Bearded dragons are amazing pets if you want to have a reptile in your home. And it is natural for people who want to keep a beardie as a pet to want to shower it with some love. But what do the beardies think of the touchy-feely love from humans?
Do bearded dragons like to be held? Most bearded dragons quickly get used to being held by their owners. They also come to love, cherish, and recognize their owners’ touch. Usually, fully-grown beardies are more comfortable with human touch while the younger ones might be a little jittery.
Handling your beardie helps you bond with your pet. It also helps your pet to get used to the presence of humans around it. They no longer are stressed when you do any cleaning or maintenance in their terrariums. Also, trips to the vet are easier for beardies who are comfortable with the human touch. In this article, I will tell you all about holding your cute beardie.
Before You Handle a Bearded Dragon
Always wash your hands well before you hold your bearded dragon. This ensures that no germs are transferred to your pet from your hands. Also, if your pet is new and/or aggressive, it is better to wear protective gloves until it gets used to being held. This is to protect your hands from scratching against the beardie’s rough skin.
Avoid any sudden movements around a bearded dragon. It could get startled and stressed by it. Also, don’t try to pet or hold the beardie by bringing your hand down from above its head. Any movement above its head is a sign of threat to a bearded dragon.
If your pet isn’t yet used to being held, don’t immediately move in to hold it. Instead, just touch and pat it to let it become accustomed to your touch. The idea is to let the beardie know that you don’t mean to hurt it.
How to Hold a Bearded Dragon
The best way to hold a bearded dragon is by placing your hand under its body and lifting it. If you are not able to get your hand under the beardie, gently use your thumb and index finger to lift it just a little bit by its front shoulders. Now, slide your hand under the beardie and lift it.
Always support all of its four legs using your palm and fingers when you lift it. In case of dragons that are longer, use your other hand to support its tail. Remember that supporting the tail is very important. Otherwise, the beardie might wiggle around its tail or move it in circles and injure its back.
If a bearded dragon is long, sitting down while you handle it is most comfortable for both you and the dragon. If it wants to move around on your body, let it explore. Once the beardie looks comfortable sitting on your hand, you can gently pet it.
Be gentle when you hold a bearded dragon. Don’t squeeze or hold too tightly. Keep your hold loose enough so that it can move away from you whenever it wants to. Don’t tease it by wiggling your finger in front of it.
Holding a Bearded Dragon That Trusts You
Once the bearded dragon is comfortable and starts seeing you as someone trustworthy, you can move it from your palm to other parts of your body. For example, put it on your lap or on your shoulder. Some bearded dragons quickly learn to snuggle to their owners.
They love finding a comfortable place such as the nape of the neck or the crook of the elbow to rest. Some bearded dragons start liking it so much, they feel safe and relaxed with their owners. And some go to sleep when their owners hold them close. How cute is that!
How Long Should You Hold a Bearded Dragon?
Normally, you can hold the bearded dragon as long as it wants to be held. But as soon as it shows signs of being uncomfortable, return it back to its enclosure.
Some bearded dragons love the touch of their humans so much, they want to be held for several hours. You can indulge your pet if that’s what you both want. However, remember to check its body temperature, especially if the room temperature is cold.
Being cold-blooded, a dip in their body temperature can cause their digestion to halt. If you find that the beardie’s belly is cold to touch, it is best to part from your pet for some time. Return it to its enclosure and let it spend some time in its temperature-controlled terrarium.
Once you put the beardie back, make sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap.
Bearded dragons carry the salmonella bacteria which can be transferred to humans through saliva. Hence, it’s best to be safe by washing your hands and any other body part that might have come in contact with the beardie’s mouth.
When to Avoid Holding a Bearded Dragon?
In general, don’t try to take out your bearded dragon from its enclosure if it is in the middle of a meal. Apart from this, if the bearded dragon shows any of the below signs, avoid holding it.
- Shows signs of being afraid, such as trying to move away from your hand when you reach inside its terrarium.
- Shows signs of being stressed such as darkening of its skin color.
- Shows signs of aggression such as making hissing sounds, puffing up its beard, or taking an attacking stance.
- If the dragon is trying to bite your fingers as you move your hand towards it, it is best to back off.
Never force a bearded dragon to be held if it doesn’t want to. If the beardie is new, spend time talking to it while it’s in the terrarium. Let it get used to you before you attempt to touch it. If your pet usually lets you hold it and is suddenly resisting touch, it probably just needs some time alone.
Don’t worry and try again later.
If you are already holding a bearded dragon and it displays any of the above-mentioned signs, it’s time to return it back to its enclosure.
Also, note that some bearded dragons might simply not like being held even after you have made an effort to spend time with them. It could be because of a past unpleasant experience with people or simply because of the beardie’s individual temperament. Whatever the reason, don’t force it to be held.
Do bearded dragons bite? Yes, but rarely. While it is not common for bearded dragons to bite humans, it is not completely impossible. Bearded dragons are usually quite passive and won’t bite you. Also, their bite does not have any harmful side effects in most cases.
Do bearded dragons like to cuddle? It largely depends on the individual personality of the bearded dragon. While some cannot seem to get enough of cuddling with their owners, some might only let you hold but might never cuddle.
Do bearded dragons like being alone? Yes. Bearded dragons are solitary creatures in the wild. In captivity too, they are best kept alone in their enclosures. When more than one beardie shares a terrarium, there could be instances of bullying or fighting.