Do Bearded Dragons Like Being Petted? Every Owner’s Guide To Safe Petting

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When you love your pet, your natural impulse is to pamper and adore them, which is difficult to do without nuzzling or coddling them. The problem is, not every pet would want to be loved the same way even within the same species; individuality plays a big role in receiving affection. For instance, dogs generally would prefer belly rubs and cuddles more than chickens would, and some dogs would be much friendlier than other dogs.

It’s only fair to wonder if your bearded dragon appreciates being petted or fondly handled, and I have all the answers you need.

Surprisingly, Bearded dragons enjoy being petted and handled with care. Although they don’t require or need the touchy affection, they do acknowledge the fondness of their human companions. This will depend on how you treat your dragon and its personality as an individual over time.

Bearded dragons are solitary creatures; they live their whole lives independent of companionship. In fact, they struggle and fight off rivals to maintain a spot where they wouldn’t have to greet the neighbors! With this fact in sight, how do you know if your beardie enjoys being petted by you? Read on to find out!

Does Your Beardie Enjoy Being Petted By You? – How To Tell

Fortunately, all animals have particular responses that you can pick on in every scenario. If you’re a new owner, you need to recognize them to keep your beardie from being stressed, distrusting you, or biting you. Before your bearded dragon can enjoy being petted by you, they have to fully trust you and consider you to be a safe space. Only then can they relax and truly enjoy your company.

If doubting your beardie’s behaviors, here’s how to tell if your pet enjoys your petting:

  • They crawl out of hiding or crawl closer to you when they see you approach
  • They let you touch them without scurrying away
  • They relax when you pick them up
  • They don’t try to bite you
  • They are not opening their mouths or flashing their beards
  • They are not bobbing their heads or stomping their feet
  • They are not twirling around in circles as you try to touch them
  • They do not lie unusually still and dormant when you pet them
best methods to pet bearded dragons

3 Absolute Best Ways To Pet Your Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons like to be held and pampered, and there are certainly ways to do it right.

  1. Slightly Rub Around Their Mouth And Beard

Gently run your fingers at the top of their mouths in a flicking motion and also around their beard. They enjoy this activity and it is favorable since you’re not taking them by surprise.

  1. Caress The Top Of Their Heads And Neck

Beardies enjoy being touched on the top of their heads, and if they like you very much, they might nudge towards your fingers more.

  1. Run Your Hands Down Their Backs

Gently run your fingers down their backs toward their tails in a forward and backward motion. Remember, you’re not patting or tapping them, as they may take the wrong impression and feel attacked. If your dragon appreciates this gesture, it will stick its head in the air and close its eyes in appreciation.

5 Benefits Of Petting Your Bearded Dragon

Aside from the fact that your dragon enjoys your physical affection, here are other great reasons why petting your beardie is a good idea:

  1. Beardie will learn to love and befriend you
  2. They will get accustomed to their surroundings and feel much safer
  3. Beardie will be less skittish and more active which is great for their metabolism
  4. You get to study and understand your pet much better
  5. You get to recognize red flags that may be associated with illnesses or other problems
how to handle bearded dragons

How To Handle Your Bearded Dragon – Picking Up A Baby Or Adult Beardie Safely

When you handle or remove your beardie from one place to the other, you want to make sure that you’re holding them the right way so that you don’t startle them. Here’s how to go about it:

Carrying A Baby Beardie

Since baby dragons are smaller, you’d need one hand to lift their bodies and the other to support them as they’re quite active and may try to run away. Now, take your hand over their body to the opposite side and place your index finger underneath their neck. Slowly support their chest area with your index finger and lift them up, enough to slip the rest of the supporting fingers underneath their torso, and then hoist them completely. You have to immediately cusp them with your other hand in case they try to run away.

Picking Up An Adult Bearded Dragon

Adult beardies are a lot bigger and would require you to pick them up with both hands in most scenarios. Wrap one hand around the front legs and chest area of the beardie and lift a bit for leverage as you simultaneously slip your other hand underneath the hind legs for support.

Bearded dragons hate to have their legs dangling around, so you should ensure that both the front and hind legs are placed on a solid surface where they can rest.

Picking Up An Irritated Bearded Dragon

If a bearded dragon is all puffed and gloaming with irritation, it will probably chomp at any hand that may wave at its face. The safest method, in this case, is to go through its hind legs. Slowly, slip your hand under its tail and hind legs, toward the front legs from underneath and then immediately pick them up. This practice takes skill and patience to carry out and should be done with care to avoid hurting you or your beardie.

Caution: Do not place flip your beardie to rest on their backs! This is highly dangerous; bearded dragons have no diaphragms as humans do, and turning them around in awkward positions restricts airflow thereby causing them to suffocate.

5 Ways To Get Your Bearded Dragon To Trust And Befriend You

Bearded dragons are not feeble creatures, but they are sensitive to sudden movement, loud sounds, and unsavory environments. There are certain things you shouldn’t do around your pet to prevent them from associating you with danger. Since bearded dragons cannot fully comprehend their surroundings, they connect activities they experience to either danger or security, even if they are not harmed.

In light of this issue, here are 5 proper ways to handle your bearded dragon so that they grow to trust you:

1. Speak Softly To Your Beardie

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not your beardie can hear you when you speak to it, the answer is yes, it does. They can recognize the pitches and tilts of the voices they hear frequently and associate the particular sound with the experience that follows. By calmly speaking to them, it allows them to confide and feel safe around you as opposed to speaking loudly or suddenly which would only scare your beardie further away from you.

