How to Properly Hold a Bearded Dragon: A Beginner’s Guide

First and foremost, it is important to approach your bearded dragon calmly and confidently. Be gentle and patient when handling them, as sudden movements or rough handling can cause them stress and discomfort. When picking up your bearded dragon, it is best to use both hands to support its entire body, including its legs and tail. This will help them feel secure and prevent them from wriggling out of your grasp.

Bearded dragons are fascinating creatures that make great pets. They are friendly, docile, and easy to care for. However, many people need help properly holding and petting their bearded dragons. You can develop a strong bond with your bearded dragon and enjoy many happy years with a little patience and practice.

Preparing to Hold a Bearded Dragon

Creating a Comfortable Environment

Before attempting to hold your bearded dragon, creating a comfortable environment for them is essential. Bearded dragons are sensitive creatures who can become stressed or agitated if they feel threatened or uncomfortable. Ensure that the temperature in their enclosure is between 80-90°F and the humidity level is around 30-40%. Ensure their enclosure is clean and no sharp objects or hazards could harm them.

Washing Your Hands

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, washing your hands before handling your bearded dragon is crucial to prevent the spread of bacteria or disease. Bearded dragons can carry salmonella, a bacteria that can cause human illness. To avoid potential health risks, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling your bearded dragon.

Approaching Your Bearded Dragon

Approaching your bearded dragon correctly is essential to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable. Never approach your bearded dragon from above or behind, as this can startle and frighten them. Instead, approach them from the front or side, and let them see you coming. Move slowly and calmly, and avoid sudden movements or loud noises that could startle them. 

Reading your bearded dragon’s body language is essential to understand their feelings. If they display signs of stress or aggression, it’s best to leave them alone and try again later. By creating a comfortable environment, washing your hands, and approaching your bearded dragon correctly, you can prepare yourself to hold your dragon safely and comfortably.

Proper Techniques for Holding a Bearded Dragon

Supporting the Body

When picking up a bearded dragon, supporting its entire body is important. Use one hand to scoop up the body, with the palm facing upwards. Make sure to support the front legs with your thumb and forefinger. Use the other hand to support the tail, ensuring not to squeeze or grip it too tightly. It’s important to support the entire body to avoid causing any harm or discomfort to the bearded dragon.

Holding the Head and Tail

When holding a bearded dragon, it’s important to avoid holding it by the head or tail. This can cause discomfort and even injury to the bearded dragon. Instead, hold the body with one hand and use the other hand to gently stroke or pet the bearded dragon’s head or tail. This can help to build trust and make the bearded dragon feel more comfortable around you.

Avoiding Squeezing or Dropping

When holding a bearded dragon, avoiding squeezing or dropping it is important. This can cause serious injury or even death to the bearded dragon. Always hold the bearded dragon gently, with both hands supporting its entire body. I’ve seen a bearded dragon that starts to wiggle or become agitated. All you need to do is gently place it back in its enclosure and try again later.

By following these proper techniques for holding a bearded dragon, you can ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable while being handled. Remember always to be gentle and patient when handling your bearded dragon, and never force it to do anything it doesn’t want.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Holding Your Bearded Dragon


One of the most common mistakes new bearded dragon owners make is overhandling their pets. While bearded dragons can be socialized and enjoy interaction with their owners, too much handling can be stressful. It is important to give your bearded dragon enough time to rest and relax in its enclosure. Generally, it’s recommended to limit handling to 10-15 minutes per day, especially for young or shy dragons.

Not Reading Body Language

Bearded dragons communicate through body language, and learning to read their signals is important. Signs that your bearded dragon is stressed or uncomfortable include puffing up its beard, flattening its body, or turning its head away. 

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to put your bearded dragon back in its enclosure and try again later. Additionally, bearded dragons may show signs of aggression if they feel threatened, so it’s important to approach them slowly and calmly.

Not Providing Enough Support

Bearded dragons need to be supported properly when they are being held. If they feel unsupported, they may become stressed or uncomfortable. When holding your bearded dragon, support its entire body with both hands. Also, never pick up a bearded dragon by its tail, which can cause serious injuries.

It’s also important to remember that bearded dragons have delicate bones, so it’s important to handle them gently. Avoid squeezing or gripping your bearded dragon too tightly; never drop or toss it.