Bearded dragons are usually very sociable, curious pets that enjoy spending time with their owners. There are times though that your beardie may not want to be out and about, or you may find him or her hiding away for a time. You may find yourself asking ‘why is my bearded dragon hiding in its cave?’
There are several reasons for a bearded dragon to be hiding in its cave. These reasons could be because they are trying to cool off, it may be entering brumation, or they could be retreating from a stressful situation.
We’re glad you’re here seeking information about your quirky little pet, so continue reading as we go over some reasons for your beardie hiding away.
Reasons Your Bearded Dragon is Hiding in its Cave
There are several reasons why your bearded dragon is hiding in its cave. Most times this is normal behavior for bearded dragons that you don’t have to worry about. There are times when you should seek out advice from a qualified reptile vet though.
If at any time you feel concerned enough to seek out a vet, by all means, do that. It’s better to be overcautious than to be sorry you didn’t talk to a professional.
Brumation is a form of hibernation for reptiles. Not all bearded dragons enter into brumation, but when they do, if you’re not prepared for it, this behavior could be a little alarming. They will hunker down into a sleeping spot, become inactive for days, possibly weeks and hardly eat anything.
During brumation a bearded dragon will begin slowing down, they will either stop eating for a time, or eat much less than normal, and they will sleep a lot more. Your beardie will also try to hide away and not bask in the heat and light while brumating.
During this time, continue to offer food, but don’t disturb them. They may wake up to eat a little bit and then go right back to sleep but because their metabolism slows down, they won’t need as much food, and they won’t poop much.
Brumation usually happens when the weather cools down, or the tank gets cooler, but it can in fact happen at any time. If you suspect your pet is starting to wind down for brumation, it would be a good idea to at least talk to your vet to see if they want to do any tests like a fecal test. There are illnesses that can mimic brumation, so a conversation with your vet can rule out any complications.
Is it Getting Hot in Here?
Too much heat in your tank setup could be sending your beardie into its cave to cool off. Check the temperature in both the basking area and the cooler section of your enclosure. If the entire area is too warm, your little pet could be trying to find a place to regulate temperatures.
It could also be that your bearded dragon just moved from the basking spot and is now trying to cool off. They will constantly move from the basking area to the cooler side to regulate their internal temperature. Your beardie should come out of the cave after a short time, but if they are staying inside the hide for days check the temperature.
The basking zone should be between 85℉ to 110℉ and the cooler area of your setup should be between 70℉ to 80℉. Adjust the temperatures if these areas are far out of the comfortable zones.
If you need to check the temperature of your reptile enclosure, this Etekcity Infrared Thermometer is a great, economical choice.
Unfortunately, illness could be a reason your little buddy is hiding in its cave. When we don’t feel well, we often stay in bed or sleep more to try and fight off the illness. A bearded dragon isn’t much different in that aspect.
Parasites, constipation or impaction, and many other illnesses can slow a beardie down. If you notice symptoms such as lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, abnormal poops, abnormal breathing, irritation, or other different behaviors along with him sleeping in the cave a lot, you should definitely make a trip to the vet.
Most illnesses that cause your dragon to hide away in the cave all day will need to be treated by the vet. Sometimes constipation can be treated at home, but parasites, infections and other sickness need professional help.
Bright Light, Bright Light
Have you recently installed a new UVA/UVB lamp? Maybe the intensity is too much for your beardie’s enclosure. UVA/UVB lamps are essential for bearded dragon health, but some can be too strong depending on the size of the lamp and tank.
Bearded dragons know when they are getting hot, are getting cold, and when they are getting hit with too many rays. They need some UVA/UVB light, but too much is just as bad as not enough. They will move around to adjust for themselves and hiding in a cave might be their way of saying, ‘this light is a bit intense.’
Does she bask with her eyes closed all the time or hide away from the light a lot? It could be that there is too much light, or it is too close to the enclosure. Adjust the light and see if that helps.
You should change your light every 6 months or so because these light bulbs do eventually wear out. Check out our article about the best lamps for bearded dragons right here: https://www.snaketracks.com/best-uvb-for-bearded-dragons/
Catching up on Beauty Sleep
Maybe your bearded dragon needs her beauty sleep and is taking a nap in the cave. Throughout the day, your beardie might be tired from heavy activity, or she just needs a nap in a secure place. She should come out of the cave once she finished with her nap.
