What Do Bearded Dragons Play With? (9 Great Ideas)
Keeping a Bearded Dragon is easy if you know how to play with it. Playing with it will improve your bond and keep him happy. All my memories of having fun as a child are largely around playing games with my friends or family.
What do bearded dragons play with? Bearded Dragons have a number of options in captivity, such as playing with a ping pong ball, using a simple house mirror, small bridges in their enclosure, hiding in a simple hideout in their enclosure or even playing “hunt the food”.
Now you know what they play with, let me give you some detailed explanations of how you can set these games up, other suggested activities and explain the mental benefits of playing with your Beardie.
Why do you need to play with your bearded dragon?
— Emlin McDonough (@SpaceForBrains) March 10, 2019
In the section I’m going to discuss why you need to consider playing with your bearded dragon. You may be tempted to think this is a complete waste of time. However, have a think, how would you react if you were stuck in a 10 or 20 gallon tank with nothing to play with?
Just like humans bearded dragons need some form of stimulation and motivation to enjoy their life. The type of stimulation that I’m going to suggest is commonly known as enrichment. This is physical as well as mental stimulation.
This can improve the life of your bearded dragon. Not just physically but mentally. You may even increase his life expectancy.
Things that bearded dragons play with
I will now list a few activities and items that you can use to play with your bearded dragon. This will keep them happy.
01. Introduce a ball of Fun to Play With
One great thing that you can use to play with your bearded dragon is a simple ball. Yes, a ball! This can be a ping pong ball or even a small rubber one, just make sure its not too big.
The idea is to try and entice your bearded dragon to play with the ball. Obviously if he looks or moves it he will be interested by the movement, which will stimulate him to play with it.
For the best results with this, get a bright coloured ball. This will catch his attention and make him go nuts!
02. Playing with a mirror
Another toy that you can introduce to the bearded dragon’s tank is a simple mirror. This mirror wall trigger some interesting behaviour from your bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons are quite territorial, so if they believe that another bearded dragon is infiltrating their space, they will do weird things. In particular weird behaviours. They will either be submissive or to tell the other infiltrator to get away.
So you can expect one of two actions to happen either it will do a weird kind of “head bobbing” movement or it may do what is known as the “bearded dragon wave”.
Head Bobbing in the Mirror
The head bob will indicate that it wants to tell the mirror, which it believes to be another bearded dragon, to steer clear and move away. Basically trying to show it who is the boss.
On the other hand, if it does a wave. This is to tell the mirror, or the other bearded dragon in its head, that it is scared and submitting. Basically he doesn’t want any trouble.
The Mirror Warning
One word of warning with this, do not leave the mirror in there for extended periods of time. This is because this may stress out your bearded dragon. So limit it to 10 to 15 minutes at a time at best.
You can trigger a similar reaction without a mirror if you are interested. It can also work if you put two bearded dragon enclosures close together. Once they get sight of each other, you should see either a head bob or a wave. Again, this is not something that you should do for a long period of time though.
03. Climbing all over you like a rash
— ᴾ¹ᵡ³ᴸᵀᴿ⁴ᶳᴴ (@P1x3ltr4sh) April 3, 2019
Another great game that the bearded dragon would like to do is climbing over your body.
Once you build a bond and get your bearded dragon comfortable with handling, you can literally just place the bearded dragon on your body. A suggestion for this, try lying on the floor then placing the bearded dragon on your body and allowing him to explore you.
Not everyone is comfortable with this, and to be honest not every bearded dragon will be interested either. But if you feel this is something that might benefit your beardie, then go for it. By the way, this is not something that you should do on a regular basis either.
04. Let them play in the Hideaway
Bearded dragons love to burrow and hideaway. So, one way that you can stimulate this behaviour, and allow them to enjoy playing, is to setup a simple hideaway.
For example, this could be a simple cat hideout or a special Breaded Dragon bridge (click to see the price on Amazon) it could even be an old jumper that you use. It can use it to burrow away under. Allow your bearded dragon to have some fun with this.
05. Playing with a bridge
Another toy that you can add, that your bearded dragon can play with, is a simple bridge. This can be something that you create yourself or you can purchase.
The idea is to stimulate your bearded dragons natural pleasure of climbing. It will basically allow it to go from one point of the enclosure to the other over the bridge.
This is not a massive playtime stimulation on its own, but with a combination of these things in this article it all adds up.
06. Playing with swimming
You may even want to explore or allow your bearded dragon to go for a swim. This is a great pastime for some bearded dragons.
I say some because not all bearded dragons take to water favourably, if your bearded dragon is one that does like this then go for it.
A great suggestion for this is to get a small kiddies paddling pool, making sure it’s not too deep and maybe put some accessories in the pool such as some rocks or other things. Gently ease your bearded dragon into the paddling pool and see if he takes the the water and enjoys it first.
However, be warned you do not want to leave your bearded dragon in the water unattended because it may get stressed in the water and may not want to be in there, also you need to look out for Predators that may see your bearded dragon on its own.
Also if you are doing this it needs to be on a particularly hot day to make sure that they’ve got the right temperature.
07. Natural hunting games
Another thing that you can consider doing is allowing your bearded dragon to go for a natural hunt, just like they are in their natural habitat.
In captivity they are reliant on receiving food from you on a regular basis. But using this game you can place the food in an open area, such as a home patio or a really well maintained, low cut lawn, and literally place the insects in random locations. Giving your bearded dragon an opportunity to find its own food.
08. Taking your baby for a walk
Taking your bearded dragon for a walk is another great activity that will keep him happy and playful.
To do this you need to attach a harness to your bearded dragon. This is so that he does not run away. In addition to this, you will need to make sure that it is an environment where there are no other predators. Such as family pets, like cats. Also even little toddlers can be a threat, they may be inclined to grab or hurt the lizard.
It is unlikely that your lizard will want to go for a long walk, so keep in mind it’ll be pretty much a small little walk. In reality it won’t be so much of a real walk per say, it’ll be more of an inspection of the environment. You can expect the majority of the time, your lizard will probably be looking around, more than walking.
One word of warning though, make sure that, wherever you decide to take your bearded dragon, you do not let it walk on any environment that may has harmful pesticides. This is because it could ingest these pesticides and make it feel sick.
09. The food treasure game
Another great game that you can play with your bearded dragon is creating a food treasure hunt. What this means is you would effectively hideaway some food that it naturally loves. Then allow it to find it on its own.
To achieve this you could put it in a simple plastic container or maybe hidden under an item within the enclosure. Or you may even want to get festive, for example Easter, and create a themed container.
Do Bearded Dragons like to be handled? Initially no, however once you build a bond with them they will get to know and trust you. You just have to make sure that you handle them correctly (Click to get more info on this) once you build the trust.