As an owner of a bearded dragon, one of your primary responsibilities is keeping them sufficiently entertained and occupied. Besides, nobody wants their pet to be bored and unhappy. Giving them things to play with is ideal here – but what do they like and what is recommended? Here is what you need to know.
So, what do bearded dragons like to play with? Bearded dragons particularly like playing with colorful objects that move. They also enjoy items that resemble insects or things that are native to their natural environment. So rocks, plants, caves, etc. can all help bearded dragons feel more comfortable and at home.
In truth, bearded dragons generally like to play with anything that they come across.
They’re not particularly fussy in this way.
And perhaps the best way to provide them with such entertainment is both inside and outside of the enclosure.
Taking them for a walk, or introducing them to a new safe environment where they can explore and play are great approaches.
Variation is key. It provides stimulation, and it can provide exercise too.
And bearded dragons love being kept busy.
They can be very engaged in the world around them.
Let us now explore the topic further so that if you have recently taken on one of these fascinating lizards, you can keep them content.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Toys?
Bearded dragons do need toys to provide both mental and physical stimulation. When a bearded dragon plays with toys, they actively need to use their brains and bodies. It keeps them active and with something to do.
And thankfully, beardies do not require sophisticated toys to remain content.
In fact, the best toys are relatively simple (as we will soon find out in the following section).
And if you are wondering why bearded dragons ‘need toys’ when they do not necessarily play with them in the wild. Here is why.
Wild bearded dragons get lots of mental stimulation and exercise in their natural environment. They need to hunt for their food escape and evade predators.
While life in captivity can be much more safe and comforting, without these challenges life is actually pretty boring for them.
They live their lives by a schedule, getting their food on time and seeing you only during certain periods of the day.
The result; a monotonous routine which can lead to boredom.
Introducing toys and activities is therefore a surefire way to keep a bearded dragon occupied, with something to do and something to overcome.
Toys are therefore a substitute for their wild behaviors and tendencies.
And at this juncture you may be thinking; well, why do I not get another bearded dragon for company and to prevent boredom.
Not so fast.
Bearded dragons are solitary by nature, they don’t need the company of others. In fact, introducing two together can lead to a lot of problems.
It needs to be done very carefully and in accordance with certain conditions; or else you could have issues with fighting or even breeding!
So, keeping a bearded dragon alone is advised.
While that will also mean sufficient exercise, activity, and stimulation to keep them fit and healthy.
What Kind Of Toys Do Bearded Dragons Like?
Bearded dragons love toys that are are a challenge to understand. Ones that are colorful and move tend to be particularly effective.
For this reason, something as simple as a colorful rubber ball can be enough to keep them occupied for hours.
Not all beardies will play with a ball, and those that do are unlikely to play fetch, but at the very least it is enough to get their attention.
Some beardies will chase after a ball, others will like to have it placed on their tail.
You can throw a ball and see what happens, or you can hide it or put it up high to encourage a beardie to climb and get it.
There are various games you can attempt to play with a ball, and of course, if it’s a colorful ball, all the better.
Another excellent “toy” is a laser pointer.
A laser pointer can provide a lot of fun for a beardie.
As long as you exercise some caution, laser pointers are a great way to engage your bearded dragon in play.
You can get them to chase after the trajectory, so long as you are careful with where you point it and you do not over-exert your beardie.
5 minutes tends to be enough.
At the end, be sure to reward them with a treat. This will get them to play next time and will help to replace the lost energy.
These particular laser pointers from Amazon are great. Even though they were designed for cats, they’re very safe, portable and convenient.
Bearded dragons also enjoy screen time, they like the colors and moving objects that they emit.
You can turn the TV on or prop up your phone or tablet. Just be careful of the noise and the sound-level!
Outside of specific toys, you also want to provide objects that remind them of their natural habitat.
The décor in the tank for instance is a great way to do so.
Some excellent options include plants, swings, bridges, caves, rocks, and excavator clay.
Not only do these items help them be more content and calm in their surroundings, but they can also make them move around from position to position, and get some privacy if and when required.
One thing to note here.
Each beardie is unique – most will have their own interest and preferences.
So, be sure to mix it up and try new things.
How Do I Keep A Bearded Dragon Entertained?
Keeping a bearded dragon entertained is as much about keeping them occupied as it is about providing toys and activities.
