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Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Pet? How to Do It Right

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

 

woman petting a bearded dragon

Bearded Dragons are widely regarded as being one of the best beginner lizard or reptile pets. They are relatively easy to care for, although they do require live feeding which can put some potential owners off. They are also a little tougher than some of the smaller lizards, so while owners do still need to be careful not to injure their Beardies while picking them up, they can be handled. And, with a lifespan of 10 years or potentially more, it is very easy to become attached to them.

However, some people believe that Beardies are not good pets for those that like to pick up their pets and handle them. While every Bearded Dragon is different, most will not only tolerate handling, but they will enjoy the activity and may even seek out their owner’s hand when they want a little attention as long as they get enough frequent handling from their owners.

This doesn’t mean that any Bearded Dragon will always be down for some petting, though, and you will need to assess the situation and determine the mood of a Bearded Dragon before trying to pet it. If you get it wrong, and you don’t pick the Beardie up correctly, those spines can give you a surprise. And it is worth noting that Beardies do have teeth, about 80 sharp little teeth in fact. Thankfully, though, while the teeth are sharp, they don’t really hurt even if your Beardie does attempt to bite you.

Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Petted?

Bearded Dragons might not look cute and cuddly like a cat or dog, but they can form a very close bond or attachment to their owner. This is especially true since Beardies live up to 10 to 12 years, which is a long time for a bond to form between pet and owner and longer even than some dogs live.

Some Bearded Dragons, then, do enjoy being petted by their owners but they don’t usually want to be stroked for too long and it tends to be on the Beardie’s terms, rather than yours. Pet owners liken this to the way that cats only like to be petted on their terms and they will walk away when they’ve had enough.

a woman holding a bearded dragon
Image By: New Africa, Shutterstock

Signs a Bearded Dragon Wants To Be Petted

It pays to look for signs that your Bearded Dragon wants to be petted. This means you can make the most of every opportunity, and you won’t upset or irritate your pet by trying to pick them up and pet them when they’d rather be left alone.

If your Beardie stretches out to you, hops on your hand, or snuggles up in your elbow ditch or armpit, this is a good sign that it wants to be close to you. Conversely, if it tries to get away, arches its back away from you, or even starts hissing or lunging at you, these are good signs that now isn’t the right time.

Fortunately, Bearded Dragons don’t usually bear a grudge. If you attempt to pet yours at the wrong time, it doesn’t mean you should give up. Let them calm down, wait for a signal, and then try again.

How to Pet a Beardie

Bearded Dragons are delicate animals and they need handling appropriately so you don’t injure them or panic them. They are on alert for potential predators at all times, so even when they are enjoying being handled, if you make a sudden or surprise movement, the moment could easily be ruined.

Always ensure that you stroke in the direction of the scales, which means stroking down the body or out to the ends of extremities. Start at the head and stroke down towards the tail. Don’t apply too much pressure but enough that they can feel it.

female customer talking with veterinarian and holding a central bearded dragon
Image By: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

Should You Stroke Your Bearded Dragon?

Stroking your Beardie is a good way to help develop a bond between the two of you, and regular handling is advised. Try to set aside a short amount of time every day to spend with your lizard. Stroke and hold them for 5 minutes and let them have a run around when they’ve had enough of being handled. Too much attention of this type can stress them out, but over time they will not only grow to tolerate being handled, but they will grow to enjoy it, and your relationship will benefit.

Conclusion

Bearded Dragons may not look like cuddly pets, but they can form a very close bond with their humans. One way to encourage this strong bond is through regular handling and petting, which most bonded Bearded Dragons will enjoy, to some extent. Look for positive signs, stop petting when you see any negative signs, and just because one attempt at petting didn’t work out, don’t give up on the whole process.

Do pet your Beardie gently to prevent injury but firmly enough that it can feel it, and rub from the head down to the tail and not the other way.

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Featured Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

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