Will My Bearded Dragon Jump Off My Shoulder?

You’ve probably seen photos on social media or videos on YouTube with bearded dragons happily sitting on their owners’ shoulders. But you might be wondering whether or not handling your bearded dragon in that way is safe.

So will my bearded dragon jump off my shoulder? Bearded dragons’ curiosity often overpowers their depth perception, so it’s very possible your pet will jump off your shoulder. 

In this article, you’ll learn whether or not bearded dragons can jump and why they do so. You’ll also be able to read about different injuries that can take place if bearded dragons jump or fall from high surfaces. Finally, we give you some great tips on how to properly handle your bearded dragon and how to read its body language to make sure it’s comfortable. 

Can Bearded Dragons Jump?

Bearded dragons are capable of jumping, but don’t necessarily do it often. They don’t usually jump up onto higher objects, but are more likely to jump down to the ground from a higher surface. Bearded dragons much prefer climbing to jumping upwards, which is why they’re not really known for their jumping skills. 

Baby bearded dragons typically jump much more than adults, both because they’re more skittish and because they haven’t fully developed their depth and distance perception. Because of this, it’s even more dangerous to carry around a baby bearded dragon on your shoulder than an adult. 

Just because bearded dragons do jump doesn’t mean they should jump. Many bearded dragons have suffered injuries and even death after jumping off a surface that was too high. If possible, it’s best not to allow your pet to jump at all because of the risks involved.

A good rule to remember is that any height taller than your bearded dragon’s length is too far for it to jump safely. In most cases, this means two feet is the absolute highest your pet should sit off of the ground.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Jump?

One big reason that bearded dragons jump is fear or intense stress. This can happen when they see another family pet, which they perceive as a predator, or because of a sudden movement or noise. In this case, jumping is a panicked effort to escape what the bearded dragon sees as danger.

Another possible reason that a bearded dragon may jump is if it sees or hears food. If there are any insects around, your pet will try to get to them as soon as possible–even if that means jumping off of your shoulder. The drive to capture prey overrides your pet’s fear of falling.

In addition, bearded dragons may jump out of fear if they’re not comfortable with their owner handling them. Although you may be holding your pet in an attempt to bond with it, your bearded dragon might feel uncertain or uncomfortable in this new environment and try to jump away.

Remember that it takes time to build up a bond with a bearded dragon, and it’s important to have patience throughout the process to avoid any accidents.

What Kind of Injuries Can Bearded Dragons Get From Jumping?

While many bearded dragon owners report that their bearded dragons have survived jumping multiple times, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. There are quite a few injuries that can result from bearded dragons jumping, whether it’s off of your shoulder or another high surface.

First, your bearded dragon could suffer from broken bones, most likely in its legs. You might not notice the fractures right away, but later on your pet could have some swelling in the area. It’s also likely that your bearded dragon will refuse to walk on a broken leg.

A veterinarian might use a splint to help your pet heal its broken bone. In more severe cases, it might be necessary to perform surgery to repair the damage. In a worst-case scenario, your pet may have to have its broken leg amputated completely.

Another possible injury is internal injury and organ rupture. This is a very serious problem that can lead to death. Symptoms of an organ rupture or other internal injury include bleeding from the mouth, difficulty breathing or breathing very quickly, and a swollen abdomen. If left untreated, your bearded dragon will refuse to eat and become very lethargic.

The best course of action to take if your bearded dragon jumps or falls is to go to the vet as soon as you can. Even if your bearded dragon turns out to be perfectly fine, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

What’s the Right Way to Hold a Bearded Dragon?

As a bearded dragon owner, one of the most important things you’ll need to learn is how to properly handle your pet! Handling your bearded dragon is a wonderful way to bond and forge a friendly and loving relationship with your pet.

Bearded dragons, unlike most reptiles, can actually show affection towards their owners, and it can be very exciting to see your pet slowly grow more and more comfortable around you!

Wash Your Hands

The first step is to always wash your hands before handling your bearded dragon! This ensures that any germs and bacteria on your hands won’t spread to your pet. You can also wear gloves if you prefer to protect your hands from your bearded dragon’s rough skin.

Move Slowly

Move slowly toward your pet, avoiding sudden movements. Make sure not to interrupt your bearded dragon if it is eating, or you could end up being bitten! It’s always important to make slow and calm movements around bearded dragons, and never approach them from above like a predator would in the wild. You don’t want to stress out your pet before handling it.

Pet Your Bearded Dragon

Next, gently pet your bearded dragon. Give your pet some time to start feeling comfortable with you. Wait for it to close its eyes or blink slowly. This is a sign that your bearded dragon feels comfortable and doesn’t mind being handled. On the other hand, if your pet’s beard turns black and puffs out, that’s a clear indication that it’s not a good time for you to handle it. 

Pick up Your Bearded Dragon

Now it’s time to pick up your bearded dragon. Carefully lift its shoulders slightly with one hand, and slide the other hand underneath its body. Your thumb and index finger should be in a position to support your pet’s front arms, and the rest of its body should be resting in the palm of your hand.

If you’d like, you can use your other hand to support its tail. Don’t ever squeeze your bearded dragon! Simply support it with your hands.

Spend Some Time Together!

As long as your bearded dragon feels comfortable, you can set it on your chest, arm, or lap and spend some time together. It’s not recommended to set your bearded dragon on your shoulder in case it jumps down and hurts itself. When you’re done hanging out with your pet, carefully return it to its vivarium.

Wash Your Hands Again

Make sure to wash your hands after handling! Bearded dragons can carry salmonella, which can make humans very ill.

How Can I Read My Bearded Dragon’s Body Language?

When handling your bearded dragon, it’s important to know how your pet communicates using its body language. This way you can pick up on any discomfort or other emotions your bearded dragon is feeling.

  • A raised tail is a sign of activity and alertness. It also occurs commonly during mating season.


  • If your pet is waving its arm, this is actually a sign that it feels threatened. Waving signifies submission in bearded dragons.


  • A bobbing head means that a male bearded dragon is asserting its dominance.


  • A gaping mouth is your pet’s way of trying to make itself look more threatening to a predator, as is puffing up its beard.


Although it might look fun or cute to carry your bearded dragon around on your shoulder, it’s simply not safe. Bearded dragons aren’t skilled jumpers, and it’s very likely that your pet could be injured. Rather than placing your bearded dragon on your shoulder, it’s better to learn about the proper way to handle your pet.

Always wash your hands before and after handling. Give your bearded dragon time to feel comfortable with you before picking it up and sitting with it on your arms, chest, or lap.

Read its body language to be sure that your pet feels completely comfortable with you, and you’re sure to be on your way to a happy and rewarding relationship with your bearded dragon!


I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...