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Why Does My Bearded Dragon Lick Everything? | Behavior

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Lick Everything?

When my family received our first bearded dragon, my kids got a kick out of the fact that it seemed to lick everything in its enclosure. I thought that this might be a fun learning experience, so we all looked up why these dragons were going crazy and “kissing” everything in sight. This post covers what we learned about bearded dragons licking things.

It is normal for bearded dragons to lick out their tongue in order to identify the various items in their environments such as food, water, predators, and possible mates. They use the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of their mouth to analyze the particles that their tongue has picked up in their environment.

Are there situations where a bearded dragon might lick their environment more than usual? What if my bearded dragon just likes to sit with its tongue out? Also, how do I keep the bearded dragon’s environment safe for exploration?

Read on for the interesting answers.

What is a Jacobson’s Organ?

Bearded Dragon jacobsons Organ Licking Black Beard

Some animals, such as bearded dragons, have a Jacobson’s organ located on the roof of their mouth. This organ, which is also called the vomeronasal organ, allows them to analyze different particles that their tongue picks up in their environment. This is why you see them licking the air and different objects in their environment. They are just getting a better idea of what and where things are.

The data that bearded dragons get from savoring their environment allows them to become more confident as they have a better idea of where food, predators, and even appropriate basking spots are located. So, it’s important to let them explore new environments to reduce stress levels.

Bearded Dragons will also lick to search for possible mates and competition during their breeding season. They can pick up pheromones on objects in their environment or even in the air. This type of sampling usually picks up after they come out of their brumation period.

Read more about Brumation in our article here – What Is Bearded Dragon Brumation?

What Causes Excessive Bearded Dragon Licking Behavior?

There are many reasons that a bearded dragon will go into a licking
frenzy.  A few of them include:

New or Changed Environment

As soon as you place a bearded dragon into a new environment, you’ll notice that it will lick the objects that are close to it. If there are a lot of new sights, sounds, and smells then the bearded dragon will roam around a lot to get a good idea of what is going on around it.

This behavior will even occur if you keep them in the same enclosure, but add, remove, or move around the objects in it. Moving the whole enclosure to a new room or section of the original room can cause enough changes to lighting and smell that it also can trigger a round of lick analysis.

Bearded Dragon's Age

Baby bearded dragons will tend to go crazy with analyzing their environment because everything is new to them. This strong interest in sampling everything will usually slow down at around 2+ years of age due to the dragon having catalogued a lot of things in its environment.

Mates & Competition

Bearded dragons can use their Jacobson’s organ to analyze pheromones and determine if there are viable mates in their area. They also can determine if they have mating and/or dominance competition. You’ll notice that a bearded dragon might lick another dragon before displaying their beard and bobbing their head in a display of dominance. This is true for both males and females.

Gaping - Other Reasons Why A Bearded Dragon Will Have Its Mouth Open

Bearded Dragon Tongue

There are a few reasons, outside of using the Jacobson’s Organ, that your bearded dragon might have its mouth open. These include:

Heat Regulation

Bearded dragons don’t sweat like humans. Instead they will open their mouth to release any excess heat. If you notice that your bearded dragon is sitting with its mouth open, make sure to check the temperature in its enclosure. The basking spot temperature should be no higher than 115° F for young bearded dragons and 105° F for adult dragons.

Dominance - Aggression / Stress

Bearded dragons will often have their mouths open during displays of dominance. They will also puff out their beards and might make a hissing noise. A display of dominance can be caused by them being frightened by elements in their environment, how they are being held, or the presence of another bearded dragon.


Bearded dragons will also hold open their mouth and stick out their tongue if they are thirsty or dehydrated. You can ensure that your bearded dragon is hydrated by giving it a 30-minute bath in a sink or bowl that has a small amount of warm water in it.

You can also leave a water bowl full of shallow water on the cool side of their enclosure as long as the humidity level stays in the safe range of 30 to 40 percent. Bearded dragons are attracted to moving water, so I’d suggest using a “bubbler” that’s usually used in aquariums to peak their interest in the water bowl.


I was extremely surprised when I realized that bearded dragons actually do yawn. A bearded dragon will often yawn after waking up. They will puff out their beard a few times and slowly open and close their mouth.

There shouldn’t be any clicking noise coming from the dragon while they do this, as this could be a sign of a respiratory issue. If this occurs, please contact an exotic vet for a check-up.

Enclosure Safety

Now that we have a better understanding of why bearded dragons lick their environment, we can ask the question “How can I make sure that my bearded dragon’s environment is safe for them to sample for exploration?”.

You can improve the safety of your enclosure environment for a bearded dragon if you:

Use Non-Toxic Decor

It’s important to ensure that any plants within your bearded dragon’s environment are non-toxic. I have listed a few toxic and non-toxic plants for your reference.
Non-Toxic Plants for Bearded Dragons
  • Tillandsia Ionantha
  • Hoya australis
  • Callistemon
  • Echeveria
  • Beaucarnea recurvata
Toxic Plants for Bearded Dragons
  • Rosemary
  • Arrowhead Vine
  • Bluebonnet
  • Cassava Root
  • Daffodils
  • Elderberry
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Sage
  • Tulip
  • Yucca

Clean Environment Regularly

Make sure that your bearded dragon’s environment is cleaned regularly to ensure that there aren’t any bacteria, viruses, or fungi that can make your dragon sick. Also, check to ensure there aren’t any small particles on the floor that could cause impaction, where a bearded dragon is unable to digest food due to a blockage.

Use Non-Toxic Chemicals

Bearded Dragons, as with any animal, are sensitive to a lot of chemicals. Even chemicals that might be safe for your other pets might be toxic for your beardie. It’s best that you perform your research to ensure that your cleaning products are specifically safe for bearded dragons.

Wash Your Hands Before & After Handling

You will want to clean your hands for the same reason that you want a clean environment in general. You want to ensure that the bearded dragon doesn’t ingest anything that would make it sick. Our kids use hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap before and after handling our dragons.

Thanks For Reading!

The Jacobson’s Organ is a pretty cool “feature” in bearded dragons. Hopefully, this post taught you something new and interesting about this cool pet.

What are your favorite bearded dragon traits?

Do you have any other pets with a Jacobson’s Organ?

Leave a comment below to share your experience.

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