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Lizard Intelligence: Bearded Dragons Learn from Educational Video

Researchers taught a bearded dragon to open a sliding door to get a mealworm on the other side. The article linked below doesn’t mention it, but I remember reading that it took a lot of time and repetition to teach the first bearded dragon to open the door. 

Scientists then recorded an 11-second video of that dragon opening the door to get the mealworm. 

When they played the video back for other dragons to observe, those dragons immediately knew what to do and opened the door. Proving not only that bearded dragons learn from instructional video, but also that they learn best from other bearded dragons, rather than scientists!

“These results reveal the first evidence of imitation in a reptile species and suggest that reptiles can use social information to learn through imitation”…

“The ability to learn through imitation is thought to be the pinnacle of social learning and long considered a distinctive characteristic of humans”…

“This research suggests that the bearded dragon is capable of social learning that cannot be explained by simple mechanisms”…

Not only is this a fascinating demonstration of lizard intelligence, it also strongly suggests that these are social lizards; otherwise, they would likely lack the ability for social learning. This is something to consider for a certain crowd that claims these are antisocial lizards and recommends these lizards always be kept singly (What You Should Know about Care Guides). I’m not one of those– they do great kept alone, but because my interest has always been multi-generational propagation of this species, I’ve always kept adults in groups with  one male, and I’ve been breeding them and keeping them over many generations without problems since the mid 1990s. Their social nature also reinforces my belief that bearded dragons kept singly are going to be happier with some mental and social stimulation, such as being placed in a location where they can see interesting things happening in the home, having regular interaction with their owner, and other forms of mental enrichment. 

Here is the link with the article and video of the dragon opening the door:

‘Copycat’ Bearded Dragons Mimic Their Peers

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