Bearded dragons possess many desirable qualities, offering both the playful and affectionate interactions of traditional pets as well as the novelty and hands-off nature of exotic ones.
One of their most notable qualities, however, is their reputation for being friendly, social, and snuggly. Bearded dragons are often recommended for beginners who want to learn how to handle a reptile and for those who simply want a pet they can interact with often.
However, if you know anything about keeping cold-blooded pets, you’re probably a bit skeptical. Reptiles are infamous for being aloof pets, preferring to keep to themselves the majority of their lives. Is it possible that there are reptiles who actually enjoy physical contact?
Yes! Unlike other species that are easily stressed out by handling, bearded dragons really like to be held by their owners. There are plenty of stories of bearded dragons falling asleep with their owners or even doing so much as to demand being picked up. This endearing quality allows bearded dragons to forge strong bonds with their owners and is the reason why beardies are one of the most coveted reptile pets in the trade.
Why Are Bearded Dragons So Friendly?
The reason why bearded dragons seem to be extroverts is the same reason why other reptiles might seem standoffish: intelligence. Bearded dragons have above-average intelligence compared to other reptiles, giving them a wider emotional range that includes having affection for familiar people and other animals.
This allows bearded dragons to form both positive and negative bonds so be wary that you don’t create a bad impression. Fortunately, it’s difficult to get on these friendly lizards’ bad side. They adapt quickly to human companionship as well as a human touch. Note that younger beardies tend to be a bit more skittish (at first), while full-grown adults overall tend to become much more comfortable more quickly. With a little patience, you’ll find yourself with a sweet and loyal pet that’s as loving as a dog or cat.
The Benefits of a Pet That Enjoys Handling
The emotional satisfaction of having a pet that you can, pet, isn’t the only benefit of owning a friendly animal like a bearded dragon. It also carries a number of practical applications that make it easier to carry out essential aspects of pet care.
#1. Cleaning & Maintenance
The most immediately practical benefit is in regards to cleaning and maintaining your pet’s living environment. Reptiles aren’t messy animals but their tanks and terrariums do require deep cleaning during which time the animal must be completely removed from its tank. Knowing that you can easily retrieve your pet keeps this chore from being a hassle.
#2.Visiting the Vet
Regular checkups are a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy pet. Having a pet that enjoys being held doesn’t just make it easier to take them to their appointment, but means that your touch can serve as a source of comfort for an otherwise stressful situation.
The Right Way To Hold Your Bearded Dragon
The rule of thumb for carrying any reptile is to lift them from the center of their body—never from the head or the tail. This holds for bearded dragons as well.
- Gently slide your fingers beneath their front shoulders. This should enable you to lift them enough so that you can then slide your entire hand under their belly.
- Use your palm to support their weight and your other hand to support their tail, especially with larger bearded dragons. The weight of their unsupported tail could result in a back injury for them.
- Support them without using a tight grip. Sitting or lying down with your bearded dragon might be the most comfortable option for both of you. They will likely want to explore in search of a comfortable place to nestle such as your neck or elbow.
Signs Your Bearded Dragon Doesn’t Want To Be Held
Bearded dragons are more tolerant of handling than your average reptile, meaning you can handle them more frequently and for longer periods (the norm is 15 minutes per session). That being said, that doesn’t mean they will always be in the mood to be picked up. Further, their affinity towards being picked up can vary, with some being more tolerant than others.
As such, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs when your bearded dragon is and isn’t in the mood to be handled. Here are the most obvious signs to look out for:
- Hiding: This is to be expected if you and your pet bearded dragon have not established a trusting relationship. However, if this is accompanied by signs of fear or aggression, you’ll want to back off.
- Biting or hissing: A very clear sign that your bearded dragon does not feel like being social.
- Darkening color: This is a sign that they are stressed. Picking them up will just make things worse.
- Squirming: If they seem particularly eager to get out of your grasp, put them back down. Either you, the environment, or perhaps another being in the area is making them nervous.
If at any point you witness any of these behaviors while handling your beardie, it’s best to put them down and let them be. Trying to force it could end up souring your relationship for good and turning them off from handling altogether.
Discover the Joy of Bearded Dragons for Yourself
Bearded dragons are remarkable reptiles that make wonderful pets. Not only are they easy to care for but are tons of fun to keep around! One of their many charms is how friendly they are—an impressive and unusual quality for your average cold-blooded creature.
Their docile nature and easy-going temperament have allowed raising bearded dragons to be one of the most interactive reptile-owning experiences a person can have and of the most popular choices of pet lizards (and reptiles in general). If you’re considering getting one of your own, you’ll be able to find a bearded dragon for sale almost anywhere that reptiles are sold.
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