Bearded dragons are scaly and cold-blooded, and they look a little like baby dinosaurs. If you’re thinking of bringing one home, it’s only natural for you to wonder if these tough-looking lizards are friendly. So, are bearded dragons friendly? Will they get along with you, your kids, and your other pets? Let's find out.
Are Bearded Dragons Friendly?
Yes, bearded dragons are friendly…when they are well cared for!
According to Long Island Bird & Exotics Veterinary Clinic: “Bearded dragons are the only known reptile to show affection for their human companions, which is why they make great exotic pets if a reptile is the kind of animal you are looking for.”
Bearded dragons may not play fetch or nuzzle you like a puppy, but these cold-blooded reptiles can be quite warm-hearted when they are well cared for and comfortable.
Of course there will be times when they are sick or stressed and don’t want to play or be handled. And each reptile has a different demeanor and personality. But they have been known to form strong bonds with their owners and can be quite friendly.
Are Bearded Dragons Social Animals?
Bearded dragons are solitary animals by nature, but this doesn’t mean they are naturally hostile.
Yes, they can exhibit aggressive behaviors if they feel threatened or stressed, but they are generally docile animals who grow to enjoy your companionship.
Are Bearded Dragons Friendly when Handled?
Generally bearded dragons don’t mind being handled, but it depends. Like most animals, they need to get comfortable around their owners before they are okay with being handled. They need to know you are not a predator.
Additionally, their level of friendliness does depend on their mood, their personality, how they are feeling physically, and how comfortable they are around people (for example, a new dragon may not feel safe around you yet, but can grow to trust you if you treat her well).
If your dragon is about to brumate, she won’t want to be handled. Prior to brumation, beardies become lethargic and disinterested in their human companions. Similarly, if your dragon is sick or stressed, she will prefer being left alone. It’s important to get familiar with your dragon’s usual behaviors so you can tell when something is off.
One great way to build rapport with your dragon is to gently feed her by hand. You can use tweezers to offer individual insects, or give her fruits or veggies by hand. (Just be sure not to feed your dragon this way if she’s acting very agitated. Bearded dragons rarely bite, but they may in this scenario.)
The idea is that they will grow to associate your presence with yummy food, so they’ll gradually become more and more comfortable around you as they realize you’re not a predator.
In addition, encourage your bearded dragon to become more friendly and familiar with you by making efforts to bond and play with your dragon. Here are some ideas:
- Beardie burritos (where you wrap up your dragon in a cozy blanket or towel) are popular for a reason. Not only are they great for photos, but they are also a great way to enjoy some cuddles with your pet!
- Find fun ways to play with your dragon, like rolling a ball or giving them a plush toy.
- Take your dragon for a walk outside (weather permitting, of course - don’t forget your friend is cold blooded).
- Give them a bath or a swim if they enjoy water time.
Pro Tip: Make sure your dragon can see you when you approach them. If you're not in their line of sight and you try to pick them up, the third eye on the back of their head will interpret you as a predator and they will get scared.
What Makes a Bearded Dragon Unfriendly?
There are a lot of reasons a bearded dragon might act unfriendly:
- Your dragon is stressed. This is a common culprit of cranky behavior. There are a lot of reasons your dragon could be stressed, ranging from shedding to loud noises to improper heating and lighting to needing a little more playtime.
- Your dragon is sick. Illness such as gut impaction, parasites, or metabolic bone disease can contribute to aggressive behavior.
- Your dragon is new. New dragons need time to adjust to their new environment. If you give your dragon some time, take good care of him, and gradually get him used to you, your dragon should stop acting skittish before too long.
- Your dragon was abused. If you rescued a bearded dragon or you got him from an untrustworthy breeder or a pet store, he might have been abused. Your dragon may have multiple health issues going on as well as severe stress and fear around people. In this case the best thing to do is to seek guidance from your vet.
Are Bearded Dragons Friendly around Other People?
Ok, so you know that your bearded dragon will become friendly around you if you take good care of him. Are bearded dragons friendly around kids? Visitors? Pet-sitters?
The key is familiarity. Your dragon needs to feel secure in order to act friendly. If you have children who want to play with your dragon, make sure they understand how to handle her safely. Make sure they are gentle.
If you want to introduce your dragon to your friends, get your dragon used to them. Make sure the environment is calm. Hold your dragon carefully and let your friends feed or talk to her. Don’t force her to interact if she doesn’t want to. If your dragon seems stressed, place her back in the enclosure and try again another time.
Are Bearded Dragons Friendly Around Other Pets?
It’s definitely possible to have a bearded dragon and keep other pets as well (such as cats and dogs). Whether or not your dragon will be friendly or comfortable around other pets depends a lot on the type of pet and their demeanor.
For example, a large, energetic dog might terrify your bearded dragon, whereas a small, calmer dog might become your dragon’s friend. A quiet cat might not scare your dragon, but could topple the terrarium if left unattended. A snake or leopard gecko or other exotic pet in another enclosure may not upset your bearded dragon (but they should never be housed together).
Takeaway: Bearded dragons are docile, friendly reptiles when they are well cared for and feel secure. Once they know you’re a friend they can trust, they can develop a meaningful bond with you.
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