Why Do Bearded Dragons Hiss? {Signs Of Threat and Calming Remedies}

It sounds like air is escaping my bicycle tire or a pot of soup is sizzling, but it’s just my bearded dragon making this sound.

Why do bearded dragons hiss? Why is my bearded dragon mad at me? How do I calm him down?

This is a great article that I put together to discuss bearded dragon hissing and their tendencies to display anger, stress or fear.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Hiss?

Bearded dragons can feel threats that are perceived or real which causes them to hiss. A new home could cause it, but there are many other reasons including:

  • Mishandling
  • Too hot/Too cold
  • Lack of safe hiding spots
  • Not bonded with you yet
  • Injured
  • Sick
  • Discomfort in shedding
  • Catching their own reflection
  • Too much foot traffic
  • Other pets nearby
  • Territorial against you or other bearded dragons
  • Wishing to eat in peace without being disturbed
  • Mating season

Do not think that aggression is the only reason for bearded dragon hissing. You will learn the quirks associated with your bearded dragon’s reactions by reading this article and spending more time together over the coming months.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Mad At Me?

Bearded dragons may or may not be mad. They are defending territory or feeling threatened by you.

They are not yet trusting your presence and wish for more time to adjust to their new home, new caregiver and friend.

They will trust you as you continue to interact, move and speak slowly, smoothly and gently. You will eventually be the trusted source for providing food and comfort will cause them to relax and soften their stance which could be anywhere from:

  • Head bobbing
  • Hissing
  • Leaning forward
  • Tail up
  • Beard puffed out
  • Pancaking (lying flat on stomach)
  • Biting
  • Tail whipping

There are many other ways to tell that a bearded dragon is uncomfortable, but do not take it personally if you feel they are acting mad or hissing out of aggression. It’s not you, it’s them. They will adjust soon.

How Bearded Dragons Get Mad

Bearded dragons may become aggravated by new surroundings or temperatures being too cold or too warm.

They may get territorial as well when they see their own reflection in the tank’s glass and think they have to protect their space against this intruder. Here are some signs that bearded dragons are mad:

  • Biting
  • Hissing
  • Tail twitching
  • Blackened beard
  • Puffed out necks
  1. Try not to mishandle a bearded dragon that is not used to you yet.
  2. Never approach from above or behind.
  3. Stay in front and move slowly with your hand
  4. Offer food or gently touch when you feel invited.
  5. Hissing is an obvious sign to back off for now.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Opening His Mouth?

Bearded dragons may not be mad or aggressive when they are opening their mouths. Sometimes they are too hot, too cold or gathering information from microparticles in the air.

They can lick the air or open up wide to see what clues land on their tongues regarding available food sources or changes in weather.

Opening their mouths is also referred to as gaping. If it is followed by hissing, you know now that this beardie is upset or threatened.

Time to leave them alone for now. Ensure they have adequate hiding spaces to feel more at ease with a safe place to chill out or bask in heat.

YouTube video

I Have Stressed Bearded Dragon

My bearded dragon used to be stressed when I originally put his enclosure in an area with heavy foot traffic. I wanted to see him as I walked back and forth through the living room. He didn’t like it.

I needed to find a quieter spot for him to relax. He also hated seeing our dog and guinea pigs. Here’s how we knew he was angry and stressed:

  • Stress marks
  • Dark lines on his body
  • Oval spots on his back
  • Black beard
  • Puffed out neck
  • Hissing
  • Excessive hiding
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

After moving him these signs above have disappeared and he is much more relaxed as the king of his territory.

My Bearded Dragon Is Hissing All of a Sudden

I caught a moment when my bearded dragon saw his own reflection and started frantically hissing. He didn’t realize it was just him reflecting off the glass. A few minor adjustments reduced the glare.

I move the lights around and changed his hiding spots to make sure he didn’t feel that there were any threats in his territory.

The feeling of fear, perceived threats and possible introducers or predators lurking may cause your bearded dragon to feel insecure. Here are some more reasons:

  • Mishandling
  • Change of temperature
  • Untamed or unbonded to you
  • Hurt or ill
  • Sudden noise
  • Loud volumes
  • Too many strangers
  • Other pets walking past the tank
  • Mating season

Even though there are no mates around, this beardie may be hissing to see if he can capture the attention of a female who could be nearby. Sorry beardie, I’m the only female and I’m already taken!

How Do I Calm My Bearded Dragon?

A stressed or angry bearded dragon could be feeling threatened and may hiss all of a sudden at you or their own reflection. We need to make some adjustments to help them calm down.

Here are a few tips:

  • Handle them less
  • Add more hiding spaces in the tank
  • Minimize volumes, lights and other sounds
  • Make sure they can recognize your scent
  • Offer food
  • Warm baths help
  • Reduce foot traffic
  • Do not crowd them with people or pets
  • Speak softly and pleasantly

I left a piece of an old T-shirt and hoped he would catch my scent. I also approached from the front with a mealworm or cricket and saw that this allowed him to trust me as a trusted food provider and familiar scented creature who doesn’t mean any harm.

Bearded Dragon Puffing

The puffing usually occurs around the neck of a bearded dragon. It could also be associated with stress, anger and feeling threatened. Your bearded dragon may be hissing too at this time.

The puffed out beard or neck could also be turning black. Cats fluff up their tail and arch their back when they are stressed or alert.

Bearded dragons puff their necks and this makes them look bigger or more threatening as their best response to the perceived threat that they are assuming are nearby.

They might be right, but if they are in your home, there should be no threats.

Why is My Bearded Dragon Skittish?

A skittish bearded dragon may not trust his or her surroundings and the people in it. You might have already bonded together and found that this beardie is skittish.

  • Try a warm bath with a soft towel afterwards.
  • Turn off or dim the lights.
  • Quiet down.
  • Cover the cage with a blanket.
  • Add more hiding spaces.
  • Distract with food.
  • Speak with a gentle tone of voice.

3 Ways a Bearded Dragons Shows Anger

  1. Hissing
  2. Beard puffing
  3. Pancaking

1. Hissing

Hissing is a sign that your bearded dragon feels threatened. The environment needs to be conducive to a bearded dragon who is highly territorial, solitary and wishes for quiet comforts with plenty of resting spaces where they could be left alone.

2. Beard Puffing

The beard could puff out and possibly turn black too when they are angry or stressed. They could be swelling up to appear larger to define themselves.

Sometimes puffing helps them shed skin that is stuck around this area. Other times the puffing is associated with being too hot or too cold.

3. Pancaking

Pancaking is a term used to explain what a bearded dragon is doing when they are flattening their body. This stealth position allows them to hide or blend in with branches.

The pancaking can also harden up their spiky scales and make them ready for a possible attack. Sudden movements or drops in temperature may also trigger the flattening appearance.

Final Thoughts

Your bearded dragon perceives a threat. Bearded dragons, like the majority of animals, will become aggressive if provoked.

  1. Never push your dragon too far or corner it. They will feel threatened or hostile since you are much larger than they are, and they will use all means required to defend themselves.
  2. They don’t have enough food or water available to them. Any animal, including people, will act out when malnourished. They may be suffering from acute dehydration, hunger, or incorrect nutrition, which shows in their behavior. Hissing may be their technique of requesting more or better food and water than they already have.
  3. They may be frightened by their reflection. They may appear to be hissing at you through the glass, but they are most likely simply staring at their own reflection.
  4. More privacy is what your bearded dragon desires. Your pet could become bored or feel encroached upon if you play with them nonstop.
  5. Make sure you give bearded dragons ample room to unwind and be alone when they need to be because they are often extremely private creatures during the day.


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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.