9 Easy Steps on How to pick up a bearded dragon

If you’ve recently welcomed a bearded dragon into your home or are considering doing so, you’re in for a scaly adventure filled with unique companionship. However, one crucial aspect of caring for these captivating creatures is learning how to pick up a bearded dragon properly.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the art of picking up a bearded dragon, exploring the essential techniques and considerations to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable experience for both you and your scaly friend. So, let’s embark on this journey together as we uncover the secrets of safely lifting and holding your bearded dragon, fostering a bond that will last a lifetime.

Understanding Bearded Dragon Behavior

How to pick up a bearded dragon

Understanding bearded dragon behavior is crucial for providing proper care and ensuring the well-being of your pet. Bearded dragons, like any other reptiles, have specific behaviors that are indicative of their health, mood, and communication.

Here are some key aspects of bearded dragon behavior:

  1. Basking and Cooling: Bearded dragons are ectothermic, meaning they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. They engage in basking behavior, where they expose themselves to a heat source to raise their body temperature, and cooling behavior, where they move away to lower it.
  2. Head Bobbing: Male bearded dragons may exhibit head bobbing as a part of their mating or territorial behavior. This involves a rapid up-and-down movement of the head. Females may also head bob on occasion.
  3. Beard Puffing: When a bearded dragon feels threatened or is asserting dominance, it may puff out its beard. This is a display of aggression and is often accompanied by other defensive behaviors.
  4. Arm Waving: Bearded dragons may wave one of their forelimbs, usually in a slow, rhythmic motion. This is a submissive behavior, and they may do it to other dragons or even to their owners.
  5. Gape Threat: Gaping is a defensive behavior where a bearded dragon opens its mouth wide to display its teeth. This is a warning sign and may be accompanied by hissing. It’s a signal that the dragon feels threatened and may bite if further provoked.
  6. Tail Behavior: Bearded dragons use their tails for balance, but they may also exhibit tail arching or puffing when they are defensive or agitated. Be cautious, as a stressed dragon may lash its tail.
  7. Color Changes: Bearded dragons can change color based on their mood, temperature, or health. A darkened coloration might indicate stress or aggression, while a lighter coloration can signify relaxation.
  8. Burrowing: Bearded dragons have a natural instinct to dig and burrow. Providing a suitable substrate in their enclosure allows them to exhibit this behavior, which can be related to thermoregulation and hiding.
  9. Eating Habits: Monitoring their eating habits is crucial. Healthy bearded dragons have a good appetite, and changes in eating behavior can be indicative of health issues.
  10. Brumation: Bearded dragons, like many reptiles, may go through a period of brumation, which is a form of hibernation. During this time, their activity levels and metabolism decrease. Not all bearded dragons go through brumation, and it’s more common in adults.

Observing and understanding these behaviors will help you respond appropriately to your bearded dragon’s needs. Regular interaction, proper husbandry, and a well-designed enclosure contribute to a happy and healthy bearded dragon. If you notice significant changes in behavior or signs of illness, it’s essential to consult with a reptile veterinarian.

How to pick up a bearded dragon

Picking up a bearded dragon requires gentle and careful handling to ensure the well-being of the reptile and to avoid stress. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to pick up a bearded dragon:

  1. Wash Your Hands: Before handling your bearded dragon, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with mild soap. This helps remove any scent that might be confusing or frightening to the dragon.
  2. Approach Slowly: Approach your bearded dragon slowly and calmly. Sudden movements or loud noises can startle them. Allow the dragon to see and acknowledge your presence.
  3. Use a Flat Hand: Extend your hand toward the bearded dragon with your fingers together and your palm flat. Let the dragon see your hand coming and allow it to approach or sniff your hand.
  4. Lift from Below: When the bearded dragon is comfortable and seems relaxed, gently scoop it up from below using both hands. Place one hand under its chest and the other under its abdomen. Support its body weight evenly to prevent stress on its limbs.
  5. Support the Body: Ensure that you support the dragon’s body properly. Bearded dragons have a relatively long body and tail, so make sure you’re not just holding onto the tail. Support the entire body to prevent injury.
  6. Avoid Squeezing: Do not squeeze or hold too tightly. Bearded dragons have delicate bodies, and excessive pressure can cause injury or stress. Hold them securely but gently.
  7. Keep a Low Height: When picking up a bearded dragon, try to keep it close to the ground or a stable surface. If the dragon feels insecure or frightened, it may try to jump, and a fall from a height can be harmful.
  8. Monitor Behavior: Pay attention to the bearded dragon’s behavior. If it shows signs of stress, like puffing up its beard, hissing, or trying to escape, put it back in its enclosure.
  9. Handle Regularly: To help your bearded dragon become accustomed to handling, practice picking it up regularly. This will help build trust between you and the reptile.

