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

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Every pet deserves affection from its owner and will have its preferred method for receiving love. For example, while your dogs often enjoy belly scratches and cuddles, your bearded dragon may not be as fond of those types of interactions. In fact, even within the same species, they individually have different tolerances for affection and contact. It’s now left to you to figure out your beardie’s tolerance so that you both can coexist happily.

Bearded dragons enjoy being petted and handled with care. Although they don’t require touchy affection, they do appreciate the fondness of their human companions in their way. This will depend on how much your dragon likes you and its individual personality over time.

how to pet bearded dragons

3 Absolute Best Ways To Pet Your Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are solitary creatures; they live their whole lives without companionship. So, petting may be a bother or a welcome act depending on your pet and how you go about it. How do you know if your beardie enjoys being petted by you? Read on to find out!

Bearded dragons enjoy being held and pampered, and there are certainly ways to do it right.

Slightly Rub Around Their Mouth And Beard

Gently run your fingers on top of their mouths in a slow back-and-forth motion, and also around their beard. They enjoy this and it is favorable since you’re not taking them by surprise. Remember not to ambush your pet; make sure it can see you before you touch it so that you don’t scare it away.

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 move towards your fingers especially when they’re shedding. If your dragon is removing its old scales, do not scratch the peeling skin to avoid causing an injury. Allow your pet to shed on its own!

Run Your Hands Down Their Backs

Gently run your fingers down their backs toward their tails in a forward and backward motion. Do not pat or tap them as they may feel attacked instead. If your dragon appreciates your rubbing (not tapping) gesture, it will stick its head in the air and close its eyes in appreciation.

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

If you’re a new beardie owner, you must recognize your pet’s negative responses and act accordingly when you interact. Before your bearded dragon can enjoy being petted by you, it must fully trust and consider you to be safe. Otherwise, the interaction becomes stressful and may result in you getting bitten by your angry pet out of fear or frustration.

Here’s how to tell if your beardie enjoys your petting:

  • Your beardie crawls out of hiding or moves closer to you when it sees you approach
  • It lets you touch it without scurrying away
  • It relaxes when you pick it up
  • It doesn’t try to bite you
  • It is not opening its mouth or flashing its beard
  • It’s not bobbing its head or stomping its feet
  • It is not twirling around in circles as you try to touch it
  • It doesn’t lie unusually still and dormant when you pet it

The 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 pet dragon is a good idea:

  • Your beardie will learn to love and befriend you. frequent interactions will help your pet get used to its environment and enjoy your presence around it.
  • Your pet will get accustomed to their surroundings and feel much safer. petting your beardie helps to reduce its stress and anxiety in its environment since you’re proving that it is safe to interact with its home.
  • Your beardie will be less skittish and more active which is great for their metabolism. the more skittish your beardie is, the less activity and metabolism it’s getting. Your pet must move around to attain good health from metabolizing food. Interaction gets it out of hiding so it can move its body promoting adequate metabolism.
  • You get to study and understand your pet much better. The more time you spend with your dragon, the better the bond between you both. This allows it to associate with you and allows you to understand its individual needs on a personal level.
  • You get to identify illnesses or other problems quite easily. Associating with your pet will help you notice minor symptoms like drooping eyes, saggy skin, and unusual splotches of color which could go under the radar on a normal day. It gives you a basis for comparing these signs, alerting you of the problem.
the right way to handle and pick up bearded dragons

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

When you handle or move your beardie from one place to another, you want to make sure that you’re holding it the right way so that you don’t startle it. Here’s how to get it done:

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. Take your hand over your beardie’s body to the opposite side and place your index finger underneath its neck. Slowly support the chest area with your index finger and lift, enough to slip the rest of the supporting fingers underneath the torso to hoist it completely. You have to immediately cusp the young dragon with your free hand in case it tries to run away.

Picking Up An Adult Bearded Dragon

Adult beardies are a lot bigger, so you’d need to pick them up with both hands at first in most scenarios. Wrap one hand around the front legs and chest area of the beardie and lift slightly 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 your hand where they can rest.

Picking Up An Irritated Bearded Dragon

If a bearded dragon is puffed up with irritation, it will probably chomp at any hand that waves in 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 from underneath, and then immediately pick it up. This practice takes skill and patience and should be done with care to avoid hurting you or your beardie.

Caution: Do not flip your beardie to rest on its back! This is highly dangerous; bearded dragons have no diaphragms, and turning them around in awkward positions restricts airflow 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 by these activities.

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 your beardie can hear you when you speak to it, the answer is yes, it can. 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 it, your pet will confide and feel safe around you instead of when you speak loudly and scare it further away.

2. Do Not Startle Your Dragon

Bearded dragons depend on a predictable environment to assess whether dangers are present or not. In most cases, they can pick up 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 it or touching it out of the blue. This will only destabilize and cause it to be skittish in the environment that should be a haven. When you get to the enclosure, ensure that your pet is fully aware of your presence before you reach in and touch it, so that you don‘t throw it off 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 affection. So when you learn to hold your pet, you are convincing it that you mean no harm even though contact is involved. When you pick up your dragon, guarantee that you are not snatching it from its enclosure hurriedly. Always ensure that it is fully aware of your presence beforehand.

4. Give Your Beardie Some Self-Time

I understand that as a beginner, 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 the patience required to build trust between you both.

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 pets to trust you is for them to associate you with food. Once your beardie sees you coming, not only does it know no harm is around, but it understands that delicious grubs are on the way! This instantly improves its mood and improves bonding with you. Try to let it eat from your hands 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, take note of their color as they will turn darker when they’re uncomfortable.

Engage With Your Beardies During Bath Time

During routine baths or soaks, you can calm your beardie down by using your hands to support or float it around the water. This would help your pet 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, it’ll get bored and stressed. To put it into perspective, imagine being rubbed over and over for long periods; I surely don’t think your beardie would like that even if it is the friendliest of them all!

Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Held?

Bearded dragons enjoy being held when they trust you and relish the way you hold them. If your beardie likes you, it may run up your arms as soon as you reach for it and climb you by itself!

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 pet to ensure you’re not stressing or bothering it with too much physical affection.

Is It Okay To Take My Bearded Dragon On Walks?

Your beardie may not like the outdoors because they are prey to big birds that will squawk and shrill over your head as you both stroll by, thereby causing it stress. I do not recommend strolling around with your bearded dragon outdoors, except in your yard if it feels comfortable there.

To be on the safe side, get your bearded dragon a harness; 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 so you can view it on Amazon.

A much safer option is a bearded dragon carrier (view on Amazon) which provides an enclosed space that you can carry, allowing your dragon to feel much more secure from prying birds and other predators.

Do Bearded Dragons Enjoy Being Kissed?

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

Beware Of Salmonella: Bearded dragons are known to carry salmonella which can make you ill if ingested. Kissing your pet is a direct way to contract this bacteria, so I do not recommend it.

The Wrap Up

Beardies make great companions, and even better ones if they love your company. It’s a journey to learn, appreciate, and bond with your pet dragon with time. They may be docile creatures, but they are quite fun to be around if you build a great connection.

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.

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