Are you a new bearded dragon owner looking to get the most out of your new pet?
Do you want to make sure you’re setting your reptile up for a happy life in captivity?
What you’re looking for is called taming a bearded dragon.
Beardies that have been “tamed” are much happier and less stressed than those who are ignored and unprepared for a life in an enclosure.
It’s our responsibility being a bearded dragon owner, to help them adapt.
Making it very important to know how to tame a bearded dragon.
To tame a bearded dragon, you need to get it used to its captive environment. This involves spending a lot of time bonding, handling, and training your bearded dragon while being aware and sensitive to all of its physical signals.
Read on for more information on taming a bearded dragon.
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Is Taming Bearded Dragons Hard?
Taming a bearded dragon isn’t hard to do, but it does require determination and patience.
Each pet bearded dragon is different, and the process of taming one will be just as unique for the individual lizard.
Your ultimate goal is to build trust and show your pet that you’re not a threat to them.
The only way your bearded dragon will begin to understand this is through repetition and consistency in routines built around building trust.
How Long Does It Take To Tame A Bearded Dragon?
The amount of time it takes to tame a bearded dragon will greatly vary from one pet to another.
There are too many variables to give an accurate estimate, but with consistent practice, your bearded dragon will grow to trust you and become tame quicker than you likely expect.
When you first get a bearded dragon, give it 2-3 weeks before you start taming to give them time to adjust to the new environment.
And after the initial month of adjustment, you can begin to befriend your new pet.
Tips For Taming Bearded Dragons
In this section, we’ll go over some general tips to follow when taming a bearded dragon.
Some of these are specific steps you need to take, while others are just things to keep in mind when training a bearded dragon.
These steps should also be used in conjunction with the information in our guide on how to bond with your bearded dragon.
#1 Handling Your Bearded Dragon
One of the most critical processes for taming is getting your bearded dragon used to being handled.
We have an article dedicated to teaching you how to properly pick up bearded dragons we recommend reading before you begin handling training.
The biggest thing to remember is to approach calmly from the front and support all of the reptile’s legs and tail.
This step may take time before it trusts you.
Start by spending time with your hand in the enclosure near the bearded dragon.
This gets your pet used to your scent and presence.
Gradually move your hand closer to the front of the bearded dragon and pay attention to its warning signs.
If it runs away or puffs out its beard, don’t pick it up unless you have to.
If you can get close enough to scoop your hand underneath, then you’re golden.
Now it’s just about doing this regularly, so your bearded dragon becomes accustomed to being handled.
We have a post on how frequently you should handle bearded dragons to give you additional guidance on this tip.
#2 Persistently Hold Your Dragon
Once you pick up your bearded dragon, whether by waiting or just because you have to, you need to be ready to hold on for a while.
If your bearded dragon is wiggling a lot and trying to escape, you need to get a firm (but not pressing!) grip until he stops squirming.
This may take a while.
Hold on until it settles for two main reasons:
- Holding on loosely could let him fall out of your hands and get injured as he lands.
- Releasing him while squirming reinforces the idea if he wanted out, he should squirm.
Baby bearded dragons are well-known for wiggling a lot while being handled.
But if you’re consistent in your handling over time, he’ll get used to you and stop squirming so much.
#3 Avoid Bites
Another big part of taming a bearded dragon is avoiding situations where you get bitten.
These reptiles aren’t naturally aggressive to larger creatures, but they can bite to defend themselves when stressed.
Avoiding getting bitten isn’t just safe for us; it’s good for their taming.
If you’re always putting them in situations where they attempt to bite you, then they’re learning not to trust you.
When you notice stress symptoms (discussed more in the calming section below), avoid taming or bonding steps until your pet is calm.
And if you receive a bearded dragon bite, we have a post on what to do if your beardie bites you that you’ll find helpful.
#4 Avoid Hurting The Dragon
Obviously, a big part of building trust with your pet is avoiding hurting it.
Now, I’m not suggested you want to hurt your bearded dragon, but you need to be careful to avoid accidental damage.
