Bonding and love is usually the ultimate goal of owning a Bearded Dragon, just like any pet. Beardies are notoriously sociable, tolerant of handling, and are known to even enjoy human interactions. It’s important to many owners to know that their beloved pet beardie enjoys being around them as much as they do. To ease your mind, here are signs your Bearded Dragon is happy and healthy in your home.
13 Signs your Bearded Dragon is happy
1. They don’t run away from you
This may not seem like a big deal, but Bearded Dragons are prey animals and naturally cautious. If they aren’t running away from you, it’s a big sign that they’re happy and comfortable with you. When you go to pick them up, place your fingers underneath their chest and when they climb on you, that’s a good sign that your dragon likes you and doesn’t mind handling.
2. They can lay on you for a long time
If your Beardie is fine laying on your chest, that means they’re happy and they like you. Once they get comfortable with their new owner, laying with or on their person is a big sign of being happy and content. To take it a step further, another great sign of trust and comfort is when a Bearded Dragon falls asleep on you when you stroke their head and lay with them.
3. They willingly go on your shoulder
Bearded Dragons are natural climbers, and generally enjoy high places. Nonetheless, it takes a lot of trust in their owner to be placed on the shoulder and is a great sign that they want to be around you. Many will even try to climb their way up there, as quality time is their main way of showing affection.
4. They let you pick them up
If a Bearded Dragon doesn’t want to be picked up, they’ll let you know. They can be quite slippery when they want to be and will jump out of your hands, but if they allow you to pick them up then that’s a sign they’re happy and like you. It’s important to keep in mind there may just be days that they don’t want to be touched, just like humans. This doesn’t mean they no longer like you, just that they may want to be left alone for a bit, especially during breeding and shedding season.
5. There’s no sign of aggression
You can absolutely say your Bearded Dragon is happy and likes you when it shows no signs of aggression and only affection. Beardies like to project their emotions, and an upset dragon will be biting, bobbing their head, puffing out their beard, and hissing at you. If they aren’t doing this when you come near, then it’s considered to be happy and calm and feels no need to defend itself.
6. They’re eating, basking, pooping, and sleeping normally
You can tell a lot about your Bearded Dragon from their everyday essential functions. If they’re doing all the tasks that they should, then they aren’t feeling stressed and their body is doing what it’s designed to do. Most of a Bearded Dragon’s happiness comes from fulfilling its daily needs and having all the comforts of living.
7. They ask you to come hang out
This may seem far fetched, but many Bearded Dragons that settle in their home and get used to owners will start to desire to spend time with them, and will go so far as to scratch at the glass to get out. If you interact with them daily, they’ll soon get used to and enjoy this routine time outside of their tank and begin to look forward to it! If your Beardie begins trusting you and is happy, they’ll wait in anticipation for you every day to spend time like this.
8. They look healthy and alert
A healthy Bearded Dragon is a happy Bearded Dragon. A healthy Bearded Dragon will look alert, move around, eat, and poop properly while seeming interested in their surroundings. Their eyes are a good gauge as to how they’re doing – a healthy Beardie will have curious and bright eyes while a sick one will be listless and lethargic. If that’s the case, read through the signs and causes of stress for your Bearded Dragon and your companion will be back to their curious self in no time.
9. They’re exhibiting positive body language
Bearded Dragons are incredibly talkative animals when you know what to look for. There are many both positive and negative body signs, and many you’ll naturally learn the meanings of. For example, wide eyes with dilated pupils mean your Beardie is interested and relaxed with you. If their mouth is curved and closed, that acts as a smile and is a sign of happiness and interest.
10. They’re waving at you
Sometimes it seems like your Beardie is trying to catch your attention by waving at you…and you’d be correct! It’s their way of letting you know that they see you and are acknowledging your presence. It’s important to understand the context of the waving though, as it can also be to draw your attention to a stressor in their environment that they’d like you to get rid of.
11. They change to a lighter and brighter color
If you’ve noticed your Bearded Dragon has turned a brighter color, such as orange, light brown, or yellow, that generally means they’re happy! Like many other species of reptiles, Bearded Dragons have chromatophores in their skin. These are pigmented cells that reflect light and allow them to change color as they react to their environment, and they’ve been known to lighten when they’re warm and in a good mood.
12. Their eyes close when they’re near you
In nature, when animals feel threatened, there’s nothing they can do but stare down the potential predator. It’s a safety instinct in all prey animals, and is why it isn’t recommended to stare directly at them if trying to make them feel at ease. If your Bearded Dragon closes their eyes around you, that’s a sign of deep trust and safety when around you.
13. They press flat and relax around you
Young Beardies and those not yet tamed tend to panic when picked up the first couple of times. This is a completely normal reaction, even when picking them up the correct way. Eventually, they’ll begin to associate being handled with food and adventure and relax more around you. They demonstrate this relaxation by flattening their bodies and relaxing their muscles. Like closing their eyes and pressing close, this is another sign of trust and happiness.
Bearded Dragon FAQ
Commonly asked questions related bearded dragons’ emotions and intelligence.
Do bearded dragons have feelings?
Some studies suggest that reptiles, including Bearded Dragons, do have basic emotions such as aggression or pleasure. While it’s not at all in the same way that humans have and express feelings, or even dogs, Bearded Dragons are among the few types of reptiles that have been believed to show forms of affections towards their owners.
Can bearded dragons show love and affection?
I think love would be a bit far fetched, that is a human emotion. As I mentioned above though, a Bearded Dragon showing a type of affection towards its caretaker is not unheard of. It may even look forward to the interaction and relish the time spent together in its own way.
Is it ok to kiss and cuddle my bearded dragons?
You should never kiss your Bearded Dragon as they can contract Salmonella. It’s happened many times before where owners that have been kissing their beardies end up with Salmonella. If you are careful and take all of the proper precautions, you should be fine to hold your dragon regularly and even “cuddle them” in a manner of speaking. Just keep them away from your face, and wash your hands thoroughly before and after holding.
Do bearded dragons recognize their names?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that no, Bearded Dragons do not understand human language of any type. However if you have one that does I’d be happy to be proved wrong!
What’s more likely is that Bearded Dragons can become accustomed to the tone and sound of their owners voice and respond when they hear it. Most likely because they associate it with food.
Are bearded dragons smart?
Being smart is relative. When it comes to pet reptiles though, Bearded Dragons are quite clever. We’ve mentioned that they can express some light emotions, recognize their owners in a way, but they can even also be trained to a degree. Many Bearded Dragon owners have successfully leash trained their beardies.
We have to remember that while Bearded Dragons may appear to know what’s going on and even understand our words, they do not. They may be smart for lizards, but we can’t compare their intelligence to ours or even our cats and dogs.
Bearded Dragons are beloved for the ways that they socialize with humans in ever-expanding ways. They showcase their emotion, and once you learn to read their body language, you can start to appreciate how much they trust and want to be around you. The most important takeaway from this list is that a healthy Beardie is a happy Beardie. Even if they aren’t showing affection right away, you’re providing them with a clean home and good food and they appreciate that just as much.