Reptiles/Bearded Dragon Biting
QUESTION: Hello, My name is Jordan. I own two bearded dragons, both male, in separate cages. They are between 7-8 months old, and were bought together. They lived together for the first 3 months of their lives, then started to fight around month 4. I separated instantly. They live in 40 gallon tanks with plenty of open space AND things to climb on, hide in, bask in, and sleep in. They are fed veggies every day, crickets three times a week, and meal worms daily. Their names are Firnen and Saphira (when I got them, I was hoping that they would be opposite genders, but when they both were male, I didn't want to change their names). Firnen loves snuggling and being held. Unfortunately, Saphira has developed some nasty habits. Every day when I bring her the food, she watches the movement of my hand, and when I set the food down, she lunges at me. At first i thought she was excited for food, but she most definitely targets my fingers over her delicious veggie mix. I try to hold her to bond with her almost every day, but it is getting hard, because she fights against me, squirming to try to get away and running and jumping in her tank, not allowing me to pick her up. She jumps from any height to run away from me, and my loving hands. A month ago when she started this squirming behavior, i thought that her personality was changing and that she wasn't a lizard that wanted love. I am starting to think that she hates me now. I have tried washing my hands, wearing gloves to mask my smell, but she bites at me anyways, drawing blood sometimes. I am not quite sure what to do. Thanks for your help. She is not showing signs of sickness either. They receive 14 hours of heat/white light, and 10 hours of red/heat light each 24 hour day. Is this her personality? Or is she just scared of me? Why does she bite the hand that feeds her? Thank you so much for your time! :) I love my Dragons, and I want them to love me back :(
-Worried Reptile Lover
ANSWER: Hello Jordan,
Just to confirm, Saphira is a male, correct? You are sure?
I am just double checking in case she could have eggs or something.
When did he develop the biting, etc, after you separated them roughly?
Have you drastically changed anything in the tank, removed anything, etc that could have upset him?
Did you perhaps change your hair color, cologne, after shave, etc?
Try stuffing some bites of greens, fruit, etc in his mouth everytime he goes to bite or lunges at you to see if that starts to deter him a little bit.
They sometimes go through behavior changes in their first year but this sounds somewhat severe. Do you have any pictures of him?
What is the type & brand of UVB you are using for him? Are you keeping the red lamp on overnight? Sometimes the red spectrum disturbs their sleeping patterns. Maybe you could try using a ceramic heat emitter for nighttime heating when needed.
Another thing you could possibly try if you haven't already, is to wrap him in a nice soft fleece blankie at night when he is ready to go to sleep. Let him go to sleep on you nightly & see if that helps any with bonding.
Let me know how he is doing.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello Tracie,
First of all, I would like to thank you for your response.
I just checked again, and yes, Saphira is a male. He started biting about a month and a half ago. I should have mentioned that he has always had softer stools. Ever since I got the two, Saphira always has softer stool than Firnen. They are not liquid, but they are a soft stool. When the two were together, they bit off pieces of each others tails, the next day I bought a new tank and separated them. Their tails were treated with anti bacterial to avoid infection at the time, and appear to be fully healed. This separation happened over 3 months ago. Whenever put into "playtime", they fight and I have to separate them again. No changes in their tanks in the past few months, Same items. Both Lizards have the same setup, as I bought identical merchandise when I separated so they would each have the environment that they had while together. No changes to my appearance. I tried the greens thing that you mentioned, and he seems to try to bite AROUND the greens, in order to bite at me. The UVB that I use is a Powersun, 100Watt, UBA, UVB, and heat light. Cost me around 60 Dollars a piece, so they are high quality. Their red night lights are Infrared 100W Exoterra Basking Spot light. This light was recommended by the pet store. The red light is on overnight, but my room stays around 70-80 Degrees year round due to a Computer Server, and PC that run year round. I have tried not using the light to see if they sleep better, but it does not seem to affect their sleep habits.
Here are links to 3 Pictures of him. (i could only upload 2, so i took screenshots) In the pictures, you may see a little feces on his feet. He walked in his fresh feces today while I was at school, so I was unable to clean them up right away, and he found the need to walk around in it. Here are the screenshots:
He always has been less lovey than Firnen, but always would still snuggle with me for a little bit before getting restless. Now she will not sit still at all when with me.
I will try to snuggle before bed with him, but I am doubtful, as I have tried this many times before to no avail.
Thank you so much for your time and effort.
Great, well since they are both males that explains why they don't get along. Most of the time, you just cannot socialize two males, they are just way too aggressive.
At least you were able to separate them before it got too bad, beyond the tail biting.
The Powersuns are pretty good lights, I agree. The UVB emissions are decent as well & the UVA for overall brightness looks good also. How far from him is it?
Do you think that maybe he could be jealous of your other one, do you spend equal time with both?
That is fine then, if the red light doesn't seem to bother them, then you can continue to use that so they stay warm.
OH he doesn't care for being held at night? Do you wait until he is somewhat sleepy & relaxed first, then wrap him up burrito style, in a blankie? Sorry, I suppose I am a huge sap when it comes to dragons, I treat ours like babies.
Since his stools have been a bit off, have you ever gotten a fecal done on him? He didn't appear dehydrated just based on the pictures.
Does he act like he doesn't feel well, or do you think it's all just behavioral? Sometimes when they don't feel well, they can act out, which is the only way they can let us know they don't feel right.
Let me know how he is doing.