Bearded Dragon Running Away

quantum

Member
Beardie name(s)
Geo
Today, I put my bearded dragon outside on my chest in direct sunlight so he can catch some UVB due to my UVB bulb being broken. After a few minutes or so, I formulated the brilliant idea of giving him a little walk. So, I decided to put him down on the dirt part of my backyard. Immediately after putting him down, he tried to run away. He got two steps in before I caught him and took him back inside. After I put him back in his enclosure, I wondered why he would try to run away, and to be honest it hurt my feelings a little bit. Is it because he doesn't like his current enclosure? Me? I have no clue. So why would he try to run?

(fyi i do not have a leash for him)
(and also he's a baby/juvenile)
 

ChileanTaco

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Taco
Your dragon is likely not running away in order to get away from you, but is trying to go exploring.
Like a dog enjoying a walk, or a cat being on themselves outdoors for a while doesn't mean they don't like their human or their home. Or you love to go for a stroll or even vacation doesn't mean you don't like where you live. Over all, an active, curious being likes to explore!

What you could use for outdoors, especially when he's getting larger, is a harness and leash. I also have one and can strongly recommend that. The reason I got one is mostly that we live on the 13th floor, I want to spend some time on the balcony with him (I often sit out there reading, we have a bunch of plants, high UV, and he enjoys the view), but we have here large birds (vultures) - I just fear he might try to get away from them in panic, up the balcony railings and down.
 
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quantum

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Geo
Your dragon is likely not running away in order to get away from you, but is trying to go exploring.
Like a dog enjoying a walk, or a cat being on themselves outdoors for a while doesn't mean they don't like their human or their home. Or you love to go for a stroll or even vacation doesn't mean you don't like where you live. Over all, an active, curious being likes to explore!

What you could use for outdoors, especially when he's getting larger, is a harness and leash. I also have one and can strongly recommend that. The reason I got one is mostly that we live on the 13th floor, I want to spend some time on the balcony with him (I often sit out there reading, we have a bunch of plants, high UV, and he enjoys the view), but we have here large birds (vultures) - I just fear he might try to get away from them in panic, up the balcony railings and down.
Update: I put him outside again but this time in a more controlled and isolated section of my back yard. I put him down for a few seconds and went to pick him back up. Instead of staying still and allowing me to pick him up he fully ran away from me, I had to start running after him. Is that apart of their curiosity?
 

ChileanTaco

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Taco
When you picked him up, did you come in from above? Likely yes, or? They have a "third eye" on top of their head (actually a kind of simple light sensor), giving them an impression of what comes from above, and that directly alerts their "run away" instinct. In nature, it would protect them from prey such as birds.
For most dragons, especially young ones, it works better when picking them up from in front, instead of bending over.

In that situation, I would not put him down anymore until he is older and can wear a harness.
 

quantum

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Geo
When you picked him up, did you come in from above? Likely yes, or? They have a "third eye" on top of their head (actually a kind of simple light sensor), giving them an impression of what comes from above, and that directly alerts their "run away" instinct. In nature, it would protect them from prey such as birds.
For most dragons, especially young ones, it works better when picking them up from in front, instead of bending over.

In that situation, I would not put him down anymore until he is older and can wear a harness.
I did come in from above to pick him up by his body, so yes. I see a little grey spot on top of his head, is that his "third eye"? I picked him up by bending over and grabbing him.
 

ChileanTaco

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Taco
Pretty likely you triggered your dragon's "run away" instinct. Yes, the grey spot on top of the head is exactly that.

Here is more info, including photos, on this special photorezeptor:

By bending over and grabbing him you very well simulated a predator grabbing him... It's an instinct to then run away (I would imagine it feels for them somewhat like it feels for us humans when there is something we consider as a sensation that frightens us, e.g. somebody clapping near the ear and we react immediately without thinking first).
Some older dragons understand there is actually never something bad happening and just don't do that anymore - my dragon, when I accidentally pass my hand over him or bend down, looks but does not appear to be frightened and doesn't run. When he was younger, he did. (I would imagine this being similar to when a human gets used to a sound, movement, touch that initially triggered the "drop everything and move your head in that direction!" reaction.)
 
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Chris.

Sub-Adult Member
Beardie name(s)
Luis and Lilith
You should be careful putting a baby out in the open like that. They spend all their life in a pretty small space and putting them in the open will very likely scare them at first. He'll probably want to go hide somewhere because he is just overwhelmed by everything and afraid. His fight or flight reflex would be supercharged in this situation.
Keep him on your hand or chest/shoulder for now.

Also he might not recognise you at first. reptiles and birds have more color receptors than we humans do, so they perceive colors different and probably even more different under natural sunlight compared to artificial lights. We have only red, blue and green receptors (everything you see is a mixture of those colors) and they have like four or five colors they can see.

