Bearded dragons are Australian lizards who have become a popular pet among reptile enthusiasts in the United States due to their gentle, easygoing nature and willingness to breed in captivity. Even though bearded dragons have a reputation for being easy to get along with, you may have to spend some time socializing your new pet when you bring him home to get him used to being a member of your family.
Assess Your Problem
Bearded dragons can be excited, nervous or even frightened by humans. Juvenile bearded dragons are more likely to behave in a less than ideal manner when you are trying to work with them because they do not have a lot of life experience and may not really understand that you are not a predator. A young bearded dragon who is running away from you may need to be calmed down differently than an adult bearded dragon who has become aggressive due to mishandling or mistreatment.
Socialize Your Bearded Dragon
Just because your bearded dragon is living in captivity, it does not mean he is truly tame. Spend time just getting to know your bearded dragon, especially if he is young. Talk to him when he is in his cage and place the cage in an area of your home that gets plenty of foot traffic so he can get used to the sights and sounds that accompany humans. Reach into your bearded dragons cage to give him treats or just the occasional petting. The more pleasant interactions your bearded dragon has with you, the more likely he is to relax when he is in your company.
Handle Your Bearded Dragon Properly
Bearded dragons rarely like to be surprised by their human handlers. When you reach into your bearded dragon's living enclosure to pick him up, make sure that he realizes you are reaching for him. Support your bearded dragon's body completely while you are holding him, your bearded dragon should not be dangled from your hand by any of his body parts. Handle your bearded dragon regularly so that being touched and picked up becomes an accepted part of his daily life.
Correcting Problem Behavior
If your bearded dragon is squirming, wiggling or trying to run away when you are holding him, do not release him until he is calm and behaving. Releasing your dragon when he is misbehaving teaches him that he can get what he wants by behaving in a less than pleasant fashion. The same thing goes for biting. Do not let a bearded dragon bite you to get out of being handled. If your bearded dragon bites, you can try to give him a small treat every time he opens his mouth to bite you so that he learns to associate your hands with a positive experience.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.