When you hear ‘Dragon’, it automatically transmits a fear in our mind. We have all seen those TV shows and how fierce dragons seem to be, right? But Bearded dragons are not that mythical fire-breathing creatures. They are very real and according to many, one of the most social reptile pets out there. Is it really true? Are bearded dragons friendly?
Captive-bred Bearded dragons are friendly, especially towards their owners. They are quite social and show a friendly demeanor towards humans. However, the wild bearded dragons are not adaptive to human presence and can show aggression towards people.
Though captive-bred bearded dragons are generally very tame and friendly, that is not always the case for every beardies. Like humans, Bearded dragons can also show signs when it doesn’t want to be disturbed or handled. If you understand these signs and pass time with your bearded dragon accordingly, soon you two will grow a further stronger relationship.
In this article, I’ll talk about all of this. So, let’s get started!
Why Bearded Dragons Are Friendly?
Bearded dragons are also known as ‘The Dog Of Reptiles’. Like dogs, they can get quite social around humans, especially their owners. By passing quality time, your bearded dragon can really form a strong relationship with you. You might even get welcomed by him whenever you pass around its enclosure.
It is not uncommon for tamed bearded dragons to rush towards the front glass whenever they see their owners. Like dogs, they crave & enjoy attention and cuddle from their owner. However, that doesn’t mean bearded dragons will welcome you to handle them every time.
Sometimes, they might not be in the mood to be handled. In that case, they will show you specific signs to communicate ‘Don’t disturb me now, please!’
You’ll need to respect those signs, and thus the bonding between you two will get even stronger.
5 Bearded Dragon Behaviors You Need To Understand
In order to fully understand the friendly demeanors of a bearded dragon, we need to decode some of the behaviors. Bearded dragons are one of the most social reptile pets around the world and they can show various complex behaviors.
As owners, it is our responsibility to understand these behaviors and respect the beardie’s wishes. In this section, I’ll talk about 5 major behaviors of bearded dragons.
If you understand these behaviors, it will be much easier for you to bond with your bearded dragon even further and safely.
Let’s start with the most important one.
1. Bearded Dragons Can Be Social Up To A Point
I know bearded dragons are called the dog of reptiles. However, they are not ‘dogs’. Unlike dogs, they don’t welcome too much cuddling or handling. Even, they won’t welcome you sometimes if they don’t want to be handled. So, you need to respect those signs.
- Though bearded dragons can be social, they are social up to a point. They are mostly friendly towards their owners, the person who brings them food and cleans their enclosure.
- Some bearded dragons are only friendly towards the owner but don’t like to be around other people.
- Though beardies are generally social around people, this is not the case for other pets. Bearded dragons can be very territorial and can’t stand other beardies or pets (dogs, cats) around them. Though I heard some owners have kept dogs and bearded dragons successfully, I won’t recommend you to let your beardie free roam around the house in the presence of other pets.
- Not all bearded dragons are equal. It is not uncommon to see your bearded dragon totally detached from you. That means, it will take a longer time to tame the beardie, so don’t lose hope.
2. Territorial & Not Friendly Towards Other Bearded Dragons
Though I have already discussed this point, I want to shed more light on this. Even though bearded dragons are social around people, they can be very territorial towards other bearded dragons.
That’s why it is not recommended to keep multiple adult bearded dragons in the same enclosure. If you do, chances are they will fight each other to death or seriously injure one another.
I even heard stories that one juvenile bearded dragon crushed the skull of another just because it got hungry.
Though bearded dragons are very docile, they can truly show their ‘Dragon’ demeanor towards other bearded dragons.
3. Bearded Dragons Can Get Comfortable Around Owners (But Not Strangers)
I have seen some bearded dragons that are friendly towards people in general. However, that’s not the case for most of the bearded dragons.
Most bearded dragons are friendly only towards their owner, the person feeding them everyday.
So, if you are bringing your friends over and want your bearded dragon to show a display of affection to each of your friends, you might get disappointed. Even, I won’t recommend you to expose your bearded dragon towards other people especially if the bearded dragon is not comfortable around lots of humans.
Take time and introduce your bearded dragon to other humans, other members of your family gradually. Bonding doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time.
