Handling a Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragons are great pets and enjoy being handled since they are so laid back and docile, however, there are a few points to consider when handling a bearded dragon that you should fully consider.
So how exactly should we handle a bearded dragon? it’s always good to move very slowly and not make any sudden movements that will startle the dragon, also make sure you are in a safe environment for both the bearded dragon and yourself.
You can then slowly slide your fingers under the belly and gently lift the bearded dragon, don’t try to grasp them or squeeze them if they attempt to run, just let them run through your fingers and keep moving your hands forward.
If they appear stressed out or agitated then be sure to put them back in a safe familiar place so they can relax and try again later, it’s much better to keep the bearded dragons stress levels down and come back with a fresh approach another day, there is no rush and building trust takes a little time depending on the dragon.
Picking Up Your Bearded Dragon for the First Time
If you are picking up your bearded dragon for the first time then there are a few points to take note of to help this process go smoothly and without any hiccups, following these steps below will help ensure that both parties are relaxed and happy when handling your bearded dragon for the first time.
Firstly, find a safe spot to pick up your dragon, ideally, this will be quite low to the ground so that should you lose control whilst holding the bearded dragon he will less likely be hurt from falling.
When you first pick up your bearded dragon, be sure to move very slowly and not make any sudden movements that might startle him, you can then slowly slide your hand under his belly and slowly pick him up with his tail extended out on to your forearm.
Once you have a hold of him just gently place your hand on him and try to soothe your bearded dragon, this first interaction could be a stressful one for both owner and dragon, so just try and do everything you can to comfort him as it’s a totally new experience.
Try holding him close to you whilst your hand is under his belly, this way there is less chance he will wriggle free and fall, also the warmth from your body will put the bearded dragon slightly more at ease.
If at any time he tries to wriggle free or getaway then simply let him go (obviously not from height, this is assuming you are holding him whilst sat on the floor for example), do not grab him or squeeze him to keep hold of him or this will stress the bearded dragon even more.
Just let him go, and if you’re in a safe environment you can just slowly gain his trust back with treats and slow movements, once you pick him up again if he starts to repeat the process then put him back in his safe place and try again a day or two later.
The first initial pick up shouldn’t be for long, little and often is better at the start so he can become familiar with the routine and build trust with you, again this will take time, don’t expect to build instant trust right away and be patient.
Also, try and avoid any loud noises and overreactions, I always advise not to have young children present for the first time you handle your bearded dragon as you want to build trust and avoid any nasty surprises.
How Long Should You Handle Your Bearded Dragon For?
As I mentioned above, the first time you handle your bearded dragon it shouldn’t really be for too long, you can be the judge of this but pay close attention to your bearded dragon and if he seems stressed then pop him back into a safe place.
Repetition is more important than long handling sessions at this point as he will gradually become used to you and will have no fear of being handled.
If you find that your bearded dragon is having the time of his little life when you first handle him, then, by all means, extend this period out a little more, but just pay close attention to his body language and gauge if he is stressed or not.
What to do After Handling Your Bearded Dragon
I would always advise washing your hands before and after handling a bearded dragon with soap, especially if the little claws have scratched into your skin a little, even if they are barely noticeable it’s better to avoid any infection.
What should I do in the event that I drop my bearded dragon?
In the event that you drop your bearded dragon, you need to assess the situation quickly, a small tumble from a low height will more often than not be fine, just slowly move towards him to pick him up after the event, but move slowly and understand he may now be much more afraid.
Once you have picked him up place him back in his safe place and try again tomorrow.
If however, you are in the unfortunate position where you have dropped him from standing height or even higher for whatever reason, then please call your local vet immediately especially if he seems to be in distress or discomfort.
It’s very easy for bearded dragons to damage limbs so it’s always better to be cautious and seek professional help if in any doubt whatsoever.
What should I do in the event that I am bitten by my bearded dragon?
In the extremely unlikely event that your bearded dragon bites you then the first thing you need to do is return him back to his vivarium, but do this slowly and safely (I know this is easier said than done after being nipped) but it’s vital to not make a big song and dance about the incident and incite more fear.
Once the bearded dragon is back in safety then make sure you wash any cuts on your hands that you may have received as carefully and thoroughly as bearded dragons do carry a very mild venom which will cause some extra swelling but is absolutely nothing to be worried about.
The final point about this is to make sure you go back over the next few days and still handle him, don’t be put off by one little nip, being handled is very important for a bearded dragon as it provides stimulation, and not building trust with each other removes half the fun of owning such a wonderful creature, don’t give up!
Should I let my young child handle a bearded dragon?
On the first attempt at handling, I always suggest to not have children present initially, you want this experience to be as calming as possible, however, once you have gained some trust with your bearded dragon then there is absolutely no reason not to let your children interact with him.
However, it’s a good idea to talk to the children first depending on their age and explain to them how to pick him up, and explain that picking him up by his limbs is absolutely not allowed, and also be sure to never leave a young child with a bearded dragon as some very young toddlers may not understand the above concepts fully.
It comes down to common sense, bearded dragons are absolutely wonderful pets to share with your children, but make sure you manage and assess the situation, and if you’ve never handled the bearded dragon yourself then build up some trust first before letting your child interact.