Did you just get a big shock when your bearded dragon leaped out of your hand? Maybe you didn’t even know that beardies could jump! Or perhaps it has happened to you a few times now and you are beginning to worry and wonder if this is even normal behavior for a bearded dragon. This is a good question – thanks for asking!
So why does my bearded dragon jump out of my hand? Oftentimes bearded dragons will jump purely for the sake of exploration, or if they are stressed, or if they do not feel comfortable with you, or if they are not used to being handled.
This article will discuss the four possible reasons that your bearded dragon jumps out of your hand, as well as giving some tips on how to bond with your pet beardie, and how to handle your bearded dragon correctly so as to prevent injuries.
Jumping Out of Your Hand to Explore
Who doesn’t enjoy an adventure now and then? Sometimes your beardie may just feel like exploring its environment and using your hand as a springboard seems like the perfect opportunity! This is especially true of babies and juveniles who don’t seem to have as much fear of heights as their more mature counterparts.
Baby beardies are more likely to jump than adults, and this may be purely due to lack of experience, rather than confidence or bravado. It could also be due to their poor visual perception, so they aren’t actually able to judge distances very well. As they launch out from your hand, they most likely have no idea of the distance to the floor or to the object they may be aiming to land on.
That’s where you as the concerned owner need to ensure that your bearded dragon is not given the opportunity to take the plunge for a distance greater than the length of its own body so as to avoid unnecessary injury.
Jumping Out of Your Hand Because of Stress
Another reason for jumping could be stress or anxiety. Perhaps you are calmly holding your bearded dragon when your pet dog or cat comes strolling into the room. To your beardie, the dog and cat would appear huge and may well be viewed as a predator. This would be reason enough for it to jump out of your hand and scramble for cover as quickly as possible.
Another kind of stress, albeit a good kind, may be the sight, sound or smell of food. Beardies love their food, and if there happens to be a box of their favorite crickets in the room, they will certainly think it’s worth a leap to get nearer to the good stuff. So before you take your bearded dragon out, make sure that all the live feed is safely put away.
Jumping Out of Your Hand When Not Used to Being Handled
This reason for jumping is closely related to the previous one, ie. stress. If your beardie is not used to being picked up it can trigger a flight response and the instinctive reaction is to jump right out of your hand. This is especially true in the first few weeks or months after you have acquired your pet dragon.
It needs time to get used to being handled, and there are a few good practices that can help you and your beardie to enjoy your time together. Over time your pet will learn that you are not going to hurt or drop it, and then it won’t feel the need to jump out of your hand anymore.
Tips for Handling Bearded Dragons
1. Approach Slowly and Calmly From the Front
Remember that in its natural habitat your little beardie is vulnerable to birds of prey and other predators. So if you swoop down quickly from above, the bearded dragon may well become spooked and not take too kindly your advances. Rather move slowly and carefully, approaching from the front where your beardie can see you coming.
2. Scoop up Gently From Underneath
Once you are at eye-level with your pet, slide your open palm under its belly and place your other hand behind its neck. Then gently scoop it up. Always be careful not to lift it by the head or tail.
3. Use Both Hands to Support
Once you have picked up your beardie, use both your hands to support its whole body. Don’t let any parts of your beardies body dangle down, otherwise it may feel insecure. Rather cup your hands gently around the body, without squeezing too hard.
4. Make a Smooth Landing When Putting It Down
When you’ve had a nice time holding your pet and then decide to put it down, it’s important to do this carefully too. The best way to create a smooth landing is to put your hand down flat on the floor, with the beardie on top, and then gently lift your wrist so that the beardie slides off your hand and onto the ground.
Jumping Out of Your Hand When Not Feeling Comfortable With You
This one may be difficult to hear, especially when you are a doting pet owner who wants nothing more than to bond with your beloved pet. But sometimes it does happen that your bearded dragon just doesn’t feel comfortable with you yet, and when you try and hold it, it jumps right out of your hand. It may take some time and effort on your part to really bond with your pet.
Tips for Bonding With Your Bearded Dragon
1. Pick It up Often
As discussed above, you now know how to handle your beardie safely. Make a point of picking it up regularly so that it will get used to your scent and begin to recognize you. As you keep handling your beardie correctly and gently, it will learn to trust you more and more.
2. Feed It With Your Hand
Bearded dragons generally love their food, so feeding time is a happy bonding opportunity. As you feed your beardie by hand it will begin to associate you with the joy of eating. Just remember to keep your fingers out of the way so you don’t get a little nip, although it probably wouldn’t hurt.
3. Give It a Bath
Bath time is another good way to bond with your beardie. Let your pet sit in a shallow tub of water, no more than shoulder height. It will no doubt enjoy splashing in the water as you gently pour some water on its back and give it a soft rub with and old toothbrush. Afterwards remember to dry it with a towel and put it back in the terrarium to bask for a bit.
4. Play and Have Fun With It
Besides playing in the bath, you could also take you beardie out to play and explore safe areas of your house or garden. Always pay close attention so that your pet knows that you are nearby and it will feel safe.
5. Calm It Down When Stressed
When your bearded dragon is stressed, this is a golden opportunity for you to show how much you care. Speak gently to it and stroke its head. Also check and remove any stress inducing factors in the environment such as other pets or loud noises. By now your beardie probably recognizes your scent and this should also have a calming effect.
6. Be vigilant, don’t give up
Perseverance is needed in the bonding process with your bearded dragon, but your patience and consistency will surely be rewarded as you see the bond growing stronger with time between you and your beardie.
Jumping Without Being Injured
Although your beardie may have successfully survived quite a few jumps, it’s important to minimize the chances of injury until you can address the causes of jumping as described above.
Firstly you would need to pay attention to the surfaces onto which the bearded dragon may jump. Softer surfaces such as carpets or grass are preferable to hard floors or concrete. Secondly, try not to allow your beardie to get into a position where it has far to fall or jump. Keep it as close to the ground or solid surface as possible.
If your bearded dragon is a jumper, rest assured it is quite a common practice. There are a variety of reasons why bearded dragons tend to jump, so you would probably be able to identify whether your beardie is simply looking for an adventure, or if it is stressed or not used to being picked up. Or maybe you are a new owner and your pet is not yet used to you.
Although bearded dragons often jump, it’s not their natural mode of behavior, so do be careful that your beardie doesn’t get hurt or injured, as you handle it safely and firmly and remove any sharp or dangerous objects from the environment.