Defensive Posturing while in Enclosure

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Hatchling Member
I rescued Buddy an adult male bearded dragon about 9 months ago. I spotted him in the middle of the street trying to fight cars one morning and made a u-turn and managed to scoop him up, put him on my chest, and stroked his head making him close his eyes and calm down while I got him into the car with me.

Anyway, he’s healthy. He eats his greens and veggies. Does normal bearded dragon stuff. He’s even brumated a bit and gone to sleep for a few days around every major cold front we’ve had come through this year and when they’re over he wakes up, poos, then eats his dandelion greens and squash and basks until the next one.

The only unusual thing is, he seems to hate me specifically.

He loves my young daughter and her friend and he tolerates my daughter’s father (who even has a dark beard) but when he sees me the very best I’ll get is judgy mcgrump face.

When I put my hands in his enclosure to refill his water dish or remove or replace his food dish he will puff up at me or straight up inflate his beard and body and posture his body defensively towards my hand.

Of course, when he does this, he gets gentle pets on his beard and head and back and baby talked and he will huff and deflate and close his eyes and he really seems confused as to why his scary act isn’t scary to me.

He does not act like this toward me when I take him out and bring him outside with me and he does not behave in this manner towards anyone else bringing him food or refilling his water.

It is just while he is in his enclosure and only with me.

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts?

My best guess is he may have been abused or mistreated by someone who looked like me before I found him in the road. Whoever lost him likely did on purpose because my found signs (and no one elses lost or found signs) kept getting ripped down.

I don’t know.

I really like Buddy (obviously a lot more than he likes me lol). I am concerned that I might be stressing him out almost daily just by bringing him his greens. After one morning where I accidentally startled him by approaching him with his greens from the rear overhead and caused him to jump, poof up, and hiss, I always make sure to talk to him and approach him on the side with his good eye. He can see out of his bad eye, but I am not sure how well. He has a misshapen pupil but can definitely see superworms with it.

Can hypomelanistic bearded dragons darken their beards? He has clear fingernails. I’m not sure if it matters but he does not darken his beard towards me. He only poofs it out.

When (if?) he comes out from under his blanket, i’ll try to get a video of his behavior this morning.

Edited to add: the plot thickens. He does not poof up at me at all when I have my phone out and am recording him. He just looks at my phone like he is curious about it instead of puffing up at me for having my hands in his enclosure daring to bring him breakfast.

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
It sounds like overall he is OK (thank you so much for rescuing him!). There must be some kind of combination of shape and movement that is triggering a defense mechanism. It likely isn't a conscious thing and not hate toward you but rather just being triggered by something that relates to his past. I doubt it will cause a major issue in the long run, but perhaps trying to repeatedly associate you approaching the enclosure with something good will help over time. Maybe have a small treat in your hand every time you approach would be helpful. It may take time but eventually he may start associating you approaching with the treat rather than whatever happened to him in the past. I'm not certain of this, but might be worth a shot.
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Wow I haven't logged in for years. Hi!
So to any reading this, how on earth do I post a thread 😅 New here, possibly too old for this

Just Hazel in a filter I need so not posting on forums.
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I have questions about bubbles on our bearded dragons eye.

So he’s gotten bubbles on his eye. We wiped them off and it’s only been twice in the last few weeks. Should we be concerned? No coughing or congestion. He’s very hungry and sleeps well. He’s 8-9 month range. His humidity is 30-40 day time and as high as 50-55 at night to early morning.
Should we be concerned?

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