Your bearded dragon deserves as much fun and attention as any other pet. While they can’t fetch like dogs do and they don’t like to chase lights as cats do, they are incredibly playful and sweet creatures who are always looking to have fun. Bearded dragons aren’t expected to be very active creatures, integrating activities and toys can increase their bond with you and also helps to keep them fit and healthy.
Studies have shown that spending time with your beardie and engaging in enrichment activities with them can keep your beardie healthier and happier. Much like with humans, engaging them and giving them positive interactions with you can increase their lifespan and stave off sickness. They may not be social creatures with other beardies, but they do crave social interaction with you.
You might be wondering though, how should you play with your little one? The ways you can do so may not be obvious to the average bearded dragon owner, but there are a plethora of toys and activities you can engage your beardie with to keep them active and having fun. It doesn’t have to be just expensive toys from the pet store either, there are all sorts of things you can use to engage your bearded dragon that doesn’t require spending a cent.
Popular Bearded Dragon Toys
No beardie is going to want to spend all their time alone in their tank without something to engage with. Bearded dragon toys can be a great way to combat boredom and keep your little one youthful and healthy. Getting them moving with toys and little activities can keep your beardie fit or help your overweight buddy trim down a little.
Every beardie is different though, so it is important to try out a few different toys to see what they will engage with most. Some of the most popular options may be fun, but you won’t know if your little one enjoys them until you test them out. If you don’t want to spend full price on new toys for your bearded dragon, you can always check out local sellers and see if gently used toys are available for purchase.
You may not think of a hide as a toy for your bearded dragon, but they certainly might. Beardies are notorious for enjoying dark spaces where they can burrow and get away from it all. But did you know that hides can be used as a toy as well?
Because of their love for exploration, beardies adore hides of all shapes and sizes so they can roam and discover. You don’t necessarily have to get them just a small hide that will fit in their terrarium, as you can always get a larger one and use it outside of their habitat for supervised playtime. As long as you have no other pets, or can set it up in an area where your other pets won’t be able to bother your beardie, you can set it up for them in an open space so they can explore and go on adventures.
They can get restless spending time in their terrarium day after day with not enough space to roam. It is important to give them time to stretch their legs and play around so they can stay sharp and happy. They also relish that bond with their owners, so if you have a designated playtime where you take their hide into an enclosed space so they can roam, they’ll feel closer to you.
Some of them have added caves, and even additional rooms so your beardie will feel like they are roaming a great big castle of their own without feeling restrained. Most of them are made from material that looks like natural wood but won’t rot like natural wood might over time. These hides will last you a long time and give your beardie hours of fun and quality time with you.
When you think of playing with balls you think of playing fetch with a dog or having them play chase, but you don’t typically think of a bearded dragon. They are really energetic creatures and you wouldn’t expect them to be the type to run after balls but they certainly are. The size difference is also incredibly amusing as you don’t have to use a ball that is their size, a tennis ball will do just fine for entertainment. These are a popular option on Amazon.
If your beardie is little, you might want to get a slightly smaller ball just so they don’t accidentally get hurt. You can even get balls you can fill with live insects to motivate your beardie to chase them down. If you can’t find balls that have cut-outs or openings to put insects inside, you can always use a Wiffle ball or a practice golf ball you’ve taped to keep the insects inside. Check out the insect section of the diet article for insect ideas.
Just make sure you actually release the insects to your beardie eventually as they can get agitated chasing after their snacks with no reward. It almost mimics the hunt for them, so it can be really enjoyable for them to be able to chase their meal down before they enjoy it. Just as long as they get their treat at the end, you’ll be good to go.
Much like with hides, beardies can get hours of enjoyment out of tunnels if you set up the right environment. They love having space to roam and tunnels can be a fun way for your beardie to get some of their energy out. You can always set up a pet tunnel in a confined area so they can have the space to play with it without you worrying they’ll wander too far.
Tunnels can be rolled or moved so you can actively play with your bearded dragon, and they can also hide in it if they end up feeling overwhelmed or need a break. Some have even been known to enjoy a good game of peek-a-boo, poking their heads in and out of their tunnels to play with you. Their playfulness knows no bounds when they are engaged in something with you and an exciting object.
If you want to give them more engagement or even more of a challenge, you can also set up multiple tunnels that connect and add treats for them to find or hunt throughout the tunnel system. Many pets love tunnels and bearded dragons are no exception.
Cats and beardies are more similar than you would imagine. They have very similar styles of play and they have keen eyes that like shine and movement. Your beardie will have just as much fun with a crinkle ball, a feather toy, or a laser pointer as a cat would.
Crinkle balls tend to be great for stimulation as they already enjoy playing with other types of balls but the crinkling can get their attention. They are essentially plastic that has been folded and joined at odd angles to produce a crinkling sound when squeezed or tossed. These will hold your beardie’s interest as they are noisy and fun to chase, keeping your pet engaged.
Feather toys are another great option as they provide positive interaction between you and your bearded dragon. The fast movements of the feather will draw your beardie’s attention and it can be cute to watch them chase it down. It reminds them of the fast movement of insects, so they are more willing to run and chase after something if it is moving quickly.
