Bearded dragon lizards are popular pets, but being reptiles, they don't perform tricks, snuggle down to sleep in your lap or do most of the things that make furry pets fun. As long as you respect what's fun for them, though, they can provide their own kind of pleasurable interaction. In the same group of lizards as iguanas, they're native only to Australia, but in a wide range of habitats, so they're adaptable and fairly easy to keep. Bearded dragons cannot be exported legally but have been bred in captivity for decades.
What Fun Things Can You Do With a Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are known scientifically as "opportunistic omnivores" with large stomachs. That means they can and usually will eat almost anything. A common food for beardies as pets is live crickets. Don't let your lizard's home tank get overrun, but give him a few crickets a day when you can enjoy watching him hunt them down. You may also develop some interaction as you offer your lizard different vegetable leaves and find out which ones he enjoys most.
Like all reptiles, bearded dragons are cold-blooded. That means they don't generate their own body heat, but must take in heat from their environments. This provides opportunities for you to share your own physical warmth with your pet, preferably skin-to-skin. If the air in your house is cool, your lizard may choose to get inside your clothes, or you might encourage a small one to curl into your pocket or sit under your hat.
It's no fun for any animal to be confined to a sterile glass tank day after day, but bearded dragons will not run in wheels or hamster trails. Try to keep your dragon interested by changing the environment around in small ways, introducing branches, twigs and rocks from time to time. Reptiles need both places to warm up and places to cool off, so experiment with sun lamps, electric rocks and shady leaves to see how your dragon learns to use the options you provide.
Bobbing and Waving
Two of a bearded dragon's standard behaviors — bobbing its head and waving a front leg while it stands on the other three — can be amusing when seen in human contexts. These are both indications, however, that a dragon is uncomfortable and defensive, so enjoy them sparingly and don't ask your pet to perform them indefinitely. At the same time, your dragon may open the dewlap that gives it its name. This isn't always aggressive, but may be meant to impress you or another lizard.