4. Tamed Bearded Dragons Can Be Around Children
Bearded dragons are so friendly that they are even safe around children. So, if your child wants to play with the beardie, let him/her play. But make sure the bearded dragon is tamed first and comfortable around people.
- Even though tamed bearded dragons are comfortable and safe around children, adult supervision is required. Make sure you have an eye on your child to prevent any unforeseeable event.
- The child needs to practice basic hygiene rules before and after handling the bearded dragon. Most reptiles, including bearded dragon, carry a bacteria called salmonella. Salmonella can be pretty dangerous, especially if the children get attacked. But don’t be alarmed. Just make sure your child is washing his hands well before and after handling the dragon. Also, he/she shouldn’t put his hand in mouth while handling the pet.
- The same hygiene rules apply even to you. Always wash your hands before and after doing anything related to the bearded dragon: feeding, handling, cleaning the enclosure, petting, etc.
5. Bearded Dragons Can Show Signs If They Feel Disturbed
Though bearded dragons are generally friendly, that is not the case all the time. Sometimes your beardie might want some alone time, just be by herself. In those cases, you need to honor your dragon’s request and don’t handle him unnecessarily.
Bearded dragons can show some signs that tell ‘Don’t disturb me now’. Some of these signs are:
Though bearded dragons can’t talk, they can communicate a lot of feelings by bobbing their heads. These bobbings are not random. There are specific sequences and speeds of bobbing that communicate different feelings the bearded dragon is experiencing.
These sequences are not universal and stay the same for all of the dragons. Some beardies might add his unique flair to these sequences.
In general, rapid head bobbings mean the bearded dragon is feeling threatened, scared, or being challenged, aggressive. In general, if you see your bearded dragon is bobbing its head rapidly, then you shouldn’t bother him.
Puffing up is another way bearded dragons use to show that they are feeling scared, aggressive, or threatened. This is a pretty common behavior from wild bearded dragons. When beardies puff up, they make their head look bigger and puff up their chin, which looks like a beard.
That’s why they are called ‘Bearded Dragon’!
Real Life Experiences From Bearded Dragon Owners
Till now, I have only told you what behaviors you can expect from a bearded dragon. But now, I want to show you some real-life examples from real bearded dragon owners!
In a very popular bearded dragon owner group, I have asked the members to share their experience of how friendly their beardies are. From many responses, I am mentioning some notable ones:
How To Safely Approach A Bearded Dragon?
Before you even start to handle your bearded dragon, there are some rules you need to follow for your and your beardie’s safety. These rules will also help you to bond with your bearded dragon quicker and stronger. Let’s go through them one by one:
- Wash your hands with soap thoroughly. Bearded dragons can carry salmonella. That’s why you need to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the pet.
- First, slowly approach the beardie’s enclosure and let your presence known. No animal likes surprises and can show sudden defensive demeanor by biting or jumping if you surprise them. So, always start the approach by making your presence known to the dragon.
- Open the door of the enclosure slowly. Extend your hand towards the dragon very slowly. Don’t show any kind of rapid movement. Every action should be slow & gentle.
- Try to approach the beardie from the side. If it shows any movement, stop your hand, wait for a bit so that it can relax. Then try to extend your hand towards the bearded dragon again.
- You can talk slowly to the beardie throughout the whole process. It generally makes them calmer.
- It is always recommended to pet or stroke under the chin of the bearded dragon. You can also stroke the sides of the cheeks. Bearded dragons love these and can even close their eyes while enjoying the petting.
- You can let the bearded dragon sit on your lap or shoulder while you watch a movie or read a book. Frankly, this is one of the most common ways owners form bonds with their bearded dragons. The beardies also get accustomed to your presence, voice & smell this way.
Do Bearded Dragons Like Being Petted?
Most bearded dragons like being petted. They often show their enjoyment by closing their eyes while the owner is petting them.
Each and every bearded dragon has its own unique behavior and trait. Even though, I have seen most bearded dragons are quite friendly and open to being pet. They actually rather enjoy it a lot.
However, don’t expect the same welcomed behavior from a wild bearded dragon or one that has not been tamed yet. Wild bearded dragons are not accustomed to human presence. Humans are a giant predator to them and they will show every kind of defensive demeanor if a human tries to approach and pick up a wild bearded dragon.
