Unlike many other lizards, the bearded dragon seems to really enjoy being handled. They are often willing to spend hours sitting in your open hand while you stroke their back. This willingness to be handled is one of their most appealing traits and a big part of what makes them such popular pets. Yes, handling your bearded dragon will probably be fun and easy, but there are still certain things you should keep in mind when getting ready to spend some quality time with your pet.
Bearded dragons can harbor a variety of bacteria, particularly in the skin around their claws and in the gaps between their scales. You should always thoroughly wash your hands before and after picking up your pet. Also, you should never let your dragon crawl on your face, and do not rub your eyes or mouth while handling him. These are easy ways to spread the bacteria. Keeping a very clean terrarium can help to avoid much of the potential bacteria problems associated with keeping reptiles.
While adult bearded dragons are quite hardy, babies and hatchlings should be handled with great care. Ideally, bearded dragons should not be handled at all until they are at least four weeks old. If you must handle a very young bearded dragon, the key is to move slowly. Lower your hand into the terrarium, palm up, and allow it to rest on the substrate. Use your other hand to gently encourage the baby dragon to walk into your open palm. Softly close your fingers around him, and raise your hand out of the terrarium.
Once your bearded dragon is about four months old, he will be hardier and able to withstand normal handling. Keep in mind, however, that a dragon should never be forced to go into or out of his cage before he is ready. If your pet is desperately gripping something in his tank, assume that he is not ready to get out and don’t force him. In addition to causing him some anxiety, a move like this could physically harm your dragon.
Keep in mind that your bearded dragon’s tail can easily break off. This is a bloody, painful experience for your pet that can occur when the tail is grasped or dealt a bit of rough handling. It will eventually grow back, but it will be darker and look different than the original. To avoid this, never attempt to pick up your bearded dragon by his tail, and be careful whenever handling him in any way.