Bulging eyes are a common concern for many bearded dragon owners, Sometime bulging eye of a bearded dragon is a sign of trouble or sickness. In most cases, eye-bulging is nothing to worry about.
Eyes bulging in bearded dragons is one of the behaviors that the dragons exhibit, but only during specific occasions. Eyes bulging in bearded dragons will disappear immediately right after.
The prevailing belief is that bearded dragons bulge their eyes in order to stretch the skin around their eyes during a time of shedding. This is the explanation that makes the most sense to me. Although I have seen my dragons do this when they had already recently shed, I did notice them doing it more often when they were ready to shed.
I have seen this much more frequently when my dragons were younger, although they still do it on a rare occasion as adults. This may also support the shedding association since birdies shed much more regularly during their first year of life.
One drawback to this theory though is the fact that some bearded dragons have been witnessed bulging their eyes after shedding has already occurred. However, this could just be a crossover phase and the birdie has not realized that it is fully shed yet.
The second theory that I must admit I do not see as plausible as the first theory is that eye bulging is the equivalent of us yawning.
Considering the fact that we do not entirely know the reason why we as humans yawn, I think it is clutching at straws to guess that bearded dragon’s yawn by bulging their eyes.
3 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Bulge Their Eyes
Bearded dragons are known for their intriguing behavior’s and those behaviors make them one of the most fascinating pets on planet Earth!
One of the most unusual and less documented of these behaviors is eye bulging.
If you notice your beardie pop out their eyes for what seems to be no reason at all, it can be worrying and baffling at the same time.
With this being said, there are now 3 reasons that experts believe could possibly be the answer to why birdies’ eyes bulge.
The 3 reasons that experts believe bearded dragon’s eyes bulge ere:
- Helping the shedding process
- High blood pressure
- Itching eyes
Helping the shedding process
When a bearded dragon is shedding you should put rough materials in their enclosure for them to rub up against. They rub up against rough materials to remove or loosen pieces of skin. These materials should not be too sharp but should be strong enough to aid the skin removal process. One thing you must never do though is pull the skin off, or peel skin. I’ve witnessed many reptiles, not just Bearded Dragons, get damaged skin/scales due to keepers “aiding” the shed process. This does cause them pain and can lead to infections, so don’t do it.
Lots of birdies get agitated during sheds and prefer not to be handled, it’s completely normal. I would just leave him be for a while and occasionally try and see if he will let you pick him up, but don’t overdo it, or he’ll just get stressed out.
Many bearded dragon owners often report their birdies’ eyes bulging during the shedding process, which would back up this theory, however, many owners also state that the eye-bulging sometimes continues for a short while after shedding has been completed.
This could just be the bearded dragon ensuring that all the skin has been shed, the truth is nobody as yet knows completely why this happens. As so many birdies do eye bulge during shedding though, it is a very plausible theory and one that may get proven to be true in the near future.
How do bearded dragons act when shedding?
Bearded dragons may also exhibit skittish behavior when shedding. Common behaviors include:
- Rubbing up against a rock,
- Branch or hard surface
- Eating shed skin.
Rubbing up against a rock
Similar to other reptiles, when a bearded dragon is getting ready to shed, they will rub their face on an object. The aim of this face rubbing is to break the skin. This then allows them to start the shedding process.
Branch or hard surface
Branches and hard rocks are especially important for your bearded dragon – as they help them wear down the nails. If you don’t include any branches or other accessories with rough surfaces, your bearded dragon’s nails will grow too long and start to curl.
Eating shed skin.
A refusal to eat before or after the process is normal too. Bearded Dragons usually do not eat during this time as they eat their own shed. In the wild, food is often scarce and hard to find. As an evolutionary mechanism, this species historically ate their old shed to preserve nutrients lost from shedding.
The process is also referred to as mounting, peeling, or sloughing, and is when your bearded dragon casts off its old skin. After your birdie sheds, the skin underneath is brand new, and you’ll notice the colors are more vivid in the first few days, even more so in color morphs.
High blood pressure
Bearded dragons also have the ability to increase their blood pressure in the eye in order to cause it to bulge. This means that the dragon bulges the eyes for a specific reason. The eye muscles contract, stopping the blood from flowing to the heart. The blood then flows to the eyes, filling the sinuses. As the muscles continue contracting, causing the membrane to rupture, releasing a stream of blood approximately a meter from the eye.
Another theory that is currently being explored is the possibility that eye bulging is a factor in high blood pressure or decreasing blood pressure purposely.
Other reptiles such as a ‘horned lizard’ actually have the ability to increase their blood pressure around and behind the eyes. Some scientists now believe that bearded dragons could possibly have the same ability as the horned lizard and could be deliberately decreasing their blood pressure.
