If you’re anything like most pet owners… then chances are you want your bearded dragon to like (read: absolutely adore) you. And while this desire is perfectly normal, it is probably healthy to remember that a bearded dragon is, well, a reptile.
As such, they’re never going to love you the way a pet like a dog, horse, or cat could. So, don’t put some ridiculous and impossible standard on them that just likely will not be achievable.
Now, with this being said, your bearded dragon can absolutely bond with you, like you, and even display small signs of affection! In fact, some owners will swear to you that their dragon does in fact love them! And hey, who am I to judge?
If you want to learn just how you can bond with your bearded dragon and get them to like you, then just keep reading!
Whether you’ve just brought home a precious little baby or a full-blown senior bearded dragon, it can take some time for them to not only acclimate to their new home, but you as well.
Don’t just dive hands first into their vivarium and think you can scoop ‘em right up from the get-go. I mean, how would you feel if some giant stranger took the roof off your home and picked you up? You’d be scared out of your $%&*#@! mind.
Also, it is important to remember that all dragons are different. You could have a dragon that wasn’t handled lovingly and often by the previous owner and breeder, meaning they may take even longer to warm up to you. Just be patient and don’t rush any handling.
The only way your bearded dragon is going to get comfortable around you is if you make your presence known regularly. Before handling your dragon (see below), try coming into the room and singing or talking sweetly to them. Your dragon will come to learn your voice in no time and also realize you’re a non-threatening presence.
Ideally, you would start by holding your dragon for a few minutes a day, every day for a week. After this, you could work up to half an hour a day or so for another week. The key is to not overstimulate them too soon.
If you’ve never handled them before (or at least regularly) they don’t know for sure that you won’t hurt them, so start out really slow.
Also, always make sure your dragon can see your hands and that you have snuck up on them, this can really spook them if they’re not used to you especially.
There’s a strong chance your dragon may hiss at you or even black beard you in the beginning since they don’t know they can trust you. If this happens, give your dragon space and help them calm down but talk sweetly to them. After the aggression has subsided, consider offering them food or hand feeding them (if they’ll let you) to show that all is well.
In the beginning, aggression is only to be expected and nothing out of the ordinary. Also, if your dragon squirms quite a bit when you hold them, don’t let this deter your bonding efforts either. Your dragon will simply need to get used to being handled by you.
There is definitely a right and wrong way to handle a bearded dragon. For starters, never let them dangle as this can cause them to be distressed. You want to lift your dragon up from bellow his belly and never from up above. Make sure you have his whole body, legs included, supported.
For a specific look at the right way to pick up your bearded dragon, check out the informative video below!
Your bearded dragon needs to have regular time outside of his or her vivarium to really thrive and have an enriching life. If your bearded dragon fun activities and toys to look forward to, they’ll only come to enjoy your company and associate the fun with you all the more!
Involving your dragon in your world will make them come to trust and enjoy you as their human.
Consider purchasing a leash and harness for your dragon and taking them in your backyard or around the block for some exploring! Just make sure they don’t try to eat any plants or bugs and keep them away from areas where pesticides may have been sprayed.
Something to note with this step, however, do not let your beardie explore unsupervised. You’d be shocked at how quickly they can go “missing”. Also, keep other pets away to minimize risk.
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I’m Stacey, the owner of this website and lifelong reptile lover, caretaker, and educator. Here you will find everything from information on how to care for reptiles, to even how to give your reptiles the best fighting chances against a range of common reptile diseases and illnesses, and everything in between!