Correct Bearded dragon handling
Bearded dragons should be handled in certain ways to prevent them from jumping, dashing and injuring themselves while at a height. Diseases might also be transmitted while handling a Bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons will need to be handled from time to time. They often need to be picked up, shoved, moved from one enclosure to another and/or need to be gripped to be closely inspected. When considering the potential to transmit diseases, handling should be done under responsible supervision and caution should be taken afterwards (see later).
When handling a Bearded dragon, its intentions should be anticipated and it should be observed closely at all times. Untamed baby Bearded dragons might attempt to escape while being handled. An uncomfortable Bearded dragons can at any time walk, dash or jump from your hands while being handled.
The correct way to handle a Bearded dragon
Adult and baby Bearded dragons should be handled differently. Baby Bearded dragons need to be handled with extra caution.
Handling adult Bearded dragons
Adult Bearded dragons are handled with two hands. They can be picked-up by scooping one hand under the belly while supporting the rest of the body with the other hand. Allow the Bearded dragon to rest on the palm of your hand while your fingers are gently curled over its back. When sitting down, a tame Bearded dragon can be allowed to sit on the body of the handler.
Handling baby Bearded dragons
A baby Bearded dragon should be handled with extra caution. They can be picked up by using your hand to make a ‘cage’ around the body. Tame baby Bearded dragons can also be encouraged by a gentle shove to go and sit in your hand before ‘caging’ the fingers around the body.
Restraining a Bearded dragons
When outside, or in large open spaces, Bearded dragons can be restrained using custom harnesses. A free-roaming Bearded dragon should always be under strict supervision.
Falling injuries are commonly seen in pet Bearded dragons. Although falls from shorter distances often goes without injuries, falling from significant heights (e.g. from a sitting lap or standing person) can lead to serious injuries. Holding and handling a Bearded dragon correctly will prevent falling injuries. Also see tail injuries in Bearded dragons for more information.
Hygiene practices while handling a Bearded dragon
Some diseases can be transmitted from Bearded dragons to humans. In-contact human hands can also be the carrier of certain diseases (e.g. adenovirus and yellow fungus disease), from an infected Bearded dragon to a healthy one. Irrespective the risk for transmitting diseases, Bearded dragon handlers are always advised to take responsible hygienic precautions.
As a summary, these are good hygiene principles for Bearded dragon owners:
- Do not touch your face while, or directly after, handling a Bearded dragon, the inside of their enclosure, feeder insects or their substrate.
- Protect any open sores or wounds you might have on your hands before touching or handling a Bearded dragon.
- Wash and disinfect your hands (or in-contact skin) directly after handling a Bearded dragon, the inside of their enclosure, their food or their substrate.
- Do not kiss a Bearded dragon or bring it close to your face.
- Do not eat while handling or even close in close proximity with Bearded dragons.
- Use safe, but proven disinfectants to wash, wipe or spray your hands.
For more information, also see our Bearded dragon owner hygiene article.