2. Do Not Sneak Up Behind Or Startle Your Dragon

Bearded dragons depend on a predictable environment to assess whether dangers are present or not. In most cases, they can pick on faint vibrations to warn them of company. Also, beardies utilize their wider range of vision as another point of security so that they are not taken by surprise. All these point to how sneaking up on them is such a terrible idea!

Do not prank or tease your beardie by sneaking up behind them or touching them out of the blue. This will only destabilize them and cause them to be skittish in the environment that should be their home. When you get to their enclosure, ensure that they are fully aware of your presence before you reach in and touch them, so that you don‘t throw them off their balance.

3. Handle Or Pick Up Your Beardie Tenderly

Handling is a big part of bonding and building trust with your dragon and it usually either goes very well or very badly. As mentioned earlier, beardies are solitary animals that can live without handling. So when you learn to hold your pet, you are convincing them that you mean no harm even though contact is involved.

When you pick up your dragon, ensure that you are not snatching it from its enclosure hurriedly. Always make sure that it is fully aware of your presence beforehand.

4. Give Your Beardie Some Self Time

I understand that as a beginner owner, it’s easy to get riled up and excited about your new company. However, bearded dragons are introverts and may not enjoy getting peeked at or prodded every minute. While some of them wouldn’t mind later on, it takes time and patience to build trust and get them to be comfortable around you. Especially when you’re starting with adult beardies that may have been rescued.

5. Patience And Consistency Is Key

Building trust is not a one-day job, and even though our scaly beardie friends are intelligent in their own way, there’s a lot they simply can’t comprehend. If your beardie is a baby, it surely will be easier to build trust with them. However, if you care for a rescued adult, you’d have to exercise as much patience as would be required to build trust between you both.

4 Great Ways To Bond And Enjoy Time With Your Bearded Dragon

Bonding with your beardie is the best part of owning a bearded dragon and can be quite entertaining. Here are 4 ways to befriend your beardie and ensure they reciprocate the friendship:

Hand Feed Your Dragon

The fastest way for your pet to trust you is for them to associate you with food. Once they see you coming, not only do they know no harm is around, but they also understand that their delicious grubs are on the way! This instantly improves their mood and allows them to bond better with you. Try to let them eat from your hands every now and then, and watch how your relationship immediately improves.

Encourage Physical Contact

Bearded dragons get accustomed to touch with time, and they do enjoy being around their human buddies. Try to hold them often by allowing them to rest on your shoulders when you’re relaxing. There are more details on how often you should handle or pet your dragon below.

Take Your Dragon On Indoor Strolls

Some dragons enjoy running around and exploring outside their terrarium or prefer to latch onto you while you stroll around, while others may prefer to remain around their tank and associate with you. One way to find out is to notice their behavior; if they remain way too calm and shut their eyes when you take them out, they may be frightened and are submitting by lying motionless. Also, you should take note of their color as they would turn darker when they’re uncomfortable.

Engage With Your Beardies During Bath Time

During their routine baths or soaks, you can calm your beardie down by using your hands to support them or float them around the water. This would help them to feel safe and secure, thus bonding better with you.

How Frequently Should I Pet My Bearded Dragon?

Petting your beardie should be a daily affair for no more than 15 minutes in a stretch, otherwise, they’d get bored and stressed. To put it into perspective, imagine being rubbed in over and over for long periods in a span; I surely don’t think your beardie would like that even if they are the friendliest of them all!

Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Held?

Bearded dragons do enjoy being held when they trust you and relish the way you hold them. If your beardie really likes you, they’ll run up your arms as soon as you put it out for them to climb and you wouldn’t even have to pick them up!

Since bearded dragons have different personalities, the duration for which you should hold them before they become stressed will depend on what they prefer. Sometimes, your dragon may even take a nap on your body snuggled close to your neck. So, the best thing is to properly understand your beardie to ensure you’re not stressing or bothering them with too much physical affection.

Is It Okay To Take My Bearded Dragon On Walks?

Your beardie may or may not like the outdoors. You have to understand that bearded dragons are prey to big birds that will squawk and shrill over your heads as you both stroll by, thereby threatening and stressing your pet. I do not recommend strolling around with your bearded dragon outdoors, but perhaps around your yard if your pet feels comfortable to go.

You must have thought you’d seen all, but bearded dragons have harnesses; they come in different shapes and themes tethered to a rope where you can hold them so they don’t run out of sight – It’s hilarious! I’ll leave a link right here (view on Amazon) so you can view it.

However, the better option is the bearded dragon carrier (view on Amazon) which gives an enclosed space that you can carry so that your dragon can feel much safer from prying birds and excessive vibrations.

Does My Bearded Dragon Enjoy Being Kissed?

Beardies do enjoy being smothered with lovely kisses by their caretaker, however, a great amount of trust is required for a safe encounter. Sometimes, when you put your face too close to theirs, they may intuitively bite your nose or lip.

  • Beware Of Salmonella:

Bearded dragons are known to carry salmonella which can cause you to fall sick if ingested. Kissing your pet is a direct means of consuming this bacteria, so I do not recommend it.

The Wrap Up

Beardies make great companions, and even better ones if they love your company. Did you know that bearded dragons are listed as one of the few pets to reciprocate affection to their human friends? Some of them can even respond to their given names! It’s an adventure to learn, appreciate, and bond with your pet beardie with time. They may be docile creatures, but they are quite fun to be around if you give them a chance.

Photo of author


EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Reptiles. He is a pet lover who loves to discuss about bearded dragons and share the knowledge he gained over time about pet reptiles.