The first question you probably want answered if you’re reading this post is the question; do bearded dragons have a third eye?
The answer to this is; yes!
Bearded dragons have a third eye, also called a parietal eye, pineal eye or solar eye. This is something seen in many reptile species, and it’s more of a light-detector than a full-fledged eye.
This post is all about the bearded dragon’s third eye, what it is, how it works, and why it’s there!
What is this third eye?
A bearded dragon’s third eye is positioned at the top of its head, almost dead in the centre. It can be compared with an underdeveloped eye, since it has no eyelid, and doesn’t seem to communicate with the brain in the same way their normal eyes do. It also doesn’t form images like a normal eye, which some would argue makes it slightly strange that it is even called an eye in the first place.
This “solar eye” helps with hormone production, as well as various other regulatory processes in a bearded dragon’s body. It’s covered by a scale that allows light through, so isn’t a mucous membrane like their eyes which can be damaged easily.
Bearded dragons are far from the only animal with a third eye though. Many species of fish and most species of amphibians and lizards have a third eye. Some even have two parietal eyes (couldn’t call it a third-eye that time…). Frogs are a well-known animal that also bare a third eye, the same goes for many anoles and skinks.
How the parietal eye works
Without getting too technical (links to sources will be at the bottom of this article!), the parietal eye is part of the epithalamus. If you’re into biology, you may know that the pineal gland is also a part of it. The pineal gland is responsible for hormone regulation in humans too.
Now we’re on the topic of humans; we actually have a third eye too! However, our third eye doesn’t protrude through the skull and therefore doesn’t work… Shame really.
The third eye bearded dragons have detects light and therefore, light directly influences its hormone levels. However, it doesn’t work in the same way that “normal” eyes work…
It will get far too technical if we go too deep into that topic, but if you like these kinds of things, there are some articles linked at the bottom of this post!
Why bearded dragons have a “solar eye”
Bearded dragons use their third eye for a range of different things. We’ve listed each on below along with a little background information!
– For their sense of direction
Bearded dragons use their third eye to keep track of where they are. Since they normally stick within their own territory, this is a perfect way of them maintaining a good overview of where they are, along with changes in their territory.
– To prevent being stepped on
Obviously, the moment the light above them is removed, they bolt. Bearded dragons will run away out of reflex if the light above them is blocked off without them being aware of what’s going on. This helps keep them alive in the wild, where all sorts of larger mammals trying to trample them.
– To detect predators
This same reflex helps keep them away from predators too. Since many of their predators come from the sky in the form of birds, this helps to keep them safe regardless of where they are.
– For hormones
We’ve already discussed this part and it can get very complicated when going into too much detail. Their eye allows them to see certain kinds of light which helps them regulate their sleeping cycles, and other processes in their body.
This is one of the reasons why it’s important to provide darkness during the night. Even external light sources may interrupt their normal biological clock, so things like hides in their enclosure and curtains in the room they’re in are essential.
Since you probably still have a lot of questions about this interesting topic, below is an FAQ’s section which will hopefully answer some of your questions. If you have any more, make sure to leave them in the comments!
Do I need to change the care I give to my beardie because of its third eye?
Not really, it’s something to be aware of though. Try to make the room as dark as possible when it’s night-time and be aware of the fact that they’ll probably run away if you try to pick them up from above as opposed to from the side.
Got any more questions? Let us know in the comments so we can add them into the blog posts ?
Bearded dragons, like many other reptile species, have a third eye, also called their solar eye, parietal eye or pineal eye. This eye measures light-levels to help bearded dragons navigate around their territory and stay out of the way of predators.
To give your bearded dragon the best care possible, make sure that there isn’t too much blue light in the room which may prevent them from sleeping. Apart from that, there’s nothing you have to change about their care once you know this information!