When your bearded dragon is shedding, it is also shedding around the eye. There can be stuck shed around the eye – for example on the eyelid. Bearded dragons tend to rub themselves against various objects to help remove the shedding skin.
That’s normal for a birdie to be itchy like that though so no worries! He’s probably close to shedding soon, but giving him more baths will help him scratch it off easier and might make him feel a little better with the itch. I usually give mine about 4-5 baths a week when he’s shedding
The third theory is that bearded dragons bulge out their eyes in order to satisfy an itch around the eyes.
Beardies can flood the area behind their eyes in blood, which in turn, could possibly satisfy any itching that has occurred.
It’s hard to really make a strong point for this theory and there really isn’t any hard evidence to back it up.
Even though eye-bulging to satisfy an itch is possible, my personal feelings are that it’s less likely than the 2 previously theories mentioned.
Baby Bearded Dragons Bulge Their Eyes
If you notice your baby bearded dragon bulging their eyes, don’t panic, as this is usually nothing to worry about. Baby birdie is shedding, then they could possibly be trying to loosen the stubborn shed around their eyes. This is normal behavior and certainly nothing you need to worry about.
There is also the possibility that your baby dragon could be purposely increasing their blood pressure, but this is hard to find evidence for.
As we mentioned earlier, if your baby bearded dragon is eye-bulging for more than 1 hour or for many days consistently (when they’re not shedding), then it could be worth getting them to the vets for a check-up. Again, this is probably nothing to worry about, but if the behavior is continuing for a long time, then it’s better to let a vet check them over.
As we have mentioned many times throughout this post, the fact that scientists and experts don’t yet fully understand why birdies display this behavior makes it difficult to say sometimes it can be a sign that something’s wrong with their health
Should I Be Worried When My Bearded Dragon Is Bulging Its Eyes Out?
This is a great question, let me clarify with you that one more time, eyes bulging behavior in beardies is nothing to worry you.
There exist only theories from scientists trying to support it. As we have seen, eyes bulging occurs many times in bearded dragons, especially the young beardies
Sometimes, bearded dragons can bulge their eyes and without you even noticing because it lasts for seconds before the eyes resume to their standard shape.
With all the cases that have been notified about bearded dragon’s eyes bulging, there are no injuries or damages that have been reported. Eyes bulging in bearded dragons is not unhealthy, and it is nothing of great concern.
Can bearded dragons pop their eyes out?
No not in the literal sense. Bearded dragons cannot pop their eyes out completely however they can bulge them out a bit just like in the article above to help with shedding.
It may sound funny, but this is indeed a great question. Without beating around the bush, let me give you a direct answer, which is no. Bearded dragons will never pop out their eyes completely.
They can only bulge the eyes out and not pop them out. I hope this is clear to you after reading the article above. The beardies bulge the eyes out primarily to help in shedding.
So, next time you see your bearded dragon bulging its eyes, don’t be startled. The eyes cannot pop out, not even at any single time.
My bearded dragons eyes are closed when it is awake, why?
This can also be caused by their eyes bulging and can make it appear like their eyes are partially closed. Make sure to keep an eye on your bearded dragon though as it can also be the sign of a foreign object in the eye or even a bacterial or fungal infection.
Have you ever noticed your bearded dragon closing its eyes even when it is awake, and you are wondering what does that means?
Anyway, it is always good to be concerned about your pet. This shows that you are a responsible dragon owner.
If you see your beardie pet closing its eyes and it is not sleeping, it can be due to a variety of reasons.
First, eyes bulging in birdies can make the eyes appear like they are partially closed, and this may be the reason for bearded dragons to close their eyes.
Q1: Why is my bearded dragon’s eye bulging?
If your bearded dragon’s eye is bulging, it could be a sign of a health problem.
Q2: What should I do if I see my bearded dragon’s eye bulging?
You should contact a reptile vet right away to check your dragon’s eye.
Q3: Can a stuck shed cause bulging in their eye?
Yes, sometimes a piece of stuck shed can cause the eye to bulge. You might need to help your dragon shed properly.
Q4: Are there other reasons for bulging eyes in bearded dragons?
Yes, it could be from an infection, injury, or even a tumor. A vet can find out why.
Q5: Can I treat my bearded dragon’s bulging eye at home?
It’s best to let a vet treat it. Home remedies might not work and could make it worse.
Q6: Will a bulging eye go away on its own?
Not usually. Bulging eyes need proper care and treatment from a vet.
Q7: How can I prevent eye problems in my bearded dragon?
Keeping their enclosure clean, providing the right temperature and humidity, and offering a proper diet can help prevent eye issues. Regular check-ups with a vet are also a good idea.