How Do Bearded Dragons Show Affection?

Bearded dragons show affection in several different ways. Most people don’t consider reptiles as being capable of showing affection towards people like dogs or cats would do.

But that’s only because it’s not as obvious. Bearded dragons can’t wag their tails or purr, so naturally, people think that they don’t show affection at all, but this isn’t the case.

They’re just much more subtle about it. 


So, when we say licking, your mind will automatically spring to thinking about a dog. But bearded dragons do occasionally lick to show affection.

This isn’t because they’re happy to see you though, it’s more to do with smell. Bearded dragons can taste and smell with their tongues simultaneously.

If your dragon licks you, it’s most probably because they like the smell of you.

Alright, it’s not the perfect display of affection, but they’re acknowledging that your smell is comforting, and they enjoy it as it means something good for them (usually that they’re about to get food). 

Voluntary Handling

As I’m sure you’ve realized by now, if your bearded dragon doesn’t want to be picked up, you can’t make them.

When you put your hand towards them, they will often do either of these

  • Hiss
  • Bite
  • Head Bobbing
  • Bearding (puffing out their beards)

All bearded dragons have bad days, and this might happen occasionally to you, but don’t be offended.

Once they’re in a better mood they might allow you to pick them up easily, or even come to the front of their terrarium to be picked up.

If your bearded dragon remains calm and relaxed when being picked up, this shows that they’re comfortable with your presence and might even enjoy your company. 


Bearded dragons do like to press themselves up against you, especially if they’re out of their normal habitat. It’s really cute when they do this and you’ll be tempted to cuddle back, but don’t.

Enclosing your dragon in a small space may stress them out. Although it might look like a cuddle, they’re most likely sitting closer to you for warmth.

But don’t be discouraged, although it’s not technically affection, it is a sign that they trust you and feel safe being near you.

Allowing them to sit close to you with no added pressure of a cuddle will improve your bond. 

Eye Closing or Sleeping

In the wild bearded dragons have a lot of natural predators. This means that they must be on constant alert and be ready to run if necessary.

If your bearded dragon appears sleepy or has their eyes closed when you have them out of their terrarium, it’s a sign that they feel safe and trust you.

They don’t feel the need to be alert because they know that you’ll keep them safe. 

How Do I Make My Bearded Dragon More Affectionate?

The bond with your bearded dragon should grow over time. Because their natural environment has a lot of predators, they’re not normally trusting creatures.

Don’t expect them to instantly love you as a dog would. To gradually build a bond of trust with your dragon, you should handle them as much as you can.

Make them feel that being picked up isn’t a bad thing by rewarding them with food when they’re out with you.

Bathe them every week. Bearded dragons really like water, so putting them in a shallow bath of warm (not hot) water will be a positive experience for them.

They’ll grow to like the time that you spend together if they smell your scent and associate it with

  • Safety
  • Security
  • Food

Buying them toys will also improve your relationship. Although they don’t play fetch, they do enjoy enrichment activities that allow them to display their natural behavior.

Buying a tunnel for them to crawl through is a great idea or you could take it one stage further and get them a crinkle ball for them to push along with their nose.

Prosper Pet Tunnel

These crinkle balls are great for beardies who will love the texture and the sound that it makes. You can teach them to chase the ball through the tunnel, providing endless amounts of fun for both you and your beardie.

Crinkle Balls

The amount of affection that your bearded dragon shows you is likely to increase as they get older.

The more you spend time with them, the more they’ll trust you. So, the older they get, the more your bond will blossom. 

What Are the Signs That My Bearded Dragon Isn’t Being Affectionate?

Although everything your bearded dragon does is cute, some things can be confused with being affectionate, but in fact, they’re the exact opposite. 

Head Bobbing

Head bobbing is cute and it’s a great thing to catch on camera. However, you shouldn’t confuse it with affection.

Just because you find it amusing, doesn’t mean your dragon is feeling the same way.

Head bobbing is a sign of aggression, it makes them appear bigger to an opponent or to a predator and it means that they’re clearly feeling a little insecure. 

Arm Waving

If you notice your bearded dragon waving its arms around it’s hilarious.

However, it’s actually a subservient behavior used by bearded dragons who are submitting to a more dominant dragon. 

If you notice that they do this a lot when they’re around you, it’s likely to mean that they feel quite uncomfortable or even scared when they’re around you.

With the correct care and attention, these behaviors should gradually go away, but don’t encourage them.


Some people seem to think that gentle biting or nipping means that their bearded dragon is showing affection. This really isn’t the case.

Bearded dragons don’t have razor-sharp teeth. They don’t really need them as their food consists of vegetables and live food which generally get crushed, rather than torn apart. 

Just because their teeth don’t hurt you, doesn’t mean that that isn’t their intention.

If your bearded dragon is attempting to bite you, it’s because they’re being aggressive, not affectionate. 


So, the truth is, bearded dragons can show affection. But it’s just not that easy to see, you need to really want to see it.

They’re never going to be all love and cuddles, but you should be able to tell that your bearded dragon appreciates you and enjoys your company, which should be enough. 

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  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
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