Bearded dragons are semi-social animals. They enjoy interacting with humans, but they do not need interaction for their physical and social well-being. When in captivity, they need to be petted every once and again to bond with the owner. Knowing how to do it right goes a long way in bonding with them and avoiding any issues with the interaction.
Bearded dragons like to be pet, although they’re not very sociable animals. When petting them, pick them up by the belly, give them gentle rubs on the head, chin, and belly, and put them back into their cage. Petting your dragon should be done daily for about 10 minutes per session.
Petting a bearded dragon isn’t like petting your cat or dog, where you can do it while focusing on your book or glass of wine. Instead, dragons need your full attention to the extent that you need your hands and watch their behavior while you pet them. Otherwise, you might have an issue with them that may lead to a bite or scratch from your lizard friend.
How to pet a bearded dragon
Knowing how to pet a bearded dragon is important. It would be best if you did it to make sure that they’re happy and healthy. Doing it wrong can irritate the dragon, which can bite or scratch you as a result of it.
Gently pet your bearded dragon from head to tail, which will help calm them and also get their blood circulating nicely. This can be done on either side or both sides if they’re feeling shy about being touched at first.
Be patient with them. It may take a while for your beardie to feel comfortable enough with you touching them, but don’t give up. If they start trying to scratch or bite you, skip back one step and try again later when they are more relaxed.
It may seem like a lot of work to do this with your bearded dragon, but it’s essential and eventually works.
Before we delve into the actual process of petting your bearded dragon, you should avoid the following:
- Don’t pick up the dragon by the tail or feet since this agitates it.
- Don’t let the dragon sit on your face since it can defecate on your which won’t be so nice besides being a health hazard.
- Don’t pet them if you are wearing any shiny jewellery because it can scare and confuse them, or worse, injure their eyes with an earring or necklace.
- Don’t pick up the dragon when it’s eating, mating or agitated in any way.
- Don’t try to pet a female if she’s pregnant or has just laid eggs.
- Never pet the dragon when it is shedding, as they can swallow skin and choke on it while preening. The interruption of the shedding process can also be quite distressing to them.
- If they do something that worries you during petting time (poop themselves, for example), do not punish them. Simply bring him/her back up to a level position so he/she is no longer in danger of suffocating and repeat the steps from before.
- Avoid quick movements when approaching the bearded dragon and its cage as it may interpret it as a threat.
- After you do all of this, start petting your bearded dragon. Pet them in the same motion used to pat a dog or cat because it’s important and eventually works.
With these tips in mind, you will soon be happily holding your pet lizard without problems. The right handling procedure helps you bond with your gecko for easier handling. You can even have a better understanding of its behaviors and easily know when something isn’t right like when it’s sick.
READ ALSO: Bearded Dragon Laying Flat: Causes and Fixes
How to pick up a bearded gecko
Once you’re sure your dragon isn’t agitated, or you know it’s in the mood for being handled, do what we call “hand walking” – holding your hands out parallel to each other with a finger on one hand, touching the dragon’s foot. This will help them get used to your touch and make sure they’re not afraid of you when it comes time for handling sessions.
Lastly, but most importantly, don’t grab or hold onto their head. Behind their jawline, sharp spines called tubercles can cause serious injury if touched too hard.
To pick up your bearded dragon, place one hand under its belly, then lift it to your chest. Do it slowly, then bring it up to avoid startling your pet. If you notice that it’s tensed up, place a finger on its chin and it’ll calm down afterwards. If this doesn’t work, put them back into their cage to calm them down.
How do you hold your bearded dragon?
The best position to hold your bearded dragon is to have it on your hand, stomach-side down. Place the other hand under their chest and support them, so they do not fall off your arm or palm if they startle from a sudden noise or movement.
This position can be done with one arm if you are trying to do something else while holding your bearded dragon (such as carrying groceries). The important thing for how long the bearded dragons will stay comfortable in this position is that you keep both arms close together at all times and do not let go of either side too quickly.
They like warm areas and holding them close to your chest will do this. So, when it is cold outside, they enjoy being near your body and in the warmer months, you can let them roam around on your arm to get a good look at things.
While holding the dragon, do not pinch its toes or tail. This is something they do with one another and you should only do it if the lizard wants this type of interaction from you. Kids are more likely to do it playfully, although the results can be agitating the dragon.