This goes the same for laser pointers. The movement and the light tend to be distracting and they will respond with unpredictability and excitement. All of these options really showcase how easy it is to engage your bearded dragon so that they can have a good time playing with you.
Popular Bearded Dragon Activities
As we’ve covered so far, bearded dragons will really benefit from one on one time and intimate time with you, their owner. They get very attached to their owners and they relish in any quality time they can have with you. If your bearded dragon isn’t interested in toys, they might be more willing to engage in an activity instead.
As long as you have a designated area where you can engage them, you shouldn’t have any issues. They are incredibly personable creatures when it comes to their owners so don’t hesitate to spend some quality time with them doing something fun.
What you might not expect about your little dragon is that they love water. Some of them might be reluctant at first to enjoy a good bath or some time in the water, but they will get accustomed to it after a while. You can always fill up a bathtub with water or you can even get your beardie a little kiddie pool like this for them to swim around in.
They don’t need much water in the bath or the kiddie pool to be able to have fun, so you really shouldn’t fill it up very much. The water should absolutely not be cold in any way, keeping it around eighty degrees is important so they don’t catch a cold. They will be most comfortable in warm water and it will keep them from getting sick.
You will either want to use some sort of conditioner for their water that will get rid of the chlorine or use spring water to prevent skin drying or infections. To make the water even more fun for them you can also give them toys or floats like this one so they have something to engage with. If you’re using a pool or a container, placing it outside in the warm sunshine can help make them truly comfortable.
They will either bask in the sun on their float or they will splash around in the water so they can enjoy the warmth and the comfort of the fresh air, water, and sun. You need to keep watch over them the entire time they are in the water. Even if the water isn’t very high, you still need to be careful with them so they don’t swallow too much water or drown.
Bearded dragons love fresh air. It can get a little stifling in their terrariums after a while so it is important to give them some time to stretch their legs and enjoy the outdoors. You may think it’s a little bit silly, but you can walk your dragon just like you’d walk your dog.
There are harnesses you can get that keep your beardie secure and comfortable, so you can lead them around. That way you don’t have to worry about them getting free and accidentally getting hurt or running off. Exercise is a great way to keep your little one in good health, so taking them for the occasional walk is helpful for that and for engagement purposes.
Make sure you keep a good eye on them while you’re walking, don’t let them eat anything they may find in the wild as those insects are likely coated in harmful chemicals. This goes as well for letting them walk on grass that has been treated with weed killer or anything else of the sort.
It might be beneficial to give them a proper bath after a walk to ensure anything that they may have come in contact with washes away.
Bearded dragons are often taken in by fast-moving or shiny things, so allowing them some time with the television, a mirror, a window, or your phone, may actually be a great way to engage them. It is important though not to overstimulate them, so if you’re noticing odd behaviors they may be uncomfortable with the visuals they are experiencing.
It can be fun though to watch your dragon interact with themselves in a mirror. They may think it is another dragon, or over time they may begin to recognize themselves and feel comfortable with the image. Just make sure not to stress them out with too much time as they might think the beardie in the mirror is someone new in their territory.
Watching a nature show together with plenty of cuddling is another amazing way to get in some quality time with your buddy. They aren’t always recognizable as very cuddly creatures, but if your beardie has grown comfortable with you they may be more willing to curl up and spend the afternoon watching television. A nature show could be particularly fun, as it can engage your bearded dragon while also setting off that instinct to hunt.
Let Your Bearded Dragon Hunt
In the wild, bearded dragons are fully responsible for hunting down and catching their own food. This is something they may be sorely lacking in a domestic environment that you can use to bring them some extra stimulation. It is imperative that you only do this during scheduled feeding times, or your dragon might come to expect extra food or treats, and giving in to that may cause weight gain.
Hunting can help sharpen their skills though and bring them a lot of enjoyment as they get to do something they don’t typically get to do. Simply create a confined space where they can hunt freely without the risk of ending up somewhere they shouldn’t. They deserve that fun and freedom every once in a while to catch their own food so long as the environment is right.
Why Toys and Activities Are Important
Bearded dragons need just as much stimulation and excitement as any other pet, so engaging them is important. Giving them plenty of time and options with which to enjoy themselves will help keep them sharp and energetic. Some of these options can even help keep them healthy like going on walks, hunting for their food, or swimming.
You want to keep your dragon around for a good long time, so you should keep their minds and bodies active to ensure health and longevity. You don’t have to buy toys to keep your bearded dragon engaged either, you can make your own fun or keep them involved in activities so they can have fun without you breaking the bank to entertain them. With some of these options, you can even create your own toys to ensure that they get the most out of every playtime.
As long as they are being supervised properly and get the kind of attention they deserve from you, your beardie should have the time of their lives engaging in new and exciting activities. Remember to keep the environment clear of other pets if you’re going to put them in a new space to play with hides, tunnels, or let them hunt. The area should be closed off from other areas of the house so they can’t roam and hide anywhere that you might not be able to get to them.
The most important thing to remember is when playing, cherish your time with them. Pets deserve our love and attention and your little one will relish any quality time you get to spend together, whether that’s playing outside or just cuddling up on the couch.