The most common way to hurt a beardie accidentally is when putting him down after handling him.
Many people wrongly assume they’re able to be put down even from such a small height as 1″ – 2″ inches.
Bearded dragons aren’t jumping creatures.
While they do love climbing, they rarely fall off their perches.
Make sure when you go to put a bearded dragon down, you lay your hand flat on the ground and urge your pet off by nudging the tail or by tilting your hand slowly up.
#5 Spend The Time With Your Bearded Dragon
Doing these things with patience and over a long period is essential for taming your bearded dragon.
If you do these things for a while and then ignore your pet, it’ll slip back into its survival ways and forget about you.
Make sure you spend time with your pet (especially in the beginning) for at least 30 minutes every day.
Do this for the first month consistently.
There’s also nothing wrong with spending more than 30 minutes per day playing and bonding with your bearded dragon.
This being said, it’s better to spend 30 minutes every day for seven days (210 minutes over the week) than it is to spend 210 minutes on one day then ignore him the rest of the week.
#6 Place The Enclosure In A Well-Traveled Spot
In the wild deserts of Australia, there is a lot of action going on.
So bearded dragon physiologies are hard-wired to want stimulation.
While you don’t want to put the enclosure in a place where there’s a lot of noise and shadow changes (like in a kitchen or entryway), you still may want to keep it where it can sense you.
This gets it used to all of you and the people in your house, and it also gives it some engaging stimulation, so it doesn’t get boring and skittish.
Warning! If you have other pets like cats, dogs, or birds, either train these pets to leave the beardy alone or make sure it’s in a place where these animals can’t bug it.
There’s no faster way to stress a bearded dragon than by harassment from a large predator.
We have another article that talks about if your dog will eat your bearded dragon and things to look out for if you also have a dog in the house.
How To Tame Young Bearded Dragons
When it comes to taming a baby bearded dragon, all of the same tips from the above section work well with one big difference:
It requires a lot more patience!
Baby beardies are naturally more skittish and prepared to be stressed than an adult bearded dragon.
This is a natural part of their survival process.
Help them take more time by making their stressors go away.
Every other step you do may also take more time.
The baby stage of bearded dragons is a great time to tame them, even though it takes longer.
A bond built from a young age lasts a lifetime and is very strong.
Don’t give up on the babies!
Setting them up for success can set them up for long and healthy life.
Note: A baby dragon has one big tendency to struggle more when handled.
Make sure if you pick them up to hold them tightly and safely until they stop.
How To Calm A Bearded Dragon?
The taming process is stuck dead in the water if your bearded dragon is stressed.
You must calm them down first before you start anything.
You’ll know your bearded dragon is stressed when you see some of the following behaviors:
- Puffed out beard
- Black beard
- Gaping mouth
- Running around a lot
- Lack of appetite
If you see these signs, your pet lizard is stressed, and you need to calm your bearded dragon down.
The key to calming a bearded dragon is to remove stressors and make the reptile feel safe.
To remove the stressors, start by making sure the enclosure is in a place with little foot traffic and noise.
Make sure the enclosure doesn’t have a lot of changing light and shadows; this can make the beardy feel as if it’s under attack from a predator.
If you’ve done this, calm the bearded dragon more by covering the tank with a thick blanket.
Some bearded dragons find it calming to be stroked on their head and back.
Just make sure you approach the beardy from the front and not above when you do this, so it’s not surprised by your hand.
For more information on this we have a post on tactics we use to calm down bearded dragons we recommend reading.
We hope you enjoyed learning about how to tame a bearded dragon.
It’s important to spend the time and effort to get the reptile adjusted to its life in captivity.
If it’s continuously stressed and maladjusted to the situation, your pet will be undergoing chronic stress.
As with people, chronic stress can cause serious health issues over time and decrease the critter’s life span.
Make sure to get the beardy used to your scent, its environment, and do this consistently and patiently over time.
And speaking of chronic stress, we have a post on how some people have used bearded dragons for emotional support animals if that’s something you would be interested in learning more about.