Are bearded dragons smart

Are bearded dragons smart?

The question of whether bearded dragons are smart or not has been making the rounds. Most dragon lovers have wondered and discussed the subject of whether bearded dragons can be taught tricks. This topic is a rather sensitive one. Many breeders and vets cannot give straightforward answers to those questions. So I will answer this question with as much honesty as possible in his case.

Bearded dragons are smart. But it honestly depends on what your idea of smart is. The answer is “no” if you are wondering whether your bearded dragon will ever perform tricks. I don’t think there is ever going to be a time that these reptiles will able to fetch or perform any other tricks of that nature.

They are smart enough to recognize their owners and handlers and recognize pain and pleasure. They also can recognize when their names are called and respond accordingly. But perhaps the strongest indicator of their intelligence is the fact that they can learn by imitation.  

How can we know how smart they are?

So I bet you are wondering how anyone was ever able to confirm that bearded dragons are smart. I mean that bearded dragons are not just smart. But smart enough to imitate each other. You’re asking:

“How did we even prove that dragons can imitate?  I have to say that these cute reptiles are actually way smarter than we thought they were or could ever be.

The previous situation of things

Scientist always thought that only humans could learn to imitate other creatures and learn to solve problems by doing that In the past. They discovered that they were wrong.

Some mammals and birds are capable of imitation. However, Reptiles didn’t even get enough attention for this sort of claim to be either confirmed or debunked. But humans gave them more attention when they discovered that they were intelligent. Now we know that dragons are certainly smart.

Now to the question of how we know that reptiles are smart?

Evidence number one

Bearded dragons have shown that they have the capability to imitate each other. But scientists could not just make that claim. They needed evidence.  So they proved it through a simple experiment.

Step 1

Scientists took bearded dragons and put them into a terrarium with two rooms. They needed to use bearded dragons specifically because they didn’t want to leave room for any sort of doubt. The test has to be credible. These dragons were put in one of two rooms in the terrarium.

The bearded dragons would not be able to enter the other room except they learned how to open the trap door between the rooms.

They placed a meaty and delicious mealworm in the other room. Why? To give those beardies some motivation to learn how to open the trap door.

Anyone who knows even the littlest bit about bearded dragons knows that the biggest motivation a bearded dragon can have is a mealworm. Except of course for superworms which is just being extra

Step 2

They placed a monitor in the other room. i.e the room with the worms. Now, these monitors would show bearded dragons as they tried to open the door between the two rooms. These monitors showed three videos.

  1. One where a bearded dragon opened the door by biting it and shoving it to the right side.
  2. One where a bearded dragon opened the door by biting it and shoving it to the left side.
  3. And the last one where a human opened the door for the bearded dragon.

Why three videos?

They wanted to make sure that they can prove that the bearded dragon learned the exact same behavior from the video. They believed that the bearded dragon only accidentally found out how to open the door If the video showed a bearded dragon shoving the door to the right and the test subject opened the door to the left.

Scientists were able to prove that the animals were able to open the door by imitating the exact same behavior as shown on the monitor that they had. They achieved this by showing those beardies these videos.


The result of this test was straightforward and clear. They didn’t expect the results that they got even though they had suspected that bearded dragons were way more intelligent than everyone thought.

None of the bearded dragons that had seen the video where a human opened the door was able to open the door. Every bearded dragon that had seen the video where a bearded dragon opened the trap door was able to actually open the trap door too. The thing is that some bearded dragons were only able to open the door a few times, some opened it every single time.

Some however hovered in the medium line on the intelligence scale.

Interpretation of the results

This shows that bearded dragons sport different levels of intelligence just like humans. Some were extremely smart. And they showed this by being able to open the door ten out of ten times. While some were only able to open the door two times out of ten.

These bearded dragons even demonstrated the same head movement that they had seen in the video. They also opened the door to the shown side most of the time. Either left or right.

How long did it take?

The tested bearded dragons needed about three weeks to learn how to open the door. Now you might be thinking that this is a very long time to learn a trick that simple. Keep in mind that we are dealing with bearded dragons here. We didn’t even know for sure that they could do it prior to this test.

Be patient with your dragon. You need to give them enough time to perfect whatever you choose to teach them. They will learn what they will. And it is just as well if they don’t. No need to push it.

Conclusion based on results

Bearded dragons are smart. Simple.

Now it depends on what other animals you are comparing them to. They can imitate each other. Perhaps they just need motivation.

Bearded define is smart enough to know their names. They may recognize your face. And they may even notice your absence.

Other evidence of smartness in dragons.

So now you are wondering what other things these lovely creatures can do. Another thing that has been proven is the fact that bearded dragons can come when they are called. They actually know their own names and can respond to their names and even walk towards you when they hear you call their names. This is a feature that was thought to only exist amongst higher animals. Now even reptiles like bearded dragons can perform this feat.

Now there is no evidence to show that bearded dragons know that the name you give them is their name. But if they associate that sound with food, especially a treat like a mealworm or super worm, then they will always come when they hear it.

Yet another thing that makes them smart…

Bearded dragons can tell their owner and caregivers apart from other people. They can tell immediate family members apart from strangers too. A lot of bearded dragons show signs of discomfort and restlessness when they are in the company of new or strange people.  Their reaction might not be so negative sometimes. It could just be a change of countenance or attitude. This change of behavior may be due to fear

Do bearded dragons recognize their owner?

Yes, they definitely do and you can see this behavior in many other reptiles. Some bearded dragons show completely different behavior when they see their owner or when they see other humans. This means that bearded dragons definitely get used to you.

In fact, it is possible that they associate your face with food. Maybe even just the pleasure of stroking their backs when they hang in your body. Bearded dragons will definitely remember you and notice when you are away.


Yet another reason to believe that they are smart is the fact that they are conscious of entities other than themselves. This is beyond reproduction. They acknowledge each other by nodding and waving. This is a sign that they are not completely numb to interaction. It takes a level of self-awareness to be aware of others. This is part of the make up for smartness. They know themselves and they know others. This basic fact suggests that they can have relationships. Maybe it won’t work with other dragons though.

Are they the smartest reptiles though?

The straight answer to that is no. There are reptiles that have shown way more intellectual capacity than the dragon. Examples of such animals include Tegus and Iguanas. It is even better when these other reptiles are well trained. But then they are of superior intelligence even by virtue of the fact that they are more trainable. The behavior of Tegus and Iguana can actually be very close to that of dogs.

It is important to know that your dragon is a king in its own lane. They are special in their own way.

There is something that endears you to them. I’ll bet that their intelligence was the last thing on the list of reasons you got one. It is therefore irrelevant to spend long amounts of time trying to make them smarter or appear smarter.


Your dragon is smart. You can take my word on that. Now you will need a lot of time and patience to teach it all those things that you want to. It is however very feasible so there’s no need to worry. You can achieve quite a bit so long as you remain reasonable with your expectations. Bearded dragons will never be dogs or cats. But they will delight you. I will like to say that one of the reasons you probably chose a bearded dragon is the calm. They are unlike dogs and cats. Dogs and cats have such obvious personalities. The point of getting a bearded dragon Is the silence. Don’t try to make dog out of a dragon.