Do Bearded Dragons Have Emotions? {Can They Sense Yours?}

Reptiles have a perfect poker face sometimes and you may not know what they are thinking. Do bearded dragons have emotions?

Is this a question of opinion or can we find scientific evidence? I have stories as well that will back up my opinion.

Allow me to share them with you on this article based on bearded dragon emotions.

Do Bearded Dragons Have Emotions?

Yes. Bearded dragons have an underdeveloped hypothalamus that can still help them experience the world through basic and intuitive emotions.

There is pleasure in bonding with a bearded dragon that seems excited to see you and comfortable cuddling up with you on your shoulder, neck or lap.

The commonly agreed upon emotions that bearded dragons possess include:

  • Anxiety
  • Distress
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Aggression
  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Suffering

There are many examples of owners experiencing true emotions that are either subjective or scientifically backed. Let’s look into this further by dissecting bearded dragons’ emotions below.

Do Bearded Dragons Get Sad?

If you are asking me as a bearded dragon caregiver, I would say “yes”. Bearded dragons can get frustrated or depressed. They may show it in many ways such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive hiding
  • Refusing food
  • Not wanting to be touched

Usually a bearded dragon feels attachment to an owner who routinely spends time with them and feeds them. As a food provider and close contact, you are trusted.

If you do not present yourself for a lengthy period of time, this reptile may become:

  • reclusive
  • untrusting
  • sad

They may retreat from others trying to make contact or providing food. Hand feeding will be out of the equation for those who have no bonded with a bearded dragon who feels apprehensive.

Do Bearded Dragons Get Emotionally Attached?


  1. Bearded dragons feel an attachment to their territory and will get very aggressive, upset, fearful or frustrated when another creature tries to invade their space.
  2. They may also feel attachment to a certain environment and be displeased if they are forced to move to a new location.
  3. The most common attachment bearded dragons feel is to their mates or their owners in captivity. They may get aggressive with anyone else and refuse contact.

An owner of a bearded dragon can profess how attached their reptile is to them by the way they are greeted when they arrive or enter their field of vision.

Do Bearded Dragons Feel Lonely?

No. Bearded dragons are not supposed to feel lonely if they are considered solitary. This reptile doesn’t wish to share spaces and can live alone for longer periods of time.

The loneliness we are thinking of is based on attachment to people or things. These beardies become part of your family over time.

They bond with you, recognize you, will miss your touch, presence and trusting relationship revolving around food and interaction.

Without you around, they may shy away from others and feel like they did when they first arrived at your home.

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Are Bearded Dragons Emotional to Their Owners?

Yes. There is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that bearded dragons get emotional when their owners are present or away for a lengthy period of time.

They can act more calmly around you and be more aggressive around new people. A bearded dragon who is emotionally attached to you may:

  • Wish to be handled only by you
  • Cuddle with you
  • Climb aboard your shoulder or neck
  • Sleeping next to your bed
  • Get excited by scratching the cage glass

You can make contact, speak and interact in many ways with your little beast of a beardie. As long as these emotions are not negative such as hissing, leaping forward and puffing out blackened necks, you are accepted and trusted.

Reptile Emotions

What makes a bearded dragon happy? How do bearded dragons show affection? Some much can be said based on my stories and that of other owners, but is there any science based evidence.

  1. A bearded dragon may experience pleasure when stroked on the top of their head or body by someone they have bonded with their owners
  2. When a bearded dragon is pacing up and down or quickly moving to the front of the glass, they may be excited to see you or anxious to be let out.
  3. If curiosity can turn into a motion, it’s the inquisitive mind of a bearded dragon that wishes to investigate you, the surroundings and interact with external stimuli.
  4. Negative emotions are felt when territories are threatened, their life is at stake or when they must compete for the attention of a mate.

My Emotional Bearded dragon

When I return home from a long day. My beardie sees me and starts running back and forth in his enclosure. I get closer to the front of the glass and greets me there.

He keeps this up until I bring him out from some much needed direct contact which calms us both. When I left him at the vet earlier this year, he was calm and docile when they cared for him.

He squirmed out of their hands when he saw me and wanted to climb aboard my shoulder as soon as I arrived.

This little beast of a dragon sits on my lap and watches dramas on TV with me. Finally, he stares out the window with a content look on his face as the sun passes over us.

How Do Bearded Dragons Show Emotions?

How do we know that bearded dragons possess emotions? This is because they have a hypothalamus in their brains. This area regulates the activity of the autonomic nervous system with the pituitary.

Basic emotions of thirst, fear, hunger and aggression can be controlled in this region. One bearded dragon may feel more fearful or apprehensive while another is rambunctious and actively looking for engaging with you.

The unique personalities also help to dictate the individual emotions of bearded dragons.

Four Common Emotions of Bearded Dragons

  1. Fear
  2. Aggression
  3. Pleasure
  4. Sadness

In the reptile world, these four basic emotions are crucial for their survival. Without the fear of perceived threats or the lack of resources, a bearded dragon is susceptible to capture, being eaten or running out of food.

As they climb trees , they avoid birds from above and snakes from below. Basking gives them comfort or pleasure. Stroking your bearded dragon or giving them a hornworm for example, may trigger pleasure or excitement.

Aggression and sadness are negative emotions sparking from the threat of losing territory or competing for mates. These emotions can also help them survive as defense mechanisms.

Sadness or depression could be experienced from a lack of activity, a tight living space or no interaction with the outside world. If you have bonded with your bearded dragon and they don’t see you for a while, they may hide, become untrusting of others and feel depressed.


Can bearded dragons sense your emotions?

I’m not sure if my bearded dragon knows when I’m sad, but the timing feels like more than coincidence when he cuddles up on my lap.

My frown turned upside down when this creature dating back millions of years trusted me and rested on my body. When he perches on my shoulder, I feel loved by him.

His associations with me may only be based on the fact that I provide food and care for him well, but I like to think that my bearded dragon senses my emotions.

Technically speaking. They sense:

  • perceived threats
  • possible mates
  • live food sources nearby
  • temperature changes

No matter what his undeveloped hypothalamus controls in terms of his emotions, I think he knows me better than basic emotions can dictate.

Your bearded dragon is unique to you and you may sense that they are sensing you right back.


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.