Playing with your bearded dragon is undoubtedly fun, and it’s an excellent way to spend some time and build a bond with your lizard.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to keep a beardie happily and healthily entertained:
Taking your bearded dragon out for a walk is an excellent way to encourage your beardie to explore and exercise.
You can do this both indoor, and outdoor.
And during this time, you can also promote and encourage some of their natural behaviours.
For instance, you can get them to hunt as they walk and explore.
Its generally not advised to let them eat wild bugs, mind, as they could be carrying harmful pesticides.
So instead, its best to purchase live insects (specifically harvested for reptiles), and to place them down in a clear and safe space.
Then, you can let your beardie ‘hunt’ in a safe manner.
Letting your beardie roam in a sealed off and safe room is great.
But, you may also want to take them outside.
Here are some things to consider, before you do.
- Make sure it’s a sunny day and that the temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit
- Use a harness and leash
- Carry your beardie if they are showing signs of being tired
- Bring snacks
- Don’t let them walk on grass that has been sprayed with pesticides
Explore New Spaces
In many ways following on from the above, this time being a bit more adventurous.
Bearded dragons are relatively curious about new surroundings.
Make sure that it is bearded-dragon proof – for instance, ensure there aren’t other animals in this space, and be ready to remove or take away anything that could harm them.
Beardies love the water, and swimming is great to get them to exercise.
However, you cannot simply throw your reptile into a kiddie pool. You must plan ahead accordingly:
- You must ensure the water temperature is a minimum of 80 degrees Fahrenheit,
- The water level mustn’t exceed their shoulders,
- Be sure to provide your beardie with floaties for them to chase around.
It is also essential not to allow your beardie to swim in chlorinated water. This will cause them harm!
Swimming in a bath is a good method, as you can keep them contained, know exactly what is in the water and control the temperature.
Handle Your Beardie
One way to play with your bearded dragon is by picking them up. Although you need to do so properly and appropriately. Also considering that this activity can be highly stressful to them. Especially at first.
So, you need to ensure that your dragon gradually gets used to your presence.
It’s generally a good idea to provide treats to your beardie whenever you do come into contact. This way you will be making it as positive an experience as possible.
And when handling, do so very carefully.
Always approach them from the front, and be sure to support their whole body.
Never rush or force your bearded dragon into being held, and be mindful of their preferences, along with certain parts of the day.
For instance, never handle them while they are sleeping or eating.
Looking Out Of A Window
We looked at how beardies like screen time as they are drawn by the lights, colors, and moving objects.
A window is a calmer screen for a beardie in this regard.
Although, it of course depends on what is happening outside and where you live.
There is the chance that some beardies will find it highly intimidating for this reason.
So, you must judge this carefully.
If you observe that your bearded dragon enjoys looking out of a window, you can always reposition the tank.
Make it easier for them to look outside, observing the people, trees and other developments that arise outside.
Just be careful that you do not place the tank in direct sunlight, or an area where it could cause issues or drastic temperature swings.
Monitor your beardie and see how they respond; you will likely soon notice unfavorable behaviors if they are not enjoying the experience or want to be moved elsewhere.
Basking is a natural behavior for a bearded dragon, it’s good for their health, and it’s pleasurable for them.
This may sound weird, but ensuring they can go and bask is a way to keep them entertained.
Its an activity they enjoy, and will want to be able to do.
In fact, its very important for their health.
These lizards rely on external heat sources to keep warm.
Bearded dragons in the wild get the heat they need from the sun, and they will often lie on rocks, fence poles, and tree trunks to do so and maximize the warmth.
In captivity, we have to replicate these kind of conditions.
We must make sure that we provide the proper housing, temperature, and lighting at all times.
We also need to monitor our beardies and how much, or how little, they are basking.
Bearded dragons need entertainment. Thankfully, there are numerous ways we can provide it.
Whatever we decide, its essential that we do all we can to prevent boredom.
Providing mental stimulation in the form of toys and activities is as crucial as providing proper nutrition, warmth, cleanliness, and medical attention.
It keeps them active, alert, and happy.
Be sure to play with your bearded dragon when they are in the mood and do not force them into it when they are not.
These reptiles are very sensitive to the environment around them, so you must be mindful and careful if you do decide to take them out of the enclosure and introduce them to a new environment.
Nevertheless, with a little planning and consideration ahead of time, you can certainly partake and join in on the activities.
Besides, its one of the highlights of ownership.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.