Keep in mind that each bearded dragon has its own personality, and some may be more tolerant of handling than others. Always be patient, and if the dragon seems uncomfortable or stressed, it’s best to put it back in its enclosure and try again later.

Understanding the dragon’s body language

Interpreting a bearded dragon’s body language is crucial for understanding its needs, feelings, and overall well-being. Here are some common body language cues exhibited by bearded dragons and their possible interpretations:

  1. Relaxed and Open Body:
    • Description: The dragon has a normal, open posture with limbs extended.
    • Interpretation: The dragon is likely calm and content. This is a typical stance during basking or when feeling secure.
  2. Beard Puffing:
    • Description: The dragon puffs out its beard, creating a larger appearance.
    • Interpretation: This is a defensive or aggressive posture. The dragon may feel threatened, scared, or is trying to assert dominance.
  3. Head Bobbing:
    • Description: Rapid up-and-down movements of the head.
    • Interpretation: Common in males during mating or territorial displays. Females may also head bob. It can also be a sign of stress or discomfort.
  4. Tail Arching or Puffing:
    • Description: The dragon arches or puffs its tail.
    • Interpretation: Indicates stress, discomfort, or defensiveness. Be cautious, as a dragon may lash its tail in response to feeling threatened.
  5. Arm Waving:
    • Description: Waving one forelimb in a slow, rhythmic motion.
    • Interpretation: A submissive behavior, often seen in response to larger or dominant dragons. Sometimes exhibited towards humans.
  6. Gaping (Mouth Wide Open):
    • Description: Opening the mouth wide to display teeth.
    • Interpretation: Defensive behavior indicating the dragon feels threatened. May be accompanied by hissing.
  7. Color Changes:
    • Description: Changes in skin color, such as darkening or lightening.
    • Interpretation: Darkening may indicate stress, aggression, or discomfort. Lightening may occur during relaxation or basking.
  8. Glass Surfing:
    • Description: Rapidly moving against the enclosure glass.
    • Interpretation: Often a sign of restlessness, stress, or a desire to explore. It can also occur during breeding season.
  9. Burrowing:
    • Description: Digging and burrowing in substrate.
    • Interpretation: Natural behavior for thermoregulation and hiding. Can also indicate a desire for privacy or a comfortable spot.
  10. Elevated Body or Tail Wagging:
    • Description: Raising the body or wagging the tail.
    • Interpretation: Can be a sign of excitement or curiosity, especially when approaching a new environment or during feeding.
  11. Lethargy and Lack of Appetite:
    • Description: Unusual inactivity or refusal to eat.
    • Interpretation: May indicate illness or stress. A veterinarian should be consulted if these signs persist.

Also, you need to know that individual bearded dragons may have unique behaviors, and their body language should be considered in the context of their overall health and environment. Regular observation and interaction with your dragon will help you become more attuned to its specific cues and needs.

Building a Bond with Your Bearded Dragon

How to pick up a bearded dragon

Building a strong bond with your bearded dragon involves creating a positive and trusting relationship through regular interaction, proper care, and attention to their needs. Here are some tips to help you develop a bond with your bearded dragon:

