If you are a bearded dragon owner, this question holds quite the level of importance!
You want your bearded dragon to be fond of you, because both of you spend a lot of time together. This makes it even more important to recognize the signs that tell you whether they like you as their owner.
We’ll go ahead and discuss how to recognize the signs showing that your bearded dragon is comfortable in your care, as well as some of the misleading signs that could be pointing you in the wrong direction!
As a bonus, we will also go over some of the useful tips to help you bond with your beardie for a long-lasting relationship. Read to find out more!
The Importance of Your Bearded Dragon Liking You
Of course, this is very important. If your bearded dragon doesn’t like you, it will not have a happy life; if he is not happy, he won’t be healthy.
Especially when keeping a bearded dragon involves a considerable initial investment, you will want to make the most out of this relationship. All the more you should want them to enjoy being around you!
If you want them to be healthy and thrive for many years, you need to make sure you are treating them well and that they enjoy their time with you.
Knowing its importance doesn’t mean you automatically know how to recognize the signs. That is why we are here to help you decipher your bearded dragon’s actions so that you can identify these good signs against the bad ones (discussed below).
#1 Licks your hand
The first sign that your bearded dragon likes you may send a small shiver down your spine if you are not prepared for it! Don’t worry, you’re alright as long as you have been kind to your dragon.
Sometimes, a bearded dragon may lick you a little (especially when you are hand-feeding them)! This won’t always happen, but every once in a while, you’ll be surprised to find that they may shower you with light licking.
This means that they like your scent and are comfortable enough to come near you and enjoy your company.
#2 Looks forward to play with you
Bearded dragons are pretty playful animals, and the next sign of them liking you is, of course, their willingness to play with you.
But what does ‘playtime’ mean to a bearded dragon? Well, it’s simply the time you both spend together on activities outside his tank. For example:
- taking your bearded dragon for a ride
- playing a ball with them
- any activity that doesn’t stress him out
If your bearded dragon immediately comes to you when you approach the cage, that is a good sign that he is excited to see you! He is already used to your presence and enjoyed being with you. (Give yourself a clap!)
Side note: every time your bearded dragon stands on his back legs and starts scratching the tank, it could mean that he is asking for playtime with you!
#3 Lets you pick him up
Bearded dragons need enough time to “warm-up” before they let you pick them up. You may be able to touch or pet his little body but allowing you to pick him up is a different story altogether.
Would you allow a stranger to carry you up with a fireman lift? I bet not!
The same applies to a bearded dragon. You will need to gained a certain level of his trust before the bearded dragon will entrust his life to you (more on that later).
Once they are comfortable with you and you have learned how to pick them up safely, you won’t encounter any problems with them trying to get away from you.
This phase is a learning process, and the best way to do this is to never approach them from above or when they are showing signs of aggression. Through this, they will slowly learn to be comfortable with your hand.
#4 Follows you around
Here’s another test for you, once the beardie is out of his cage.
Have you ever seen a lizard in your kitchen that immediately dashed into the cabinets to hide away from you? That’s because they think that you are a great danger to them.
On the contrary, a bearded dragon that completely trusts you will stay calm or even follow you around the house when it is out of the cage.
He meant “You’re my boss, right? Where else can I go if I don’t follow you?”
When you have succeeded in getting their trust, you could start training them to communicate what they want. This way, you’re not only building a relationship but also enjoying the bond and presence of each other.
#5 Closes eyes around you
Next, its again about trust. In the wild, bearded dragons have to keep an eye out for predators and always be on the lookout for various dangers. This means they mostly keep their eyes wide open to stay alert.
If your bearded dragons close their eyes when you’re around, it means they trust you!
They are willing to let their guard down around you because they are 100% confident that you are not a threat and they can depend on you.
#6 Lays or sleep on you
Do you know that bearded dragons in the wild will only sleep when they have found a safe spot to hide? So, when they sleep or lay on you, it means they feel completely safe!
A bearded dragon laying on your lap or shoulder means he does not see you as a threat but instead finds great comfort in your touch. Sometimes, they might even fall asleep while laying down on your body!
This act of them also indicates that they love your scent as well as the heat your body emits. Therefore, with all these signs mentioned above, bearded dragons sleeping on you is the strongest evidence of them trusting and liking you.
#7 No sign of aggression
Getting familiar with all the signs of affections by a bearded dragon is not everything. You need to also make sure you don’t accidentally stress them out or even provoke your beardie friend.
Some of these signs of aggression include:
- opened mouth
- turning black
- puffing of its beard
Some of these signs will be discussed in greater detail in the next section.
