Do Bearded Dragons Smell With Their Tongue? {Why Beardies Lick}

I catch my beardie licking the air and sometimes he licks me as well. Do bearded dragons smell with their tongue?

There are many ways bearded dragons use their tongues that I really want to share with you.

I hope you will allow me to explain in this article about bearded dragon tongues.

Do Bearded Dragons Smell With Their Tongue?

Yes. The Jacobson’s organ, also known as the vomeronasal organ, is another organ that bearded dragons have inside their mouths to smell.

This organ is:

  • located near the roof of the mouth
  • gives them a sense of smell 
  • operates as an olfactory tongue

In a manner similar to how people often smell food before eating it, bearded dragons gain more of an understanding of their food intake by tasting it.

Bearded Dragon Sticking Tongue Out. What Does it Mean?

When I notice my bearded dragon poking out his tongue, he’s just taking a look around. He also gently uses his tongue to feel foreign objects. This is how bearded dragons pick up on new locations and items.

3 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Stick Out Their Tongue

  1. Verifying and Sensing
  2. Capturing Food
  3. Basking

1. Verifying and Sensing

My bearded dragon is likely surveying his surroundings if I see him sticking out his tongue. He quickly extends the tongue to sense foreign items.

This means they are using their tongue like a mouth and a nose at the same time. Bearded dragons learn about new environments and objects in this way.

2. Capturing Food

When it’s time to eat, bearded dragons frequently display their tongues prominently. My bearded dragon often opens his jaws right away as food enters his area of view.

Bearded dragons can use their powerful jaw and teeth to secure meals once it is within their mouth.

3. Basking Time

Your bearded dragon may just be sunbathing if his mouth is open and you can see his tongue.

With the ideal body temperature for bearded dragons is between 95 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit they frequently “vent” or “gap” in response to reaching the optimal basking temperature.

Their mouths open and their tongues may also stick out at this time.

YouTube video

Why do Bearded Dragons Lick?

My beardie gathers data about his surroundings. A young one will lick you more often. When your pet becomes accustomed to you, they won’t need to lick you as frequently to see if you pose a threat or are a friend.

The gathered sensory data is then sent to the brain for interpretation. This is how your bearded dragon:

The gathered sensory data is then sent to the brain for interpretation. This is how your bearded dragon:

  • discovers its environment
  • spots predators
  • senses by tasting and smelling

Your bearded dragon is gathering information in the form of tiny particles every time they put out their tongue. Then, a unique organ situated close to the dragon’s mouth’s roof  processes these particles. It is called:

  • the Jacobson’s organ
  • vomeronasal organ  

Why Do Bearded Dragons Lick The Air?

A bearded dragon will lick almost anything in its vicinity, including you or the air. A bearded dragon learns about its surroundings when it licks the air.

  1. The air is full with tiny microparticles that provide vital information for your bearded dragon.
  2. A stressed-out bearded dragon will lick the air to see whether it is in any danger after being introduced to it or after being placed in a new habitat.
  3. If your bearded dragon is hungry, it may be one of the reasons it starts licking the air.

You could see that your bearded dragon starts to lick the air when feeding time comes around again. This is a clear indication that it is starving and needs to be fed.

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Lick Everything?

Bearded dragons have a behavior known as “tongue flicking” or “tongue licking,” which involves repeatedly extending their tongue and touching objects or surfaces. Here are some possible reasons why your bearded dragon may be licking everything:

  • Exploratory Behavior: Bearded dragons use their tongue to explore and gather information about their surroundings. They have specialized sensory cells on their tongue called Jacobson’s organs, which help them detect scent particles in the air and on objects. By licking or flicking their tongue, they can gather information about the environment, including potential food sources or predators.
  • Investigating New Objects: When presented with new objects or items in their enclosure, bearded dragons may lick or flick their tongue to investigate and gather information about these objects. It’s their way of familiarizing themselves with the new item and assessing if it poses any potential threat.
  • Tasting and Smelling: Licking objects can also be a way for bearded dragons to taste or smell substances. They have a keen sense of smell and use their tongue to gather information about the food or objects in their environment. By licking, they can detect scents or taste traces left on surfaces.
  • Social Communication: In some cases, bearded dragons may use tongue flicking as a form of communication with other bearded dragons or with their human caretakers. It can be a way of expressing curiosity, asserting dominance, or even as a form of greeting.
  • Habit or Self-Stimulatory Behavior: Some bearded dragons may develop habitual or self-stimulatory behaviors, such as excessive tongue flicking or licking. This behavior may occur due to stress, boredom, or environmental factors. If the behavior becomes excessive or compulsive, it may be worth exploring potential underlying causes and addressing any environmental or behavioral factors that could be contributing to the behavior.

In most cases, tongue flicking or licking is a normal behavior for bearded dragons and is part of their natural repertoire.

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Lick Me?

A bearded dragon’s natural tendency is to lick. When it does so, it’s not always acting aggressively or expressing anger. On the other hand, licking is nearly usually done calmly and gently.

1. Gathering data

Your bearded dragon is certainly attempting to learn more about you and the environment around it, which is why it is licking you.

A bearded dragon in the wild continually “tastes” the air or objects around it to determine whether there are any predators or other types of danger around.

In the same way, a bearded dragon kept at home, especially a young one, will lick you.

Your beardie will be able to learn about temperature, texture, and other environmental aspects by licking you and the objects nearby.

2. Tasting Food

If your bearded dragon is licking you and it is right before feeding time, it can be determining whether you are an edible object. It can tell whether you are a food item by licking you and seeing if it knows you.

3. A Territorial Action

Highly territorial bearded dragons will lick everything in their vicinity to indicate their territory.

If you have another beardie, though, they can decide to lick anything in sight to stake out their territory and ward off possible rivals.

To prevent conflict or disruption, we advise keeping them in different tanks and, ideally, separate rooms.

4. Mating Season?

My bearded dragon flicks his tongue in search of pheromones that suggest the presence of a willing female nearby.The entire hunt is pointless because I just have one bearded dragon.

Why does my bearded dragon lick me, then? Does he think he can flirt with me?

Why Male Bearded Dragons Lick More Than Females

Male bearded dragons may frequently display greater licking activity when another male is around. They may be trying to:

  • keep other males away from a female
  • assert their control of their area
  • show another dragon who is in charge

Females will occasionally lick more intensely to assert their authority over the food source.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Licking Lips?

It might also mean that your bearded dragon is thirsty if it is licking its lips. To prevent dehydration, make sure your lizard has access to water inside the tank and that the temperature is not too high.


Bearded dragons gaping with their mouths open and licking as if they are smelling the air are most likely for different reasons.

  1. Licking is a common habit, but if your pet is gaping it may be overheated or feeling aggression.
  2. Sticking the tongue allow them gather information about you and everything else.
  3. They can sense, smell or taste the microparticles in the air landing on their tongue.

Lick away my little beardie. Lick, smell, taste and enjoy.

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.