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We all know that bearded dragons belong to the Pogona genus lizard, and their name was derived from their ability to flare out the skin around their throats and make them look bigger. Besides that, they have other weird behaviors, including flattening their bodies called a “bearded dragon pancake“. This funny trait leaves owners, especially first-timers, no clue why they do it or what triggers it.
Since bearded dragons are very robust creatures, we find it confusing when they have unusual behaviors. Therefore, as caregivers, we should pay attention to all of their habits. To help stay on top of your bearded dragon’s health and habits, you need to understand why then do things like flattening out.
From time to time, you will surely encounter unusual behaviors from your pet, and that’s okay. It is his way to show you signs of what he is feeling or experiencing.
As bearded dragon enthusiasts ourselves, we find it extremely fascinating, so our team decided to research everything about this behavior and why they do it. Is it normal for our pets? Is flattening out unhealthy for the dragons? Well, we will answer all these queries later in this article. So, please stick with us until the end of the discussion.
What Is a Bearded Dragon Pancake?
Bearded dragon pancake or “pancaking” is when your pet’s body flattens out while basking. It looks like a strange sort of pancake with lizard features attached. Some bearded dragon owners use this term to describe the often-lazy position of these cute little pets.
Bearded dragons are indeed curious and surprisingly alert. They can show their intelligence and communicate with us without uttering a word but use communicative body language instead.
4 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Go Flat
If you have been a bearded dragon owner for some time now, you will understand that flattening out is very common among these reptiles, especially in the morning. This behavior occurs because, throughout the night, they have been through lower temperatures. So, when they wake up, they should do something that can regulate the normal body temperature of a bearded dragon.
- Increase body temperature
If you notice that your bearded dragon gradually flattens out throughout the day at random times, there is a high chance that their body temperature is not correct. As mentioned earlier, too low or high body temperature can turn your pet’s beard or even its whole-body dark, too. It may not always be the story, but it is certainly something to look out for.
As bearded dragon owners, we need to do our part to ensure that their body heat is on point at all times. We highly recommend using a thermometer to check the accurate temperature in your pet’s tank. You also have to use a good-quality thermostat to regulate the recommended temperature for bearded dragons at all times without having to fine-tune any dials.
How to Help Our Bearded Dragons Regulate Their Body Temperatures?
Here’s a bearded dragon tank temperature guide to help your pet regulate its body temperature at all times.
- Basking area: 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Cool spot: 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
- Night: 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
If you think that the basking lamp and area are still not warm enough, maybe the problem is the bulb. Keep in mind that the heating lamp bulb should range from 50 to 150 watts. It would be best if you would also place the power output at a reasonable spot. You don’t want the blubs to be placed too low since your bearded dragon can reach it, but not too high since the basking area will not be warm enough.
Usually, owners place the daytime light around 12 inches from the tank’s floor. If the surrounding is still not getting warm, you may need a larger bulb.
Another issue would be the ventilation. This issue is most common in the United States and the United Kingdom. Most bearded dragon tanks in the United States are made of glass with a mesh over the top, while most tanks in the United Kingdom are made of woods with sliding doors. Since these materials allow hot air to rise, most of the warmth coming from the bulb immediately leaves via the roof.
So, we recommend you use a heat-resistant material, such as wooden sheets, to cover some parts of the mesh. However, make sure that all materials are compatible with your hot lamps and hangout décor to prevent any fire situation.
- Response to fear
Another reason for a bearded dragon pancake is fear. When our pets think they are in danger, they will instinctively flatten out their stomach. This way, these reptiles can look larger and stronger than they are. According to reptile experts, stomach flattening means they avoid all conflicts rather than invite them. If you notice that a gaping mouth accompanies pancaking, it means that something has also spooked your beardie.
Besides that, if you have other pets in your households, such as a cat or dog, they can surely intimidate your beardie. It is an attempt to appear uninterested in any pets you may have in the house.
Pro Tip: Your pet will surely enjoy this hide hole for bearded dragons.
Remember that even the smallest change in the surroundings can make bearded dragons uncomfortable and feel like they need to display behaviors that make them feel safer. Some owners said that bearded dragons could bob their heads, meaning they are in an uncomfortable situation.
On the other hand, the good news here is they can calm down pretty quickly, and you will see your pet turn back to normal in a short while.
Aside from incorrect body temperature and fear response, bearded dragon pancake can also be related to an illness. If your little pet is not eating and feeling sick, the lack of food can make the stomach look flatter than normal. Also, lying flat is related to calcium imbalance. Hence, if you notice some unusual symptoms in your dragon, you should consult the veterinarian right away. Although vet bills can be costly sometimes, it is the best option for sick bearded dragons.
Pro Tip: Feed this multivitamin supplement to your beardie to boost the immune system.
If you touch your bearded dragon and it flattens out, o not worry because it is a normal response, especially from baby and juvenile bearded dragons. Since you are bigger than them, they will perceive you as a threat. However, with proper training and patience, your pet can surely build a friendly vibe with you. Although it may take a while, they can feel relaxed in your presence once they get familiar with you.
Over time, bearded dragons can feel comfortable and happy to sit on their owners’ shoulders and play. When he flattens out on your body, it means that they are relaxed and taking some warmth from your body heat. Generally, these cute little reptiles love interacting with their owners and even enjoy being stroked on the head, chin, and cheeks.
Once you and your bearded dragon get used to each other, you will recognize when they want to cuddle or when they want to be alone. Remember that a bearded dragon pancake is a good sign while cuddling.
4 Other Unusual Behaviors of Bearded Dragons
If you notice that your little pet is panting, it means that he is overheated and the enclosure is too hot.
Stunted movements or difficulty walking. Since these little reptiles are cold-blooded, you can expect that they are sensitive to extreme temperatures. Ensure that your pet’s terrarium has a basking area around 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day with cooler areas to allow body temperature regulation. At night, the entire tank should have a lowered temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aside from overheating, bearded dragons can pant due to mouth infections. It occurs when your bearded dragon is always stressed and has a poor diet and heating. This disease can spread to the lungs if left untreated.
- Eye bulging
Eye bulging can be caused by shedding. Sometimes, they bulge their eyes out to attempt to remove the dead skin around their face. However, it can also be caused by parasites, Vitamin A overdose, and loss of substrates stuck in the eyes.
- Beard puffing
Beard puffing is always due to stress or fear. These reptiles tend to puff their beads when something new in their environment stresses them.
However, it can also be related to shedding. A puffing beard can be the dragon’s attempt to speed up the shedding process around their body.
- Head bobbing
Head bobbing is more common among male beardies than females. In the wild, they do it to attract females or intimidate fellow male dragons.
According to reptile experts, flattening out can help bearded dragon reach their optimal body temperature relatively fast and move their bodies easier.
However, bearded dragons have two ways to regulate their body temperature faster. The first is to flatten out their bodies, and the second is to turn their body darker. Bearded dragons do these things to absorb more heat to spend less time basking and more time roaming and playing with other beardies.
A bearded dragon pancake is normal among these reptiles. However, you need to understand all explanations above to make sure if the pancaking is related to something harmful or not.