Keep in mind that bearded dragons won’t come near you if they feel threatened by your presence. This means that they will always be running away from you when they are scared. In extreme cases, a bearded dragon might even bite you if it becomes too aggressive.
So, if you manage to get close to your bearded dragon without him ever showing you any sign of aggression or stress, that means you are on the right track to a long-lasting relationship with your beardie!
Now that you know how to identify the good signs that you bearded dragon likes you, we want to share some of the ways they may exhibit discomfort towards you, especially because some of them could be taken to mean affection, but in fact mean the opposite.
Negative Sign #1. Arm Waving
Most people actually see this as a positive sign, while in reality, the opposite is true.
If your bearded dragon is waving their arms, it actually means they are afraid. This is a sign of fear, and they are known for doing it in the wild.
Negative Sign #2. Head Bobbing
If they are bobbing their head at you, this is not a good sign. It’s an aggressive stance, and means they are getting ready to fight.
If this happens, they need some time to calm down. Just leave them alone and don’t go around them for a little while.
Negative Sign #3. Hissing
While you’ll find that not all bearded dragons hiss, this is a sign of aggressive.
As with head bobbing, if they begin hissing, just leave them alone for a little while. They are afraid and angry, and showing it to you through this behavior.
Negative Sign #4. Biting
This is definitely a behavior you don’t want to see! Biting only occurs when beardies are very stressed out, and so it does not occur often.
If they do bite you, they are very upset, and you may have done something to allow the behavior to occur.
Give them some time to cool off, and examine your actions to figure out why it occurred.
This is really not a good sign, so you should evaluate how to move on and stop making things worse.
You may be wondering how you can interact with your beardie in ways that will initiate affection between the two of you. There are a few different things you can try, so keep reading!
Tip #1. Spend Time Handling Them
This is a key step! If you don’t spend much time holding them, they won’t get used to you.
If they are unfamiliar with you, of course, they’re not going to be comfortable around you!
They may be more standoffish at first, as they have to get used to being handled, but the more you do it, the more comfortable they should become.
To find out more, read our popular article about how often to take your bearded dragon out of its cage.
Tip #2. Pet Your Bearded Dragon
Most beardies love being pet! This shows affection from you and should translate well to your bearded dragon.
When you’re holding them, make sure to be gentle, and try petting them softly. They should respond well to this, and over time, will get more comfortable with it.
Tip #3. Have Your Beardie Walk On You
This shows trust on your part and should let your bearded dragon become comfortable by walking on you.
This will get them familiar with your scent and will hopefully initiate a good bonding time between the two of you.
Tip #4. Feed Them Yourself
If you get in a routine and make it a habit to show that you are feeding them, they should associate you with the positive memory of being fed.
The more you do this, the more they should feel comfortable being around you, which will lead to more bonding time between the two of you.
Tip #5. Give Them Treats
You can reward them with good behavior when they behave well towards you.
Have some treats ready nearby, that way, when they exhibit positive signs, you can give them a treat.
Now they will associate you with their treats and the behavior they exhibited.
This is a great way to continue positive association between you and your bearded dragon.
Other Points to Remember
It’s important to remember that affection will increase with age. If you just got your bearded dragon, don’t expect them to be displaying signs of affection already.
It takes time! The more that you try the activities mentioned above, the more they should respond and become likely to grow attached to you.
The other point to remember is that all bearded dragons are different! Some may not show affection in the ways we mentioned above, and that’s fine.
Hopefully you will start to recognize the ways your beardie shows how they are stressed and when they are happy.
It’s something you’ll have to find out for yourself, as they are all different and may show it contrarily.
What You Should Not Do.
We also want to give you some tips regarding what not to do in terms of handling your bearded dragon.
There are certain things that may sow distrust and discomfort with your beardie, and they are important to know so you can avoid them.
Never handle them roughly
Remember that they are sensitive animals, and you should be gentle when handling them.
They aren’t going to want to be handled by you if you are rough with them. They will not trust you, and your bond will them be severely broken.
Never hold them by their tail
You want to make sure you are handling them correctly, which includes not holding them by their tail.
This causes stress and discomfort with them. As stated above, it will only make them not want to be handled by you.
Avoid making loud noises
Bearded dragons don’t like to be surprised, or to be subjected to loud noises or music.
Don’t make them listen to these kinds of sounds, as they will associate the discomfort they feel with you.
You want them to be comfortable in their tank and around you, and if you are playing loud music around them, your beardie will be stressed out.
We hope these were some helpful tips for you, and that now you can understand the signs your bearded dragon is exhibiting!
Sometimes it can be a bit confusing, so hopefully you now feel more comfortable with the different behaviors and what they mean. Happy bonding!