  1. Frequent Handling:
    • Handle your bearded dragon regularly but gently. Gradually increase the duration of handling sessions as your dragon becomes more comfortable. This helps them associate your presence with positive experiences.
  2. Hand-Feeding:
    • Offer treats or feed your bearded dragon directly from your hand. This helps build a positive association with your presence and reinforces the idea that you are a source of food and comfort.
  3. Talk to Your Dragon:
    • Bearded dragons can become familiar with your voice. Talk to them in a calm and soothing tone during interactions. This helps them associate your voice with positive experiences.
  4. Respect Their Space:
    • Be mindful of your bearded dragon’s comfort level. If they show signs of stress or discomfort, give them space. Avoid forcing interaction and allow them to approach you on their terms.
  5. Create a Comfortable Environment:
    • Provide a well-designed and enriched enclosure with hiding spots, basking areas, and a variety of substrates. A comfortable and secure environment contributes to your dragon feeling safe and at ease.
  6. Positive Reinforcement:
    • Use positive reinforcement to reward desired behaviors. This can include treats, praise, or gentle strokes. Positive experiences will help strengthen the bond between you and your dragon.
  7. Playtime and Exploration:
    • Allow your bearded dragon supervised time outside of their enclosure for exploration and play. Be present during these sessions, and let them explore while you observe or interact with them.
  8. Consistent Routine:
    • Stick to a consistent feeding and handling routine. Bearded dragons thrive on routine, and a predictable schedule can help them feel secure and build trust.
  9. Be Observant:
    • Pay attention to your dragon’s body language. If they seem stressed or uncomfortable, adjust your approach and give them space. Understanding their cues will help you respond appropriately.
  10. Gentle Petting:
    • Some bearded dragons enjoy gentle petting on their heads or backs. Start with slow and soft strokes, and pay attention to their response. Avoid sensitive areas, such as their tail tips.
  11. Bonding During Bath Time:
    • Some bearded dragons enjoy bath time. Use lukewarm water and let them soak while you gently interact with them. This can be a positive bonding experience.

Remember that building a bond takes time, and each bearded dragon has its own personality. Be patient, observe their preferences, and tailor your interactions to suit their comfort level. The goal is to create a positive and trusting relationship based on mutual respect and care.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When caring for a bearded dragon, it’s essential to avoid common mistakes to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some common errors to steer clear of:

  1. Inadequate Enclosure Size:
    • Bearded dragons need spacious enclosures to thrive. Avoid keeping them in small tanks or enclosures that don’t provide enough room for proper movement and exercise.
  2. Incorrect Temperature and Lighting:
    • Bearded dragons require specific temperature gradients and UVB lighting to support their health. Make sure to provide a basking spot with the correct temperature range and a UVB light source. Inadequate lighting can lead to metabolic bone disease.
  3. Poor Diet:
    • Providing an improper diet is a common mistake. Bearded dragons require a varied diet of insects, vegetables, and fruits. Avoid feeding them an exclusive diet of only one type of food or offering items that are toxic to them.
  4. Lack of Hydration:
    • Bearded dragons need access to fresh water. Some may not drink from a bowl, so consider misting them or offering water through a dropper. Dehydration can lead to serious health issues.
  5. Inadequate Substrate:
    • Choosing the wrong substrate can be problematic. Avoid using substrates that can cause impaction if ingested, such as loose particles or materials that are difficult to pass through the digestive system.
  6. Overcrowding and Aggressive Tank Mates:
    • Bearded dragons are generally solitary animals. Avoid keeping them with other aggressive or larger reptiles that may stress or harm them.
  7. Insufficient Hideouts:
    • Bearded dragons require hiding spots to feel secure. Lack of hiding places can lead to stress. Provide various hiding spots and enrichments in the enclosure.
  8. Neglecting Veterinary Care:
    • Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial. Delaying medical attention can lead to the progression of illnesses. Be proactive in seeking veterinary care if you notice any changes in behavior or health.
  9. Handling Incorrectly:
    • Handling your bearded dragon too roughly or frequently can cause stress. Additionally, mishandling can lead to injuries, especially if the dragon is dropped or if its tail is grabbed.
  10. Ignoring Signs of Illness:
    • Be aware of signs of illness, such as lethargy, changes in appetite, or abnormal behavior. Ignoring these signs can lead to more severe health issues. Seek veterinary assistance promptly.
  11. Using Harmful Substances:
    • Avoid using cleaning products or substances that may be toxic to bearded dragons. Clean their enclosure with reptile-safe products and ensure that any decorations or furnishings are safe for them.
  12. Ignoring Behavioral Cues:
    • Pay attention to your bearded dragon’s behavior. Ignoring signs of stress, discomfort, or aggression can lead to behavioral issues and impact their overall well-being.

Being well-informed about proper bearded dragon care and regularly monitoring their behavior and health can help you avoid these common mistakes and provide a happy and healthy environment for your pet.


You will learn the easy steps on how to pick up a bearded dragon. Handling regularly, with patience and care, helps build trust between you and your bearded dragon, fostering a positive relationship. Remember to wash your hands before and after handling for their well-being and yours.