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Home > Bearded dragons > How to Pick Up a Bearded Dragon Correctly (With Video)

How to Pick Up a Bearded Dragon Correctly (With Video)

bearded dragon in hand

Bearded dragons make some of the best pets from the reptile kingdom. They’re docile, sizable, and downright enjoyable. Many reptiles prove difficult to handle in captivity, but bearded dragons are easy to hold and don’t have any problems with being held.

That said, it’s still important that you pick your dragon up in the right manner, or you could risk hurting your pet. With proper technique, picking your dragon up is perfectly safe, and you’ll be able to do it with dragons of every size, from babies to big beasts.

We’re going to walk you through all of the steps to properly picking up your dragon, and we’ve even found a video to give you a great visual representation. In just a few moments, you’ll be ready to pick your dragon up safely.

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Safety First

 bearded dragons_Kevin Khoo, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Kevin Khoo, Shutterstock

When it comes to picking up your bearded dragon, steps must be taken to ensure safety for both you and your pet. If you pick your dragon up correctly, then you don’t have much to worry about. However, if you do things incorrectly, there’s potential for you or your dragon to get harmed. So, when picking up your pet dragon, make sure you keep safety as your first priority.

Don’t Get Bit!

Regarding your own safety, your biggest potential harm when picking up your dragon is getting bit by accident. Though dragons are generally docile creatures and don’t often bite, it can happen. If you approach your dragon in the wrong way, you could scare it, provoking a reaction bite that’s really your fault and not your dragons.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by bringing your hand in from above. Instead, your hand should approach your dragon from the front or the side, where it can clearly see what’s happening. Sneaking up on your dragon or scaring it are easy ways to receive an accidental bite!

Support Your Dragon’s Body

bearded-dragon in hand_Milchdrink_Pixabay
Image Credit: Milchdrink, Pixabay

Of course, your dragon’s safety is just as important as your own. While you could potentially suffer a minor bite from incorrectly picking up your dragon, you might cause far worse harm to it if you pick it up incorrectly. To avoid this, it’s vital that you fully support your dragon’s body when you pick it up. Providing support for only part of its body could cause it harm.

One Hand or Two?

When you’re lifting a small dragon like a juvenile or a baby, you’ll be able to get away with using just one hand, as they’re generally much smaller than the size of your hand at this stage. Picking up adult dragons is a bit different. Adults can be much larger, and if your dragon is big enough, you might need two hands to pick it up. Of course, this depends on your hand size as well; not just your dragon’s size. Some people can get away with lifting their dragon using just one hand but don’t take unnecessary risks. If you need two hands to lift your dragon, there’s nothing wrong with that.

What Happens if you Pick up Your Dragon Wrong?

bearded dragon_Kevin Khoo, Shutterstock
Image By: Kevin Khoo, Shutterstock

As mentioned, your dragon or you could be hurt if you attempt to pick your dragon up in the wrong manner. Your beardie might be docile most of the time, but if you approach it from above, for instance, you might end up with a dragon bite on your hand.

But what about your dragon? Picking it up wrong could hurt it if you’re not supporting its whole body. You also might just cause discomfort for it, which could cause it to start wriggling in an attempt to get free. If this happens, you might end up dropping your dragon and causing potential damage.

How to Correctly Pick Up a Bearded Dragon

woman holding a bearded dragon_Pixabay
Image By: Pixabay

While it’s definitely possible to hurt your dragon or get hurt yourself if you do it wrong, there is a safe way to pick your dragon up. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be able to pick up your dragon without any danger. You’ll both be safe, which means you’ll be able to keep handling your dragon in the future. One bad experience can make it difficult for both of you moving forward, so be sure to follow these steps carefully, for your sake as well as your dragons. And to make it even easier on you, we’ve even found a video that shows the proper technique for those of you that are visual learners.

  • Approach From the Front

Bring your hand down to your dragon’s level and slowly approach it from the front or the side with your palm facing down. Make sure you don’t bring your hand down towards your dragon’s head from above, as this is a surefire way to frighten it, which could potentially lead to an accidental bite.

  • Lift Your Dragon’s Front Legs

Keeping your palm down, place your index fingers under your dragon’s chest. Slowly begin to lift it until its front legs leave the ground.

  • Scoop Your Hand Under Your Dragon’s Chest

Once your dragon’s front legs have lifted off the ground, you’ll need to start to scoop your hand underneath your dragon, turning your hand palm up in the process. Make sure to move slowly. Then, wrap your fingers around your dragon’s side towards its back, taking a firm but gentle hold.

When you finish, your hand should be completely underneath your dragon, between its front and rear legs. If your dragon is large enough, you can use one hand under its chest and a second hand beneath its belly and rear legs.

  • Lift!

When you feel that you have a secure hold on your dragon and its body is well-supported, you can lift it off the ground. Make sure to keep your hold firm without actually squeezing. You don’t want to drop your dragon, but you also don’t want to cause it discomfort or stress by holding it too tightly.

What if Your Dragon is Attached to Something?

bearded dragon_Snap_it, Pixabay
Image By: Snap_it, Pixabay

This technique works great if your dragon is just sunbathing on a rock or chilling on its substrate. It’s a bit harder if it’s on certain items like logs where its nails can give it a secure hold. In this case, most of the technique remains the same, though you’ll need to take some extra steps to get your hand underneath it.

When going to lift your dragon’s chest, if its nails are attached to something, you’ll need to gently pry them off, one foot at a time. Do not just pull on your dragon; you might hurt its feet or damage its claws. Just take your time and slowly pry its claws from the object. Once your hand is underneath its chest, you’ll want to use your other hand to pry off each of the rear feet before you can lift it.

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As a bearded dragon owner, you want to interact with your dragon. It’s this interaction that makes dragons such fun pets to keep! To interact in the best way, you’ll want to remove your dragon from its cage, which means you’ll have to pick it up. While this seems simple enough, if it’s done wrong, it could result in harm for your dragon or even for you. By following the steps we’ve laid out, you’ll be able to safely pick up your dragon, minimizing any chances that either of you gets hurt.

Featured Image Credit: Leena Robinson, Shutterstock

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