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Help! (stressed? too much handling?)

Virilias

Bearded Dragon Egg
Messages
8
I’m getting conflicting information regarding my dragon. Several articles are telling me that my dragon is stressed out due to a lack of handling or too much handling.

I’ve tried being patient and hand feeding it, but it turns it’s nose up at me. I’ve tried approaching it from the front and side but it bites me. It will not get comfortable with being handled.

Tell me where to go from here, please…
 

Badwolfe

Hatchling Dragon
Messages
74
Location
UK
Can you tell us a bit about the age, history and how long you've owned the dragon please?
 

Virilias

Bearded Dragon Egg
Messages
8
Can you tell us a bit about the age, history and how long you've owned the dragon please?
I’ve owned it for about 2-1/2 months, I assume it is no older than four months old, and I picked it up from a pet store
 

Badwolfe

Hatchling Dragon
Messages
74
Location
UK
ok do you know roughly how long it is from head to tail tip (gives a rough indication of age)
 

Badwolfe

Hatchling Dragon
Messages
74
Location
UK
how big was it when you first got it? (just trying to ascertain if its growing correctly)
 

Virilias

Bearded Dragon Egg
Messages
8
how big was it when you first got it? (just trying to ascertain if its growing correctly)
…it was a baby. It’s growing fine. The lighting and heating are correct. I need help with the temperament. Are you able to help me with this?
 

Badwolfe

Hatchling Dragon
Messages
74
Location
UK
sorry was just trying to ascertain a few things beforehand. Right can you tell me what you currently have in the dragons tank concerning logs, rocks, ornaments, etc or preferably post a pic. We can start by making sure it isn't stress related due to enclosure set up
 

Virilias

Bearded Dragon Egg
Messages
8
sorry was just trying to ascertain a few things beforehand. Right can you tell me what you currently have in the dragons tank concerning logs, rocks, ornaments, etc or preferably post a pic. We can start by making sure it isn't stress related due to enclosure set up
Why don’t you tell me what you think the possible reasons are and I will tell you if they apply rather than sending multiple messages?
 

Virilias

Bearded Dragon Egg
Messages
8
Why don’t you tell me what you think the possible reasons are and I will tell you if they apply rather than sending multiple messages?
 

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Badwolfe

Hatchling Dragon
Messages
74
Location
UK
ok tank layout doesn't look too bad. Sometimes agression can happen as a result of the dragon not having enough spaces to hide away if its feeling insecure or threatened.

Ok next one is easier how often are you handling the dragon and can you explain how you handle it

Its easier narrowing things down than typing 400 reason for what could be the problem :)
 

Virilias

Bearded Dragon Egg
Messages
8
ok tank layout doesn't look too bad. Sometimes agression can happen as a result of the dragon not having enough spaces to hide away if its feeling insecure or threatened.

Ok next one is easier how often are you handling the dragon and can you explain how you handle it
I have escalated to handling it daily and not allowing it’s fear responses (biting, running, beard puffing) to deter it or get it out of being handled — in other words, not reinforcing bad behavior. I do this to get it used to me, my scent, and to show it that I mean it no harm.

I approach it from its level, not above or behind, and attempt to slowly ease it into my hand, but more often than not, I have to grab it from running away from me.

I make sure all limbs are supported. I pet it gently. I speak softly to it.

I’ve done everything by-the-book.
 

Badwolfe

Hatchling Dragon
Messages
74
Location
UK
ok sounds like you've covered the basics. The tank set up looks fine and you say lighting and temps are spot on so it doesn't sound like its anything environmental.

Its probably the fact you've got one that just doesn't enjoy handling that much. I had one like that years ago and it took months to get it to the point where I could pick it up without getting bitten.

I'd start off allocating a couple of times a day just putting your hands inside the viv but not attempting to pick it up. Give him plenty of time to get used to the fact that your hands aren't gonna hurt him. Whilst you are doing this just talk to him in a normal tone of voice as if you were having a conversation with a person.

For a couple of weeks keep doing this and putting your hands closer to him each time. If he shows aggression move your hands back a small fraction but don't remove them altogether. A lot of time this helps condition them with the fear of hands

Once you can put your hands in the tank without him freaking you can move on to try hand feeding him. This is probably best done first feeding of the day when he's built up an appetite overnight. If he backs away or refuses to take it dont force the issue. Sometimes they will stare for a few minutes before plucking up the courage to come and grab it. Dont keep forcing it in his face because they will see this as an aggressive act.

With a bit of luck he will eventually get to the point that you can gently slide your hand underneath him and pick him up but dont bring him out of the viv leave him in your hand inside the viv. Again keep doing this for a week or so until he trusts you to pick him up.

If all this fails you may have to resign yourself to the fact that your dragon is simply an individual who doesn't like being handled.

Through out all of this NEVER chase him around and grab him and pick him up because this is just reinforcing in his head that your hands are something that is a threat to him

Hope some of this advice can help
 

Virilias

Bearded Dragon Egg
Messages
8
So in other words, go back to resorting to extreme patience and almost treating it like an animal that was abused in the past.

I will admit that I have forced the issue — there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

I appreciate the feedback
 

Badwolfe

Hatchling Dragon
Messages
74
Location
UK
So in other words, go back to resorting to extreme patience and almost treating it like an animal that was abused in the past.

I will admit that I have forced the issue — there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

I appreciate the feedback
Yep lol extreme patience is the key here and believe me you'll have 10-15 years of having your patience forced in varying degrees by the antics of your Beardie haha
 

Hadenuffyet

Juvenile Dragon
Messages
179
What I practiced as soon as I got mine was having it in the same room as me so my dragon saw me all the time and got use to me. Also put something with your scent on it in the enclosure so he knows your smell and are not going to hurt it.
 

Badwolfe

Hatchling Dragon
Messages
74
Location
UK
What I practiced as soon as I got mine was having it in the same room as me so my dragon saw me all the time and got use to me. Also put something with your scent on it in the enclosure so he knows your smell and are not going to hurt it.
Good suggestion if there are no other pets in the house but I wouldn't recommend having a stressed Dragon in any area where a dog or cat might take an interest. The dragon will just become more upset if it feels there are what it would consider potential predators in the area.
 
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