Pets are part of the family, and that includes lizards such as Bearded Dragons. There’s a lot to love having a Beardie around, but do Bearded Dragons cuddle as a dog would? Are there specific ways Bearded Dragons show they love us?
In this article, we’ll discuss the emotional side of Bearded Dragons and how they feel about being handled by their family. In addition, we’ll discuss Bearded Dragon affection as a whole and share how to bond with your Beardie.
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Do Bearded Dragons Have Feelings?
Yes, Bearded Dragons do have feelings. They do have a hypothalamus. However, it’s underdeveloped.
The hypothalamus is in a region within the forebrain in which it’s linked to the nervous system. For Beardies, it controls various activities and emotions, such as:
- Thirst & Hunger
Which emotions does it control? Since the hypothalamus within a Beardie is underdeveloped, there are three major emotions Bearded Dragons typically show.
For example, they can show aggression, fear, or pleasure.
Do Bearded Dragons Love Their Owners?
Some people have wondered whether or not Bearded Dragons recognize their owners, let alone love their owners. Luckily, Beardies do recognize their owners. For instance, Beardies associate their owners with smell and touch. To answer the other question, Bearded Dragons do love their owners. In fact, this lizard is one of the few reptiles that show affection toward its owners.
So, if you’re looking for a smaller companion pet that you can interact with, then Bearded Dragons are a great choice. So, how do Bearded Dragons show affection to their owners? Let’s talk about it below.
How Do Bearded Dragons Show Affection?
Now that we know Beardies recognize their owners by touch, it’s safe to say they show affection through physical touch. Technically, your Bearded Dragon can’t associate affection with love because of its underdeveloped hypothalamus. So, they show affection by trusting you.
For most mammals, trust is a sign of affection. Showing trust means your Beardie isn’t afraid or wary of you or what you might do. What are some ways Bearded Dragons show trust and affection?
Bearded Dragons Will Sleep Or Close Its Eyes In Front Of You
Similar to most animals, if a Bearded Dragon sleeps or calmly closes its eyes in your presence, it’s a sign they trust you. Even though they can’t see you or aren’t conscious enough to see or hear what you’re up to, they trust you won’t do anything to harm them.
If you’re Beardie does this in their tank when you’re in the room, then it means they’re relaxed. If they do this when they’re outside of their tank, then they trust you.
Bearded Dragons Will Stay Near You When Not Being Held
If you have your Beardie out of their tank, then they may follow you around or rest at your feet. Maybe they’ll try climbing something to be on your level.
Bearded Dragons will enjoy your company enough to be around you even if you’re not giving them your full attention at the moment.
Bearded Dragons Will Be Calm While Being Held
On the other hand, if you do decide to pick up and hold your Beardie, they’ll be calm while you do so. If they’re uncomfortable, they’ll squirm and claw their way out of your grasp.
So, if they’re comfortable sitting in your hand or on your shoulder, then you can be sure they’re relaxed with you.
Also, sometimes your Bearded Dragon might ask to be picked up. For example, they may try to climb up your leg or poke at your hand to be held.
Bearded Dragons Will Ask To Be Let Out Of Their Terrarium
In addition, your Bearded Dragon may want to be let out of their habitat. If you’re in the same room as them, they may stand on their back legs and scratch at the glass. Maybe they’re looking for some extra exercise and room to stretch their legs, or maybe they want to be closer to you.
Bearded Dragons Will Use Positive Body Language
Beardies use body language just as other animals do. So you can tell a lot about what your Bearded Dragon is feeling by their body language.
Eyes Wide Open
If your Bearded Dragon has their eyes wide open with their pupils dilated, then that’s a sign they’re happy and relaxed, especially if they’re making direct eye contact with you.
However, this is true if their mouth is closed. If their mouth is open, then that’s a sign they’re frightened or aggressive.
In addition, your Bearded Dragon might sometimes stand on its hind legs and wave to you in circular motions. If they’re scratching at the glass in their tank, they may want to be let out.
On the other hand, they might simply be waving to you to say hello. Waving is a sign of friendliness.
Head bobbing can mean a lot of different things. For example, head bobbing could be a territorial sign of aggression if other Bearded Dragons are around.
However, it can also be a positive sign to you to show they’re content and relaxed.
Do Bearded Dragons Like To Cuddle?
The short answer is yes. Bearded Dragons do like to cuddle.
There is a common misconception about Beardies being “lazy” reptiles. However, that’s not the case at all.
Bearded Dragons prefer the company of humans more so than the company of other Bearded Dragons.
So, if you’re sitting on the couch watching TV one night, your Beardie will be more than happy to join you by cuddling on your shoulder or in your arms.
Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Held?
Yes, you can count on your Bearded Dragon wanting to be held and enjoying it. However, if you just got your Beardie, it may take them some time to warm up to you. In general, though, Beardies do enjoy being held by their owners.
Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Petted?
Bearded Dragons enjoy getting attention from their human companions and also like to be in their company. So, yes, they love being petted.
Where Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Pet?
Bearded Dragons enjoy having their head, cheeks, or chin scratched. If they don’t like the spot your petting, they’ll let you know by turning the other way or fluffing up their beard.
How To Bond With Your Bearded Dragon
Even though Bearded Dragons are social creatures and prefer the company of their owners, bonding with your Bearded Dragons is a process. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but it’s simple enough to achieve.
To bond with your Bearded Dragon, you’ll want to make sure your scent and approach are positive, friendly, and fun.
So, let’s talk about some ways you can bond with your Beardie.
Handle Your Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragons love to be held, petted, and cuddled with. So, you can be sure that one way to bond with your Beardie is through physical touch.
To get your Beardie used to being held by you, start slow. They’ll need to get used to your scent and build trust before you can pick them up whenever you want. Consent is essential, especially in the beginning.
To build your Beardie’s trust, you can begin by keeping your hand close to them. Then, they’ll get used to your scent and see that you’re not a threat.
When they’re ready, you can scoop them up under their belly. Make sure their limbs and tail are supported, and you can hold them for short amounts at a time until they’re entirely comfortable with you.
Always pick them up where they can see you coming. If you scoop them up from behind, your Beardie might think you’re a predator and get frightened or aggressive.
Feed Your Bearded Dragon By Hand
Your Bearded Dragon will associate you with their food first. You are the person who feeds them, after all.
So, if you want to get them all the more excited and bond with them, you can feed your Bearded Dragon by hand. Then, not only will they be excited to eat, but they’ll be excited to see you as well.
Bathe Your Bearded Dragon
Also, you can use bathing as an opportunity to bond with your Beaded Dragon. This is a fun, gentle experience that will also ensure your Beardie is clean and healthy.
You can fill a tub up with warm water that’s no higher than your Beardie’s shoulders. You don’t want them to get water in their eyes.
Then, you can slowly place your Beardie in the tub, allowing them to get used to the temperature of the water. Then, let your Beardie walk around. Finally, you can pour some water on their back and brush them lightly as needed.
When the bath is done, pat them dry with a towel, and then be sure to place them in their basking spot in their tank so they can completely dry.
Play And Explore With Your Bearded Dragon
Also, spend some time playing and exploring with your Beardie. They’ll love to be let out of their terrarium once in a while and roam around the room.
You can sit on the floor with them and watch them explore the different scents and areas of the room. In addition, you can get toys that are safe for Bearded Dragons and play with them.
Over time, your Beardie will associate fun with you. In fact, they may ask you to be let out of their habitat once in a while if they want to play.
Read more about activities your bearded dragon can do for fun here and all the best toys to give your Beardie here.
Be A Safe Person For Your Bearded Dragon
In addition, Bearded Dragons can get stressed out like other animals and us. If you notice your Beardie is stressed out or frightened, be a safe person for them and help calm them down.
By calming them down, you’re not only bonding with them, but you’re also associating yourself and your scent as something safe.
Spend 30 Minutes Per Day With Your Bearded Dragon
Overall, no matter what you do with your Bearded Dragon, you’ll want to spend at least 30 minutes per day with them. This is because your Beardie will get used to you faster and bond with you this way rather than if you spend a couple of hours with them at once during a certain day of the week.
Bonding with your Beardie is a gradual process. Giving your lizard undivided attention for that amount of time each day will show your Beardie you’re always there for it.
Also, one thing to note is your Beardie’s age. If you adopt an older Bearded Dragon, they’ll be more likely to bond with you faster because they’re more social.
Baby or juvenile Bearded Dragons may take longer to bond with because they’re not emotionally mature yet. In addition, they may be more nervous about being in a new environment upon being adopted.
All in all, bonding with your Bearded Dragon is a fun process.
Bearded Dragons are great pets for several reasons. They’re diurnal, friendly, and social. In addition, they enjoy the company of humans, especially with who they bond.
Beardies can show affection to their owners and live a long, happy life with you. It’ll be a win-win for everyone.
Also check out some toys and activities your Beardie can do for fun here!
Read our full guide to the best fruits for bearded dragons to eat and exactly what not to feed bearded dragons. You can learn more about Bearded Dragons here, all the best toys they can play with here or read what it means when they fall asleep on you here.