And don't worry, my big boy saw the outside world for the first time when he was eight months old and he would puff up and open his mouth at me like I've never seen him. He was quite intimidating as he was already quite big at this age.
 

ChileanTaco

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Taco
We have only red, blue and green receptors (everything you see is a mixture of those colors) and they have like four or five colors they can see.

I can totally agree on what Chris. wrote, and I just want to give an idea on how this might look like for them:
Have you even been under an orange street lamp, trying to read a printed map or look at something? Looked around, how everything looks like being in shades of orangey-greyish?
That's because now we can only see a small part of the spectrum we are usually able to see under natural daylight.
For a dragon it mus be similar when he sees you usually indoors: Only a part of the natural daylight (because: indoors, no UV he could see), also less than in the enclosure (we're never mimicking a natural solar spectrum perfectly, even not with the UV lamps), so you must appear kind of "greyish". Outdoors, he suddenly sees you in all colors, looking overwhelming different!
And don't worry, my big boy saw the outside world for the first time when he was eight months old and he would puff up and open his mouth at me like I've never seen him. He was quite intimidating as he was already quite big at this age.
Mine was outside (on the balcony, very bright, high UV index) at an age of about 7 months for the first time. Not puffing up or so (he's done that once, indoors, when my partner who is not my dragon's primary human but rather rarely interacts with him re-arranged things in the enclosure). But, also looked to be overwhelmed and tried hiding at me (he already trusted me a lot, my dragon is a super calm boy who lets me touch each part of his body, lets me put on a harness on him).


Generally, it's normal for them to be very cautious when they are babies. When they are juveniles, it gradually changes. I remember very well my dragon (inside his enclosure) hid from me when I entered the room. Now, him being 10 months old, since a few months I can gently lift his legs to put them through the loops of his harness (big step from "hides when I enter the room"! steps in between likes "does not hide when I enter the room", "does not hide when I open the enclosure", "lets me pet the stone (!) next to him", "lets me pet him a second on the back", "lets me touch even parts like the feet, head, base of tail", "lets me pick him up"). When before he was scared by normal household activities (so sorry little guy, but cooking or cleaning is impossible to be done noiseless), and the worst was me doing laundry (clothes must have looked like flapping birds! but so sorry little guy, we had to bring them somehow from the washing machine to the balcony and back in), now he eagerly comes and looks when I come home with groceries and put them away, or when I iron a load of clothes.
 
Beardie name(s)
Mr.kiwi
Today, I put my bearded dragon outside on my chest in direct sunlight so he can catch some UVB due to my UVB bulb being broken. After a few minutes or so, I formulated the brilliant idea of giving him a little walk. So, I decided to put him down on the dirt part of my backyard. Immediately after putting him down, he tried to run away. He got two steps in before I caught him and took him back inside. After I put him back in his enclosure, I wondered why he would try to run away, and to be honest it hurt my feelings a little bit. Is it because he doesn't like his current enclosure? Me? I have no clue. So why would he try to run?

(fyi i do not have a leash for him)
(and also he's a baby/juvenile)
mine has a leash but he escaped yesterday at 11:04 and we cant find him I teach at a school and we thought he went in the vents but we could not find him and we checked the cameras but did not see him so he might be in the room but we checked all over but could not find him I need help.
 

Chris.

Sub-Adult Member
Beardie name(s)
Luis and Lilith
mine has a leash but he escaped yesterday at 11:04 and we cant find him I teach at a school and we thought he went in the vents but we could not find him and we checked the cameras but did not see him so he might be in the room but we checked all over but could not find him I need help.
That is a potentially dangerous situation.

Please check again under the furniture and in confined spaces. They like to squeeze into tight corners.
Also put out food and a heatlamp close to where you think he might be, that could lure him out.
 
Beardie name(s)
Mr.kiwi
That is a potentially dangerous situation.

Please check again under the furniture and in confined spaces. They like to squeeze into tight corners.
Also put out food and a heatlamp close to where you think he might be, that could lure him out.
ok put out food idea is smart i could try but he might have died because of the heat he is not in
 
Beardie name(s)
Mr.kiwi
unnamed (6).jpg
this is him before he escaped
 
Beardie name(s)
Mr.kiwi
An adult can go at least a month without eating and survive temps quite a bit below 60°F/15°C for a couple of days.

None of which is recommended of course.
we tried luring him yesterday but did not work should we make all the rooms cold but our so he could maybe come back?
 

Chris.

Sub-Adult Member
Beardie name(s)
Luis and Lilith
As long as the rooms are below 85°F he should feel the urge to warm up at some point.
I'd look for him hiding in thight corners or maybe he did already try to get some elevation in hope to get warm.
I'd put up the brightest lamp you can find to lure him out.

Maybe @xp29 has some more ideas...?
 

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