The trust game?

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The trust game?

Postby claudiusx » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:35 pm

[TOPIC AUTO-LOCKED DUE TO INACTIVITY]

After answering a question in another thread where I showed the world (err, you guys) my theory behind why a beardie closes just one eye while being held [often during the beginning stages of a relationship with the owner]I figured I would expand on it here..

Possible reasons why a dragon does this:
    A sign of relaxation
    A sign of comfort
    A sign of pleasure
    A sign of sleepiness....
    Closing one eye to focus on something else with the other eye
    A sign of testing intentions


I will briefly describe each of the possible reasons excluding the last reason. You can skip these if you just want to read about my theory.

A sign of relaxation Sleeping is often seen as the time where any being is at peace, relaxed. Closed eyes are a symbol (sign) of sleep. Therefor making this behavior seem like a sign of relaxation.

A sign of comfort Closely related to A sign of relaxation. A dragon might be closing its eyes because it feels it can trust the person. Therefor they feel comforted and close there eyes.

A sign of pleasure Dogs wag their tails. Do beardies close their eyes? Unlikely since this can be cause by just holding a beardie, or by petting its head. But petting the head does not generate the behavior all of the time, therefor can't be presented as fact.

A sign of sleepiness.... Well some people think so. I believe if they were tired they would close both eyes. And this thread is focused on the behavior behind closing just 1.

Closing one eye to focus on something else with the other eye Dragons don't do this under normal conditions (inside there tank) so it makes no sense that they would do this when being held.

    My theory

Dragons are timid by nature. They are not social lizards. They do not usually form bonds. Them being introduced to the pet hobby has exposed them to situations where natural instinct my conflict with what is happening is what is happening to them.

As with any animal, they are not tame by nature. Even a cat or a dog who has had no human exposure will be the last of the pack to get around a human.

This proves that dragons don't just automatically trust someone or something.

A dragon usually only exhibits this behavior (one eye closed) during the beginning stages of a relationship, and during relocation stress. To me this is a clear indication that there is a reason and a motive behind the behavior.

The dragon usually (all of the time in my observations, but can't be said for others) closes the eye that is facing the human. While keeping the other eye open.
Can this be a test for the dragon? A dangerous test but a necessary one?
Its my belief that the reasoning behind a dragon doing this is to test the intentions of the being holding it so closely. "it sees my eye closed it must think im asleep. What will it do now that i'm asleep? Will it leave me alone. Will it eat me? Will it hurt me? Etc.."

[list]I have been observing BD's for almost 10 years. And I always kept a notebook full of behavior that I saw, and I would ask myself why is it doing this? And I would document everything that was happening and what happened. I wouldn't post this if I just obsereved a dragon for 5 minutes and came to this conclusion out of no where.

Does this information mean anything? Possibly. It gives us some insight on the inner workings of a bearded dragons behavior. No its not something important like why is he headbobbing, why is she arm waving. But with anything, it can be used to open new doors. If dragons are smart enough to "test" us, what else are they smart enough to do that we might not be picking up on?

That is the reason for this post.
Give me your thoughts on this. I would like to hear them.

-Brandon
Last edited by claudiusx on Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The trust game?

Postby izz » Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:08 pm

Very true.

The fact is beardie don't actually like been held they asume that if you hold them you might be trying to eat them,although you can gain their trust.If you are gentle,they asume you will do not harm,but if you are rough they will be frightened.

It was only last year that i got sparks so held him a small amount each week and i eventully gained his trust.
SPARKS

My bearded dragon. All Hail The King!

Proudly owned by Izzy the loyal slave.
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Re: The trust game?

Postby Gail » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:44 am

Interesting theory but not one I agree with. I don't think that a animal who is afraid of being eaten is going to try and test out intentions, its too risky.
I think the closing the eyes is a dragons way of dealing with stress or a unpleasant situation. Nyx hates baths, she shuts her eyes as soon as her feet touch water, kinda like "if I can't see it, it will go away. I've also seen dragons do this with food they don't want. Keeping one eye open may just be so they can see they best way to run if it become necessary , I don't see this as a behavior in trust.

The few dragons I've held who were truly wild or scared, never closed their eyes.
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Re: The trust game?

Postby claudiusx » Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:49 am

Gail wrote:I think the closing the eyes is a dragons way of dealing with stress or a unpleasant situation.