It’s common for a bearded dragon to take a nap during the day. They may sleep in the basking spot, in the cooler area or chill out in the cave. They shouldn’t be sleeping in there all day though unless they are going through brumation or not feeling well.
That Secure Feeling
In the wild, bearded dragons will often seek out a little crevice or cave for security. When they are feeling threatened or just want to feel secure, they might seek out the cave. This is also a normal behavior.
When the threat has moved on, or they feel safe again they will come out of the cave. This is especially the case when you have a younger bearded dragon. They are especially vulnerable when very little and will often spend a lot of time inside a cave to hide from the big world that contains a lot of threats.
If they are new to an enclosure, or if you recently adopted your beardie, it may also hide away in the cave until it gets used to you and the new surroundings. Just give him some time, don’t make fast, excited movements and eventually he will come out of the cave more.
Escaping the Crowd
Bearded dragons are mostly solitary creatures that like their space. If there are other beardies in their enclosure, they could be seeking refuge in the cave. Maybe another bearded dragon is being overly dominating, so they seek out peace and quiet inside the cave.
It could be that your beardie is grumpy and doesn’t want to be around others, so he sequesters himself away in the cave.
It’s not really recommended to keep multiple bearded dragons in a single enclosure unless you are breeding a pair. They are solitary reptiles in the wild and usually don’t like the company of other beardies. They do enjoy it when their humans socialize with them though, especially when treats are involved.
If you have multiple beardies in one enclosure and one or two are always hiding away in the cave, you should look into separating them out. Sometimes their personalities clash with other beardies. Hey, it happens to the best of us, even us humans.
The age of your beardie could also affect if and how much time they spend hiding in their cave. As we mentioned above, younger beardies will tend to hide away more when stressed or frightened.
When your beardie hits puberty stages, around the ages of 8 to 14 months they might start acting like a normal teenager. They just want to hang out in their room most of the day, beardies can exhibit these same behaviors.
During adolescent ages, bearded dragons can tend to be a little more aggressive or grumpy. They could spend more time in their caves when they feel this way. If this is the case, just leave them alone for a little while, soon the case of the grumpies will fade away.
Adult beardies will typically spend less time hiding away. The excessive hormone dump has passed, they are used to their routine and found a way to deal with most of life’s stresses like all good adults. The occasional hideaway is normal and healthy.
Here’s a video of a bearded dragon going into a cave to hide away:
When Should You See the Vet?
As long as your bearded dragon comes out of the cave throughout the day, is eating and pooping normally, basking and seems healthy, the occasional hideaway inside the cave is a normal behavior. If your beardie is spending a lot of time in the cave—all day or multiple days—you should contact your vet to see if something is going on.
We want to offer as much advice as we can for your pets, but we are not vets. If for any reason you feel compelled to talk to your veterinarian, but are unsure if you should, we strongly suggest you follow your gut and make the call. When it comes to your pets, it’s better to be overly cautious.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Hiding Places?
The short answer is yes, you should provide a hiding place for your bearded dragon.
In the wild, bearded dragons seek out comfortable hiding places for safety, so they can sleep undisturbed, and escape predators. When setting up your beardie’s enclosure, you should provide a hiding place or a cave along with a warm basking spot and a cool down area.
When choosing a good cave for your bearded dragon, you should seek out one that will completely cover your dragon. A hiding place that doesn’t completely cover your dragon can cause them to become stressed because they feel exposed still.
We like these from amazon, Exo Terra Hagen Reptile Cave. There are two sizes to choose from so you can pick the correct size for your beardie.
Why is my bearded dragon hiding and not basking?
A: This could be because the light is too strong. Does your beardie bask or come out and keep its eyes closed? Test to see if the light is too strong by turning it off for a day or two and see if your bearded dragon comes out of hiding. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you should reach out to your vet for next steps.
Is it normal for bearded dragons to hide?
A: Yes it is. Bearded dragons will hide in the wild to escape predators. They will also hide if they are stressed, trying to cool off, or just want a secure place to sleep undisturbed.
We hope this has cleared up some questions about why your bearded dragon is hiding in the cave. Bearded dragons do like to hide away sometimes, so most times it’s normal behavior.
If you find your beardie hiding away a lot, check to see if something is causing him/her to seek out the confines of the cave. Hopefully, there is nothing to worry about, but if you are unsure, then please reach out to your vet for further guidance.