Wait, what? Reptiles and affection? Well, as surprised as you may be, reptiles are fully capable of displaying emotions, including an affectionate demeanor. In this post we will be focusing on bearded dragons in particular, gauging their ability to showcase affection.
Are bearded dragons affectionate? Bearded dragons are among very few reptiles that display affection. They easily warm up to their owners and eagerly look forward to their presence. Moreover, their consistently gregarious behavior in the company of their owners is a sure shot sign of their affectionate disposition.
In this post, we will look at a variety of behaviors that confirm the affectionate nature of bearded dragons. Every instance would be based on real life examples where people have actually seen for themselves the affectionate nature of bearded dragons so make sure you read on till the end.
Pace of Displaying Affection
A major aspect that stands out in the case of bearded dragons is the pace with which they begin to display affection. To give you an example, when we first started feeding our brand spanking new member of the family – a bearded dragon of course, she very quickly associated our coming to her habitat, with the fact that she would be fed.
In turn, she started showing signs of warmth and affection towards us quite fast.
This is unlike a lot of other animals – reptiles especially; either do not show any signs of affection as such or take a fair bit of time to bond. In this instance, which we have noticed with many other bearded dragons as well, the speed with which a bond was formed with owners was really rapid.
Voluntary Keenness on Handling
Another aspect which is a clear sign of the affectionate nature of bearded dragons is the way they voluntary seek handling, often taking the initiative on their own. For instance, even before you have extended your hand to your bearded dragon, it would start making attempts to get on it – in anticipation of being handled.
This kind of behavior is unlike most other reptiles that prefer to shy away from being handled. You might notice that in spite of repetitive handling sessions, many reptiles – snakes being a good example, prefer to just shy away.
At best they might “tolerate” being handled but nothing more. But with bearded dragons, it’s a whole new ballgame where they are really happy to be handled and will even volunteer for that!
The More Time you invest – Greater will be the Affection!
While reptiles, in general, show little if any emotion, leave alone affection, some reptiles (like bearded dragons in this instance), do manage to show a reasonable amount of affection or at least some form of attachment.
Snakes, for instance, are known to get fairly comfortable with their handlers over time. They will not try to bite them or make the hissing sound which they usually do whenever they perceive a threat.
So as you can see, time spent with reptiles is of the essence; with bearded dragons – as we outlined in a previous section, in fairly less amount of time, you can gain greater confidence of your pet.
It is in that context that we make our point here – the more time you spend with your bearded dragon, greater will be the affection that it will display towards you.
Actions such as:
- Petting your beardy
- Letting it comfortably walk over you
- Feeding it at certain fixed times such that it gets a cue of being fed
- Treating it with food which you have noticed it relishes more
All of these actions will ultimately contribute towards accentuating the bond between you and your bearded dragon. So make sure that you frequently spend time “interacting” with your bearded dragon.
At the end of the day, greater the time invested, higher will be the returns in the form of accelerated and intense affection from your pet. As a corollary, if you remain aloof, you will unlikely be privy to much affection from your beardy.
Affection increases with Age
With bearded dragons, age makes a significant difference as far as display of affection is concerned. Typically, the younger your bearded dragon, especially if it is in its initial stages – perhaps even an infant, the lesser will be its affection. Instead, it will be jittery and will not appreciate being handled.
This is completely due to the nervousness that it feels at the outset in your foreign presence. As your beardy gets older, it recognizes that you are not a threat – and in fact a trustworthy “friend”. At this juncture, the affection shown towards you will be incrementally higher.
The Way they Display Affection Varies
As a new (or prospective) bearded dragon owner, you must keep in mind the fact that beardies do not showcase their affection the same way; instead, it varies considerably from one bearded dragon to another.
We ourselves have seen instances where one pet owner had their bearded dragon curl up to them every time it was handled while in another instance, their bearded dragon was happy to prepare itself in anticipation of being handled, and once that was done, would happily prance around the owner’s arms and shoulders.
Putting Off your Bearded Dragon
While it is fairly easy to form a bond with your bearded dragon, some callous owners end up turning off their bearded dragon. Examples of such irresponsible behavior include:
- Handling their beardy very roughly
- Holding it by its tail
- Playing loud music or making loud noise, in close proximity to the bearded dragon’s habitat
Actions like these will turn your beardy off you, and chances of a strong bond forming will diminish unless the reckless behavior is done away with quickly and replaced with warmth towards your pet.
Remember that like their reptilian cousins, bearded dragons can also get agitated if handled poorly like in the above-mentioned instances. They can then puff up their big beards in aggression; the last kind of behavior you want to see in your pet.
Also, poor handling is quite likely to cause stress in your bearded dragon, which in turn will lead its own set of detrimental impacts, including the completely undesirable one of your beardy falling ill.
Here is how you can identify if your bearded dragon is stressed.
Domesticated bearded dragons have clearly come a long way from their natural habitat down under, to show definite signs of affection. While back “home” in Australia they would be quite comfortable by themselves, once in the midst of new owners, they warm up fast and display the affectionate side of their personality quite quickly.
Now that you have a clear perspective on whether bearded dragons are affectionate (of course they are!), you might also want to know:
Do bearded dragons like being petted? Yes, bearded dragons enjoy being petted! Try petting one for yourself and see – the expression of sheer content in its eyes will say it all! Of course, there may be exceptions to the rule but by and large, bearded dragons do enjoy being petted.
Can bearded dragons recognize their owners? Yes, bearded dragons do recognize their owners. Bearded dragons are especially sensitive to the touch and smell of their owners, and can distinctly recognize those facets fairly quickly, with each feeding or handling session reinforcing their ability to recognize.