An interesting theory, one that would be worth my time to further test out. But it raises more questions than it answers. Like - If they are stressed, why only close one eye? What does that do to relieve the stress? They can still see their surrounding (potential danger) with the other eye.

I find it more likely that they close there eye as a safety technique than a stress handler since they don't have hands to block something from coming at their face. Maybe they close there eye in the bath to prevent water from getting in. I personally have never had any of my dragons exhibit this behavior in the bath.
I will admit it has happened a few times during feeding, but the reasons are not related to a "behavior" because the crickets foot would be right by the eye or running all over the face.

I plan on going to a few petstores in the coming weeks to further my studies on my theory (controlled test since most of the beardies at pet stores are babies, never before held and lack human bonding).
The pet store doesn't trust me enough to give there beardies baths yet (lol) or put them in stressful situations (a lot of food in the tank, crawling over them) so I can't really test your theory in large scale, but can with friends beardies.

-Brandon
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Re: The trust game?

Postby paperplanes » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:02 pm

i feel like when i pet the head of my BD, and he closes his eyes, i feel like hes flinching rather than showing trust.
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Re: The trust game?

Postby claudiusx » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:27 pm

I didn't say its a sign of showing trust.

-Brandon
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Re: The trust game?

Postby paperplanes » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:33 pm

claudiusx wrote:A dragon might be closing its eyes because it feels it can trust the person. Therefor they feel comforted and close there eyes.
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Re: The trust game?

Postby claudiusx » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:44 pm

I wasn't saying that.

Those were points that some people say and I added them to this because its part of the research.
Like I said earlier, I posted some theories of other people, and the last theory was mine and the one I did most research on.

And there is a difference between the behavior im talking about (Closing one eye when being held, nothing coming at the face to exclude the variable of protecting the eyes), and the behavior exhibited when a hand the size of a dragons body comes at its face.

-Brandon
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Re: The trust game?

Postby paperplanes » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:45 pm

ok. gotcha. my beardie will sometimes close his eye when i pick him up
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Re: The trust game?

Postby claudiusx » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:26 pm

Bump for more thoughts.

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Re: The trust game?

Postby Jess » Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:30 pm

I think that eye closing can be a sign of stress too. If I am trying to feed Dudley some thing that he doesn't want, or I'm just bugging him and he wants me to go away, he closes his eyes like "If I can't see you, you're not there!". Wink did that too. They can't growl or give you a verbal warning when they are stressed, so I think it's their way of telling you that they have had enough.

There is a difference in their body language when they are closing their eyes because they are stressed, and when they are falling asleep with you or are relaxed with you, IMO.

Then again, I'm not one of the people who fully believe that beardies "bond" with you. There is definately a level of trust that they build with you, and I think that they enjoy being with you, but I'm not sure if they can "love" you on the same level as mammals.
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Re: The trust game?

Postby paperplanes » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:17 pm

i can agree with you there. like i said i feel like they are more flinching when i stroke mine. could it be a sign of pain? ive heard mine hiss it sounds like a quick exhale of breath.
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Re: The trust game?

Postby Gail » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:24 am

I'm still thinking it stress or a way to "zone out" when they are in a situation they don't like. Jupiter would close one eye when I held him, always the one closest to me. Now that I've had him for a few weeks, he doesn't close his eye(s) at me any more. I thinks its because he is used to me and knows I'm nothing bad.
I also agree with Jess, I don't think dragons bond with the owners like mammals do. They might be the friendliest/smartest pet reptile but they are still a reptile with limited brain power.

@ paperairplanes. When your dragon is flinching from you, are you touching his face or around his eyes? Many dragons don't care to be touched on their face, could explain why he is hissing and flinching.
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Re: The trust game?

Postby paperplanes » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:15 am

yeah. i used to pet his head but i thought he was flinching when i tried. his hissing i think is a result of me trying to pick him up when he wants to run around. i know how to handle him, so i dont pick him up from above. when i come to pick him up from the side he like.. moves his head quickly away. he knows im not going to hurt him. he doesnt bite or anything. doesnt beard me. i think its just his way of saying "screw off and let me run around"
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Re: The trust game?

Postby Jess » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:28 pm

Dudley "hisses" at me too, if he is frustrated with me. Like, if he feels the urge to launch himself off of a high piece of furniture and I restrain him so he doesn't hurt himself, he claws at my hand and gives me a little hiss like "WHY won't you let me down?! I'm a dragon, I should be able to fly!" LOL :lol:
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