Tip: When petting your bearded dragon, stroke the underneath of its chin and the sides of the cheek. Bearded dragons get the most stimulation from these areas and they enjoy stroking on these areas a lot!
How Do Bearded Dragons Show Affection?
Is there any way bearded dragons show love & affection towards their owners. There is!
These are subtle ways, but if you experience these in your beardie, pat yourself on the back!
- Whenever you stroke the bearded dragon below its chin or the sides of the cheek, he/she will close his eyes and enjoy the petting. This is the surest fast way to know your bearded dragon is showing you affection!
- When you approach the bearded dragon or walk beside the enclosure, the beardie will come forward to greet you. Well, this doesn’t happen with every friendly bearded dragon, but it can with some!
- Whenever you pick up the bearded dragon, it won’t try to run away. If you put him on the shoulder or lap, he’ll just stay there quietly enjoying your company. I have seen many owners watching TV with their beardies on their lap.
- The bearded dragon will show no sign of aggression towards you. Signs of aggression include puffing up their cheek, bobbing their heads, etc. However, remember that even the friendliest dragon might sometimes show these signs if he doesn’t want to be picked up. If yours is showing these signs, respect the dragon’s request.
Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Held?
Usually captive and tame bearded dragons enjoy being held by the owner. But this is not the case for wild bearded dragons.
In my experience, almost all of the bearded dragon owners shared how their dragon loves to spend time with them. I have heard stories that the dragon often falls asleep on the owner’s body, gets into his/her shirt, sits on the chest, and so on.
Hearing these, I can clearly say tamed bearded dragons enjoy being held by the owner most of the time.
Are Bearded Dragons Friendly With Dogs?
Normally, Bearded dragons are not so friendly towards other animals. However, I have heard from owners that they typically go well with other pet dogs and cats. But, the behavior might not be reciprocal for the dog or cat.
Bearded dragons are pretty small compared to a fully grown dog or cat. It is very easy for the dog/cat to stump on the dragon, play with it cruelly, or even bite it to death.
That’s why I always recommend not to let your bearded dragon free roam in the house if you have other pets that are pretty larger than the dragon. If you want to let the dragon roam in your room, keep a close eye on it.
When A Bearded Dragon Shows Aggression?
A male bearded dragon shows aggression when it wants to protect its territory from another bearded dragon. The male bearded dragon also shows aggressive signs in order to attract the females for mating. A female bearded dragon typically shows signs of aggression when it is ovulating.
If your bearded dragon is suddenly showing signs of aggression, it might be because of a hormonal change in the body. Females typically experience this when they are ovulating.
Male vs Female Bearded Dragon: Which One Is Friendlier?
Generally, female bearded dragons are friendlier towards other animals than male bearded dragons. In case of humans, the friendliness doesn’t vary according to the gender of the bearded dragon. Both sexes show similar affection and behavior towards humans.
Male bearded dragons are more aggressive and territorial in general. So, it can be said confidently that the females show a friendlier demeanor. However, when it comes to humans, the demeanor doesn’t vary from male to female. Both show a similar level of friendliness.
Bearded Dragons In The Wild Are Not So Friendlier
The bearded dragon your are keeping in an enclosure beside you are nowhere similar to its wild cousins. Wild bearded dragons are a sight to behold! They show much more complex behavior and social hierarchies.
Bearded dragons are originally from the deserts of Australia. In the desert, the males claim ownership of a territory. The territory will be decent in size and include a spot for basking. This spot will be the owner beardie’s favorite basking spot.
The male bearded dragons will often fight with other males to keep ownership of their territory. These fights often include biting the tail of one another as well as circling each other. Sometimes blood is also drawn. However, in most cases, these fights are not continued to death and the defeated bearded dragon gets his pride injured only.
So, we can say, bearded dragons in the wild are not as friendly as the ones sitting in your home in an enclosure. The behaviors and demeanors of wild bearded dragons differ a lot from the captive ones.
Caution: Bearded dragons can carry Salmonella, a type of bacteria often carried by reptiles. Salmonella can incur serious disease to humans. So, every time before and after handling bearded dragon, wash your hands with soap thoroughly. This is a must to keep you and your family members safe from any unforeseeable diseases.