Also, avoid sudden movements, noises or having other people touch them when they’re in your hand. This might startle them and, though you do not mean to do it, you may drop them when they jerk suddenly.
When the dragon gets agitated and hisses at you or shows other signs of aggression, do not do anything and talk in a soothing voice. This will usually calm him down after a minute or two.
Bearded dragons do enjoy being pet, but they do not like the sudden movements that come with it sometimes. So showing them lots of love through soft caressing is what they really enjoy.
The most important thing to keep in mind when caring for your bearded dragon is its tendency to get startled by new things if held improperly. Holding them too tightly can make both yourself and your beardie uncomfortable as it may result in spine damage for the animal.
When it’s too agitated, please put it back into its cage, then give it time to calm down before further contact.
READ ALSO: Bearded Dragon Noises and What They Mean
Where do bearded dragons like to be pet?
Bearded dragons like to be petted on the stomach, back, and head. They do not like being pet on their snout or tail because it may irritate them. Their beard is also a great spot to pet them since they respond well to it.
Bearded dragons do not like to be pet on their snout because it may irritate them and they do not like being pet on their tail because there is a risk of breaking off the tail. It is best just to avoid touching these areas altogether unless you are experienced in doing so.
The beard can also be an area where bearded dragons enjoy being stroked or rubbed gently for a while, but do keep your hands away from the mouth parts at all times. As with any animal, if handled too roughly, scratches and bites will occur during playtime, which we don’t want to happen as it may have health implications.
How do you put the bearded dragon down back into its cage?
Once you’re done spending time with your bearded dragon, you’ll have to do the inevitable and put him back in his cage. But how do you do that without hurting your beardie?
Make sure their tank is cool enough first. The temperature should be somewhere around 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius). You can use a thermometer for this or rely on common sense. If it’s not cold outside but the room where they live is warm, turn off any heat sources like radiators and don’t let them sunbathe too long.
Use two hands to handle them with one hand under your pet’s chin while the other supports its tail from underneath with both thumbs pressed against each side of its body as close together as possible so there’s no space between them. Do not do this if your beardie is biting or struggling. Also, avoid holding them too tightly.
Put the head on one side of the body, and then do a “half roll” so that it’s still horizontal but now with its feet up in the air. This will put them right back into their cage.
Precautions when petting your bearded dragon
Some of the preventive measures to observe when petting your dragon include the following:
- Wash your hands before and after handling the dragon to avoid transferring germs like salmonella. They’re also quite sensitive to smells hence the need to wash your hands before handling them. Alternatively, use rubber gloves that aren’t scented.
- Please do not place your hand over its head or neck, as it can constrict and suffocate. Instead, hold it by its sides, carefully not to squeeze too tightly.
- If you’re bitten or scratched by the dragon, do not panic and do not inject antibiotics. Clean the area then call your physician to assess the situation first before taking any action that may worsen the problem.
- Make sure you’re able to provide a comfortable environment for your dragon such as providing adequate warmth with heated rocks or lamps (never use hot water). Provide it ample space in its cage so it can roam freely while being protected from other pets’ territorial behavior.
Bearded dragons are susceptible to stress-induced illnesses like stomatitis which is characterized by inflammation of the mouth lining caused by excessive contact with human hands or food items. Be careful about how often you handle them because too much handling could also lead to discomfort and even diseases.
How often should you pet your bearded dragon?
It would help if you petted your bearded dragon at least once a day. This will also ensure that the beardie is well-fed and healthy, as they do need to eat their food for their digestive system to work efficiently.
The best time of day to pet them is right after they have eaten since this way, you are giving them a bit more energy from the meal before it goes into digesting mode.
If you notice the dragon getting sluggish after being pet, put them back into their cage since this could be a sign that they need to do some digestion before eating again or they want to defecate.
The best way to pet your dragon is with one hand wrapped around their body and the other gently patting them on top of their head, neck or underbelly.
Be sure not to pull away from them just as quickly; you want the bearded dragon to feel like it has been an enjoyable interaction.
If you do this for about ten minutes each day, then after only two weeks, you should notice a significant increase in how tame your bearded dragon will be when interacting with humans.
Too much petting can stress them up; hence should be avoided at all costs.