Can a dragon overheat?

We’ve been studying gaping behaviours in bearded dragons for a while and one of Ian Black’s (former MSc student) thesis chapters has just been published! A link to the article is here:

We devised a simple way to prevent gaping (i.e. temporary and rapidly reversible) and examined how strongly this influenced thermoregulatory behaviours. Interestingly, although it did significantly lower thermal selection / thermal preference behaviour the effect was quite small. We also saw some interesting changes in heat orientation behaviour. Animals that were not able to gape behaved more randomly with respect to postural orientation, whereas the control lizards tend to shy away from orienting to hot temperatures (i.e. the definition of thermoregulation is to exhibit a corrective response when moving outside the set-point range).

Alas, we don’t have any cool images to share from this study, but consider looking at some of our other papers here and here where we have examined evaporative water loss and thermal imaging in bearded dragons.

The article is part of a special issue honouring Dr. Peter Frappell, a friend and colleague in respiratory and thermoregulatory physiology. Thanks Frapps for all your input and support!

Congratulations to Ian Black for getting this published and thanks to Dr. Laura Aedy for her early work on this project.


Black, IRG, Aedy, LK, and Tattersall, GJ. 2021. Hot and covered: how dragons face the heat and thermoregulate. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, In Press