Can you pick up a bearded dragon by the tail

Can you pick up a bearded dragon by the tail?

No, it is not recommended to pick up a bearded dragon by its tail. The tail is a sensitive part of the bearded dragon’s body and is used for balance and communication.

Whenever you pick up a bearded dragon by the tail, it may feel threatened and may break off, a defense mechanism that is known as autotomy.

Bearded dragons that have broken off their tails will not grow back and can suffer stress and health problems as a result. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid picking up the dragon by its tail. Instead, hold its body while supporting it.

Picking Up a Bearded Dragon by the Tail

Critter Capers - Bearded Dragon
Credit: matubula

While it might seem like an easy way to move or handle your bearded dragon, picking it up by its tail is not recommended. The tail is an essential part of a bearded dragon’s anatomy, serving many purposes including balance and communication.

When picked up by the tail, the animal can become stressed and disoriented, leading to potential harm. Additionally, picking up a bearded dragon by its tail can cause spinal damage.

The tail vertebrae can become dislocated or even completely detached from the rest of the spine, causing pain and discomfort for your pet. These injuries can lead to long-term health issues that require medical attention.

Discussion of potential harm to the animal, including spinal damage and stress

In addition to spinal damage, picking up a bearded dragon by its tail can also cause stress for your pet. Bearded dragons are prey animals that rely on their tails for survival in the wild. When they feel threatened or in danger, they use their tails as defense mechanisms.

By picking them up by the tail, you are essentially triggering this response and causing them unnecessary stress.

Moreover, when picked up in this manner, they tend to flail around desperately trying to gain control of their bodies which could potentially result in injuries from falling off high surfaces during such struggles.

Handling Bearded Dragons

Bearded Dragon - P. barbata
credit: josh_nerboni

Tips for Safely Handling a Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are relatively docile reptiles that make great pets. However, it is important to handle them with care and gentleness to ensure their safety and well-being. When picking up a bearded dragon, it is crucial to provide proper support and hand placement to prevent injury.

One way to safely handle a bearded dragon is to use both hands: one hand should support the front end of its body, while the other supports its hindquarters. This ensures that the animal is fully supported and prevents any unnecessary strain on its tail.

Discussion of Potential Risks Associated with Improper Handling

Improper handling of bearded dragons can lead to potential risks and injuries, particularly regarding their tails. Bearded dragons rely heavily on their tails for balance and communication, which means tail injuries can seriously impact their quality of life. Picking up a bearded dragon by its tail can cause damage or dislocation in the spinal column which would cause long-term harm or even death.

Additionally, improper handling may also cause undue stress on the animal which could hamper other bodily functions such as eating or shedding. It is important for bearded dragon owners to learn proper handling techniques before attempting to pick up or move them in any way.

Alternative Methods for Moving Bearded Dragons

Picking up a bearded dragon by the tail is not recommended as it can cause serious harm to the animal. Luckily, there are several alternative methods for safely moving or handling these creatures.

The two most common ways are using your hands to scoop them up from underneath and using a towel or blanket to gently lift them. Using your hands to scoop them up from underneath:

When picking up your bearded dragon with your hands, it is important to approach the animal slowly and calmly. Place one hand under its belly and the other hand around its back legs.

Use gentle but firm pressure when lifting the animal. Remember always to support their weight correctly, as bearded dragons can be fragile creatures.

Using a towel or blanket to gently lift them: Another way of safely lifting your bearded dragon is by using a towel or blanket.

Place the towel over the top of your pet, making sure that they are covered without causing any discomfort. Then, you can gently lift it off the ground while keeping both hands cupped around them so they don’t fall out.

In addition to these methods, some owners prefer to use specialized tools such as reptile hooks or tongs for handling their pets.

However, remember that while these tools can offer safety advantages in some situations, they should only be used if you are well-trained in their proper usage techniques.


Picking up a bearded dragon by its tail should never be attempted. As we have discussed, the tail plays an essential role in maintaining balance and communication for these animals. Attempting to lift them from their tails can lead to physical harm and emotional distress that can impact their well-being and quality of life.

Furthermore, improper handling techniques can also lead to serious injuries or permanent damage that could require veterinary attention. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of our beloved animals.

Encouragement to handle these animals with care

Despite the risks associated with improper handling techniques, it is important not to shy away from interacting with your bearded dragon. These animals are intelligent and curious creatures that benefit greatly from socialization.

With proper care and respect for their physical boundaries, bearded dragons can make wonderful pets that enrich our lives in countless ways. Whether feeding them crickets or simply spending time with them in their enclosure as they bask in the sun, the bond between humans and reptiles can be truly special.

While we should always exercise caution when interacting with any animal species—particularly those under our care—it is important not to let fear or uncertainty prevent us from forging meaningful relationships with them.