You’ve probably seen those cute videos of bearded dragons snuggling up with their owners and thought, “Aw, do they really like to cuddle?” While they might not “cuddle” in the traditional, furry-pet sense, bearded dragons do display signs of affection and comfort in their unique reptilian way.
Understanding Dragon Affection
Unlike dogs or cats, bearded dragons have their own distinct way of showing affection. It’s easy to anthropomorphize their behaviors, thinking they’re cuddling like a puppy might. In reality, when a beardie gets close or rests on you, they’re likely seeking warmth from your body. Their cold-blooded metabolism means they often seek out heat sources, and to them, you’re like a cozy, moving heater.
Building Trust Is Key
For a bearded dragon to willingly get close, a level of trust needs to be established. When they allow handling or “snuggling” into the crook of your arm, it’s a sign they feel safe and secure with you. Regular, gentle handling, talking softly to them, and ensuring they’re not subjected to sudden movements or loud noises are all ways to build this bond. Over time, as this trust deepens, you might find your dragon becoming more comfortable and seeking you out more frequently.
Beyond Body Heat: Connections
While the initial draw might be warmth, many owners believe their bearded dragons recognize and form a bond with them. There are anecdotal claims where dragons show a preference for a particular family member, moving towards them or appearing more relaxed in their presence. It’s a mix of familiarity, routine, and association that creates this bond, making them more receptive to “cuddling.”
Just like many animals, bearded dragons thrive on routines. The consistent, daily interactions—whether it’s feeding time, a gentle talk, or that daily out-of-the-enclosure exploration—all build an association in their minds. Over time, they begin to associate positive experiences, safety, and comfort with certain individuals. This association strengthens the bond and makes them more receptive to closeness or what we interpret as cuddling.
Likeness Versus Tolerance
It is likely impossible to ascertain whether or not bearded dragons are enjoying their cuddle sessions. Research has shown that even mild, gentle handling for extended periods of time might be stressful for them 1. However, research hasn’t identified if bearded dragons can slowly become accepting of longer handling sessions without becoming stressed. Therefore, it isn’t possible to make a generalized statement on whether or not your pet is truly building a connection with you, or merely tolerating your presence.
Bearded dragons are fascinating and full of unique behaviors and ways of expressing themselves. While they might not cuddle in the way we traditionally understand, their gestures of trust and comfort are equally heartwarming. It’s a bond built over time with patience and understanding.
Whether they’re seeking warmth and safety or are genuinely enjoying your company, it’s a relationship to cherish. Just remember, like any other pet, respect their boundaries, understand their cues, and enjoy the moments of connection.