Bearded dragons are one of the best pets to have, but they have quirks. Bearded dragons like to lay flat on their stomachs for a few hours at a time. This makes them look like pancakes or sometimes even an aeroplane. This might be worrying but only if it lasts longer than an hour or two.
When bearded dragons lay flat, they are trying to get more heat from the ground or other surface they’re laying on through “thermal conductivity”, where heat travels through different materials to the dragon’s body. Raise its ambient temperature. Your pet might be scared or sick. It would be best if you were observant as far as your pet’s behavior is concerned.
Why do bearded dragons flatten out?
Some of the reasons why your bearded dragon is laying flat include the following:
1. To increase the body temperature
A bearded dragon in a pancake shape is most likely trying to increase its body temperature by exposing the maximum surface area possible for heat absorption from the sun or other sources like rocks and sand in an enclosure.
Bearded dragons are exothermic; therefore, they rely on external sources for body heat—methods such as laying flat increase their body temperature.
For bearded dragons that live in areas where there are seasons where daylight hours change dramatically throughout the year (such as the northern and southern hemispheres), they will flatten out during daylight hours when there is less natural light available. Bearded dragons living close to the equator require more heat than bearded dragons living in colder climates.
It’s also worth noting that if your bearded dragon is overweight or obese, it could struggle to regulate its body temperature properly, which might mean that they are more inclined to laying down on heated surfaces. It’s thus important to ensure that bearded dragons have a healthy, varied diet to help them maintain their weight.
If your beardie often lies flat in the mornings, it may be too cold. It would be best if you tried to increase the ambient temperature in their enclosure and ensure they have access to basking areas with UVB light where they can bask for at least 12 hours each day.
What can I do?
If your bearded dragon starts flattening out often for no apparent reason, ensure they get enough heat from heating lamps or basking rocks. Ensure the ambient temperatures for the bearded dragon is 95-100°F, the cooling spot is 75-80°F and the night temperatures 70-75°F.
If this isn’t sufficient, a checkup by a veterinarian because it might be time to reevaluate their enclosure conditions.
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2. The Bearded dragon is sick
Bearded dragons often flatten out when they are sick. If your bearded dragon lays flat on its stomach and turns its head to one side, it is a sign of illness that needs attention as soon as possible.
Other signs of sickness in bearded dragons you should look out for include:
- The bearded dragon does not move around much.
- The bearded dragon frequently regurgitates recently eaten food.
- The bearded dragon has a runny nose, eyes, or coughing.
The bearded dragon may also flatten out due to calcium imbalance or a stomachache.
What can I do?
If you are worried about your bearded dragon’s health, a reptile vet should advise you on what to do next. It is important that when bearded dragons get sick, they have the right help as soon as possible to get back up and running (literally) again.
3. The Bearded Dragon might have parasites
At times, bearded dragons will flatten out as a reaction to parasites in or on their bodies. This is common in bearded dragons living in captivity for some time or baby beardies still growing and developing their immune systems.
In the wild, bearded dragons might be more likely to show this behavior than bearded dragons living in captivity because they would not have regular access to food sources which could help ward off parasites, especially when there’s no one around to clean up after them.
Bearded dragon mites are not the most common parasite, but they tend to occur more often when the dragons live without good care or around other bearded dragons that might be carrying them.
Parasites may also cause a bearded dragons to scratch their skin, lose health and generally be sickly. If not cleaned often enough, bearded dragons can be affected by worms, mites and fleas. bearded dragons can be affected by these parasites if not cleaned often enough.
Check for mites using a magnifying glass if your bearded dragon shows this behavior. This will allow you to see whether or not there are any live mites in the skin of your bearded dragon and, if so, what stage it’s at. This way, you can know how best to treat them
4. It could be a fear response
Laying flat also signifies the bearded dragon’s fear or feeling threatened. Lizards and bearded dragons, in particular, will lay flat to avoid being seen by predators such as birds of prey.
If you notice your bearded dragon laying flat on its back for long periods and its skin color changes significantly that may indicate fear. Below I will discuss some common reasons for your Bearded Dagon would flatten out due to fear;
The pet might be afraid of the owner, especially if it’s recently adopted or a youngster. Some bearded dragons may be unable to get back up on their own if they’re truly afraid, which can become a problem for some owners.
It might also be afraid of other pets in the home or of a certain person or persons. If the dragon lies flat on its stomach when pets in the home come close to the cage, this is probably the reason. This often occurs with new pet dragons, but it should go away once the pet gets used to the others.
The dragon can also fear toys and other objects in the house. A doll can, for example, send out the message that it’s a threat when it’s not. Robotic toys such as tractors and walking toys can also scare them, making them flatten out on their tummies.
Lastly, the beardie might get scared by the movements outside such as birds, swaying trees and even basking cats if it is close to the window.
What can I do?
Simply remove the stimuli making the bearded dragon afraid. This can entail moving him to another location, moving away from the cage, removing a cage mate and other steps.