How to Stop a Bearded Dragon’s Glass Surfing

Bearded dragons are popular pet lizards with some unique behaviors, including shaking their heads, waving their hands, and doing push-ups. Despite popular belief, not all of these behaviors indicate that bearded dragons are happy. Glass surfing is such an act that it may look cute but actually indicates that there is a problem and it should be fixed.

What is Glass Surf in Bearded Dragon?

When the lizard frantically tries to climb up the side of its enclosure, it’s called a glass surf. Glass surfing, also known as glass dancing, sounds like a lizard’s belly rubbing against the glass of a sink, its calves paddling as if its body is surfing on the glass. The bearded dragon will also stand on its hind legs as if it were trying to climb out of the tank, but it kept sliding back to the ground.

Why Bearded Dragon Glass Surf?

Reptile forums are often filled with pet owners offering theories about the cause of the bearded dragon glass surfing. While these ideas vary widely, there is one thing in common—each is attributed to stress. Glass surfing is thought to be the result of stress, and bearded dragons may be stressed for several reasons:

  • A fence or tank that is too small for it can stress the bearded dragon.
  • Another bearded dragon, even if they were not housed together, could be interpreted as competing for bearded dragons and causing stress.
  • New decoration or rearranging of the terrarium can cause stress.
  • Feeling threatened by the reflection of the glass itself can lead to stress.
  • Being bored or hungry can be stressful for bearded dragons.
  • Suboptimal substrates, light, or temperature may stress bearded dragons.

Any one or more of these conditions can cause your bearded dragon to feel overly stressed, which in turn may prompt it to surf the glass.

Glass surfing isn’t unique to bearded dragons, though. Many pet reptiles and even fish glass surf when stressed for many of the same reasons.

bearded dragon stress

Aside from glass surfing, if your bearded dragon is darkening or darkening in color, it may be stressful. This is most noticeable on the beard.

If a bearded dragon has a black beard, a recent change involving it could be a source of stress, even if it’s considered a good change. For example, changing the position of the fence, moving the dragon to a new or larger tank, or adding a new bearded dragon within its line of sight can all stress the bearded dragon. The source of stress can also be something seemingly unlikely, such as the person who often takes care of a bearded dragon leaving for a week off.

Health Issues and Glass Surfing

There is no medical reason to be overly concerned about glass surfing, other than the fact that bearded dragons may be stressed. However, if a dragon does not eat well or falls off, begins to appear lethargic, or has reason to suspect that it may be sick, veterinary attention should be sought.

How to Stop Glass Surfing

Since bearded dragons can glass surf when stressed, it can be difficult to stop this behavior if the source of the stress is unknown. Unnecessary changes to the bearded dragon’s environment that could lead to more stress should be avoided. Some specific ways to help stop glass surfing include:

Illustration: Marina Li

  • If new items in the shell recently triggered the glass surfing behavior, those items should be restored to the state they were in before the glass surfing started. This could mean removing new decorations from the aquarium, or making sure the bearded dragon doesn’t see new reptiles introduced into the home.
  • If a tank is less than 55 gallons and has an adult bearded dragon in it, the tank is probably too small. A larger tank should be considered, as the small enclosure may be the reason for the glass surf.
  • If the tank is switched, the environment should be as familiar as possible. Items should be placed in the same general location as the original tank. Items may be more diffused, but changing it as little as possible can still convey a sense of home and familiarity to the bearded dragon.
  • If it’s glass surfing, the bearded dragon may just need more attention or stimulation. A bearded dragon should be provided with plenty of daily nutrition. If it likes to be handled, that may mean more time outside the tank.
  • Bearded dragons need proper lighting, humidity, and ambient temperature to stay happy and healthy. Improper day-night cycles, incorrect temperatures, and conditions that are too wet or dry can all cause stress in bearded dragons.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian right away. For health-related questions, be sure to consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know your pet’s health history, and can provide the best advice for your pet.