it is inaccurate. Even if lizards could communicate, such a test would be useless.

IQ tests that measure intelligence are for humans and are biased toward educated individuals. There are several types of testing available now for bearded dragons. None of these involve human mental functions or intellectual abilities and are related to lizards.

Is a Bearded Dragon a Boring Pet?

No. My bearded dragon is not boring. I got mine two years ago, and it’s been a long learning process. This was not my first reptile, but he is rather unique.

He’s a lot of fun and charming. He moves slowly and at his own rate. I bring him outdoors a few times a month and it’s been great to watch him explore a confined and supervised space.

I also set it on my bed and we listen to music while relaxing. We watch a movie and he falls asleep on my lap.


Bearded dragons are peculiar reptiles, but they are intelligent pets. Understand typical emotional indicators to have a better relationship with your bearded dragon.

One of the major advantages of keeping these dragons as pets is that they have a long lifetime and are quite sociable with you.

Bearded dragons are very smart based on results of how well they can learn routines and solve problems. Being able to imitate each other to survive, eat or defend themselves makes them knowledgeable and wise.


Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.