Glass surfing is simply the frantic behavior of a bearded dragon attempting to climb the glass of their tank. This behavior (a.k.a glass dancing) is usually repetitive in the sense that a bearded dragon will continue to attempt to climb the glass over and over.

Why is my bearded dragon glass surfing? Reptile forums are often filled with pet owners who offer up theories as to why bearded dragons glass surf. While these thoughts vary greatly, there’s one common thread, and each is attributable to stress. Glass surfing is thought to be a result of stress and a bearded dragon may be stressed for several reasons.

The following are some of the important information on why bearded dragons glass surf:

What Glass Surfing Denotes

When a lizard is frantically trying to climb up the side of its enclosure, they say it is glass surfing. Glass surfing, also known as glass dancing, looks like it sounds. A lizard’s belly is rubbing on the glass of its tank and its little legs are paddling as if it’s body surfing on the glass.

The bearded dragon will also be standing on its hind legs as though it is trying to climb out of the tank but it keeps slipping back down to the ground.

In addition, seeing a bearded dragon scratch the glass (aka glass surfing) for the first time could be amusing or even leave you feeling confused. Could they be trying to tell you something important? Quite possibly. Scratching their glass is abnormal behavior and should be approached with care.

Paying attention to and researching bearded dragon behavior forms a crucial part of the responsibilities of an exotic pet owner, so kudos to you!

Seeing your bearded dragon frantically pawing at or scratching the glass. In most instances, is usually a sign of stress, but could also mean they’re bored too.

Furthermore, the term glass surfing is derived from a similar behavior to that of a surfer in the ocean. Only in this instance, your bearded dragon’s belly will be rubbing on the tank wall as they simultaneously “paddle” their tiny arms on the glass.

Likewise, this behavior is usually accompanied by your dragon standing on their back legs. As they try their best to climb the tank walls despite continuing to slip and fail.

Alternatively, a bearded dragon who is glass surfing could also be accompanying this behavior by running up and down their enclosure. Which should further indicate that something is wrong?

Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Glass Surf

They see their own reflection

Bearded dragons don’t realize that their reflection is simply their own. And instead, mistake it for a nearby bearded dragon that they could potentially interact with or feel threatened by.

They don’t comprehend the idea of glass

On the heels of mistaking their own reflection, bearded dragons fail to see the glass as a barrier. And will continue to scratch it in an attempt to go through it, which could be for several reasons.

Something is off in their habitat

There are several instances where their environment or habitat could be stressing them out.

Examples of this include whether their tank is large enough. However, if they have adequate lighting. Or in some cases, could be that certain décor is stressing them out. Like that new Batman bobble head for instance.

Most Common Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Glass Surf

They cannot sufficiently thermoregulate.

Bearded dragons must be able to go from a hot basking area to a cooler area in order to properly thermoregulate. Hence, if the temperature throughout the tank is the same, your bearded dragon will not be able to accomplish this. Which consequently could result in them scratching the glass.

Make sure that the basking area is very warm (110 – 115 degrees F) and other parts of their habitat are less than 85 degrees F

They’re bored and want to spend time with you outside their cage.

Caging them for hours on end can take its toll on any creature. Therefore, scratching their glass could simply just be an indication that they want out of their tank, want to spend time with you.

They’re hungry   

Although not the most likely, similar to cats and dogs. Scratching the glass could be a sign that they are simply hungry. And are trying to signal to you to feed them.

They’ve pooed and need you to clean it up ASAP

According to several threads in different forums. Members have reported that their bearded dragon will glass surf right after they’ve just finished doing their business. And signal to their owner to clean it up.

They’re getting ready to lay eggs

Not all female bearded dragons will lay eggs. But, if you have a female bearded dragon, this scratching of the glass could be a sign that they are getting ready to lay eggs. And it is most likely accompanied by digging as well.

Could my Bearded Dragon be Sick if they’re Scratching the Glass?

Not necessarily. There aren’t any medical reasons correlated with glass surfing aside from stress. 

However, if your bearded dragon is exhibiting other symptoms, such as

  • Acting lethargic and
  • Not eating to name a few.

Then this could be a clear indication that something is indeed wrong and that they could be sick. In such instances, schedule a vet visit as soon as possible.

Health Concerns and Glass Surfing

Other than the fact that the bearded dragon is probably stressed, there’s no medical reason to be overly concerned about glass surfing. However, if the dragon

  • Is not eating or shedding well
  • Begins to act lethargic. Or there are reasons to suspect it may be sick, you should seek veterinary attention.

Stress in Bearded Dragons

Aside from glass surfing, if your bearded dragon’s color darkens or turns black. It is probably stressed. This is most obviously noticeable on the beard.

Also, if a bearded dragon has a black beard, a recent change involving it may be the source of the stress. Even if it was thought to be a good change. For instance,

  • Changing the location of the enclosure
  • Moving the dragon to a new or larger tank, or
  • Adding a new bearded dragon within its line of sight, can all Potentially stress a bearded dragon.

How to Stop Glass Surfing

Since bearded dragons glass surf when they’re stressed. It can be difficult to stop the behavior if the source of the stress is unknown. Likewise, you should avoid unnecessary changes in a bearded dragon’s environment. Which could cause more stress.

Therefore, some specific ways to help stop glass surfing include:

  • If a new item in the enclosure recently triggered the glass surfing behavior. The items should be put back to the way they were before the glass surfing started. This may mean removing a new decoration from the tank. Or making sure a bearded dragon can’t see a new reptile you introduced into the home.
  • If a tank is smaller than 55 gallons and it houses a full-grown bearded dragon, the tank may be too small. You should consider a larger tank because the small enclosure could be the reason behind the glass surfing.
  • If tanks are switched, the environment should be made as familiar as possible. You should place the items in the same general location as they were in the original tank. However, items may be more spread out but with a few changes as possible. It may still convey a sense of home and familiarity to a bearded dragon.
  • A bearded dragon may just need more attention or stimulation if it’s glass surfing. Therefore, you should provide plenty of daily enrichment to a bearded dragon. If it likes to be handled, this could mean it needs more time outside the tank.
  • A bearded dragon needs to have appropriate lighting, humidity, and ambient temperatures to keep it happy and healthy.
  • Inappropriate day and night cycles
  • incorrect temperatures, and
  • environments that are too humid or dry can all contribute to stress in a bearded dragon.

Wrapping Up Glass Surfing

Seeing your bearded dragon scratch the glass does not necessarily mean your bearded dragon is stressed out indefinitely. It is, however, a big indication, but he or she could also be doing it out of boredom as well.

There are other signs that your bearded dragon may display in conjunction that should further indicate they are stressed out such as

  • having stress marks and darker coloration,
  • decreased activity levels, and
  • loss of appetite.

Being able to decipher your bearded dragon’s behavior is important. Since it will allow you to more quickly pinpoint signs of trouble early on before things get worse. If you’re unable to remedy the behavior yourself, consider scheduling a vet visit so they can further examine them.