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Step By Step to Picking up And Holding a Bearded Dragon




A bearded dragon calmly rests on a person's open palm, demonstrating how to pick up and hold a bearded dragon.

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Bearded dragons’ delicate and aggressive nature requires you to handle them with caution. How you approach, pick and hold them in your palm is a skill you have to learn.

First, rest your hand next to your bearded dragon for a moment, then proceed to pet it gently. Once it is calm, proceed to grab it by placing your thumb on one side and the rest of the fingers on. Place it on your palm with legs fully supported.

If you are new to handling bearded dragons or seeking to improve your skills, you are reading the right article. We will take you through a detailed step-by-step procedure of picking up, holding, and having your pet enjoy playing with you. But before that, you should consider the following factors to perfect the exercise.

Essential Factors You Should Consider Before Picking up Your Bearded Dragon

Although the process may be termed as a step-by-step procedure, your success will be dependent on a broad spectrum of factors. It is an activity that should start with breeders and trickle down to you if you are a new owner. Your bearded dragon should be well tamed and trained on bonding with humans, a work that begins with breeders.

On this note, see that the environment inside and outside the enclosure is serene. If your pet is disturbed or there are any distractions around, it will resist your attempt to reach it. A relaxed dragon will give you an easy time and strengthen the bond between you two.

Please take note of the following areas and set them right.

Ensure Your Pet Is Well Socialized

If your dragon pet is antisocial, it will resist you and become aggressive. The likelihood of it biting you when picking it up is very high. It may also attempt to go into hiding, making it more delicate since you may injure it as you try to pull it over.

A poorly socialized dragon will not be calm when you are holding it. It will attempt to jump off by squirming. To contain it, you may squeeze and cause it harm.

If you realize your pet is antisocial, you should spend more time around it and make it comfortable around you to create a strong bond between you two. If you are buying a pet for the first time, you should buy from credible breeders.

That way, you are sure of taking home a well-tamed pet.

The Design of Your Dragon’s Enclosure Matters

When it comes to picking your bearded dragon, how you approach it is a significant determinant of how it reacts. The enclosure should be designed to see that you don’t reach your dragon from the top.

Bearded dragons have a defensive mechanism that makes them treat anything approaching from above as a predator. It is an adaptive ancestral trait because most predators are birds of prey.

By reaching it from above, you risk being bitten.

The recommended enclosure should have a front door that will facilitate you to approach your pet from its side. The size of the enclosure also matters, and it should have enough space to make your pet adjust its senses as you advance your hand towards it.

The bottom line is that your pet should be as comfortable as possible in its enclosure.

How You Approach Your Bearded Dragon Matters

When approaching your bearded dragon, don’t be in a hurry. Hang around and take enough time around the enclosure to make it adjust to your presence.

It would help if you did everything slowly, from opening the door to moving your hand. Every move is intended not to startle the pet.

It will be easier for you if you have a good bond with your dragon compared with a new handler. Always ensure your pet can see your advances. 

Having factored everything and your pet is comfortable, you can move to pick it up.

How to Pick Up and Hold Your Bearded Dragon

1.      Wash Your Hands With Water and Soap

Washing your hands is the first step you take, and it is necessary to rid your hands of any germs transferable to the pet.

Washing also removes any smells like pet food in your hands because such a smell will make the dragon restless and switch into hunting mode.

It would be best if you also considered wearing gloves for further precaution.

2.      Move Your Hand Slowly Towards the Pet

Once the front door of the enclosure is open, move your hand slowly towards the dragon. Make sure it’s not rattled. It would help if you avoided the following mistakes:

  • Avoid approaching it if it’s eating. It might bite you.
  • If the pet moves, don’t move your hand to chase after it. It will become defensive. It may also grip the substances in the enclosure with its claws, complicating things.
  • Avoid wriggling your fingers around it. It may mistake them for a worm and bite you.
  • You should not approach it if it shows signs of aggression. Give it time to calm down.
  • Don’t approach it if it is stressed. It will not cooperate. Find out what is distressing it first.
  • It would help if you reached in from the side of the dragon’s body. Don’t approach from the front or above. It will feel threatened.

Approaching from the side also makes it difficult to bite you if it becomes upset.

Once your hand reaches the beardie, take your time and have your hand rest next to the pet. That will make it feel at ease. Quickly moving to grab it will make the dragon feel threatened and bite you or escape.

3.      Pet Your Bearded Dragon Gently

Move your hand slowly and place it on the back of the head of the dragon. This move will make the dragon relax further.

The most appropriate way to pet it is by scratching its head or back. Also, any area around the head, like the chin or cheek, will work well for your pet. Move your hand lightly and slowly. Your pet will calm down and start enjoying the touch.

Once your bearded dragon is calm and enjoying your petting, you can go ahead and grab it. Strictly follow the instructions given from step 4, as this is the most critical part of picking it up.

4.      Place Your Thumb On The Side Of Your Pet

Place your thumb along the side of your bearded dragon’s body. Then move the rest of your fingers to the other side of the body. Position these fingers as follows:

  • Place your index finger before the front leg and right behind the beard.
  • Position the middle finger right behind the front leg.
  • The rest of your fingers should come under the body of your dragon.
  • It would help to position your fingers while the pet is still lying flat on the ground. Don’t let it hang from your palm.
  • With your fingers in position, your bearded dragon is effectively contained. The fingers are in a place where they cannot be bitten if the dragon feels threatened. This positioning also ensures the dragon is gripped not to wriggle or jump out of your hand.
  • Make sure you have the legs of your pet fully supported by your hand. That makes it feel secure since it has a footing; hence the dragon will not attempt to struggle out of your palm.
  • Once you have your pet safely gripped in your palm, it’s time to pick it up.

5.      Pick The Pet up

As you lift your bearded dragon, ensure that your first hand supports all four legs. If not, use your other hand to hold the rear legs. Another supporting technique is to have the legs rest on your palm and wrist while the tail extends along the arm.

The objective is to ensure that the whole body is comfortably supported as you lift your bearded dragon.

Once you have the pet resting on your palm, you should consider the next step to avoid mistakes.

6.      Ensure You Hold Your Dragon Firmly But Don’t Squeeze It

Holding your bearded dragon firm means you grip it in such a way that it will not squirm in your palm. Take care and see that you don’t squeeze or tighten it.

Squeezing it may injure it or make it antisocial the next time you want to pick it.

Note that not all bearded dragons will attempt to escape once you hold them. Some are very socialized due to regular handling. They will comfortably rest on your palm without struggling to jump off.

Enjoy Time with Your Pet

If you are nursing or playing with your pet, make sure you stick to the above handling rules. Your pet must continue to feel comfortable for as long as you stay with it. Any mistakes will make it aggressive and may bite you.

Return it safely to its enclosure once you are done with the pet. All this time, keep following the rules of holding the dragon.

Remember to wash your hands with soap and water after you have returned the dragon to its enclosure. That will protect you from any germs you may have contacted from the pet.

Precautions to Take When You Are Picking and Holding the Bearded Dragon

  • Get rid of any pets like dogs and cats within the vicinity. The dragon will perceive them as predators and will not cooperate.
  • If the dragon becomes continuously aggressive in your palm, return it to its enclosure. It might develop antisocial behavior.
  • Do not leave children alone with the bearded dragon. They may injure it due to their inexperience in holding it.
  • If the dragon looks stressed or aggressive, don’t pick it up. Find out why it is stressed or aggressive or leave it to calm down.
  • Don’t squeeze or drop the dragon if it startles you. Always be calm and control your emotions when holding them.
  • Don’t shout or yell at the dragon. You may startle it or make it antisocial.
  • Always wash your hands before and after handling the dragon. That will wash any germs you may transfer or contact from the dragon.

FAQ’s about Bearded Dragons


Picking up and holding a bearded dragon is a procedure that requires skill. By effectively mastering the art of picking and holding them, you will guarantee your safety as well as that of the dragon. Your pet’s cooperation will depend on how effectively you approach, pick, and hold it.

Remember that the effectiveness in handling your dragon is not an event but a process dependent on how well the pet is tamed.

The way you handle your pet will long-term affect its future social disposition. The more you mishandle it, the more antisocial it will be in the long run and vice versa.

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